Legos: Organization and Ideas

With Christmas coming, I've been thinking about gifts.  This is partly because I have a baby due at the beginning of December and hope to be ahead on it this year :)

Jay has had 6 years of Lego gifts.  And they have been collecting.  But not getting as much use as I thought they would.  Jay loves to build, but would choose other toys instead.

I started to wonder if it was simply because of the way the {little} piles of legos were stored?

With a fresh installment of legos from last Christmas and his birthday last year I decided to do change how the legos were presented and see if it made a difference.

And now that it's been 9 months I thought I would share the results of what I found out from {this little project}.

I'm not a neat freak. I like things organized.  But I'm quite "right-brained" and if things are too organized it feels too sterile to me.  But on the flip side of that, chaos does not stimulate creativity.  It prevents it.  So I try to find a happy place in between the extremes in our home.

Our legos were stored in a clear container, but just jumbled together.  I decided to get some shallow bins with dividers and group like colors together like this:

And like this:

I put Kay's pink legos in her own bin too.  The thing I like about these bins is you can change the dividers in them.  So we can re-group as needed when their collection changes.  

The small bins are great for the{little} lego guys/girls and all their accessories!

I picked up these organizers at Michael's.  They go on sale for 1/2 price pretty often.  The fact that they are not deep bins has made all the difference!  It's much easier to find what you are looking for.  And they are clear so you know if you have the right box.
 Jay and Kay can see their pieces at a glance and they play with them all the time now!

I was worried that Jay and Kay would not want to clean up their legos if they had to really put them away in the right spot.  But, they put all the colors and pieces away where they go just fine when they are done playing and disassemble their work.  And they don't seem mind at all-yay!

We keep a small container out for the {little} legos that don't make it back into the organizer boxes  on time (and are found under the dresser or something) so they can be collected.  Then the next time the legos are out they put those away too.

We have needed to keep them away from Ellie.  And we try to keep the lids closed so they don't get bumped and spilled by her.  But even she has come to respect them and has started to join in the play.

 For organizing and keeping track of instruction booklets I put together a binder with page protectors.  The directions that come with the sets go in there.  But we have a lot of legos that didn't come with a set.  And for ideas of what to build with instructions, we've visited this site.

It has all the building instructions from all the past sets!  You can print any you want!  After choosing what they want to build, I just print, and hole-punch the directions and put them in the binder.  I put tabs in the binder to organize the different kinds of instructions.

We also got Jay this book for Christmas last year.  I liked that it didn't have a lot of directions.  It's just building inspiration.  It gives him ideas and he can use his own creativity from there.  He really likes it and it's just what I hoped it would be.

It's been nine months since I took this photo.  And I'm happy to say that the legos look just the same as they did then, when we started {this little project}.  It's been a long enough test that I thought it was worth sharing the idea with you :)

Happy Building!

MORE Bear Hunt Book Fun!

I'm over at today to share Music and Movement ideas that bring the book, We're Going on a Bear Hunt, alive! 

These experiences go right along with the other activities I shared in the B is for Bear Hunt post.  If you have little people at your house, you won't want to miss it!

 abc button

B is for Bear Hunt

This past week I had some little people over for some preschool fun.  We were working with the letter B and Ellie's favorite book right now is We're Going on a Bear Hunt.  She has it all memorized.  So I knew we had to have some fun with BEARS!  Here are a few of the things we did to celebrate the letter B!

Of course we read the book together.  

And then we had some more Bear Hunt fun.
The kids took turns hiding the bear and hunting for it.  The child that hid the bear would clap louder and faster when the children got closer until they found it!

Our Bear Hunt snack was hiding little Teddy Grahams in Brown pudding.

and then hunting for them in the brown pudding cave!

While the Bear Hunt snack was going on, the kids covered their B page with Bears, Buttons, and Beans--for fine motor building.

Ellie loves doing buttons on her dot letters on her light table.  The buttons glow with the light behind them!

To print your own Dot Letters, check out these printables.

Have a Beary good day!

How to Teach Even and Odd for Kids

I've been meaning to share {this little project} for months now.  Thanks for hanging with me through all the ups and downs of life (and pregnancy) that affect how often I get a {little} bit posted here!

