Play time at our house can be… chaotic. If you have a toddler, I’m about 1000% positive you can say the same thing. Having a VERY high energy little means that when she goes, she GOES, and there’s usually a path of destruction in her wake. When Hadley was about 9 months old Henry and I decided that we wanted to keep toys at a minimum, buying her things that would engage her and aid learning, without getting excessive and just having a mountain of toys she never uses. I know parents who have buckets and buckets of toys for their children. And I know others that have very few. I don’t think either is right or wrong, but I do think that managing a child’s access to their toys can be very beneficial to their play time. If you haven’t heard the term before, let me introduce you to ‘toy rotation’. It’s a game changer, people.
The beauty of toy rotation is that it means less toys scattered across your floor (quicker clean up) but it also has some really great benefits for your child. It reduces overstimulation, encourages children to use toys in new ways and engage their imaginations, and they become more immersed in the toy they are playing with and learn more fully about how it functions. Also, as children become more deeply engaged in their play it gives you the freedom to leave the room and do some of your own stuff, teaching independence and the ability to play on their own. Win, win, win, win, win. Oh, and it also decreases the risk of pieces getting lost or ruined. Win.
So, how does one go about setting up toy rotation? It’s suuuuper easy. First, gather up all of your child’s toys. Then you want to take away any toys that are favourites, you want quick access to, or you notice are being used daily.
For us, we kept out her blocks, her teethers, and her soft toys. The blocks are kept in a basket on a shelf, so we still decide when and for how long she can use the blocks, but we can access them quickly if she wants to play with them. It also helps us keep the blocks all together, instead of mixed in with other toys or hidden in various dusty corners of our apartment. The teethers aren’t really in use right now, but when she starts teething again, I don’t want to be digging around looking for them. They stay in her toy drawer, but they don’t get switched out with the other toys. She doesn’t have many soft toys, but the ones she has she loves. Especially this puppy, which she hugs, carries around the house and sleeps with. We let her play with her puppy whenever as it’s a clear favourite.
Next you want to sort the toys by function. Here’s some of the categories we use to sort Hadley’s toys.
Stacking + sorting, puppets, push + pull, puzzles, musical, sensory, and soft books. We also have a misc. pile that includes all the random toys we can’t categorise or the household items that Hadley has just claimed as her own (remote controls, old keyboards, walkie talkies – she likes to push buttons).
Once you’ve sorted the toys by function, you them simply divide them by however many rotations you want. If you have a lot of toys, your can probably make more rotations. We have only 3.
The toys that Hadley has in use are in her toy drawer in her dresser, but the toys from the other two rotations are in boxes in her closet. We switch them out about once a week (we sometimes forget) or when we feel like she is bored with the toys in the current rotation and needs a change.
Her favourite activity by far is just running around the house with her Brio toddler wobbler. She’s learning to walk on her own right now and is getting better all the time, but she loves using the wobbler because it means she can go fast!
The other thing that Hadley has full access to is books. We have a separate drawer for her books beside her toy drawer, and she is always allowed to get a book. We do supervise her play with books most of the time though, as she’s not exactly gentle with them and we’d like to keep them in good condition. In the past few months she’s really developed an interest in books and I LOVE IT! I adore sitting down with her and reading, and I hope it’s a love she keeps throughout her life.
What are your thoughts on toy rotation? Have you tried it before? Do you think you might give it a go? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!
p.s. This is not a promo for Brio. We just have a ton of their toys because, well… they’re awesome.