Thursday, December 6, 2012

Toy rotation {How I made it work for us}

I saved my sanity by recently implementing a new toy rotation system for Leila's main play area.  After just one day of less toys and books around our home felt less cluttered, Leila started playing with "new" toys, and I didn't spend all day picking up after her various messes.

In the first post of this series, I shared what I learned about toy rotation from Kim at Little Stories and a fellow mom, Meagan.

With limited storage space and a play kitchen set that is always set-up in the living room, I was worried if I could toy rotation work in our tiny space.

I started by getting rid of the junk.  I tossed broken and junky prize toys, gave away toys with missing pieces, and boxed up toys that were too baby-ish for her.  I did the same with our books on the book shelf.  This left us with way fewer toys and books for the rotation than I had expected.  I couldn't believe how many baby toys I still had out for Leila to play with ignore.

Next, I sorted the toys we were keeping in for the rotation into one of 5 categories.  Instead of pulling all the toys off the shelves (again) I made lists of the toys we have in a notebook.  I figured this would help me when I was ready to switch the toys out in two weeks.  No more thinking required...I already did the most difficult part!

Here's what my list looks like:

Thinking Toys- choose 3
puzzles, bead maze, wooden stacking train, crayons/coloring books, Magna-Doodle, pounding set, blocks (we have 4 different sets), play-dough, magnets, shape sorter, art/crafts 

Moving Toys- choose 3
balls, foam climbing blocks, wagon, baby stroller*, keyboard, musical instruments, vacuum*

Pretending toys- choose 3
kitchen set, play food and dishes, tool set, shopping baskets/bags, dress-up clothes/accessories, baby crib, Little People house, Little People zoo, baby dolls, doll clothes, stuffed animals, baby diaper bag

SCLaNs- choose 1
anything that turns on and has buttons to push

*I realize some of these toys can fit into more than one category.  This is how I chose to do it based upon how many of toys we have for each category and what her current faves are.

See...not nearly as many toys as I thought.  Clearing out the junk and packing up the baby toys really helped.

Choosing toys to have out for the first rotation was easy using my list.  I picked the correct amount of toys from each category, found a tub for them, and set them on the shelf.  Ta-da!

For this rotation-Thinking toys: 1 puzzle, wooden stacking train, MegaBlocks
Moving toys: keyboard, stroller, ball
Pretending toys: kitchen, baby diaper bag/baby doll, Little People house and accessories

I also decided that we had way too much play food and dishes available in the kitchen set.  I put them all into a giant tub for storage and chose two cooking pots with lids, three place settings, and five food items.  The available kitchen toys are neatly in baskets that fit in the kitchen set. much better.

You may have noticed that I left out her GIANT Minnie Mouse and considered her baby diaper bag with the baby doll one pretending toy.  I also left out two shopping buckets in the kitchen area and decided to always keep the crayons and coloring books on the top shelf, out of her reach, until they are officially part of the rotation.

The important thing to remember is that this is your toy rotation system now.  You need to be flexible, bend the rules if necessary, and make it work for you and your child(ren).

Now, what on Earth did I do with all of the toys left out from this first rotation?

Stay tuned for my next post in this series...
Toy rotation {Storage and books}
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