SUNDERLAND — Each Saturday, in a side room of the Sunderland Public Library, a heap of Legos spans across the floor.
Children gather around the colorful pile with their friends, siblings and parents, and the blocks click and clack as tiny fingers search for just the right piece. Some shriek “Oh look!” when they find just the right one to build any creation they can imagine, like trains, airplanes and landscapes.
From 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. each week, the library hosts Lego Club. According to Library Director Katherine Hand, the program regularly attracts anywhere from a few to around 25 children with a love for Legos.
For Tierney and Brian Sodders and their two children, Holden, 6, and Elice, 10, of South Deerfield, coming to Lego Club has become part of their Saturday routine.
“It’s something with other kids that’s fairly well-attended,” Brian Sodders said. “Hanging out with other kids their own age is the big thing.”
Holden and Elice often see the friends they’ve made through Lego Club around town, giving them lasting connections. Holden’s love for Legos extends to home too, where he has a stash under his bed.
“I have tons of ’em,” he said. “There’s probably like thousands or millions.”
Still, Sarah Willis of Montague Center, who brought her children August Hart, 6, and Beatrice Hart, 1, said there’s just something different about Lego Club compared to playing with Legos at home.
“It’s much more engaging here, being in a group with other kids,” she said.
Hand said part of the inspiration for starting Lego Club several years ago was to create a fun, easy way to teach young children about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), allowing them to learn something new and flex their creativity.
“I just like making things and seeing what I can make,” said 9-year-old Maya Tkachenko of Montague Center. “I do my best. It’s a fun time.”
Maya said most of her Lego projects come from her imagination, or what she’s read about in books. The library also has several Lego design books from which children can glean ideas.
“You can build almost anything you want,” Elice Sodders said.
Though most of the children have Legos at home, Maya likes that at the library, the tiny building bricks are available to everyone.
“I really like it here, and like that they can provide all the Legos for us,” she said. “Even people who don’t have Legos can still come here, and it’s free.”
Having come to Lego Club for the first time Saturday, Amy Malloy of Hatfield said she liked the informal setting. Malloy brought her 6-year-old daughter Wren, but said the program would also be appropriate for her 3-year-old son.
“I’m definitely going to bring him next time,” she said. “This is very free-form.”
Other local libraries that offer regular Lego play groups include Dickinson Memorial Library in Northfield, Wheeler Memorial Library in Orange and M.N. Spear Memorial Library in Shutesbury.