Tag Archive | how to benefit learning

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

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.


* 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).

Down on the Farm

We have come to the end of the Farm Animals activity plan from Clever Clovers.  What better way to culminate all of our mooing, baaing and cock-a-doodle-dooing, than by visiting a farm!  The weather was a bit more frigid than anticipated and the pig pen was dismantled, but other than that, we had a lovely time!

On alternating Fridays I blog about our final activity (starring my twin babies)

This week’s Theme: Farm Animals

Activity Description: Visit a farm, petting zoo or winter fair (where livestock is present)

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

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 17 months + 1 week

1. We had to drive about an hour to get there so when we were in the car, I was explaining to them that we were going to a farm, where they could walk around and see ducks and cows and sheep!  They were excited.

2. When we arrived, as we were walking towards the farm, I was saying, look!  There is the big, red barn.  (I’m not sure how much they heard because they saw a bunch of Canadian Geese and starting yelling “duck & quack, quack!”)…. LOL!  If you’re not familiar with our visit to feed the “ducks” a couple of weeks ago, click here.

Sitting outside of the big red barn
Sitting outside of the big red barn

Here are some pictures from our visit:

O was waving "hello"

Curious beings

O being brave with the "horse"

O being brave with the “horse”








M's favourite: Rooster (it wasn't even one of our weekly words, she picked it up through stories and such.

M’s fave: Rooster (it wasn’t one of our weekly words), she picked it up through stories.

Cock-a-doodle-doo!  The rooster is the only fowl that she doesn't refer to as a duck.

Cock-a-doodle-doo! The rooster is the only fowl that she doesn’t refer to as a duck.









O spies some baby chicks.

O spies some baby chicks.


Quack, quack, M says (even though they are chickens)

Quack, quack, M says (even though they are hens)









M liked the cow but was tired and wanted to be carried.

M liked the cow but was tired and wanted to be carried.


M with the ducks (and other birds)

M with the ducks (and other birds)











So where are the videos you ask?  It seems that when I thought I was recording, I was not.  AND when I thought I was not recording, yup, you got it….I was.  So there’s a whole lot of feet and ground footage….I am pretty disappointed because there was so much excitement that I thought I was capturing.

I think taking children to a farm or petting zoo is a pretty common thing to do and obviously provides so much opportunity for exploration and learning.  But, because we have been learning about farm animals for two weeks, this outing was even more beneficial to learning.  That is, because the target language was needed/used in context (in a fun and natural way), this will help solidify their understanding.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!