As an elementary teacher, play-based learning that promotes critical thinking and creativity is SO important! In my classroom, our mornings always start with morning tubs, or what I like to call, brain bins! Brain bin time takes place during the first 10-15 minutes of our day. Students come in and quietly start to play and problem solve with STEM-based toys that allow a stress-free, motivating, HAPPY start to their school day! Brain bins have been a game-changer in my classroom. You can read all about them, including more details and research on why I use them and their benefits, in my Brain Bin Blog Post found here.
When the pandemic hit and my students could no longer share supplies and morning bin toys, I immediately began to think of creative ways that would allow my students to still utilize and enjoy the benefits of brain bins. So, I put together sets of individual brain bins that students could play and use independently and safely each morning! One of the individual brain bins I came up with were individual Lego bins! In today’s blog post, I’m going to share with you how I made the Lego bins and the supplies I used for my students.
Lego Bin Supplies
(This post includes some Amazon Affiliate links for your convenience, so that you can find and reference the materials and supplies I refer to. This just means that my blog receives a tiny compensation if you click on these links- at absolutely no extra charge to you!)
- I use the novelinks 4″ x 6″ photo boxes for all of my individual brain bins. My individual Lego brain bins that I’m sharing in this post use these, too. You can find these colorful photo boxes on Amazon HERE. I love that all of the individual bins can be stored in the plastic storage case that is included. It makes it easy to store in my cupboards when not in use.
- Classic baseplates from the Strictly Briks Store on Amazon. These colorful baseplates come in sets of 12. They are too large to fit into the photo boxes that I use as individual brain bins, but I will share with you how we customized these building baseplates for our kits in this post!
- Legos or generic building bricks that your students can build with (You can also ask neighbors and family members for used Legos that they do not want anymore, or visit garage sales in the summer to try to grab some great deals!) Each individual brain bin will need a large handful of Legos for students to build with. The total amount of Legos you will need will vary depending on your class size and the amount of bins you are making.
- You will need a rotary tool, such as this Dremel 3000 1/24 Variable Speed Tool Kit that we used. This will be used to cut the plastic baseplates in order to fit into the Lego bins.
- A clamp
- Safety goggles
making the building mats
While you do not have to include a baseplate in each Lego bin, I like the idea of students having a solid place to build off of and create on. Including a baseplate allows students to take their individual Lego kit with them anywhere in the room and still have a surface to build on. To customize the size of the baseplates, my husband used a clamp to clamp the baseplate onto a solid surface. He then used his Dremel 3000 to cut each baseplate to fit in the photo boxes. Each of our baseplates are 19 circles long by 13 circles wide, as shown in the photograph above. You can certainly make them smaller if you would like!
I chose NOT to glue the baseplates to the front or the inside of the bins. This saved a lot of time and made the kits more flexible for student use.
After the baseplates were cut, I threw in a couple small handfuls of Legos and we were done! Be sure to add enough Legos so that students can be creative and yet still close the bins safely and nicely when it is time to clean up.
Using Lego bins in the classroom
Our individual Lego bins are stored in a bucket in our classroom. In the morning, students come in and grab a Lego brain bin to use during our morning work time. I do not assign individual brain bins to each student, but you certainly can! Students grab any of the Lego kits that are in the bucket. By using different bins, they have access to a new set or pile of Legos each day to build with. This keeps the Lego kits new and creativity flowing! I also LOVE having these bins on hand for indoor recess on cold, snowy, and rainy days!
If you’re looking for more information on when to use brain bins such as these Lego kits, or WHY I use and promote them, visit my Brain Bin blog post found HERE. It’s packed with information and tons of ideas!
Join me for more ideas!
I hope you loved this little DIY tutorial of our individual Lego bins! My students love having an independent, ready to go activity bin that we can use for our morning time, as a fast-finisher activity, and during indoor recess. Legos are also easy to clean with a quick Lysol spray or by washing them in hot soapy water. Stay tuned to my blog for more individual brain bin ideas that I’ll be sharing soon! You can even join our private Miss DeCarbo Facebook Group so that you never miss an event, freebie, blog post, or resource!
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