Saturday, February 9, 2013

Toy Rotation

Toy rotation was an idea I didn't fully buy into until Natalie was about three and William about one.  Before that, we just had all the toys out all the time.  But as the birthdays approached, I had to clear space to make room for the new gifts I knew our family would bring. 

Every time I rotate the toys, I am surprised at how well it works. 

This time I rotated after almost a week of me and the kids stuck home all day due to illness.  We were all bored and getting on each others nerves.  Natalie only wanted to watch TV and William only wanted to blow bubbles.  When I switched out the toys (and also dragged out some from the back of the shelf), the kids were noticeably more engaged with the toys.  Their attention was held for a lot longer and they didn't need me to guide their play as much.  They even played together better. 

I see this pattern whenever we rotate, so, needless to say, I'm a believer now!

I don't have a very organized system for rotation.  I take away items William has outgrown and move them into whatever box I have going for my nephew.  Then, I take away the toys I haven't seen anyone touch in a while.  I then put those away in the boxes I store in William's closet and take out a few things the kids haven't seen in a while. 

I always leave out certain items.  These are the favorites that are used every day, tuck away neatly, or are dynamic toys that can be used in many ways. 
  • puzzles (tucked away in a drawer)
  • instruments (tucked away in a drawer)
  • cars (tucked away in a drawer)
  • blocks
  • crayons / markers (used every day)
  • Mr. Potato head
  • Playdoh
  • play dishes and food (used every day, go with the kitchen that is always out, tuck away in bins)
  • Little People, including their dollhouse, farm, and bus (Natalie uses every day)

Other people have clear systems.  One bin goes away, and another comes out.  Or, they make sure that there are toys that fit different categories.   Still another option is a toy swap, either between friends or through a toy lending company. 

Now, this does not include the toys in Natalie's bedroom where she plays alone at quiet / nap time.  In there we always have Disney Princess Little People castle, dress up box (including purse), dolls with their accessories, a few puzzles such as Melissa and Doug bear family dress up, and Crayola Color Wonder markers and crayons.  I do rotate a few items in and out of her closet, but that is mostly to hide the messy or noisy toys!

Books are another item that is always present.  We have too many for me to rotate them efficiently, though I do rotate a few selections in their bed time buckets, especially by adding library books. 

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