I know my weekly series is called Pondering Playtime, but this week I really have been thinking about how the girls play with their toys, and how we store them. So, I’ve decided to try using toy rotation to help them value the toys that they have, and encourage them to use their imaginations more.
Up until now, we’ve had a 2×2 Ikea Kallax in the living room, with four storage boxes inside, each filled with toys. They worked well for hiding the toys but not so well for the girls to actually discover them. ‘Playing’ consisted mostly of the boxes of toys being emptied all over the floor to make an almighty mess, with very little meaningful play going on.
So, I decided to do something about it. I took all of the boxes out of the Kallax to leave the empty shelves, then put a small selection of the girls’ toys onto them. I tried to create a little theme with the books on display – these ones are all quite autumnal. My three year old loves music, so I put a selection of instruments on another shelf, while the 18 month old is really enjoying working on her fine motor skills at the moment, so I put the shape sorter and wooden stacking rings in another. On the final shelf, I organised a lovely set of skittles that the girls have rarely played with in the past, and a set of animal puzzles. On the top, I arranged our Grimm’s rainbow and a shape sorter clock.
I did all of this while M was at preschool, so I was completely expecting her to ask where all of her toys had gone, once she arrived home! But to my surprise, she said, “ooh, thank you, Mummy!” which pretty much made my day.
There are two huge benefits to this new play set up. Firstly, the girls have been engaging with the toys far more than they did before. Not only are they using them at ‘face value’, they’re also using their imaginations to look beyond that. For example, M was pretending to drive a train, and used one of the stacking rings as a steering wheel.
The second benefit is that fewer toys equal less mess! It’s been much quicker and easier to tidy up after the girls have finished playing, and they’ve been more amenable to tidying up too, as they know exactly where things go because everything has a clear place. Their play was also a lot calmer, perhaps because there was a greater feeling of calm, rather than chaos.
The downside of this approach is having to find somewhere to keep all of the toys that are ‘out’ of rotation. This is a work in progress as I want to organise them in such a way that I can access them all easily, to be able to rotate them regularly. I think there will be a lot of sorting and organising to do, as well as a few charity shop runs! I don’t really want to give anything away until I’ve put it through a rotation though, as I want to assess whether the girls really don’t like something, or if it’s just because they’ve never made their way to the very bottom of the toy box!
Do you rotate your children’s toys? How do you organise it and how often do you rotate them? I’d love to hear about your set up, so please tell me about it in the comments!