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Toy Rotation

Are you tired of cleaning up a zillion toys each day?  Tired of surrounding your tot with those zillion toys only to find there is little that arouses a sustained amount of interest?  Tired of buying a zillion more toys to entertain your tot?  I have a solution!  Really!  The solution to this dilemma is something I get asked about quite regularly so I thought I would repost this blog entry from March 11, 2014 (with some amendments).

On alternating Fridays, I blog about parent/teacher

hot topics & interesting info or Q&A

 

Today’s Topic: How toy rotation and changing our physical environment can benefit learning.

“Change can open our minds to new ways of viewing ourselves and our relationship to the world, and renew our pleasure in living.”  – Tarthang Tulku, Knowledge of Freedom

 

1. On toy rotation :

A lot has been written about this so I will not overwhelm you with fine details but I will write from my experience, the benefits of toy rotation and also how I approach toy rotation.

The benefits are many, here are a few:

  • Less clean-up
  • More engaged play with toys –> mastery of toys –> inventive use of toys
  • Toys retain excitement –> less boredom with toys –> less need to buy more new toys

When & what I rotate:  I do a toy rotation every two weeks and this coincides with the changing of our activity plan (visit our shop to view our curricula).  I choose toys that specifically relate to the topic we are learning, plus I have 8 staple categories I always include.  Our toys are available in bins.  We have 12 bins.

  1. Building toys (blocks, mega-lego, etc)
  2. Imaginary play (toy cars, figurines, puppets, dress-up, etc.)
  3. Problem solving toys I (puzzles, lacing, sorters, stackers, etc.)
  4. Problem solving toys II(puzzles, lacing, sorters, stackers, etc.)
  5. Sensory toys (balls, crinkly toys, squishy toys, play dough, etc.)
  6. Books
  7. Music toys
  8. Cause and effect toys (we have a few we really like: Peek-a-Shoe, Pound n Pop Carnival Elephant, Pop n Pals)
  9. Specific to topic and activity plan
  10. Specific to topic and activity plan
  11. Specific to topic and activity plan
  12. Specific to topic and activity plan
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Our main play area

In the picture above, our weekly topic was colours so the four “specific to topic and activity plan” bins were one for each colour.

Since we first posted this we have added two new play areas: As children grow older, dramatic & imaginary play become a central part of playing (it becomes more and more complex and developed) .  To accommodate this growth in our children, we added a play kitchen area and a dress-up area.

Our play kitchen

Our play kitchen

Our dress-up area

Our dress-up area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Also, since our girls have grown older, we do the toy rotation together. I get their input on which toys they would like to have out for the next two weeks.  I give the guidelines, such as building toys, then I let them choose which building toys.  Whenever it’s time to ‘change the toys’, they get really excited.)

 

2. On toy storage: I think it goes without saying, that if you’re not going to have all of your toys available in your play area, you need a place to put the toys that aren’t being used.

Tips:

* Store toys in an area that your tot doesn’t have access to

Toy closet with child proof door knob

Toy closet with child proof door knob

*Ensure you have easy access to them (so that toy rotation is not a major ordeal)

I can get any toy with minimal effort

I can get any toy with minimal effort

*Ensure they are organised (so they are easy to find)

Chalk board toy organizers

Chalk board toy organizers

*If you feel you have no use for them any more, donate toys that are too immature for your tot’s age

 

3. On changing the physical environment:

This can range from changing the layout of furniture in a room to the actual décor in a room and in a classroom; the seating plan.  When possible/suitable, change the actual location of the learning environment such as going outside or to a gymnasium.

 

4. Why is change so beneficial for learning?

It’s not something that is easy for me to describe but I will do my best to be concise and not blabber on.  Weather we are people who like change or not, it is undeniable the everything inside and outside of us is constantly changing.  Embracing this simple principle can help us to lead less fearful and more fulfilling lives.  Offering change to your students and children, if nothing else, will bring about a certain amount of comfort and acceptance of change.  However, there are many more benefits.  Change brings with it, a lot of energy, momentum and creativity.  It can bring about excitement and stimulation as a result of the unknown or “newness” of something (it’s not stagnant).  Once a person begins to recognize the energy of change, it is possible for them to harness that energy and use it to achieve things they never thought possible……….

…………………….I would suggest that this possibility begins with you offering the gift of change in the first place (even if it’s as simple as changing a seating plan, toy rotation, or hanging new pictures on the wall).

Colour us Happy!

We have come to the end of our third week using the Primary Colours (+1) activity plan from Clever Clovers.  (We decided to do a third week to give them more practice).  I can definitely say they have not mastered the four colours presented to them but it’s been a good start (colour is probably the most abstract thing I’ve tried to teach them, and was bound to take time).  Anyway, it’s time for our final project today which is making coloured sensory toys!  So much fun…..and a bit messy!

