Rotating toys may be your answer.
Early childhood educators know the value of toy rotation systems in their classrooms. Having a few selections of enriching toys is far more engaging than buckets and drawers overfilled with toys. Less options in the playroom actually allows for expanded creative play. The variety of regularly changing toys leads to enriched development for children as they use toys in new and different ways.
At home, toy rotation solves the problems of overwhelm, boredom and clutter that can take the fun out of the playroom. When faced with a room full of random toys, kids get overstimulated and overwhelmed. Rather than sift through the clutter to play they tend to gloss over the whole. Have you ever wondered why there are so many toys and yet the kids say there is nothing to play with!
After a toy rotation your children will be more engaged and interested and play for longer. It’s worth the time to implement. On a daily basis there will be less clutter in the playroom and packing away will be so much easier (a win for mum!). You’ll have a better awareness of what kinds of toys your children really get joy and interest from, and which ones they aren’t so attracted to.
Five easy steps to toy rotation
step 1: sort out the junk from the gems
Gather together all of the toys in the house. (The thought of this may seem overwhelming, we promise it’s worth the effort). Sort them into piles of toys to keep, toys to throw away and toys to donate. Some toys you’ll want to keep out all the time. For instance your child’s favorite soft toys or lego if it is played with often.
step 2: choose your collections
Sort into some main themes such as lego, building blocks, train tracks, science and nature, art supplies, musical instruments, puzzles, dinosaurs, playdough. Some good categories to get you started are:
- Fine motor skills (puzzles)
- Soft toys (teddy bears, puppets)
- Vehicles (cars, trucks, planes)
- Outdoor toys (balls, ride-ons & scooters, buckets and spades)
- Arts supplies (Play-doh, chalk, paint, stickers, glitter, paper, glue)
- Musical instruments (drum, ukulele, keyboard, harmonica)
- Figurines (plastic dinosaurs, Schleich, Sylvanian Families)
- Construction (lego, playmobil, duplo, magformers)
- Imagination & role play (dress-ups, farm set with animals, doctor’s kit, kitchen and play food)
step 3: decide how many collections you’ll have out at a time
This will depend on the shelf space you have, how many children and the size of the room. If you have a cubby hole bookshelf with five spots for example, then five collections ‘out’ will be perfect. A good way to judge how many toys is the right amount is to only keep as many toys in the rotation cycle that your kids can easily pack away at the end of the day. You don’t want all the playmobil, all the lego and all the blocks on the floor at the same time!
step 4: make the collections easy to store and find
Once you’ve sorted out your collections, decide on the best way to store them. It can be under a bed, on a shelf, in the garage. As long as they are out of sight of the kids and easy for you to get to when you want to rotate. Clear, stackable boxes are great, or you can take a photo of the collection and stick it on to any box so you know what’s in there.
step 5: decide on a rotation strategy
You can adapt the approach which works best for you and your kids. You may want to pick a day each week to swap the collections. You can ask your kids what is their favorite thing to play that is packed away or surprise them. Or you may want to just wait until they seem bored with the toys out and rotate the boxes then.