Legos, Legos, everywhere... but not a block to build?
If you are like most households, chances are high, really high, that you have some of the famous bricks in bags, boxes or plastic bins.
Legos are amazing, but time and time again, they'd end up in two places:
- The bottom of my bare feet (ouch!)
- In our 14 X 14 X 14 fabric cube, mixed together, never to be a part of a set again... a waste of space
Neither is ideal.
I'm going to cover in this instructable the method we've assembled to help keep LEGO bricks in their place, keep them organized and make playing with this highly sophisticated interlocking brick system more sustainable.
After a couple months of using this method, we've seen our kids actually using the parts with greater creativity (ability to quickly get their ideas to tangible designs), helping each other (simple ways for everyone to pitch in), building sets we never thought we'd see again (super easy to find needed parts) and having some fantastic family time.
Step 1: Plan of Attack
I spent a good amount of energy researching around the web for different solutions and boiled it down to a few basic concepts:
- Sort by color first
- Size second
- Pro tips: stack single studs, mix colors, etc.
- Clearly label color bins/bags
- Use hanging folders to keep track of contructions**
- Don't lose the fun - it should never be work, but like most hobbies (golf, crafting, carpentry) keeping your stuff organized and handy, just makes the fun parts more enjoyable!
I'll expand a bit and give some examples/pitfalls for each of these over the next 6 steps.
** a term coined by my 4 year old, I think makes perfect sense: instructions for construction = constructions
Step 2: Secure Supply Lines
Full disclosure, if you purchase using the links provided, I will receive a portion of the sales proceeds. I have not received any of these items for free from the manufacturer.
a. We used Ziplocs for a while, but once we knew method was working, the cart has been a really great investment - but do note the negative reviews, I find it does loosen up over time but pros outweigh the cons for sure
3. Permanent markers for bin/bag labeling
4. I used my wife's Silhouette Cameo for the bin labels - if you have access to one, it worked really well, cut files attached
5. Lego Font for cut files: Urban Font - LegoThick
6. BLOKPOD (or similar) LEGO sifter to get the small, medium and large pieces separated
Step 3: Label Some Bins And/or Bags
Here are the colors I found are most prevalent, both in our collection and in general - label each bag or bin with these and you are off to a great start.
- Light Grey
- Dark Grey
- Reds (Red, Maroon, etc.)
- Yellows (Pale Yellows, Dark Yellows, Mellow Yellows, etc.)
- Greens (Light Green, Dark Green, Leaves, Vines)
- Light Blues
- Clear (windows, jewels, hoses, etc.)
Medium Mix Bin/Bags:
- Blues & Golds - these colors mix well due to different contrast
- Orange & Brown - the Thanksgiving bin... again, good contrast and not enough to justify own bin
- Pinks & Purples - the girl bin
The Sort Bin
- Label 1 of your bins the 'Sort Bin' - more on this later, but key for sustainability
If you are using the Silhouette, grab yourself some Oracal 651 rainbow packs and you'll be in great shape for any color combo you can think of.
The Silhouette templates I've included are the right size and font for supply cart I listed .
Keep the ones you aren't using off the cutting mat template in the design software and just drag the one over you are currently cutting. You can adjust the size and shape as needed to fit your needs using the 'transform' tools.
Cut them out, weed them and line them up on the bins for a professional and lasting label!
Step 4: Throw a Sorting Party
Take a rainy day (or two), get the whole family involved and start sorting the giant bin of LEGOS. It may seem like an impossible task, but with some helpers, it goes fast.
You have your bags/bins ready, so make it fun! This is most important - the last thing you want is making it feel like "work" - it shouldn't be; just part of the play and something you can do together.
- Who can collect the most of a color?
- Put child "in-charge" of certain pieces (wheels, clear, etc.) or colors
- Have a race
- As sorting, think back to fun memories of the sets
- Have some good conversation - kids generally open up when they are working on a task
- Multicolored pieces - "go with the most color" - like the steering wheel (white), Batman logo (black) or gun (black)
- Unique joint/joined pieces (i.e. doors, windows, elbows), keep them together - chances are they are different colors but when you go to rebuild a set, you'll need them together anyway
Step 5: Sift Your Pieces (Optional)
Using a sifter (like the BLOKPOD), pour a single color in that you've sorted - give it some shares to separate the large, medium, small and ultra-small
This makes it even easier to find the pieces you need!
Put different sizes in different containers, but the same color bins/bags. I like those little circle containers (pictured) from the LEGO store. Great way to reuse them!
Step 6: Keep Those Constructions in Check
- Layout all your constructions (after you find them!)
- Group them by theme - if you have 2-3+ then create a tab - if not, then 'Other' works fine
- Keep extra folders, tabs and labels handy
- If you created a label, put it on the outside of the folder box - so you don't accidentally keep your tax documents in here too...
We originally had this organized with a 3 ring binder and clear folders - but the constructions got too heavy and kids couldn't ever find anything. This method has been working extremely well. We keep the bin on a lower shelf so it is easy to access.
Step 7: Tips & Tricks
The sorting bin is a MUST! It is a dedicated area to put sets or random pieces found around the house. Anything in this bin is basically ready for recycling - take it apart and put into the right color bins.
When the kids are playing and I want to play to, it is a great way for me to join in and "play". Also an awesome task for the kids - as long as we keep it fun.
When the family is cleaning the house, also very easy to take the sorting bin out and collect all the little pieces we find around.
Keep all those LEGO disassembly tools in this box too - you'll need them. :)
Multiple Colors Mixed
We only have 15 bins, so I had to get creative. I found that contrasting or complementary colors worked really well in the same bins/bags. You can still find the pieces that you need and you save some space since most colors won't take up the whole bin. See the pictures for Blues/Gold, Orange/Brown & Pinks/Purples.
All those ultra-small, single studs... what to do... stack them! Dots, flowers, single studs - really easy to stack those up and keep them handy for use.
Now, keep that sorting bin low, keep the fun up and get creating with one of the best "toys" ever created!