Rotate Toys, Improve Play (and Life)

If you have a child in preschool (any kind of program, not just Montessori), you may have noticed that the activities and books in the classroom change from time to time. This ensures that curriculum continues to follow children as they develop. Did you know that you can do this at home, too? The process is called toy rotation. Toy rotation is the act of offering your child just a few toys at a time and rotating them on a regular basis to keep play focused and rich. 

See how few toys you need for your baby? Simplicity makes for a much higher quality play experience. (image: The Free Child)

See how few toys you need for your baby? Simplicity makes for a much higher quality play experience. (image: The Free Child)

There are countless benefits for your children when their toys are rotated. Here are some of them:

1.     Fewer toys mean less stimulation, which allows children to focus for longer periods of time, play more independently, and transition more smoothly from one toy to another (Okay, so that was really three benefits in one sentence).

2.     Children learn to use the same toys in different ways. Especially when they are young, children see and think about things differently each time they reach a developmental milestone. For this reason, children are rarely ever “done” with a toy.

3.     Toys become more precious and children gain a sense of responsibility for them. When there are 20 different cars available, they are just cars. When there are only 2 cars available, their value to the child increases greatly and they are treated with care.

4.     The anticipation of new toys being rotated can become a special ritual. Imagine the wonder and excitement of waking up to different toys every few weeks!

This play shelf for two brothers is inviting and organized. These children were toddlers when this photo was taken, but I can see the shelf working for them well into elementary school. (image: Apartment Therapy)

This play shelf for two brothers is inviting and organized. These children were toddlers when this photo was taken, but I can see the shelf working for them well into elementary school. (image: Apartment Therapy)

Bonus! There are also quite a few benefits for you:

1.     You will have more control over the general toy situation. There is more work up front, but once you have your system in place, you will never feel overwhelmed by toys. This can also help you be better prepared when Grammy asks what to get for birthdays and holidays.

2.     You will spend less money on toys. Because children begin using the same toys in different ways, you can offer something for a while, put it away for a while, and then bring it out again later. Toys are also less likely to get broken because they become so precious.

3.     Cleanup is much simpler. With so few toys, it is much easier to stay organized and even involve the child in cleaning up.

4.     You will notice fewer arguments between siblings. It sounds counterintuitive, but all of the benefits for your children (deeper, more imaginative play, independence, better focus, and greater appreciation for toys) will translate to a much happier playtime.

5.     You will learn more about your child. Rotating toys requires you to watch your children while they play, to notice what they are interested in, what they need practice with, etc… and change toys accordingly. Yes, it can be challenging, but it is also a gift.

Are you sold on toy rotation? Not sure? Curious about how to get started? Stay tuned for an upcoming post on setting up a toy rotating system for your family. Are you looking for some inspiration for displaying and storing your child's toys? Take a look at my Pinterest board here