When my oldest son was about fourteen, I asked him to make me some lego things for the blog. STEM had just become all the rage on blogs, and Lego bricks are the perfect STEM toy. He came up with a cool way to build Lego® Mini Tanks and even took pictures for me. However, due to me setting up the camera wrong, the pictures were all videos and I never had time to go back and re-take what I needed. Things were crazy busy back then and a lot of lesser important things like blog posts fell through the cracks. That was five years ago.
Last week, I found the pictures, handed them to my current eleven-year-old, and said “Hey! Make these for me. I’ll pay you.” He definitely liked that idea! Once he finished the first three from the pics, he created three new ones of his own! Once your child understands the basic structure of a mini LEGo tank, he or she will be able to make endless variations, have elaborate battles, and a load of fun.
Building the Tanks
First, you should know that the basic structure of Lego Mini Tanks does not change from one to the other. You have wheels stretched over a base on each side. If the wheels are fresh, it takes a bit of effort to get them on the base at first. Once they’ve been stretched it is much easier.
Second, you might not be able to tell from the photo but each of these little Lego tanks is about one inch in length, and less than an inch high. These fun creations can be made from parts and pieces you already have. Third, make sure you have wheels before you start. Two different sizes of wheels were used for these builds, depending on the size of the base. With enough wheels, you can make an entire army of tanks and have battles with your friends and siblings. I have included six different builds here with instructions and the pieces you will need.
This first picture gives you a good look at the base structure for these tank builds. Each tank is slightly different so this is one example.
The Red Mini Lego Tank
This image shows everything you will need for the red and grey mini Lego tank. For this particular tank, the bases on each side are built from several different parts. You can look at the next image to see that more clearly. The four-by-one Lego forms the crossbar between the two bases.
Purple Lego Mini Tanks
The second tank has a cool purple turret on top. The bases are made with only two pieces and a crossbar made from the four-by-one lego piece inside the wheels. Once you have the bases made, adding the top part is pretty straightforward.
The black piece with rods goes on top of the 4×1 crossbar between the wheels. All of the other pieces attach to that. The spinning antenna tops it off. The resulting purple mech has a spinning weapon on top and is my second favorite of the Lego mini tanks. If you don’t have this kind of Lego wheels at home, you can buy a package of just wheels like this.
The Yellow Mini Lego Tank
The basic structure of these mini tanks doesn’t ever change. Build the bases with a four-by-one cross bar connecting them. Stretch a wheel over each base. Add the center elements to form the body of the tank.
The yellow mini Lego tank has short grey step pieces to form the bases, with the four-by-one crossbar running across the front of the tank. The yellow pieces form the body of the tank built up from the crossbar. The pink tank also pictured follows a similar design.
Pink Lego Mini Tanks
For the pink one, you need two special pieces. The first is a one-by-two step piece with a rod coming out. The rod is placed at the front of the tank to form the gun.
A second special piece is a two-by-one piece with a hinge, allowing the tank body to rotate up or down and aim. I love this feature!
The White Mini Lego Tank
A short base forms the white tank as well. I love the huge white gun coming off of the front! It’s a little tank with big impact in battle. Here are the pieces you need to build the white Lego mini tank.
Green Lego Mini Tanks
The last one of the little mini Lego tanks is green. It uses a two-by-four square with a connector rod coming out the front. This one has a nice smooth top and a sleek appearance.
As you can tell, these tanks can be any color you want! Build the base and then customize the tank to match the Legos you have.
Lego Bricks are highly prized in this home. Because we give our kids Legos pretty much from the day they are born, (although not the little ones like this of course), our kids are super comfortable building. We even give them LEGO books at Christmas to inspire them with possibilities. As soon as possible, we teach them to build independently. Once they are old enough for little Legos, our kids are encouraged to build from the plans on their own and figure out as much as possible without help. They are also encouraged to build whatever they can come up with — no plans required!
How Kids Play with Lego Bricks
Some of our kids prefer to keep all the sets together as they came, and others will spend hours creating from scratch. Either approach is valid and valuable play. I once bought an entire tub of Legos from a lady who decided to sell them because her son would never keep the sets together. I could not convince her that legos were meant to be played with. This made me so sad!
Kids exercise their brains by building lego creations with and without step-by-step plans. Without instructions, building helps kids learn to think outside the box, problem-solve, and even builds math fluency. These little Lego tanks are a good start but once your child finishes these suggest he or she come up with a new mini design of his own. If you haven’t purchased any Lego bricks yet – these sets from Amazon are a good place to start.
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