Learn how to upcycle an old tray into a Lego play mat to keep tiny Lego pieces from scattering all over the floor, while giving your kids a fun place to build and create. Updated April 2021
If you’ve got kids, chances are you’ve got Legos. And if you’ve got Legos, chances are your floors look like the real-life photo I took below. I’m pretty sure there’s something that happens inside a kid’s brain when the Legos come out that triggers them to go for the World Record of Disaster Messes. No joke, once my son was playing with them in his room and I found one in the couch, one in my bedroom (on the other side of the house) and one outside on the porch. How the heck does that even happen?!
How I Solved The Messy Lego Problem
So after stepping on one too many Lego bodies with missing heads, I brainstormed solutions to keep the tiny little pieces corralled into a confined space. I ended up giving him a beat-up old cookie sheet with a rim to use for scattering and searching for pieces.
But let’s be honest here, a beat up old cookie sheet isn’t really the best idea. It was small, to start with, so my great idea of the millions of Legos staying on there was totally impossible. And it was so stinkin’ loud when he pushed them around the metal tray.
But then a happy accident happened.
We accidentally left one of these wooden lap trays outside and it rained. Ruined. Or so I thought. From the bubbled up finish to the weird multi shades of brown that was left behind, I was planning on just throwing the tray away. I knew I’d never use it for a party again. It was actually already in the garage and ready for trash day.
Until Noah brought out that small loud tray again for another Lego sesh. Then the lightbulb flipped on.
Repurpose An Old Tray
I took the tray in all its sad ugliness out to the front yard and plopped it onto a big piece of cardboard. I gave it a good sanding with a sanding sponge, then wiped it down with a damp microfiber cloth, followed by another wipe down with a dry microfiber cloth.
I could have stopped there. It was just right for holding lots of Legos; double the size of the cookie sheet we were using. But if I’m making a Lego tray, I’m going to do it up.
Add Lego Base Plates
I picked up a two piece set of Lego base plates from Amazon and attached it onto the tray to transform it into a multi-functional piece. I got this Lego Road Base Plate Set but you can also just buy plain squares. Definitely go with Amazon though, because they’re about 5 dollars more at toy stores and you’ll be stuck with generic green.
Lucky for me, the two base plates fit perfectly on the tray and didn’t need to be cut, but if you’re recreating this project at home and your base plates are too big, you can cut them easily with a craft knife cutting kit like this one.
To attach the base plates, I just used these velcro Command Strips, because I wanted to be able to clean the plates, underneath them, and replace them if they get broken when some kind of Transformer car fight breaks out and gets a little more rough than the tray can (and should) handle.
Let’s be real here. This tray isn’t going to solve your “Legos All Over The Freakin’ House” problem. But it will help. And it will give your kids an easier way to dump out the pieces and look for the right ones they need without them instantly scattering.
And maybe, just maybe, it’ll save you at least one screamed obscenity when you step on Batman’s little Lego head. In the world of parenting though, that’s a win. 🙂
Quick Recap For Skimmers
- Old tray
- Sanding Sponge
- 2 Microfiber Cloths
- Spray Primer
- Spray Paint
- Spray Sealer
- Command Velro Strips
- Lego Square Bases
Step By Step Process:
- Sand the old tray
- Wipe down with a damp cloth
- Wipe dry with a new cloth
- Spray one coat of primer
- Spray two coats of spray paint
- Spray two coats of sealer
- Attach Lego base plates to tray with Velcro Command Strips (cut to size if needed with a craft knife)
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