Fun-based learning is the premise of Bricks 4 Kidz, a business new to the Tucson area that offers summer camps, after-school programs and classes for children age 3 and up.
The programs use a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics)- based curriculum and Legos.
Bricks 4 Kidz was founded in 2008 and has more than 100 franchises around the world.
Ruth Green, owner of the Tucson franchise, started her business about three months ago and is getting ready to start a second session of the summer camp.
Green said she has a business degree and was looking to open her own business when she came across Bricks 4 Kidz online. "I like the concept," she said. "They learn and they have fun."
Camps are broken up into morning and afternoon sessions, and last one week. Summer camps are currently only offered in Vail, but as Green's business expands, she plans to offer them in Tucson and Sahuarita.
She said schools have contacted her about after-school programs. To accommodate them, Green said she is going to hire at least two more instructors - one for Tucson and one for Sahuarita.
Kids enrolled in the after-school program attend a one-hour class once a week for six weeks. The program costs $60.
Green said she also will be starting a Duplo blocks class for preschool-age children and already has a waiting list. The children in the Duplo class will build letters, animals and numbers with Duplo blocks, which look like large Legos.
"I'm amazed at how well it's going," Green said. "It's taking off really quick."
Bricks 4 Kidz uses programs designed by engineers and architects.
The children build motorized amusement park rides, space exploration items and robotics with Legos.
During the final morning session of last week, seven children and two instructors surrounded two large tubs of Legos, building trees and accessories to go with the motorized amusement park rides they had built.
The children chattered excitedly as they powered up their creations, anxious to show their parents what they had built.
Drake Carr, 5, played with what he called the "boat spinner" - a motorized boat that spins around the bar that holds it up. "This is my favorite," he said.
Drake's mother, Susy Carr, said the program has engaged her son's mind. "We love it," she said. "He gets really in-depth and enjoys building motorized spaceships."
The Carr family lives in Corona de Tucson, southeast of Tucson, so it is happy about the short drive to Vail. She said there is nothing like it nearby. "The community needed this," she said. "It's great for us."
The next session of summer camp begins July 8. The theme is Superheroes Academy and the camp costs $120 for a half-day, which is 9 a.m. to noon; and $200 for full day, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Starting in the fall, Green plans to offer robotics and stop-animation movie making classes for kids age 8 and up. Classes will be three to four hours long on Saturdays.
Green said the company is always innovating and coming up with new lessons: "We never teach the same thing twice."
Ruth Green, owner of the Tucson franchise of Bricks 4 Kidz, is hiring at least two instructors. She said no experience is necessary but applicant should be "good with kids." The pay is $10-$12 per hour. Go to the company website to apply.
Contact reporter Angela Pittenger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4137.