How Do You Organize Legos?

I need Lego advice.

Do I organize and separate? Or dump them all together and hope creativity flows?

How do you manage Legos in your home?

My older kids played with Legos, but we didn’t own tons, and I don’t remember buying special themed sets.

I recall they loved large base plates to build on and that extra figures/people (even knock-off brands) encouraged creativity.

They built fabulous candy dispensers out of Legos that delivered one M&M at a time. I’m pretty certain I got one for Mother’s Day.

With my younger kids, I’ve tried to cultivate a love for Legos with moderate success.

We’ve given themed sets for birthdays and Christmas, encouraging them to build special creations. We’re duly impressed when the awesome Star Wars ship is completed or some other fantastical thing is created.

But then what?

These creations stay complete, or partially complete for awhile. We tuck them in Rubbermaid bins, or eventually take them apart, putting all the tiny pieces in a labeled bag.

And there they sit.

What happened to big bins of mixed up Legos everyone played with for fun?

My sister has a huge bin of Legos with lots of Star Wars pieces in the mix. My boys play with it for hours when we visit, especially if their cousin, Jack, is there too.

Is it because it’s novel, or because the pieces are jumbled together which lets their minds and hands flow in creative play?

Or does she just have the best, most-fun-ever Legos?

Several years ago I bought a collection of Indiana Jones Lego sets from a young man who loved building and displaying them as a boy. He couldn’t bring himself to ever take them apart.

I still have some of the sets intact as I bought them from him. Others have been played with and taken apart; I hope this would not break his heart.

My boys need to play.

As summer looms before me, I need my boys to play, and to be honest, play doesn’t come naturally to them.

Children from “hard places,” kids who experienced early deprivation, or neglect/abuse, are often stunted in their ability to play. Have you noticed this?

Which brings me back to my Lego dilemma.

I need your Lego wisdom and advice.

If my boys are willing, should I buy one big bin and dump them all together?

Should I buy smaller bins and put all the Star Wars Legos in one bin, the Lone Ranger Legos in another, Indiana Jones in another, and general Legos (what do you call them?) in another?

Should I put the books with building instructions into a binder in case a child ever wants to sort through the mass of Legos, find the pieces, and build a creation again?

What do you have to say about Legos?

I will be forever grateful if you leave a comment with your thoughts, suggestions, advice, and/or commiseration.

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

14 Comments

  1. Anita
    June 8, 2017

    In my growing up years, Lego was never sorted into sets. The allure was in what you could make from the big jumbled boxful of pieces. Invariably whoever walked by started joining in and building also, which made it even more fun. Maybe combine Legos with another fun thing like audiobooks or favorite music to keep attention spans a bit longer?

    Reply
  2. Bev
    June 8, 2017

    This is not so much legos as any building toy and getting the kids started. Before the kids are up for the day, get out one set of building toys and just begin to build something, anything, the more vague the better, and leave it out with a few scattered pieces. Then see what happens. This works with my grands. They have no interest if I say, “Why don’t you build something with legos?” But if something is started, they notice and begin to tinker with it. I guess that is a vote for the big bin with lots of choices. Even with my wide range of children from hard and easy places, each of the ones who played with legos had big bins. Some of the instructions ended up in the bins, but I don’t think any item was built a second time after the first time following directions.

    Reply
  3. Kirsten G.
    June 8, 2017

    We have Rubbermaid under the bed storage, and drawers that fit under the bed.
    https://www.walmart.com/ip/Rubbermaid-Wheeled-Underbed-Box/38664630
    https://www.walmart.com/ip/Sterilite-27-Quart-Deep-Drawer-White-Available-in-Case-of-4-or-Single-Unit/49533160

    My kids just dump all their Lego together. It doesn’t really bother them.
    The way you suggested of keeping certain types of Lego (Star Wars, etc) together in separate bins sounds like a great idea.
    Also keeping the instructions in a binder of some type is a great idea.
    I have heard from other people that the best way to organize Lego is by colour. I tried that and got very overwhelmed by the process as we have a lot of Lego.

    Reply
  4. Michele Rice
    June 8, 2017

    As I packaged up and sent Legos to Kevin (he’s 33 and still loves them!) I sorted some (small part, people, etc) into plastic square 12 x 12 scrapbook holders, the kind that have a lid and are about 4 inches deep. I got inserts that separated sections. Then the basic pieces can be thrown into a larger bin. ALWAYS save the instructions for the themed sets. They will eventually fall apart and years down the road the kids will want to build them again. I have seen Iris-type plastic towers that will stack the 12 by 12 bins.

