As far as “time played” for “price paid,” I think both LEGOS (for older children) and DUPLOS (for younger children) have the best ratio. I almost always woke up in the morning because the DUPLO bin was being dumped out on the floor. There is a certain grating, high-pitched shooshing noise that comes with that dumping action that hurried me quickly downstairs to see what everyone was up to!
We actually would request money for these toys at Christmas and birthdays or suggest certain sets for the grandparents to buy so that we could increase our collection. Why? Our kids loved playing with them!
(Buyer Hint: Ebay is a great way to get deals on sets.)
However, with lots of small pieces you also have to have some special rules.
The DUPLO or LEGO Rules
- The blocks, bricks, platforms, jewels and weapons need to stay in defined spaces. We designated some tubs and containers to keep things contained. I liked sorting the pieces by color but sorting them by kind also works well. The Professional tool organizer was also a nice addition. (#Ad -great price & free shipping!)
- One thing at a time! No other toys can be played with until this toy is all cleaned up. That doesn’t mean that you can’t keep a partially finished project together: It can be its its tub unfinished but it can’t be on the kitchen table waiting to be finished.
- Playing on top of a sheet or blanket makes clean up quick. We also used a dustpan to scoop pieces into the tubs or bins as needed. I came up with this bin system after I spent 20 minutes one day looking for the black piece that connected the chariot to the horse. The bins all came from the dollar store and they stack into a large, zippered bag that I also purchased there as well.
You control the Legos; not the other way around.
It is okay to limit the places in your house that your children can play with their toys. Until they start helping with rent or mortgage payments, it is your house. Ha! We limited the LEGOS to certain places, plus required the daily clean up. That way, the bricks helped my children by creative and imaginative without driving me “over the edge.”
I do not recommend using masking tape or painter’s tape to divide out play areas on a rug, although it seemed a good idea at the time. There is just enough “sticky stuff” left behind after the tape is removed to make a dirt mark where the tape was.
None of them can play if any of them are fighting. This was a great motivator to get any friction resolved and taught them great negotiating skills.
Bonus idea: Make up a story for your kids to complete.
One of my favorite story starters went like this:
“Uh,oh.” I said seriously as the children were playing.
“The animals are all getting sick and some are going to die if the zoo keeper can’t find the right food that they need.”
“What?!” said the children, feeling terribly bad about the suddenly ill animals.
“Yes, you are going to have to figure out a way to get over that mountain and find the right plant for them to eat so that they get better. And you better hurry!”
Suddenly everyone was coming up with ideas to save the animals, go on their quest and return in time. I loved hearing them problem solve and work together (even if it was short-lived!)
Bonus idea 2:
Some days we had “red bricks” only days! It is amazing what you can come up with just by limiting a color. One time we had a LEGO challenge: the kids had to make a town and use every single piece of LEGO we owned.
I hope these ideas help you as you manage the Duplos and LEGOS in your life! For some ways that LEGOS help children, THIS article is great.
What are your ideas to keep the LEGO sanity in your life? Please comment below and see “Two Rules & 7 Tips for Success” for more ideas on working with kids.