Sunday, November 11, 2012

Organizing kids Legos and Books - so simple!

We have two boys, ages 10 1/2 and 5 1/2. While I am blessed with two smart boys who actually get along with each other, the down side is that they both love the same things (despite their age difference). Legos and books that is!
Over the years we have accumulated quite a collection and while our little guy will easily part with any old toy in favor of a new one, our oldest one will hang on to everything - and I mean just that: E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G!
Habits are difficult to establish in my kids too, so I could use all the help and tools I can find in order to assist them with staying organized and chaos free. After all, 80% of their room is filled with either Legos or Books, the rest consisting of a variety of miscellaneous toys from Nerf Guns to Bionicles and a few Playmobil sets.


This room is NOT a Pottery Barn Catalog special where everything matches beautifully and the boys seem to enjoy at best three toys, all of which are made of exotic wood! You get the idea, this is a REAL room!
This is the method by which I have organized my kids' room but first, the goals:
  •  Everything has a place and everything is in its place.
  • Categorize and Label everything.

  • Make it easy to clean and reorganize under 15 minutes each nigth.
  • Make the space functional.


My boys love their legos and over the years have managed to amass an enormous quantity of loose pieces. Of course, those already assembled Legos are not the problem, they are well cared for by my oldest one. However, the loose pieces and "creations" they make out of them can quickly get out of hand and make the room look like a bomb went off.  For those of you who have purchased Lego organizers in the past, you know all too well how expensive they can be, never mind the fact that they are never big enough. So my solution was to sort by color and by type as well as to find a storage system that would not break the bank! This is what I did:

I purchased 6 three-drawer plastic containers from Target and lined them up 3 x 2 so that they would create a large flat surface. In this case, it is 44 x 30. Three containers open on one side, the other three open on the other side.

The boys literally spent two days sorting all their loose pieces by color and by kind. For instance, Lego Ninjago are all in one drawer, the same applied to Lego Cars, Halo , etc.

Here we have drawers filled with assorted colors...

On the other side, they have their loose sets with mini-figures...Bey Blade and Bakugans also have their own respective drawers....

For specific mini-figures, we found this craft storage on sale. It works great for those boys who will not mix Star Wars mini-figures with Indiana Jones ones (Heaven forbids!) Each box is labeled with the type of mini-figure it contains. This is, by far, the best way to keep them together and in order!

Once I had the 6 drawer containers aligned, I measured everything and went to the Home Depot to have some sturdy plywood cut to size. The goal here was to place a building table right on top of the containers so that the boys would have a flat surface to work with and the containers would stay put together.

Here is the flat surface...

To ensure it would remain stable and not slide off, I planned on having legs on each side by simply using 2x4. These also keep the containers from sliding underneath as they stay aligned and against one another.

I added one piece of identical plywood over the 2x4 to complete the look and contain the boxes underneath...When cutting your large flat surface, make sure to allow additional length for the 2x4 and the extra panels (2). Mine went from 44 in. as is to 49 in. once I added the 2x4 and the panels.

If you plan on building this table yourself, do make sure that your countersink the holes before  using your deck screws, in particular on the top of the table to ensure little hands will not be scratched!

Countersink your screws!

I have two screws on each side drilled into the 2x4 and two screws per post for the side panels.

Here is the final product...a certain someone could not wait to start building!


I use IKEA shelving systems to showcase completed Lego sets (my oldest one calls it his "Lego Museum.") The bookcases also contain all their books. However, books are also categorized by subjects and/or author when applies.
I have specific collections in baskets with label/tags attached to them. Other collections are by series, and separated by Vertical-Horizontal arrangements. 
Because they are both avid readers, there is a vast supply of books yet to be read. Again, these are separated by age, labeled and placed in baskets.

When a collection is too large to fit in a basket, I use dividers (simple pieces of cardboard wrapped in craft paper - I am on a budget here).

Ikea Bookcases are cheap, sturdy and easy to install.

Categorize books by collections - Here I have a basket for Star Wars books
and another for Thomas and Berenstain Bear books. I stack books either
vertically or horizontally to alternate and separate collections.

In another bookcase I have their To-Read baskets
along with assorted story books.

Whenever it is time to pick a new book, my oldest one knows where
to go...

On the shelf below, where it is more accessible, I have the same
arrangement for my Kindergartner.

Whenever a collection is too large for baskets,
I use DIY dividers.
Another bookcase (not shown) contains all their school and homework books including early reader and phonic books.


As I mentioned above, labeling is very important because it provides a higher level of structure for your children. It allows them to have a specific place for their toys and generally speaking this will also prevent a lot of breakage. I would rather have a lot of closed containers, each for specific items rather than huge toy boxes where toys get thrown in and ultimately either break or get forgotten.

These large container drawers are ideal for toys. They are big enough so that some of your child's largest pieces can be contained and tucked away. For instance, they can hold two shoe boxes full of stuff plus some if you wish to further categorize within each drawer.

 I am hoping you found a few ideas here to help you sort and organize your children toys. I find that my boys appreciate a room that is easy to clean and re-organize and it starts by making it simpler for them.

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I welcome your feedback and comments. If you have a question or a specific request, do not hesitate, I am here to help! Thanks, S.

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