I have been designing things and drawing for a quite while, now. Probably since I was my kids' ages. I still love it, reading Dwell type magazines and filling up the DVR with shows like Beyond the Box, Extreme Homes and Renovation Nation.
It's fun to watch the kids scoot in when I pull out my box of notched popsicle sticks and start messing around with it. It's the same when I gently shove them aside so I can squeeze in and build a lego structure when they have their bin of it out, playing. Of course, last time I did that, though, I noticed a limit of resources. One can only do so much outta four or five little Lego sets. I should interupt to mention this limitation is not necessarily a bad thing. Imagination is as boundless as we chose.
I used to tease little friends at the kids' old school that when I was their age, all I got for my birthday was a coathanger, one sock and a used bar of soap. It's all I really needed, too, because I was great at pretending... that, and I lived in a large dog house. All my toys had to fit in the shoebox I got on Christmas the year before.
I usually got a "uhn-uuuh" or a "you're lyyying..." but they all knew it wasn't off by much. I praise kids for their creativity ALL the time. Turns into problem-solving skills most grown-ups just don't develop. Back to my point, though.
I wanted-- and my kiddos were totally supportive of-- a Lego-opolis! Well, at least a small neighborhood. So we hopped on eBay and Craiglist. Low and behold, a gal 10 minutes away was selling three sets and a mixed bin of 450 pieces more, $25. To boot, she gave us a big bucket of about 1500 more Megas & Duplos! Dang! THAT's what I'm talking about!
And THAT's been our math/geometry/pattern/sorting/fractions/art/drama lesson for the last week and a half. The kids even let me scoot in and make a tiny bungaloo. Had to use paper for the roof, and it didn't fit the style of the rest, but they were gracious nonetheless. Can you keep a secret? I snuck a pocketfull of pieces out for a rowboat. I'll slide it back in when they go downstairs for a snack. He he he...
Oh yeah. I should tell ya something else we found online you may or may not know about. The Lego website has a great 3D virtual designer you can use. It's free. Be careful, though. It has this cool button that prices out how much your creation would cost to order a customized box. And even though my kids don't know my credit card number, they're always checking the mail for us. So I never know if they've been filling out applications behind my back. Ehh, prob'ly not. Nevertheless, the online Lego builder is way cool!
Now, if your kids are too advanced for that, look at Google SketchUp. It's free, too. And I think it's a blast!