Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lego Club, Part Deux

We have all heard that presentation is everything, and this saying holds true when setting up library programs. The kids can tell how much effort we put into our programming and, if the presentation is a mess, you may lose them before they even get in the door. I read about a number of different ways that librarians set up their Lego Clubs but none appealed to me. They all just mentioned that they either dumped the pieces into a pile or had bins full of pieces set out on tables. There was no talk of sorting the pieces. Maybe I’ve just been around Legos too long, but Lego pieces come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. I decided that I would invent a way to sort the pieces to make them more accessible to the builders.

When Lego pieces are all jumbled together, it’s difficult to find that one piece you really need. And forget about trying to find any small pieces, they inevitably make their way to the bottom of the pile to be lost forever. Here’s a basic strategy for sorting Legos that will definitely make it easier for the kids to find what they need. I use only three categories: bricks, plates, and small/specialty pieces.

Bricks look exactly the way they sound, like bricks. These are the tall, regular Lego pieces. They may not all be perfect rectangles like bricks, but any of the big, thicker pieces would fall into this category.

Plates got their name because these are the flat pieces. They are not always smooth (most will have studs on top) but you can recognize these pieces because they are 1/3 of the height of a brick.

The small/specialty pieces would include all of those little, single stud pieces. Special pieces that swivel or bend and chairs and steering wheels should be grouped together.

I set up tables with one small bin of each of the 3 types of pieces.

I found that this system really works for the kids. If they need a certain type of piece, they know exactly where to look. I also let them know that each table might have different pieces so they can move from table to table to find what they need. I think that the kids appreciate the effort of sorting the pieces rather than just having them dig through large bins or piles. I was initially worried about keeping the pieces sorted but after each building session we do some sorting and when we break down the models after 2 weeks we make sure to sort those pieces. After 4 months, we still have a well sorted collection and very happy Lego builders.