How do you organize all of the toys that you have chosen for your playroom? I’ve talked about arranging the areas of your playroom with furniture and how to de-clutter your toys. I also shared how to set up a system for storing and organizing your toys. The toys you have left should be a manageable amount that won’t overwhelm your child, but will offer them some wonderful options for diverse play. But how do you organize them?
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How do you put them out on shelves to encourage play?
How do you organize them so that clean up is easy?
There are several storage options. I am personally a big fan of baskets. You can often find them on sale at places like Michael’s and Target. I like them because the colors are muted and do not add visual clutter to space. The focus is on the toys, not the bright bucket. That being said, plastic or cloth bins are not terrible and if you already have them I encourage you to work with what you have.
The most important thing is that you have the toys separated into bins or baskets. Duplos in one basket. Play food in another basket. Magna-tiles in another basket. That way every toy has a place and when it is time to clean up even a two-year-old can sort items back into baskets.
Now that you have the toys in baskets, it is time to put them on the shelves.
- Group like items together. For example, a basket of cars next to a basket of blocks or a few baby dolls laid on a shelf next to a basket with bottles and diapers.
- Place toys near spaces they are likely to be used. If they are a toy that you use at a table, such as crayons, shelf them near a table. If they are usually used on the floor, like blocks, then have them on a low shelf near a big space on the floor.
- Spread things out so the shelves aren’t too crowded.
- Avoid having more than one row of baskets. If you have baskets behind others on the shelf it will look cluttered and be harder for kids to find things.
- Toddler hint: If your child is in the dumping phase, keep baskets on the bottom shelf and other toys, like dolls or bigger trucks, on the top shelf. This almost always takes the thrill out of dumping and reduces the behavior.
While blocks, baby doll props, cars, and most other toys work well in baskets, I like to present some toys in different ways. Dramatic play clothes we hang on hooks in the playroom. I use 3M hooks that aren’t permanent so I can rotate our space easily if needed. Dramatic play props are often laid out in the kitchen area or presented in ways to invite play.
Books are best displayed on a bookshelf where the covers can be seen. However, we have not had space for a bookshelf in our homes and have successfully used baskets for holding books. With baskets, they are accessible and you can flip through to see the covers. The most important part is to avoid shelving them as adult typically do, side to side on a shelf. Books shelved with only the spine visible are less noticed, less used, and more difficult for children to re-shelf.
Overall, while you are setting up your space keep two things in mind:
- You want toys to be organized so that it is easy to find things & easy to clean up.
- You want to make it look neat and inviting. You want to feel like the space is begging for you to come play.
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Erin Buhr has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and works as a freelance writer and early childhood educator. She currently lives in Mississippi with husband and twin four year olds. You can read more by Erin on her blog, Bambini Travel, where she writes about family travel, children’s books, and preschool activities.