Our little guy LOVES Legos…Mama loves Legos too. And really, who doesn’t. They are a brilliant toy that teaches creativity, ingenuity, and is being used in some major S.T.E.A.M programs across the country. If you have a child in elementary school, you’ve probably heard of S.T.E.A.M or S.T.E.M. As an artist, my preference is S.T.E.A.M – an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics. Experiential learning at it’s best. Imagine all the critical thinking, problem solving, and design that goes into building a bridge, for instance…we can show our kids pictures of bridges and drive over one but when they get thinking and actually have to build one and make it work – that’s when the learning happens. It’s a wonderful thing!
But, this post is about my son’s Lego room, right? :) So, after several gift giving holidays, our son had accumulated quite the Lego collection from family and friends, which can amount to quite a mess. Time to problem solve! After a trip to good ole IKEA, we found our solution. We purchased 6 TROFAST storage units. The nice thing about this unit is that it’s compatible with 3 different drawers; small, medium, large. We now had room for most of the legos within the drawers. But what about those sets that we had already built? His favorites – the ones that he played with the most had to stay accessible, not hidden in a drawer. They couldn’t exactly live on top of the TROFASTs either because they aren’t exactly flat. They have a lip on either side and are a little to small for the all out prison break and police chase my son wanted to enact.
We decided to top them with Birch Plywood. I like this option because it is a little thicker then regular plywood and has a nice smooth finish. Measurements in hand, I had the plywood cut to my specifications at Home Depot, loaded it up in my car and went home to put pull it all together. Because we were working with a small room, about 11×12, and needed to fit a lot in it, we positioned the storage units and plywood in a square in the far corner of the room. Leaving an opening in the center for our little guy to access the interior and exterior of the tables as some pieces were too wide for him to reach across.
Now the fun can start! Because we had several sets displayed on the table for playing, I wanted to add some fun to the boring plywood and give my little guy a place for his Lego boats, scuba divers, swamp police, etc. The first thing we did was layout the Lego sets so that they were easy for him to reach and left room for those epic police chases, train tracks, etc. Then I took a mechanical pencil and drew out some bodies of water up to, around, and near the lego sets and painted them in with acrylic in various shades. This was easy to do with a small brush. Because the plywood isn’t primed it soaked up the paint revealing a watercolor like effect. A little white detailing along the edges of the water finish it off.
The last thing I did was create an area ‘below’ our Ocean Explorer ship where the scuba divers, sunken ship, and sharks could live. It just didn’t make sense to have them on the same level. I removed the storage drawers out of two sections of the TROFAST and measured the width of each. Then, I had my dad cut some plexiglass to fit the drawer brackets and slid them in. I added an iridescent blue card-stock to the cabinet floor and tap lights to its ceiling. Voila! An ‘under’ ocean play space.
To create this project you will need:
TROFAST cabinets and drawers.
Birch Plywood cut to size. (based on the space you have)
Sheets of plexiglass cut to 11.5 x 16.5 inches. (this will fit the inner sections of TROFAST perfectly.)
Sheets of iridescent blue card-stock cut to 11.5 x 16.5 inches. (I used 2)
Under cabinet battery operated lights. (I used 2)
Turquoise acrylic paint
Ultramarine Blue acrylic paint
White acrylic paint
Chromium green acrylic paint (any swampy green will work)
Several small paint brushes (I recommend a few small chip brushes)