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Sorting a child's LEGO collection

PaperballparkPaperballpark Near ManchesterMember Posts: 4,244
There's many discussions about how to sort collections of loose LEGO, but most of them concentrate on LEGO collections owned by AFoLs.

I don't think there's been much discussion about how to sort a child's LEGO collection.

Our little boy has - for a child - a lot of LEGO. The problem was that it was mostly stored in a few large boxes which were full to the brim. This meant he not only didn't really know what parts he had, but he also couldn't really dig deep enough to find parts. This didn't help his imagination.

Hence the need to sort it all, so that he knows where parts are, and can easily find them in a system which makes sense to him.

Unlike me (and, I suspect, a lot of AFoLs), hyper-sorting parts into myriad boxes wouldn't feed his imagination and help him build. He needed a system which sorted his bricks so he can find them, but didn't sort them too much so that it starved his imagination.

So I came up with the following 16 categories, which are stored in fabric drawers that fit into Ikea Kallax units (a set of two drawers in each cube):

2x4 bricks
2-wide bricks
1-wide bricks
Modified bricks
Large plates (2x6, 4x4 and above)
Small plates (2x4, 3x3 and below)
Modified plates
Tiles
Brackets and SNOT bricks
Wheels, car bits and windscreens
Windows and Doors
Slopes
Technic
Minifigs, Accessories, Animals and Food
Plants, Flowers, Trees and Fences
Other parts (Large and Small separately)

He's been bought a lot of 2x4 bricks over the past few years (approx 3000-4000), hence having a separate drawer for those. Otherwise, every part - literally every possible part - logically fits into one of those drawers. If it doesn't, it goes into the 'other' drawer (which has a small container in it for the smaller parts)

It also helps his imagination to be able to look in some of the more interesting drawers. I've designated six of the drawers as 'Interesting Inspiration' and the rest as 'Basic Building', as he's far more likely to find inspiration in the drawers of modified plates and modified bricks (which contain many different types of them) than he is in the drawers of normal plates and bricks.

I'd be interested to know how others sort their children's LEGO collections :)



gmonkey76Switchfoot55bandit778vanvonfullmaaaaaaard1899560HeliportCymbelineBumblepantspxchrisKungFuKennykhmellymel

Comments

  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,474
    I don't sort my kids' lego. I bought a couple of drawstring bags that turn into six foot diameter mats. That way they can spread out on the floor and build like kids. It's easy to clear up when finished and they don't have to worry about sorting. 
    GothamConstructionCo
  • andheandhe UKMember Posts: 3,815
    edited October 2021
    One big sheet that can be spread on the floor, rummaged through, then gathered up and put back into a box.
    Feel like rummaging through lego for 'that one piece' is a child's right of passage.
    SumoLegojason1976GothamConstructionCoKungFuKenny
  • Switchfoot55Switchfoot55 The Northwest, USAMember Posts: 2,996
    I attempted to sort my son's LEGO about a year ago. In a matter of about 9 days, it was, for all intents and purposes, back to the unsorted mass it was before sorting. I went for a very general sorting method as well as you mentioned above. 

    It may work for my daughter's collection. But I still have some PTSD of the undoing of my last kid collection sort. 

    Maybe some day...
    andhe
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark Near ManchesterMember Posts: 4,244
    I was quite sceptical about whether it'll stay sorted, but I'm more hopeful now, as he seems to generally understand how it's sorted and the system behind it, and has even been sorting a little bit of the parts remaining.
    560HeliportSwitchfoot55MaffyDMynatt
  • BumblepantsBumblepants DFW/BGMember Posts: 7,427
    We have a system that has worked great for our kids. Six or seven smaller bins that have specific categories they enjoy or are hard to find. 1x1 plates/tiles including clips etc. Another is just bars and minifigure accessories and small specialty bits. Minifigures have a bin and minidolls/animals have a bin. Technic has a bin for axles and gears and such and another for beams. We also have a wheels and tires. 

    Lastly, we have a big bucket just for large chunky parts as they tend to make it difficult to find smaller pieces when everything is mixed together. So wall panels, big plates, cockpits, dragon heads etc aren't constantly covering up what you hope to find.

    This had an immediate positive impact on their play and enjoyment and it isn't too difficult to maintain.
    Paperballparkpxchris
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,474
    Something else I taught my kids that actually stuck with them. When you take apart a car or vehicle, you connect all four (or however many) wheels and wheel connectors to each other, or to a plate, to keep them together. That way, you don't have to look for one type of tyre  and hub colour in a pile of much larger bricks.
    Switchfoot55khmellymel
  • TheOriginalSimonBTheOriginalSimonB Felixstowe Member Posts: 1,734
    We solved this issue by not having any kids...



