Do you have a little LEGO lover in your household? I have four. If you multiply the number of LEGOs in each set, times the number of sets we have, times four children, it equals exactly a bazillion little plastic bricks sitting around our house. (And just waiting to be stepped on.)
We have Star Wars and Minecraft, Duplo and Heartlake City and all of the Friends who live there. We have minifigures, minidolls (there’s a difference), Chima spinners and Ninjago weapons. My children wear LEGO pajamas while watching the LEGO movie and then go to sleep in their LEGO decorated room under the cover of their LEGO blankets. I wish the LEGO company would go public so I could buy some stock in it because we are invested!
And now, somehow, I’ve become a LEGO expert. It’s not something I planned on–but kind of like the eighties songs that you can’t get out of your head–I just know this stuff.
Here are ten secrets for moms of LEGO lovers:
Secret One: LEGO Organization–It May Not Be Possible
The number one thing any LEGO collector struggles with is how to organize the massive amounts of bricks. We have tried all sorts of different containers–everything from those made by the LEGO company to sewing kit or fishing tackle organizers. I have not found the silver bullet on this front (in fact, I confess as to how out of control our LEGO mess is in this post). Here are a few photos of some things we’ve tried. Some of your children may be very organized and be all over this type of sorting project. But, let me warn you from experience, after you get past four or five sets intended for ages 7 and up, you will have more bricks than you know what to do with.
Secret Two: Saving the Instructions? Do You or Don’t You?
My children save the instructions. I have friends that keep three-ring-binders with the instructions in plastic sleeves, but I’m not that organized. We keep them in a bin and they never get referenced. Ever. Candidly, I think saving the instructions is completely unnecessary given that you can reprint them online whenever you need to. More realistically, once a set is destroyed there is a high likelihood it will never be rebuilt. So, saving that little booklet is really just a waste of space.
Secret Three: LEGOs are Mostly for Play, Not Display.
We do a lot more playing than displaying at our house. Though we are “kragle” (Krazy Glue if you haven’t seen the LEGO movie) free, there are a few sets that I’ve considered glueing together because of how much we paid for them and how easily they seemed to come apart when played with. I’ve found that my children really prefer to play with the LEGOS and aren’t satisfied to just build a vehicle or structure and have it sit around, untouched.
Secret Four: Where to Find LEGO Bargains
Looking for great deals on LEGO gifts? Shop for them now during the summer! I’ve noticed that major retailers start really marking down last year’s LEGO sets in the summer. Several sets that my children have been pining for were on clearance at Walmart just last week! Also, sites like Zuilily often carry LEGO apparel and storage supplies at a discounted price. Don’t forget about Costco too. In the last several years, Costco has had some great deals on LEGO books (that include a mini figure like the one below) and multiple set combination packs.
Also, the BEST bargain around is getting the FREE LEGO Magazine every month when you are a member of the LEGO Club. Sign up EVERY one of your children because they won’t want to share it and there are different magazines or inserts based on age group and gender! Also, inside the magazine you’ll often find discounts for the theme parks. LEGO Club members also get special gifts at events like LEGO Kidsfest.
Secret Five: Get into LEGO Online!
LEGO.com has a mini-site for every LEGO theme where kids can play games or watch videos. My kids also love the vast world of LEGO apps. There are 33 different FREE iPad apps and 30 different iPhone apps! All of the games–from Star Wars games to the LEGO Friends–are a lot of fun.
My preschooler enjoys the DUPLO apps. There are apps that encourage your children to be creative–and not just in their building. One app called LEGO movie lets you use the video camera on the iPad and make their own little film starring their LEGOs. The LEGO Friends series of apps has resort designers, music makers, and similar creative opportunities. Another app called LEGO TV which has shorts of LEGO television shows and Master Builder shorts– videos made by the actual LEGO builder/designer guys that tell the kids secrets of brick building.
Secret Six: How to Find and Create LEGO Decor
I wrote a post on how I redid my boys room in LEGO here. Since then I’ve seen a number of cute ideas on Pinterest. Amazon has been my best bet for purchasing LEGO bedding and accessories. I recently picked up this LEGO City themed blanket with a LEGO firefighter on it for my four year old! It was only $20 and he loves how soft it is. You can read about how I made these LEGO pillows and LEGO wallhangings here.