I was working with Kay (months ago!) on her odd and even numbers.  She is my hands-on learner so I wanted a clear way for her to be able to "touch" the concept.

This is what I came up with:

Her tray has a box of numbers (up to 10 for now) with an ice cube tray and flower stickers.

As she counted out the flowers in the tray I had her put the next one as the "neighbor."  By that, I mean that she did one on the top row and then on on the bottom row.  

At the end, if all the flowers had a "neighbor" then it was an even number--because it worked in sets of 2's.
If a flower was left alone, it was an odd number.

And, the reason I'm sharing {this little project} is because it worked!  She figured out the concept and we were quickly able to move to larger numbers.

Yay for those {little} moments that make sense!

Making a {little} Difference

      We're in the middle of the presidential debates.  And I know my vote counts, but sometimes I really wish that I knew how to make my {little} voice heard and that I felt more able to be involved with issues that really touch my life as a mother, as well as stay better informed as a citizen. 
I am convinced that {little} things make a difference.  
Below are a few ideas and groups that support issues I believe in.  They may be different issues than you stand for or support.  And that's ok.  I ask for your tolerance, the same way you expect it.  The point is that we can all do a {little} something more to make difference.
I was talking with my mom recently and she was telling me about the purchase she had gone out of her way to make to support a company with similar values to hers.  She had found out about it through One Million Moms.
One Million Moms is a Christian group dedicated to protecting children and standing up for morality in a world that is not.  They also work to protect children and traditional family values.
Specifically, they work to get the trash out of the media.  (How many times have you been shocked by what comes on in a commercial or show?  And wondered what to do about it?)
I was impressed by the action my mom took on an issue that she supported.  Too many of us don't take action or aren't informed enough to be able to do something.
It's rewarding to be able to stand up for what you believe in.  And if you don't protect your children (or grandchildren), who will? 
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.--Edmund Burke
Then I told her about a group I am aware of that is related.  It's called Morality in Media.  This group works with political leaders and communities, etc. to establish and enforce laws against pornography and other indecency to protect all, and specifically our children.  

They recently were able to help put through a ban on pornography on computers in libraries in Arizona (how would you like your tween sitting next to someone who was viewing porn on a library computer?) and just announced that through their work, the The Republican Party GOP officially changed their platform this week, stating that they will not only focus on enforcing child pornography laws, but also on hardcore pornography laws.  MIM also maintains a research site about the harms of porn. Porn is one of those things that silently affects us all.
"Small events and choices determine the direction of our lives just as small helms determine the directions of great ships."
-- M. Russell Ballard
Do you remember the Prop 8 vote in California?  Did you know that a panel of a few judges overturned the voice of the people and nullified their vote?  I don't care which side of the issue you stand on for Prop 8.  The very fact that this happened should scare you.  It's not the American way.  American's have a voice.  They vote.  And it means something.
Then when the Prop 8 Legal Defense decided to stand up for the rights of those whose votes had been nullified they had to fight to do it.  They were told that they couldn't legally represent the people of California.  So who could?  After a lengthy legal battle the Prop 8 Legal Defense was finally allowed to and they have been working to preserve the voice of the people (an thus that our vote means something here in America) ever since.  The vote of the judges was tossed out and now Prop 8 Legal Defense is preparing be heard in the Supreme Court.  This is the kind of group I can get behind.  This issue is about way more than Prop 8 to me.
Only I can't do much to help.  I'm a busy Mother, not a lawyer.  
But you and I can donate.  Legal defense is expensive.  Donating is one way we all can have a voice in what is happening.  It puts our money where our mouth is, so to say.  And you and I can can stay informed about the issue.  To do something, anything, is more than nothing.
"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together."
-- Vincent Van Gogh
These groups are just the tip of the ice burg.  There are so many humanitarian and compassionate groups to support that spread goodness and kindness.  I love donating to this Christian humanitarian group because 100% of the donation actually goes to people who need it.  I've blogged before about Craft Hope, a group that combines the handmade work of many to send love all over the world.
  As Mothers, sometimes it's easy to feel like things that matter to us are beyond our reach.  Join in and make your voice heard.  Together, our {little} efforts can add up to something much more!