When Lori Achilles found out her two children would be out of school for weeks because of coronavirus concerns, she got creative. Using her kids' love of LEGOs and her own desire to help other parents, she created a Facebook group that has quickly gained global attention.
Achilles created the LEGO Quarantine Survival Challenge page, which now has more than 3,000 members. Each morning, the page publishes a LEGO challenge for builders of all ages. Group members have two hours to come up with a creation and post the results, regardless of the pieces in their collection.
"My kids have an obscene amount of LEGOs," Achilles said. "We thought this would be fun to just do something different every day."
Achilles originally created the page for her school community and her friends, but it quickly grew to something much larger, with group members as far away as Jordan and Albania. The Downers Grove mom says the group is perfect for parents trying to keep kids active and entertained for hours without school or in-person interaction with friends.
"You've got two hours to give parents a break ideally," Achilles said. "We could get some work done during the day while the kids are home, and have them do something creative."
The first challenge, on Sunday, was a zoo. Creations are broken up by age, from children under six to college and adult. She said she was shocked not only by the reception her page was getting, but the creativity of the submissions.
"People did traditional zoos," said Achilles. "They did people [in cages] and the animals were looking at us. They did animal breakouts. I mean it was just crazy."
Achilles and her fellow page administrators followed up with a leprechaun trap challenge on Monday, then a St. Patrick's Day parade on Tuesday. She said some kids in the group will put together LEGOs for five minutes, while others will use the full two hours and "go to town" with stop-motion video and other effects.
Achilles plans to keep this going for as long as she can. Her children are out of school until at least early April. She says she is happy she was able to bring something positive and productive to a challenging time for kids and parents.
"My only rule is that this is supposed to be a positive, happy place for the kids," Achilles said. "[I want them] to get on the site, look at other kids, comment on other kids, like and love all the pictures. Just keep it very positive."