Earlier this week, I posted four rules to follow when purchasing toys. Today, I will share my rules for organizing toys (aka: giving children access to them).
As previously discussed, children do not play well when:
1) Toys are not age appropriate
2) Toys do not allow children to learn or imagine
3) There are too many toys out at once
I keep this in mind when organizing toys.
Overall, every toy must have a home.
When toys are brought out, they must have a purpose (for a specific child, age, or skill).
Access to Toys
1) Simplify everyday-access toys
Choose a few classics to leave out all day every day.
I switch these toys out each week or two, to keep kids engaged.
I don’t use toyboxes because this can become a hidden toy dump. Children cannot find or access the toys they want, so they dump everything out to get to one toy.
For example, here is what I keep out:
Living Room (all the children play here):
A set of blocks
a few ride-on or push toys
2 baby dolls
dress up box
1 learning activity
Loft (this is for Tiny One only):
select wooden toys
a small box of books
a small box of other toys
Tiny One’s bedroom:
A few stuffed animals
2) Bin method
Store extra toys by theme in plastic bins. I also store learning activities, extra books, and craft supplies out of sight.
The bins for younger children are in our entryway closet. We select one bin or activity at a time; usually 1-2 each day.
In the Preschool room, toy bins are accessible on a shelf. Older children can get out bins & mix them together, but each bin must be put away before they leave the room.
Children can ask permission to get out a game, puzzle, or craft item, as desired. (We tried letting them do this on their own, but it resulted in too much “dump and run” time.)
3) Clear unused & dump-and-run items
If a toy or bin of toys is regularly ignored (or dumped and left untouched) something needs to change.
Sometimes children need to grow into a toy. Other times, they are simply tired of using it. Either way, I put the toy away for a while, to try again later.
If it doesn’t hold interest after a few tries, I get rid of it.
Why use up my space with unused toys?
4) Five minute clean-up rule
When ALL accessible toys in a room are dumped out (which inevitably happens), it should not take more than 5 minutes to clean everything up.
I don’t like to spend all day cleaning, and neither do the kids!
When clean up time in a room starts taking too long, I move more toys into bins. This keeps clean up time short & more enjoyable. It also reminds me to continually use the bin system I have set up.
Well there you have it. By limiting the toys that come into my home and carefully planning what toys to leave out, children can experience more quality playtime. There are fewer distractions and fewer toys to fight over. Children can focus easily on mastering skills.
Also, by rotating toys, children are excited to play with something “new” each day or each week, which holds their focus.
The bottom line, of course, is try a few systems out and do what works for you. Everyone is different!