Wednesday, June 14, 2017

LEGO Sets of the Month: Star Wars!

School's out for most of us, so I thought I'd have some LEGO Sets of the Month that were just fun for fun's sake. Plus Quinnmas (my birthday)(yes, it's called that)(it's probably on your calendar)(I accept late gift cards)(Amazon will do) is this week and I'm feeling like I need to share the love.

With that in mind, the LEGO Sets of the Month are all from Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. The sets include Battle on Takodana, Rey's Speeder, and a First Order Battle Pack. So you get some heroes, some villains, a fun vehicle, and a major setting and scene from the movie.

Here's the thing about The Force Awakens. It's not the best movie. But I loved it. More than anything, I loved the new characters. These LEGO sets have my favorites: Rey, Finn, Maz Kanata, and Kylo Ren. I don't disagree with the criticisms that too many of the plot points were recycled (yet another, bigger, Death Starry superweapon that's a little too easy to blow up)(a sandy world a lot like Tatooine, which I've seen on the big screen one too many times), but I'm intrigued at the potential of these people in that faraway galaxy.

Finn's story as a disaffected First Order Stormtrooper should go interesting places in The Last Jedi. I love the idea of little Maz Kanata as someone who's a believer in the Force, and maybe has some Force sensitivities, but isn't a Jedi herself. Kylo Ren is someone who I didn't like at first (especially sans helmet), but I'm liking more with each viewing. He feels like a failure for not living up to his parents' (Han Solo and Princess/General Leia) heroics, but also feels like the greatness of his grandfather (Darth Vader) is beyond his reach. Above and beyond all of the new characters of the movie, we have Rey.

Rey is the center of the movie, and Daisy Ridley carries that weight well. The budding Jedi of unknown parentage is compassionate, is brave, and may be the galaxy's last hope. A strong heroine who doesn't need saving (don't try to hold her hand, dude), this character we've known for a scant 18 months is inspiring girls and women (and boys, and men) around the world.

The LEGO sets I'm giving away are good, and even though they're ones I wouldn't normally recommend for classroom use, it's the Quinnmas season, and I want to share. That said, here are a few ways I'd use The Force Awakens (or other Star Wars movies) with students.

IN THE CLASSROOM

One of the mysteries in The Force Awakens is the location of Luke Skywalker. In the final scene of the movie, Rey has ascended eight thousand stone steps to reach the Jedi, and we're left with her holding out his lightsaber to him. Roll credits. We as the audience don't get to see what happens next, so we're left with a cliffhanger. Have students write a dialogue between the two heroes -- what would Luke say when confronted with this stranger holding his lightsaber? R2-D2 and Chewbacca are parked at the bottom of those stairs with the Millennium Falcon -- what would their reunion be like? Why did Luke exile himself in the first place? How would Rey tell him about (spoilers) the death of his friend Han Solo?

The tiny yellow Maz Kanata is one of my favorite characters. Not just in this movie, but of all time. With a few lines of dialogue, this aged little alien won my heart. We see her in her castle, where she runs a bar of sorts, with questionable clientele. She's lived there for "hundreds of years," and she's got a lot of stories to tell. Have students choose an alien from the castle and tell their story. How did they end up coming to Takodana? How long will they stay? What would their interactions with Maz be like?

Finn is trained as a First Order Stormtrooper, and was taken from his family so young that he doesn't even have his own name -- "FN 2187" was his ID number with the First Order, and it's pilot Poe Dameron who gives him the (awesome) name Finn. He's been trained to be a killer, but when it comes down to it, can't kill the innocent villagers in the opening scenes of the movie. Have students put themselves in his shoes, telling his story. Has he always had these doubts about being in that armor? What were his interactions with Captain Phasma like before the events of the movie? In the scene featured in the LEGO set, Finn is called out as a traitor by one of his former comrades. Why is that particular Stormtrooper so angry at Finn? Are they former friends? Enemies? Have students explore these ideas.

Again, The Force Awakens isn't a perfect movie, but as with most of the Star Wars movies, the characters become more important than the events of the movie itself. Let your students explore these characters with writing, with art, with music. With The Last Jedi coming this December, it's going to be on their minds.

For more Star Wars lesson plans and ideas, be sure to check out Star Wars in the Classroom -- they're adding new stuff all the time, and you're sure to find something your students will love. Because they are nerds. And you love it.

SO HOW DO I ENTER TO WIN THESE AMAZING SETS?? 

I knew you were wondering. There are three ways to enter:

1. Comment on this post. You do that below at the very end of this post. Lower...lower...there.

2. Subscribe to the monthly Play Like a PIRATE newsletter. It comes out once a month, with ideas for the classroom, a graphic novel review, and a review and chance to win the new LEGO Set of the Month. No spamming (beyond once a month), no selling your emails to anyone. I don't even know who I would sell them to. It may be worth investigating.

3. Follow @jedikermit on Twitter and retweet this tweet. If you're not on The Twitter, you really should be. Sign up just for this entry. And follow me. So worth it. You can follow the #PlayLAP hashtag to see what other people are doing with Play Like a PIRATE. A book you should totally buy.

So you can enter up to three times. Don't try and cheat. Teachers always know.

Some fine print: the LEGO Set of the Month will only be available to U.S. residents. Even though I love everyone on the planet, international shipping is beyond my reach right now. The drawing for the June LEGO Set of the Month will be at 6 PM MST on Saturday, June 17. The drawing will be taken from all eligible entries with a random generator. So hopefully you win. Yeah, you.

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