Week Thirty-Two: LEGO Architecture and Ratios

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October 15, 2015 by WittyLibrarian

Circulation Desk

Program Title: LEGO Architecture and Ratios

Target Age Range: Tweens, Grades 4-6

Program Length: 90 Minutes

Brief Description: Using LEGO bricks, learn how to make a to-scale model of the library.

LEGO bricks
LEGO base plates
Building map/floor plan
Blank paper
Measuring Tape

Cost: $ 0-50 or $$$ 100 + (Note: The cost of this program is determined by access to LEGO bricks. We were given a large donation of LEGO pieces, so we already had them on hand. We did have to purchase base plates, which were a necessity in replicating floor plans in LEGO bricks. If LEGO pieces need to be purchased, the cost escalates.)

Advanced Preparation:

Obtain or create a basic floor plan or map of your library. The map can either be fully outlined, with furniture outlines and architectural features represented, or it can be completely blank, with only the room shapes outlined.

If possible, determine the basic dimensions (length and width) of the space participants will be recreating. Use these measurements to find the best ratio for building. For simplicity’s sake, we had 2 feet equal 1 LEGO stud, for a 2:1 ratio.

Program Outline:

  1. Introduction and description of the project.
  2. Discuss the basics of architecture and buildings. This was an open Legofloorplandiscussion, where participants discussed what they thought architects did, and how buildings were made. Explainthatstuff.com has a good explanation of the overall building process.
  3. Explain ratios. We found Studyzone.org’s Scales Lesson to be helpful in explaining ratio principles.
  4. Outline how the project should be handled
    • Survey Area
    • Map out architectural features (columns, etc.) and furniture (optional)
    • Measure walls, aisles, bookshelves, furniture, etc., and record on map.
  5. Beginning building, based on map and measurements, LEGO model.
  6. Break participants into groups. Assign each group an area of the library to measure. Have a librarian assigned to the group to accompanying them on their surveying expedition.
  7. Beginning mapping and surveying assigned areas
  8. Finish mapping and surveying, and begin building LEGO model
  9. In the last 5/10 minutes, allow groups to present their models to the other groups.Reference Area


  • Mapping and Surveying

FishtankGroups were assigned different sections of the library to map and survey. They were given a measuring tape, clipboard, pencils, and a copy of the blank floor plan, along with some blank sheets of paper to use for additional notation. Groups then mapped out the key features of their area (aisles, furniture, shelves), and then measured those features, noting the length and width.

  • LEGO model building

When building the LEGO models, groups used the measurements they had taken of their area and converted the figures into the appropriate ratio. So, for example, if a Reference Deskbookcase measured 16 feet by 4 feet, using a 2:1 ratio, the LEGO model bookcase would be 8 studs by 2 studs.

Resources Used:

Studyzone.org’s Scales Lesson

How buildings work by Chris Woodford on Explainthatstuff.com

Additional Resources:

The initial inspiration for this program came from a presentation called Put Down the $800 Chair and No One Gets Hurt at the 2014 Illinois Library Association Conference. Presenters from Shorewood-Troy Public Library District had built LEGO models of their library’s floor plan to use as a visual when considering a library remodel.

The use of ratios was inspired by the following two sources:

LEGO Ratios by Adrianne Meldrum on The-tutor-house.com

Using LEGO to Build Math Concepts by Alycia Zimmerman on Scholastic.com

The discovery that the little round circles sticking up from the top of a LEGO brick were called studs, was thanks to the following resource: Learn to speak LEGO! – BASIC TERMS on Thebrickblogger.com
What we would do differently:
This program was extremely popular and well received. Our only recommendation for change would be to lengthen the time of the program to at least two hours. Participants took their roles very seriously, and took their time getting proper measurements and being sure to build things just so.

Adaptation for older/younger audience:
This program could be adapted for a younger audience, grades 1-3, if the ratio portion of the program was removed. Young participants could sketch out their assigned area on the map and then recreate it with LEGO pieces, as they best see fit.

The program would work well with an older, teen, audience, as planned.


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