    However, back in the good old days my brother and I had a long, thin cardboard box from a projector screen that everything was dumped in.  We devised our own basic categories (bricks, slopes, wheels, windows, minifigures, other stuff) and then built movable dividing walls from spare bricks to keep things separate.  Obviously this was the late 70s/early 80s so the "other stuff" component was pretty minimal compared to the variety of elements available now.
    Switchfoot55Astrobricksgmonkey76KungFuKenny
  • Djblythe05Djblythe05 NorthantsMember Posts: 72
    I tried to get them to organise it once, was far too much stress and the day after finally getting it close to some kind of order they mixed it all back together. They have several large boxes each containing a bed sheet that the Lego goes on. Figures (or most of them),live in separate large box. Then there’s 2 more tubs for what ever creation they’ve been working on so it stays together(ish), and a box for what ever current theme they’re building sets with currently marvel mechs. 
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,474
    Yeah, any sorting has to be done on their terms, otherwise they just get frustrated with it and tend to use it less. One of my son's friends has a ton of LEGO and his mother bought either 24 or 28 drawers in units from Ikea. Everything has to be broken down and put back in the right drawer at the end of play. He hates playing with lego there.
    andheAstrobricksbrickventureskhmellymel
  • AstrobricksAstrobricks Minnesota, USMember Posts: 5,322
    CCC said:
    Yeah, any sorting has to be done on their terms, otherwise they just get frustrated with it and tend to use it less. One of my son's friends has a ton of LEGO and his mother bought either 24 or 28 drawers in units from Ikea. Everything has to be broken down and put back in the right drawer at the end of play. He hates playing with lego there.
    Yeah that’s just sad.
    On the other hand, I’ve heard of households where Lego isn’t even allowed because some parent is too annoyed by the possibility of stray parts 😢
    560HeliportMynatt
  • CymbelineCymbeline CanadaMember Posts: 525
    CCC said:
    Yeah, any sorting has to be done on their terms, otherwise they just get frustrated with it and tend to use it less. One of my son's friends has a ton of LEGO and his mother bought either 24 or 28 drawers in units from Ikea. Everything has to be broken down and put back in the right drawer at the end of play. He hates playing with lego there.
    Yeah that’s just sad.
    On the other hand, I’ve heard of households where Lego isn’t even allowed because some parent is too annoyed by the possibility of stray parts 😢
    Clearly this is child abuse!
    Astrobricks560HeliportpxchrisFizyxgratefulnatbrickventures
  • truck730truck730 Member Posts: 358
    My Daughters few sets are not totally fragmented but parts get removed to make something else -not too bad as it's Her lot, but my nephew has multiple fragmented sets and when my brother reassembles them He just destroys them again ,I gave up after i remade the Ford Mustang as it got canabalised in front of me and at 8 it's creative but his own builds aren't strong enough to roughplay so they in turn don't last. Plus I'm super jealous as He gets a lot of great lego due to parents great jobs
    560Heliport
  • MaffyDMaffyD West YorkshireMember Posts: 3,390
    Minifigs / Everything Else. My son loves making up stories and playing out scenes from films etc - so anything he builds tends to stay built and repurposed as necessary to fit the story. He then creates original characters and puts them in the existing builds to carry on the adventure. He often borrows my Lego to put his own 'crew' in, then builds something else for the story to work.
    I'm not sure I could get him to sort his lego even if he wanted to - it just doesn't fit his play style.
    560HeliportDjblythe05
  • BobflipBobflip Member Posts: 691
    CCC said:
    Yeah, any sorting has to be done on their terms, otherwise they just get frustrated with it and tend to use it less. One of my son's friends has a ton of LEGO and his mother bought either 24 or 28 drawers in units from Ikea. Everything has to be broken down and put back in the right drawer at the end of play. He hates playing with lego there.
    Yeah that’s just sad.
    On the other hand, I’ve heard of households where Lego isn’t even allowed because some parent is too annoyed by the possibility of stray parts 😢
    I still cringe about the story on here about a mother who got annoyed that her child kept on dismantling their Lego car set, so she superglued the thing together
    AstrobricksMynatt
  • 560Heliport560Heliport Twin Cities, MN, USAMember Posts: 3,359
    Bobflip said:
    CCC said:
    Yeah, any sorting has to be done on their terms, otherwise they just get frustrated with it and tend to use it less. One of my son's friends has a ton of LEGO and his mother bought either 24 or 28 drawers in units from Ikea. Everything has to be broken down and put back in the right drawer at the end of play. He hates playing with lego there.
    Yeah that’s just sad.
    On the other hand, I’ve heard of households where Lego isn’t even allowed because some parent is too annoyed by the possibility of stray parts 😢
    I still cringe about the story on here about a mother who got annoyed that her child kept on dismantling their Lego car set, so she superglued the thing together
    And then she tried to return it because he lost interest in it!
    Astrobricks
  • AstrobricksAstrobricks Minnesota, USMember Posts: 5,322
    One more item for the “Are you ready to be a parent?” test :)
    560Heliport
  • FollowsCloselyFollowsClosely Member Posts: 1,235
    edited November 2021
    An adult sorting a child's collection can lead to insanity. I would say the key is to start simple and evolve as the kid grows. This could be as simple as say 4 different tubs:
    • plates and tiles
    • blocks and slopes
    • minifigs and accessories
    • random /other pieces.  
    Then as the need arises add tubs and start breaking the sorting into more fine grained elements:
    • plates and tiles
    •   plates
    •   tiles
    • blocks and slopes
    •   blocks
    •     1x blocks
    •     2x blocks
    •   slopes
    •   inverted slopes
    • minifigs and accessories
    • random /other pieces.  
    The child has to see the need and benefit, or it will never work. Let the process evolve as the kid needs change, don't force it.
    Cymbeline
  • EGRobertsEGRoberts OntarioMember Posts: 253
    I found sorting all the lego in the home really stifled my kid. Now I keep 2 large bins (similar to the amount I had as a child) of mixed lego for him to dump and build and then if he needs something extra he is more likely to check the sorted to supplement his mix. When it was all sorted it really overwhelmed him I think.
    560Heliport
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,474
    An alternative way of sorting is to sort how the parts get used. My kids used to build a lot of castles, so they started to keep grey, brown, green, black, etc bricks separate to brighter colours but didn't care about mixing up plates, bricks, other shapes all together within those.

    Whatever works for them at the time is the best solution.

    gratefulnat560HeliportSwitchfoot55FizyxDjblythe05OldfanGothamConstructionCogmonkey76Suboptimal
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