Do you get overwhelmed with the number of toys your kids have? Are you tired of constantily putting toys away? Maybe you considered to start rotating your children’s toys but you get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start? We will help you start a toy rotation system in a few easy steps!
Rotating toys is one of the keys to providing an environment that stimulates focused, creative play.
Do you have toy rotation system in place?
If your child(ren) has trouble engaging in sustained play in your playroom or play space, my first guess is that there are too many toys. Both in my 10+ years working in child care centers and at home with my twins, this has held true.
There are many ways to go about rotating toys, but I am sharing some tips today that work for me.
HOW TO CATEGORISE TOYS?
Before setting up a toy rotation system, you should start by decluttering toys.
Go through your toys and get rid of anything broken or missing pieces. Take inventory of what remains and sort it into categories.
I use the following toy categories, but pick a system that works for you:
- Dramatic Play: dress up costumes, pretend food and other props
- Literacy materials: alphabets, letter manipulatives, puppets
- Math materials: number manipulatives, number puzzles and games, shapes, etc.
- Blocks: all kinds – legos, wooden blocks, magnatiles
- Fine Motor: lacing cards, connecting toys, beads
- Games + Puzzles
HOW TO STORE TOYS FOR NEXT ROTATION?
Prepare storage containers. To set up a toy rotation system, you will need both storage containers and baskets for shelved toys. I use clear containers and gallon ziploc bags to store most of our toys. Clear storage containers make it easy to see what is on the shelves.
Make space in a cabinet or closet. This does not have to be pretty. In fact, as you can see from the photo of my closet above it likely isn’t going to be a tour worthy portion of your home. For a while our storage space was above the dryer in the laundry room. In one home it was on some random shelves at the top of the basement stairs. Right now we are lucky enough to have a huge closet with extra space. Work with what you have.
HOW TO DISPLAY TOYS?
Now that you have spaces and your toys are sorted, start with toys you want to have out on your shelves. I decide this based on two things: interests and developmental needs.
I start with things they are currently interested in. Sometimes I have a lot of materials about an interest, sometimes I do not. Sometimes I make some of our own materials.
Next, I think about what they are working on learning. I focus on things where they seem most interested. For instance, right now my son is interested in learning his numbers so there are several different counting materials and manipulatives out. Regardless, I always have at least one item from each of the above categories.
WHAT TO DO WITH STORED TOYS?
The remaining toys are put in the closet. I organize them by the categories I use to make the rotating process quicker. For instance, if my twins haven’t touched the stringing beads in a week then I go to the fine motor shelf, put the beads in a ziploc bag and find a different fine motor material.
HOW OFTEN YOU SHOULD ROTATE TOYS?
There are different ways to do this. Some people prefer to rotate everything in their room at once. They take everything away and put all new toys on the shelves about once a month or so. Some people rotate more gradually. I personally do a little of both.
Rotating Materials for Projects
I rotate interest materials as more of a collective group. When we finish a project or an interest wanes, I replace the materials for that project. This usually means that a bulk of our materials are getting switched either with a new interest or various other materials we haven’t used in a while.
Weekly toy rotation
I also rotate weekly. I observe what my kids are playing with during the week and take a little time during quiet play to switch a couple of things every week. Maybe there is a puzzle that is just sitting on the shelf or a basket of fairies that aren’t being played with right now. Or perhaps they are building with blocks every afternoon and I’m curious what adding trucks to their shelf might do to their play.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN YOU SHOULD REPLACE TOYS?
This is always an important step in supporting play. When I play with my kids, I also spend a great deal of time observing how they play. I watch what they are playing with and how they are using the materials. Thinking about how I can expand their play, deepen their explorations, or support their development of a certain skill.
At the time you notice that a child has fully conquered a certain skill, it might be a good time to go through a toy rotation and set up something more challenging.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
- 20 Reasons to Say YES! to Less Toys. More Play.
- Less Books = More Reading
- Donating Toys
- Simple Outdoor Play Ideas
- Repurpose Old Technology into New Toys for Imaginative Play
- 5 Things to Consider When Choosing Toys (And What to Avoid)
- Simple Washing Station for Toddlers
- Playing without Commercial Toys
- 5 Ways to Play with Play Food
- How and Why to Involve Kids in Toy Purge
- Playful Parenting
- Ideas for Spending Quality Time with Kids for Busy Parents
- Top 10 Tuff Tray Filler Ideas
- Making a Small World Zoo with Everyday Items
- 12 Reasons to Make Homemade Toys
Love your category list – very helpful. The other thing I found helpful was to store the toys in ways that the kids could actually put them away at the end of play. It takes a while to train them to pick up before running off but worth while.
It surely is worth it!
Kristy as Giftie Etcetera says
I can’t imagine finding time to rotate toys. It’s a shame, because it’s a good idea.
I do it once a month! Long enough period of time for my toddler to forget what was on shelves month before! 😉
Angela St. Cyril says
Great tips! I’m trying to declutter a lot of our toys and rotate the ones we keep. It’s not quite as organized as your system though! Visiting from Lets Get Real
Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom says
What a great post!
I was an early childhood educator for 20 years and this is one of the skills I learned that I still use. I love your system and how you’ve categorized things too.
Thanks for sharing! I found your post through the #SITSblogging Sharefest.
Wishing you a lovely weekend.
What a good idea for toys and keeping things tidy.
Thanks for bringing this good idea to Fridays Blog Booster Party #30
These are great tips! I am not consistent enough with this. I feel like the toys are taking over some days Thanks for sharing at Made for Kids!
What great ideas! I kind of do this on a small scale, but I really should be much more organized about it!
Tennille @ Two Kids And a Budget says
This is a great idea. I really need to rotate toys for my two boys our toy room is rapidly being taken over with stuff. I have been looking at their toy room, thinking about Christmas and feeling very overwhelmed. I’m going to have to give your suggestions a try!
This is a really great tip that I’ll pass on to my sister for my nieces. 🙂
Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!
Lyn @MidMichiganMom says
This is great advice. It doesn’t matter how big the toy is, kids will eventually get sick of it. Thanks for sharing with us on Welcome Home Wednesday!
Thank you so much for linking up at The Happy Home Life linky. Hope to see you again this week!
Hi, this post was in the TOP 8 most clicked on Fridays Blog Booster Party #30. Well done. It will be FEATURED on Friday.
Thank you Kathleen!
what about if there is limited storage space? and how many “sets” would you recommend to rotate through? thank you.
Mihaela Vrban says
For limited space, limited number of toys. You can go with 4 bins and rotate them every week or every other week. Pick few bins and fill them with favorite toys. What’s remaining is something you can donate. We just donated 4 boxes of toys to local kindergarten since my kids don’t play with them any more.
What do you do if your child is obsessed with one thing/toy and won’t play with anything else regardless of the rotation? Right now all my toddler cares about is Frozen, Anna and Elsa toys. Nothing more.
Mihaela Vrban says
You can add different toys to encourage them to change the play or expand it. Like blocks to create a castle or mini animals to play with Elsa and Anna. If you can’t change the focus, you can expand on what they like.