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LEGO Sorting Ideas: Find the Method That Can Work for You

Today we are covering LEGO Sorting Ideas.  There are quite a few different ways to sort LEGO and even more variations when you combine those ways.

We will take a look at three different methods so you can try to choose the one that will work best for you.

Hey – before you start, please take a look at LEGO Organization and Storage Considerations. I shared some things to be aware of before deciding on the best organization and storage method for your family.

Go through these ideas and talk with your boy to see what he thinks would work best for him.

Trying to gain control over all the LEGO taking over your house? See which LEGO sorting ideas will work best for your family.

LEGO Sorting Ideas

There are several more things to think about before you get to the actual ideas for sorting your LEGO bricks.

Believe me this is not a waste of time. I have heard from plenty of moms who put a LEGO organization and sorting system into place but it was never used. Or it became a big issue that the boy wasn’t wanting to use it the way they had expected.

There are a lot of ways to go about all of this! Our family has tried a few and I will share our experiences below. Take the time to find the best system for you and your family and it will be a dream to use.

First you need to ask yourself, and your boy, a few questions.

Does He Want to Be Able to Rebuild Sets?

The very first thing you need to find out if your boy wants to be able to rebuild the original sets. Some boys really want to do this and other couldn’t care less.

If he does want to rebuild, keeping the pieces for the sets together is your best bet. I know, it can be hard to do this but . . . it takes a L O N G time to find all of the pieces he needs to build his 3803 piece set if they are all tossed in a bin. (note: we do not own that set but it sure is awesome!)

If Yes:
Keep the sets together and have a strategy for keeping them together over time.

Have him take out a couple of sets at once and help him get the pieces back into the right boxes when he is done.

Yes, it takes time on your part, but teaching him some organization skills is helpful. Help him to understand that if he wants to rebuild sets he needs to keep everything organized.

Personal Experience:  My son keeps his sets in the original boxes. This works great and it is a very visual storage solution.

He does take pieces out of these sets to build new things often, but he just puts them back when he is done.

Since this is his preferred method it isn’t a hassle or an issue for us. He likes to be able to find his pieces.

If No:

If you do not need to keep the sets together for future set building you have three main options:

Sort LEGO Bricks by Color (Not My Choice)

Take all of the bricks and simply sort them by color. A lot of people end up doing this and I see a lot of posts about doing it this way but, to be honest, I am not exactly sure why.

Some AFOL (adult fans of LEGO) use this method with sub-sorting by element and for them I totally understand how it would work well.

For boys with smaller collections, I just don’t think this is the best idea. While I do think it would work well with sub-sorting, that would be a very hard thing for younger boys to keep up with.  (Feel free to tell my why this method is great! I am flexible 🙂 )

Personal Experience: It doesn’t work well for us because we are usually looking for a specific element and it would be hard to remember what color we had and thus where we would find it.

What sorting method is best to use when you are trying to organize your boy's LEGO? Click through for a series on figuring it all out.

Sort LEGO Bricks by Element

Sort by element so that all 2X2s are together, all wheels are together, all plates are together and so on.

Personal Experience:  We did this and I thought it was great! It is hands-down my favorite LEGO sorting idea ever. It was so easy to find what I was looking for when we were building. If he asked me where a piece was–zip! I handed it to him fast.

My son, however, found it really frustrating and ended up dumping them all back together. This is why it is so important to pay close attention to how they play with LEGO.

My Fail: I put a system into place that was great for helping me find the pieces he needed but not so great for the way he liked to build.

Yikes!!!  It was tough to watch him dump the pieces back into a bin after all the time we spent sorting. However, they are his LEGO and he has his own way of doing things. What works well for him, ahem, is not always what works well for me.

Skip Sorting and Put Them All Together

Is skipping sorting alltogether a method? Well, yes, sort of!

There are plenty of families who are quite happy to just dump all of the LEGO into a bin and call it good. To be honest, sometimes this is the best option. It is easy to use and there is not a lot of extra work.

However, it can be excruciatingly hard to find a specific element–especially the piece that they just have to have because no other substitute can be made! And it gets much harder as your collection of LEGO grows.

You could also have specific bins for each child in which they store their own pieces. This might cut down on “discussions” on which brick belongs to which child.

There is a huge bin of LEGO at our library and believe me boys are super happy to dig around in there and find cool pieces to use in their builds so it doesn’t stop the creativity from flowing, that is for sure.

If you decided to not sort all all and just dump them that is fine. You may find it works great  or you may need to go back to the beginning and read through again to find a LEGO sorting idea that will work for you.

Part 3

See how we decided to organize and store our overflowing LEGO collection.

Oh, and if you have not yet read part 1, here it is: LEGO Organization and Storage Considerations

I hope you are enjoying this series and that it is helping you to work out the best way to live with those wonderful bricks.

Stop by to see all of our LEGO posts including books and activities for boys if you haven’t already. We share a lot of great LEGO ideas there.


Wednesday 20th of December 2017

Hi Shelia! Thank you for such a detailed, informative article. My son is 5 and his style is to mix sets and really play with them but as we add new sets to his collection I'm not crazy about the idea of not having a sorting system in place, especially since he has a younger brother who I would like to pass down the sets to in a few years. Our collection is small but growing. Taking into account his age and playing style, what do you suggest? Do you make these decisions one child at a time and if a sibling has a different playing style he'll need his own sets/system?Thanks for your insight!

Sheila Rogers

Sunday 24th of December 2017

Hi Jessica,

Thanks for visiting. That is a tough question! It really depends on your kids. Maybe the younger one will like to free build as well and then it wouldn't be an issue. The people I know who have kids who have different ways of doing it usually do end up buying each child their own sets and they can do what they like with them. Thinking of a specific example in a family: one child builds his sets and keeps them built on a shelf. He will sometimes take them apart and build them again but he doesn't want to dump his into a community bucket. He does have bricks and pieces that he can free build with as well. The other boy dumps everything together and creates whatever he wants from the pieces. He does, however still build from the directions, it just takes him a lot longer to find the pieces he needs in the pile (and usually needs help doing so.) As you saw in the article, I thought I had the perfect sorting method for my son but really it was the perfect one for me lol. So, for now, you may wish to go with what works for your son and then switch things up as needed when your younger boy gets closer to the age where he wants to use them as well. There isn't one easy answer to this question. Hope that helps a bit. ~Sheila