    Reply
  5. Sue Burnett
    June 8, 2017

    We would place all of the Legos on a sheet then we’d scoop up the sheet and put it all in the bin for easy clean up. The next time we’d just pull the the sheet with the Legos out of the bin and set the sheet on the floor again with the Legos. My son would take apart old creations and make new things. Maybe your kids need a few ideas for inspiration. My son also took a break from Legos and enjoyed Knex for a while.

    Reply
  6. Tamara
    June 8, 2017

    Growing up all the lego was in together. Technically the duplo was in another bog box but it usually got mixed up and we used to mix and match duplo and lego when we built. I remember very few themed sets and after a week or so these would also be added to the pile. Occasionally things we had made would be stored complete but mostly it was all dismantled for the next days adventures. I’ve also followed this way of storing them for now.

    Speaking to my mum, as my son is starting to get into duplo in a big way, she said that the sets today are much more specific and less flexible than when we were kids. I assume it is the same in the US. That may be part of the issue?!

    Reply
  7. Shelli
    June 8, 2017

    Ours always ended up in one big tub which then continued to get dumped out and never put away. The best thing I ever bought was Lay-n-Go Lite Small Activity Mat & Toy Organizer. A big bag that opens flat to build on and then pulls closed with a string to keep them altogether. Much like the sheet idea someone else mentioned.

    Reply
  8. Sharon
    June 8, 2017

    My oldest son (age 9) LOVES the “build” part of having legos. He rarely keeps the set intact but will take it apart just to build it again. The construction part is his favorite.

    Initially, we had a big “dump box” of legos but it actually made it really hard for him to build sets. Now we have each theme sorted into small, shoe box sized containers that are labeled by set. He can grab a box, build the set and play with it, deconstruct it and build it again.

    Our other kids aren’t as enamored with Legos. My second son (age 7) loves to listen to audiobooks and play with blocks and cars. He also loves Magna-tiles (a magnetic type of construction toy). I think it’s less challenging to build with those, and he can do more imaginary play.

    Having said all that, this week it’s been all about crafts — perler beads, finger weaving, shrinky dinks, pot holders on a loom, paint by number art, model cars. Hobby Lobby clearance rack was my friend!

    Reply
  9. Emily
    June 8, 2017

    Ben says that he and his brother played with Legos all the time, and they were all kept in one big bin. He said that he had some sets (which were mixed in with the rest) but that he mostly had the plain ones. So there’s one example 🙂

    Another thought about the instructions- if you decide it’s a hassle to keep them and/or to deal with the binder, I would guess you could find the instructions online for most of them, if they ever really wanted to build them again. You can download manuals for most appliances and stuff so I would guess it’s similar? 🙂

    Reply
  10. Juliann Boyd
    June 9, 2017

    1 big, huge bin

    Reply
  11. Karen
    June 9, 2017

    We have plastic drawers (from the dollar store) where our kids store their Legos. Each drawer contains similar size pieces, so the top drawer is fo the small pieces and studs, the middle drawer is for middle sized (often the more traditional pieces), and the bottom drawer for large pieces. The Lego people usually are in the top and the wheels in the bottom. We keep instruction manuals in a separate single plastic bin. The kids can keep their creations up for a certain amount of time, then they can take a photo of their creation and take it apart, putting the Legos in their correct drawers. We don’t get any of their photos developed but it is on the computer if they want to remember. Having the Legos sorted by size helps the kids find the type of pieces they want more easily, and the drawers keep the Legos off the floor!

    Reply
  12. Wieska
    June 14, 2017

    Lego has been a sloe process for our boy to play with independently as well. What really helped him was to sort it by color. We have the ikea trofast unit and that has been helpful. Every so often we have to reorganize things, but having the colors together makes it not so overwhelming to him to find the piece (s) he’s looking for.

    Reply
  13. Rebecca
    July 22, 2017

    We have both. Sets bagged individually with the instructions (my husbands preference) and one big bucket. Our kids are little and can’t build the sets without dad’s help so we see a lot more use out of the big bin. It’s taken some time for my son (4) to learn to play alone with them. At first I built things for them (my dad and my husband also did a lot of building for him) and over time he learned how to connect the bricks and play more.

    Reply

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