If you have children who love legos, you understand that legos are both the best and the the most challenging toy ever invented. You want to keep all of those bricks organized and together not scattered all over the floor of your house but you also want your kids to be able to find the pieces they need, otherwise they won't wind up playing with them.
Legos are an amazing invention that provide kids with a creative opportunity to learn how to follow detailed instructions using both their brains and motor skills. Legos also provide fuel for a child's imagination to run free if they choose to create something without using the manuals. Many of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s believed that was the only way to play with them as detailed models are more a thing of the present day.
Legos are difficult toys to keep organized and tidy and thus they can end up all over the house. Almost every parent has had the unfortunate scenario of stepping on a lego and being instantly reminded of why their own parents would yell about legos on the floor. As long as there are legos, parents will be faced with the continual challenge, requiring both patience and creativity, to keep them corralled.
What we have learned from talking with parents and watching our own children play with legos is that there are two common types of lego creators - the creative builder and the instructions follower - and being able to discern which type of creator your child is a majority of the time, can help you consider how to best organize their legos.
As we dig into this topic, keep the big picture in mind - any organizing system you create for a child will likely need to be adjusted and tweaked as your child learns and grows.
You know if you have a creative builder in your house if your child often uses their own imagination, rather than an instruction booklet, to build their lego creations. Additionally, you might find a creative builder creating smaller lego creations and then use those smaller creations to create larger "scenes" that they then "play" with.
Being a creative builder doesn't mean that your child will not ever build from instructions. It just means that as they grow their lego-building skills they organically begin to build more and more creations without the use of an instructions book. You will find that creative builders are happy with almost any set of legos as they love to feel the freedom to build and create from their own vision.
If you have children who love legos, chances are that you have seen the Lego movie. Emmet, the lead character, is a builder who always follows the instructions until he meets some of the superheroes (aka Master builders) in the movie. He never realized until then that there was a different way to build.
Does your child prefer to build from the instructions? Once the item is created do they prefer to display it rather than play with it? When they are done building one creation, are they okay with breaking up the pieces to make something new or do they prefer to keep it as it is and then get a new lego set and start from the beginning using a new set of instructions?
If this sounds like your child, you might have an instructions follower in your home. An instructions follower is most certainly also creative, but they are drawn to the act of building and creating something with guidance and less comfortable just going out on their own.
Neat Little Nest has heard from many parents and our own children that often kids are a little bit of both of these types of builders, but that they tend to lean more towards one or the other. For the sake of sharing some ways to organize for these types, we will keep the ideas singular knowing that you might have both types of builders in your family.
organizing legos by color
As we mentioned earlier in this post, there are many different ways to organize legos and you might need to try several ways before you find one that works great for your family. There is no perfect way to organize legos and each household will likely need to try different ways to see what works best.
One way to organize legos is by color. This system can work well for families that have multiple builders and can work well for both creative builders as well as instruction followers. Neat Little Nest organized the above legos by color using the Trofast system from Ikea.
Keeping the legos organized by color does require some level of intention when putting the legos back when they are done playing with them, so that is a consideration when choosing this system. We've curated drawer organizing systems in our Amazon shop.
organizing legos by type
Another way to organize legos is by type - rectangular bricks together, square bricks together, people together, wheels together, et al. If you have an extremely particular builder who creates often and would work well with a very detailed system this system might work very well for them.
In our experience, organizing legos by type works best with an older child who can handle the specific type of organizing system that this type of sorting and ongoing maintenance will require.
To organize by type, it requires a lot of subdivision either using drawers with divided inserts or multiple sectioned mini drawer units in oder to divide up the system to the level of detail you're looking for. To see more product inspiration, we've curated additional lego organizing products.
organizing legos by not organizing them
Another way to organize legos is not organizing them at all. It is using a combination of swoop bags alone or with large plastic bins. The genius of the original swoop bag is that you play on the bag and when you are done playing you just "swoop" it up into the bag.
There are a variety of mats available to allow your children to play with legos (and other toys) on them and get them cleaned up in a jiffy. You will find them in our organizing legos section of our Amazon shop.
As my son (and his creativity) have matured we have found that organizing legos by not organizing them is the best way. You see, my child is both a creative builder and an instructions follower. He likes to build units just to build them and put them on display. He also likes to just dump out a pile of legos and create. When he is in "just create" mode, it's more fun for him to dig into a pile of legos and see what happens. For us, this means we spend more time thinking about how to display legos than having space to organize the many pieces.
There are two things you need to keep in mind when displaying legos - volume and how your children interact with them.
The best way to display legos is on shelves, but if the volume of legos that need to be displayed is large, you will need to think carefully about where you have enough space to display them. If the volume is small, the legos might fit nicely as part of your overall toy room as pictured above.
The second thing to consider when displaying legos is how your children interact with them. If they primarily make them and don't use them again, you can have your displays up higher and out of reach. If your child(ren) like to create scenes and play with their legos, then it will be important to consider the height of the shelves and position the shelves lower to the ground so they can use them more readily and it is why I would recommend a system with adjustable shelves so you can add and adjust over time.
Whatever way you decide to organize your legos, be sure to invite your kids to help with creating the system, sorting them, and managing them. Make cleaning or picking them up a natural part of the play process and over time it will become a habit. Even make it a game to find any rogue pieces. Kids love to feel helpful.
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