Every other Friday I blog about our final project (starring my twin babies)

 This week’s Theme: Primary Colours (+1)

Activity Description: Create colourful sensory toys! Allow your baby to participate as much as possible in the creation of these toys.

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Creative, Cognitive, Fine Motor, Language, Social, Emotional

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 16 months + 3 weeks

M looking at the materials for today's project with anticipation and a good amount of restraint!

M looking at the materials for today’s project with anticipation AND a good amount of restraint!

Sensory Toy #1: Oil and coloured water (we did yellow)

Use any colourless oil (baby oil works well). Pour about 1-2 cm of oil into the bottle and add coloured water. (don’t fill it completely). Hot glue the lid on. Have fun shaking it and watching it separate.

M adding yellow food colouring to water

M adding yellow food colouring to water

M pours colourless oil

M pours colourless oil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O pouring in the yellow water

O pouring in the yellow water

 

O points to the oil that is separating

O points to the oil that is separating

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sensory Toy #2: Water, glitter and beads (we did blue) 

Place clear water, glitter (visual effects) and beads (audio effects) into a bottle (glitter & beads should be the same colour). Quantities are up to you but allow for movement in the bottle. Seal lid with hot glue.

O pours the water

O pours the water

M putting in a blue bead

M putting in a blue bead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O spoons in blue gravel

O spoons in blue gravel

 

Mom gives a helping hand with the sparkles! (We all know how messy those things are!)

Mom gives a helping hand with the sparkles! (We all know how messy those things are!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O playing with the blue bottle

O playing with the blue bottle

 

Sensory Toy #3: Soap and coloured water (we did green)

Place coloured water into the bottle and add a big squirt of dish soap (the colour of the soap could affect the overall colour so using a soap the same colour as the coloured water would be best). Seal the lid with hot glue. Have fun shaking and making bubles!

Mom demonstrates how to squirt the food colouring. O & M amazed at the diffusion!

Mom demonstrates how to squirt the food colouring. O & M amazed at the diffusion!

Pouring in the green water

Pouring in the green water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O squeezes in some green dish soap

O squeezes in some green dish soap

M shows off the green bottle

M shows off the green bottle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sensory Toy #3: Coloured rice (we did red)  

Place 1 teaspoon of water and some food colouring into a zip-lock bag. Pour in desired amount of rice (you don’t want the bottle too full of rice because you want it to make a sound when shaken). Mix the rice so it is all covered in colour. Pour it out onto wax paper in a thin layer and allow it to dry. Place in the bottle and hot glue the lid shut.

M spoons in the red rice

M spoons in the red rice

O shows the red bottle

O shows the red bottle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PLAYING WITH OUR NEW, COLOURFUL, SENSORY TOYS

 

Mommy-led play: (you’ll see them repeating the language a bit and following instructions)

 

Baby-led play: (you’ll see them playing on their own with the toys)

 

Click here to see more activities on learning colours.

Count Me In!

Tuesdays I blog about parent/teacher hot topics & interesting info

 

Today’s Topic: A great toy for teaching counting and all sorts of other skills!

Well, our super duper Auntie E bought the babies a wonderful toy.  It’s so great that I thought I would share it.  Plus, we are learning about counting this week so it seems fitting!

So without further delay…….. Taa Daa!

counting cans

1 to 10 Counting Cans by Learning Resources!

It’s a pretty simple toy that offers a lot of flexibility and so many learning opportunities.  As toys go, it can be a bit pricey ($50.00 from Learning Resources) but the longevity of this toy would be well worth the cost for me (plus if you shop around, you can definitely find it for cheaper – I saw it on Amazon & Walmart for around $30.00)

**The box states for 3+ years because some of the parts are a bit small and could present a choking hazard.  I feel completely comfortable using this toy as supervised play with my babies at age 15 months but I would not let them play with it alone just yet. 

Here is why it is such a great learning resource:

Language Development: Vocabulary development (numbers, colours and everyday food items)

Creativity: Perfect for dramatic play (in a toy kitchen for example)

Fine Motor Skills: Removing & fastening lids, placing objects into a container, pouring, stacking

Gross Motor Skills: I had my girls run to get the food and put them into the cans (like a relay)

Emotional Learning: Sharing!!   There are lots of ways to practice sharing with this toy.

Social Learning: Co-operative play.  Have babies/children work together to fill a can or stack.

Thinking & Inquiry Skills: Count, add & subtract, match, sort, number recognition, make/complete patterns

There are many more ways to use this resource as inspiration for activities that suit all learning levels, ages and skills!  Leave a comment and share your ideas!

P.S. I am not affiliated with this product or company what-so-ever.  The opinions presented are entirely my own and I am not being compensated for writing this.