When we were little we didn’t have Legos. I thought it was because we were a girls only house and Legos must be boy toys. They aren’t. It turns out my mom just wasn’t into stepping on them, so she never talked them up and we never put them on our toy wishlists.
Fast forward to my current house. My son Rock has recently gotten into Legos. And Star Wars movies. So for his birthday he got a few different Star Wars Lego model sets.
Since he’s off of school this week for Thanksgiving, we decided to put a few together this morning. Which got me thinking… I’ve done enough of these sets to have gained a little wisdom on the Lego-model-making experience. So I took a few pictures on my smart-phone (don’t judge the poor quality!) while we worked and gathered my thoughts to present you with…drumroll please…
15 STEPS FOR MAKING LEGO MODELS WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND
1 – Don’t make the Lego model.
Building Lego models together is a great way for fathers to bond with their children, don’t you think? If you can talk your hubby/ significant other/ mother/ father/ friend into doing this with your kid, you can
love your life go ahead and skip all the other steps!
Seriously, my husband’s full-time-student-three-quarters-time-pastor-schedule is way too crammed these days. If we waited for him to have free time these puppies wouldn’t get made until the Summer. So I’ve embraced the Lego-building process and actually, when I take the time to remind myself that it might take as long as it does to remodel a kitchen (and I follow these steps) it can be very fun.
2 – Supervise.
This is most important if your child is at the lower end of the age bracket listed on his/her Lego box. Rock is six, but really, he is fully capable of making these sets all by himself. But when I tried to let him do that one time, he skipped one of the steps early on and was in tears when we had to re-do half of his model at the end. So stay close. Even if your kid is older, they still might need a little help so at least be on the same level of your house while they are working so you can come quickly to solve any problems.
3 – Follow the directions.
You are a fool if you think you can look at the picture of the completed model and figure it out on your own. Actually, if you really can do it without looking at the steps you are a genius, and you should go work for Lego and build awesome things like the Eiffel Tower made out of little Legos.
4 – Use a Tray with edges.
Never never never dump your Legos out on a table or (gasp!) the floor. You will lose something impossibly small and impossibly important to your final design.
Instead, use a tray to contain all your pieces while you work. Ideally, you’ll keep your hands and model over the tray as you build so any piece that slips through your hands won’t go flying. As you can see from my pictures, Rock wasn’t too skilled at remembering to keep his hands over the tray. Good thing I was following Step 2 and
hovering sitting right next to him as he worked.
5 – Find the pieces but let them do the assembling. Or vice versa.
Rock loves putting the pieces together but he is horrible at spotting the pieces he needs when they are laid out in the tray (male refrigerator blindness striking at a young age?). So as he completes a step, I look ahead to the next one so I can find the next pieces he will need and hand them to him.
I realize your kid might be just the opposite and find it hard/frustrating to put the pieces together so if they prefer to find the correct pieces and have you do the assembling, so be it. Just make sure they stay involved somehow!
6 – Periodically push down pieces.
Every four steps or so, I take the model-in-progress and push down the pieces so they are firmly held together. You have more strength than your child – use it to their advantage.
7 – Don’t get a manicure before assembly.
If you put a piece together firmly and then realize it’s placed wrong, you will ruin your pretty nails trying to pry those suckers apart.
8- Use your teeth.
Kinda gross, but if you can’t get your nail in between two pieces to pull them apart, use your teeth. It works like a charm.
9 – If life doesn’t hand you a lego, make lego-ade.
Sorry, that was a stretch. But what I mean is, if you can’t find a piece, find a reason to delight in your imperfect model. Rock had dumped the teeny-tiny pieces to this set out on his own not once but twice before we had the chance to put it together today and it had several missing components. He started to get sad, but I pointed out that this ship may have been in a battle and part of it got destroyed. He LOVED that idea and later on when we couldn’t find another piece he even said “this cockeyed ship has had a lot of damage in it’s battles!”
For the record, I realize that the “it’s been in a lot of battles” story might not cut it for the Downtown Bakery in the Friends Lego collection. My girls aren’t old enough for tiny Legos yet so I haven’t come up with a girly background story for that problem. You’re on your own with that one. Or you could…
10 – Supplement from other sets.
I’ve found once you enter the Lego world, it’s hard not to accumulate more Legos than you need. So if you are missing a piece of generic shape, try and supplement that piece from another set. Convince your child that having a grey gun instead of a red gun (see the difference in the picture in the book and the model above?) makes their ship unique.
If either you or your child just can’t get past this, you can order replacement pieces from Lego.
11 – Try not to pinch your fingers.
This is Rock’s tip. He told me to include it even though it had never happened to him. Three minutes later, it happened to him and apparently it hurt. So please, try not to pinch your fingers. Especially if it’s your pointer finger and it’s still holding on to a lump of baby fat at it’s base and your mom is so in love with it that she could cry.
12 – Rejoice in the final project no matter how long it takes to get there.
Like I said above, try and tell yourself ahead of time that this is like remodeling a room in your house. It always takes longer than you think it will. So this step is easy – everyone is glad when it’s time to play!
13 – Accept that your hard work is in vain.
They will break it apart when they play with it. Sometimes this happens intentionally. Rock admitted to me “I love to break pieces off the ships while I’m playing.” Yay.
14 – Put the extras away.
I put all of the extra pieces in a plastic bag inside his Lego Brickmaster book/box when were done. Hopefully that means we’ll be able to find them someday.
15 – Never ever ever ever leave them on the floor.
This meme is actually quite mean. The pain of stepping on one is excruciatingly horrible. My mother was/is quite wise.
Well, that’s my list for saving your sanity while making Lego sets. But I realize that all things considered, I am still a Lego newbie. So please share your tips. What would you add?
p.s. This is not exactly a tip, but if possible, make sure your daughters use the time you take to make a Lego model to stuff their shirts with enough tissues to make them look pregnant like their Momma.
p.p.s. Rock also wanted me to share the ‘fantastic’ rhyme he made up while searching for a piece (while I was putting the flatter tissues back in the tissue box). It goes “What do I need? What do I need? I need a chicken in my paw paw peed.” Lovely, no?