Secret Seven: The Scoop on LEGO Themeparks
If you’ve never been to a LEGOLAND themepark, you should put it on the “before the kids get too old” bucket list. We love LEGOLAND Florida. I’ve heard California is just as great. The rides are fun, there are LEGOs everywhere, and you can trade minifigures with the staff (they keep minifigures on their name badges and when you see one you want you just trade them for it!) The parks are less crowded than Disney and, generally, a whole lot more pleasant to explore, especially on a weekday. Look online for deals before you go. We have never paid full admission price because there is always a special, like buy one get one free available through the LEGO Club or online. Last December we got a buy one-get one free deal and then were issued four more free tickets to come back another day!
If you can’t make it all the way to a coastal state anytime soon, then plan a visit to LEGOLAND Discovery Center at Grapevine Mills Mall. You will enjoy your experience most if you can plan your visit for a time when they aren’t super crowded–think not a weekend. There’s about three-to-four hours of activities there (depending on how many 4-D movies you want to watch) so plan accordingly. Look in the LEGO Club magazine for buy one adult and get a free kid’s admission before you go!
Secret Eight: LEGO Special Events–Watch for them!
LEGO Kidsfest was in Dallas last year. This year it’ll be in Austin (September 4-6). It was a little pricey, but we found some discounted tickets online and went. There was easily a full four hours (or more) worth of fun there. The number of bricks was almost overwhelming! The convention center was set up like a mini LEGOLAND, with a different area for each LEGO theme. They gave away free mini LEGO sets in some of the areas and there were a ton of photo opportunities with giant LEGO creations. My children went to a session taught by a LEGO master builder where he told us how long it took to make some of those creations and they were very impressed.
Annually, you may also want to watch out for the traveling Brick Fiesta. It was in Mesquite a few years ago and made for a fairly inexpensive, yet full day of brick-building fun.
If you are looking for something a little closer to home this year, the Tyler Museum (about an hour and a half east of Dallas) is having and exhibition called “The Art of the Brick” through September 13th. Adults are only $5 and kids are free so it may be an inexpensive way to see some really cool LEGO displays.
The LEGO Americana Roadshow was in Frisco a few months ago. This was a totally free event at the Stonebriar Mall and featured cool LEGO versions of American monuments. LEGO Club members are usually invited to events like this so, remember to sign up for that magazine so you can watch for other local events!
Secret Nine: How to Do Easy LEGO Birthday Parties
Again, Amazon has been my go to for LEGO birthday party supplies. You can order LEGO silicone molds in the shape of minifigures or bricks and you can use them for cake decorating, jello jigglers, or candy making. I made my own LEGO favor bags and bought a lot of 500 random LEGOS on ebay to fill each bag with 30 or so bricks. We decorated with my kids already-built LEGO sets. Another super simple idea to take some giant sheets of colored poster board and add some construction paper dots to make them look LEGO. You can even cover your front door with solid colored wrapping paper, add dots, and presto! You have a LEGO door. There’s also a LEGO font you can download to help all of your decor look more authentic.
Secret Ten: Use LEGOs in Education
The best thing about LEGOs is that they are truly a learning toy. LEGOs encourage children to be creative and work with their hands. They develop dexterity for the young and problem solving skills for the older. We homeschool and last year as we covered different events in U.S. history, I asked my eight-year-old to make a LEGO creation to go with that event.
We’ve used LEGOs in math (fractions, counting, addition and subtraction) and I’ve even seen ways to use LEGOs to teach the alphabet and simple spelling. Whatever you do, don’t overlook the tremendous value of the learning that is happening while your children interact with those little plastic bricks! If you want to direct it, the possibilities are endless. Or, if you want them to just play free, they’ll still be learning too. Once your children are school age, they can join the First LEGO League which is a way for children to do competitive builds in a team environment.
The world of LEGOs may seem overwhelming at first, so if you are new, just roll with it and soon you’ll find that they can entertain your children for hours of QUIET fun and serve a fantastic educational purpose too!
**This post was not sponsored by the LEGO company or any of the companies linked to above. These opinions and experiences are my own and were (unfortunately) all paid for by me!