Aug 062012

I’m a huge fan of unstructured play for kiddos: play that involves lots of imagination and little adult direction. And since¬†too many choices paralyze kids (and adults), we rotate our daughter’s toys so her imagination isn’t stunted by too much stuff.

It’s not that our kiddo has so many toys we can’t fit them in our house. We are very judicious about what and how much we buy her. Even so, the toys pile up.

So every month or so, usually during nap time, I take her current toys and swap them out with other toys we keep in the garage. Here are some benefits we’ve noticed with rotating toys:

  • It’s like Christmas every month. When the new toys come out, her face lights up at seeing toys she hasn’t played with in a while.
  • She’s more content. When too many toys creep into the house, our kiddo runs from option to option, not knowing what to focus on. She may even decide that nothing is worth playing with. When there are fewer toys, she takes the time to sit down and contentedly play with what’s before her.
  • She uses her imagination more. Duplo blocks become towers and boats and swimming pools. A towel becomes a dress or a hat or a place to dance.
  • There are always “fresh” toys for special occasions such as traveling.

Interested in rotating toys in your home? Here are some tips:

  • Keep a few specially treasured items always available. Don’t rotate out your son’s favorite stuffed animal or your daughter’s must-have puzzle. If your child is asking for it on a regular basis, it’s probably something to keep out all the time.
  • Find a length of time that works for you. Perhaps it’d be easier to swap out toys once a week or every two weeks. Whatever helps your family the most. We do about once a month or whenever mom is going crazy and thinks swapping out toys might give her a break. But I digress.
  • If you’re concerned about your child’s reaction to this concept, rotate toys in and out during nap time and don’t let her know where your you keep the extra toys.
  • Vary the type of toys you have out. With each rotation I try to keep out one toy that has little pieces, a toy that encourages lots of movement (like her music box she dances to), etc.

Do you rotate your child’s toys? Any benefits or tips to add?

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 Posted by at 12:01 am

  11 Responses to “Rotating Toys: Benefits and Tips”

  1. I’m a firm believer in toy rotation! So much more enjoyable this way, for my sanity and their playtime.

  2. We don’t have a formal toy rotation system but I do try to pull out the toys that he hasn’t played with in a while, sort of like a reminder that he has all these great toys still. And that’s usually enough to get him excited about his “new” toys. We do the same with books; usually it’s me that sick and tired of the same books, so I’ll swap those out with the ones we haven’t read in a while.

    • I’ve been known to hide books we’ve read over and over again for days in a row in hopes my daughter will forget about them for a few days. It usually works. :)

  3. Great tips. I’m curious, on average, how many toys do you have out for her to play with? We also don’t have that many toys, so I am wondering if I even have enough to start a toy rotation without her getting bored.

    • That’s harder to answer than it would seem. I recently set up a craft station for her. There I keep some crayons, markers, scrap paper, some coloring books and stickers that she plays with nearly every day. I don’t currently rotate books so she has access to tons of those. We always keep out some favorite stuffed animals and her puzzles that she loves. Beyond that there are probably 10 or so other toys of varying sizes and purposes. Does that help?

  4. My method is similar to Nina’s – nothing formal, but when I’m sorting through toys to see if my kids have outgrown any, I’ll often find a lost-love and they’ll remember how much fun that toy was. If a toy is remembered briefly and then quickly forgotten again, it’s added to the donation pile. They have their favorites and there’s nothing wrong with that, but we don’t have room for forgettables, even if they were expensive or gifts. We just find them new homes.

    Something I did recently in preparation for homeschool (K and pre-K3) was to pull out all the quiet and “thinking” toys from the toy box and put them in a separate box that they can only play with when I’m teaching the other child. It rekindles their love for those, and makes them look forward to the sibling’s turn, since that’s the ONLY time they can play with those toys!

    • I like your method of culling your toy collection. And the quiet toys only for school time is a great idea. Thanks for your comment!

  5. [...] to see everything she has in one place. We’ve already seen the benefits of limiting toys by rotating them. Limiting toys makes room for the good stuff: contentedness and creativity. Since Christmas [...]

  6. [...] Rotating toys continues to be a beneficial practice around here. But recently, I’ve also started rotating our kiddo’s books and stuffed animals. Here’s how and why… [...]

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