Playing with LEGO can be a lot of fun for the whole family, whether you're building the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars or you're letting your imagination run wild with a bucket of random bricks. But did you know that LEGO blocks can actually serve practical and fun purposes in the real world too?
1. Convenient Hanging Keychains
Many households keep a key dish near the front door where everyone can deposit their keys after they've come home. This might be convenient, but it's hardly the most elegant solution. LEGO to the rescue!
Secure a flat LEGO board on the wall and attach a LEGO piece to every set of keys. The best piece for this purpose is the 2 x 2 flat piece with a semicircle along one edge, as the extended portion can have a hole where the key ring can go. When you get home, simply snap your keychain onto the board. You can even dress up each position with a minifig to designate whose keys go where.
2. Fractions and Math Made Fun
Learning mathematical concepts can be remarkably challenging for a lot of children. Many parents struggle with trying to help their kids too. What's great about LEGO is that each brick already has a "number" built into it and this can prove particularly useful when learning how to add fractions.
If you assume that the 2 x 4 rectangle piece represents one "whole," then the 2 x 2 square piece represents one "half" and the 1 x 2 small rectangle piece represents one "quarter." This can help the child to visualize what happens with simple equations like 1/2 + 1/4 = 3/4 or 1/4 + 1/4 = 1/2.
3. The Custom Desk Organizer
Has your desk become overrun with pens, rulers, flash drives, and other doodads? Do you find that the generic solutions at the office supply store are insufficient at best and downright ugly at worst? Why don't you build your own using LEGO instead?
Build the individual compartments to whatever size you like, better accommodating the specific items that occupy your desk. Better still, you can utilize minifigs as cable holders, because their little hands are the perfect size for USB cables. With some creativity, you can even make a custom phone stand with a charging cable pass-through. The possibilities are endless.
4. A Patterned Lamp Shade
Who said lamp shades have to be boring? Perfect for a kid's room, a lamp shade made from LEGO bricks can make for an eye-catching conversation piece. The bricks can be connected together such that they alternate between blocking the light and allowing the light to shine through the gaps.
Even better, consider using different colors and some semi-transparent pieces for a more creative look. Play with the "gaps" to form fun shapes. Just make sure that you're using a light bulb that emits practically no heat, like a CFL bulb or an LED bulb, otherwise you might find yourself with a puddle of melted LEGO on your nightstand.
5. A Time Management Board
Want something a little more visual or a little more tactile for managing your time in the office? A board can be set up so that different colored LEGO blocks can represent different projects, with a row for each employee and a column for each day. A terrific video of the Bit Planner, created by design studio Vitamins, illustrates how this kind of board could work.
The concept can be easily adapted for other purposes too. Give each child a weekly "allowance" of LEGO blocks to "spend" on the tasks they need to get done. Red bricks might represent chores, blue bricks might represent homework, and green bricks could represent play time. They can then see how they really spend each day of the week.
Building with Imagination
Many people might view LEGOs solely as construction projects, but those little plastic bricks can be used for so much more. They're perfect for everything from board games to party supplies to fish tank decorations, as well as the fun and practical purposes described above. You're limited only by your imagination and your ingenuity.