Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bulding with Standard Lego Bricks

Are Standard Lego Bricks a Thing of the Past?

Our family is loyal Target shoppers, partially because we have a big Target store within walking distance from our house. As in every store around the country, one aisle of a toy department is fully dedicated to Lego. Even if we don’t go to the movies, it’s easy to figure out what is currently popular looking at the Lego sets. Sadly, simple standard brick sets seem to be missing in action. My husband and I talked about it many times – how building from sets teaches to follow instructions but limits creativity, even for those sets that allow several variations from the same set of blocks. This is why we continue to invest into our collection of standard Lego bricks of different sizes.

Where to Find Standard Lego Bricks?

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  1. Ask your family. My husband imported several suitcases of Lego from his and his brother’s childhood collection, so we have Lego bricks and figures that are almost 40 years old, and they still snap together just fine!
  2. Garage sales and Craigslist. We didn’t have much luck with Legos at a reasonable price, but most of our considerable Duplo collection came from a couple of lucky finds at garage sales, and our seven year old still enjoys Duplo just as much as Lego.
  3. Pick-a-Brick at a Lego store. Our daughter adores the tiniest pieces in her Lego Friends collection, so before Christmas my husband went to a specialized Lego store. They all have “Pick-a-Brick” wall where you can pay per bucket filled with Lego blocks. This Pick-a-Brick is not really cheap for big blocks, but he filled his bucket with all those decorative details – seats, flowers, fence pieces, translucent single pieces, etc. This bounty of small pieces really motivated Smarty to create her own baking goods and other food creations with Lego pieces.
  4. Buy online. Frankly, buying Lego online is the last resort, since it is about the only toy that is consistently cheaper in brick-and-mortar stores, especially in Walmart. My husband’s legacy collection was mostly red-and-white, and we extended it with more colorful blocks from Walmart and from our visit to Legoland. You can look for the following collections:
  5. Lego Ultimate Buidling Set Lego Bricks Builders of Tomorrow Lego Fun With Bricks

Possibilities Are Endless with Standard Bricks

Lego Ferris Wheel
My husband is an amazing Lego builder, and he truly loves playing with Lego. Smarty often needs a push getting started with Lego, because she doesn’t enjoy an inevitable cleanup, so sometimes my husband starts building first and soon our daughter is right there making her own Lego creations or helping him. His last project was building this Lego Ferris Wheel complete with a ticket booth. Here are a couple of close ups that might give a better idea as to how the wheel is put together. It does use a few special pieces from his old Lego Fischer Technik set, but our visiting friends said that these pieces are available in Lego Crazy Action Contraptions kit. This Ferris Wheel can also be powered by a Lego motor – anything powered by electricity still really fascinates Smarty.
Lego Ticket Booth - Loose Bricks Lego Ferris Wheel - View from Above

What Is Smarty Building?

Smarty doesn’t build amazing free standing structures yet, but her building techniques are slowly expanding, and she is moving beyond beds for her toys and Lego food. Her last Lego creation was a prototype for an air powered train – inspired by our discussion at home about a Hyperloop bullet train. It doesn’t quite work yet, but neither does our California Bullet Train project!
Air Powered Train

More Lego Resources

Consider following my Lego Pinterest board where I collect Lego ideas and Lego-based activities for kids

Your Turn

Do your children extend their sets with loose bricks? What are most popular Lego “themes” in your house?


An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Our folks both kept our old buckets of Legos - so we have a number of loose bricks, as well as the sets we've bought for the children. The girls usually build cities and houses, and T likes to build the set and then NEVER take it apart. D though, at 11, is our biggest builder - and he prefers free bricks over sets, and loves to find nifty ways to make them move, or fold up, or shift around. Our big debates come when he sees a piece in one of his older brother's sets that is just what he needs for his latest creation :)

Ticia said...

Star Wars Clone Wars has been a perennial favorite

We go by the Lego store and pick up more bricks from their pick a brick wall, but you don't always get the best choices from there.

You can also order specific pieces online, but that gets really expensive very fast.

Ticia said...

Oh, have you gone to see the new Lego Movie yet? I think you'll really enjoy it.

Joyful Learner said...

Our library hosts a Lego Challenge once a month. I love the idea because you don't need to buy, the kids get so many to choose from, and easy cleanup!

RockerMom said...

Nearly every year there is a "Bricks and More" set availabe on Black Friday for next to nothing. One year, we picked up a set of 1600 for $15 and this year it was a set of 750 for $10. That is the one thing we always look for on that horrible shopping day. ;) We love standard bricks, too!

Alison P. said...

There was a sale on Black Friday for one of the big boxes of legos for $15 and I bought three. I was going to buy more and my husband thought I was crazy. I said that these were hard to find and super expensive normally. We only opened one box so far but my parents keep buying sets for my son and he isn't interested in the regular blocks. I asked my parents to stop but my dad said he wants to get them but he doesn't get it. Love the lego work!!! I can't wait until my son works with the creative part of the lego blocks :)

hey said...

I was just talking to my husband the other night about how people hang onto their Legos. All of the other toys are long gone but the Legos are still tucked away for safe keeping. My nephews are all grown up and some even have children of their own but they still have their big tub of Legos!

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

My kids do build a lot of their own things, but nothing as complex and the creations that are made in your home! My kids love castle and city legos.

Every Star Is Different said...

We LOVE Lego bricks! I love how the kids' building ideas are influenced by the world around them. Great post.


Yelena said...

Monkey loves Legos and we have lots of sets as well as loose standard bricks. When he gets a new set (usually for his birthday or the New Year), he builds it, but almost immediately starts using pieces from it in his other creations. After a few days the sets just get mixed and he uses all the funky pieces for his own inventions/creations.

Kelly said...

I live with Lego junkies. They like to build kits, but after they are finished they build random structures. They are usually star wars like jets or castles. My mom lives in Miami and she said the zoo has life size lego animals on exhibit right now. You can probably google some pictures to show smarty. Legos will be one of the toys we box up for grandkids for sure.
Kelly at Little Wonders' Days

Carrie said...

My husband and I discuss the missing standard sets too. I hate how most of the sets are specific to build something already. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

Crystal Mcclean said...

My son is loving his Batman sets he received from extended family as gifts, but he loves to create 'upgrades' to them on a daily basis. But they also still like to use the box of standard pieces that have been handed down from their cousin. Thanks for linking up with Mom's Library, I'll be featuring you this week at Crystal's Tiny Treasures.

Regina said...

Currently the set with more standard pieces than any other is Juniors racecar rally. I hid the box and instructions and gave a set each to 40 kids in my summer classes. They whined for 2 minutes about instructions and then got busy building 40 unique fantastic cars. we raced them and had a blast. the next best bet is the creative supplement or lego education basic bricks if you want 880 bricks.