Dec 12, 2009

LEGO, DUPLO and what's in the recycling bin

The kids are still really into the LEGO hacking fun we've been having lately. We had two little friends visit us for a sleep over, and the subject of trains and cars and trucks came up.

In the recycling bin we had several empty raisin boxes that I thought we could make a train out of with the LEGO (no, I'm not shouting at you, I only just found out that it's all uppercase rather than Lego).

We have a couple of different types of lego wheels. Small ones that are quite recent, and larger ones that are from the early eighties (I love that about LEGO. The stuff is indestructable!).

I used a stamp pad like I did in the original post to stamp onto the opened up raisin box where the LEGO knobbles were going to line up. I punched the last two on either end of the box. I think you could do this without that long green piece (and we did with cars that I will put in another post), but I was thinking maybe the green piece would give the carriage more rigidity.

Once the box was punched I placed the box over the knobbles and secured it with two little LEGO pieces.

All that had to be done then was to fold up the box again and glue the long side back together.

I didn't glue the ends of the box because I wanted the kids to be able to open it and swap out carriages with the bases themselves.

I drew up an engine and a circus carriage with lion for them, but left the others blank for them to draw on themselves. My first idea was to just use a few of my hair elastics to join the carriages, but that turned out pretty lame and didn't give the kids the easy option to reorder and reconnect the carriages themselves (they were only three, four and five years old)

Instead I opted to cut some more card and punch some couplings for them to use. These worked really well and although the three year old kids found them fiddly, the five year old kids had no trouble taking them apart and putting them back together.

Here are a few pics of how the couplings worked...

Lots of people in the last post I did were lamenting that their kids were not yet old enough for the teeny LEGO. Don't let that stop you experimenting! Both sizes of the DUPLO can be hacked with the contents of your recycling bin too!

I don't have a hole punch that would work for DUPLO, but the stuff is so much less fiddly that you can just cut a big hole rather than lots of small punches. We used a butter box from the recyling to make a DUPLO carriage in this way.

Just openned up the butter box like I did with the raisin boxes and stamped the shape of the knobbles on the card, then drew around them and cut out the hole so that it was a snug fit around the knobbles on the little cart base we had.

Then put a couple of other bits of DUPLO on top to secure it.

Fold it all up and glue it shut. Cut some windows and doors with an Exacto blade.

This time the hair bobble thing worked well to connect the wagon to the cowboy's car because the DUPLO wheeled bases already have couplings would work with and I just needed to extend it with the hair bobble.

Only draw back to using the butter box was the finish on the inside was obviously treated to prevent grease from damaging it, so my daughter had to use sharpies to colour it in. Most boxes wouldn't have this problem though.

The good thing about the DUPLO wheeled bases is that the wheels do not come above the base, so you are not restricted to using a box that is narrower than the wheel base like you are with the smaller LEGO.

I hope you can find some boxes that you can use in your recycling. There must be infinite combinations that can be made with different LEGO/DUPLO pieces and different boxes combined with different imaginations!

Lastly, the biggest size of DUPLO can just be added to by cutting a circular hole in a cardboard cup.

This lets the kids give any of their toys a ride, rather than just being limited to the DUPLO people and animals.

Have fun!

Printables to come in the next post (It was a very crafty LEGOtastic sleep over)

Promise that I'll post something other than LEGO related messing about after the next post ;) I've just been going with the flow of what the kids are finding most fun and they can't seem to get enough of LEGO and cardboard at the moment.


  1. I don't mind all the LEGO at all! My boys will love all of these ideas! Thanks as always for sharing your ideas and inspiring us!

  2. WOMAN you are a GENIUS! I'm going to dig throught the recycling box right now!

  3. so cool! and I love your artwork!

  4. That is brilliant! Thank you for sharing it.

  5. thank's or these ideas: you're inspired our kids crafts work.
    we had modified this project and kis was entusiastic

  6. What a great idea! No more ebay shopping for me (trying to find the lot with the most interesting vehicle). Now I can make whatever vehicle my son asks all out of recycling stuff. Can't say how liberating this feels :-)

  7. Wow! U are simply all the posts. Have 2 kids and long summer vacation... your blog is Godsend.

  8. Love it! Will give it a try this summer.


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