Tag Archive | toys

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).

Neat & Tidy

Toddlers are at a perfect age to begin practising responsibility because they love to help you and mimic what you do.  A very simple way to get started (and make your life a little easier) is to begin by encouraging your baby to clean up toys independently.  Now is a great time to start putting one toy away before getting out another and making sure all is tidy at the end of the day.  Here are some tricks and tips to making toy clean-up simpler…..

Mondays and Wednesdays I choose one activity we did today from the Reaching Roses curriculum and share our experiences (starring my twin babies)

 This week’s Theme: African Animals

Activity DescriptionClean Up: After play time or doing an activity, encourage your baby to clean up independently.  Ensure it is easily done and do this daily.

This Activity’s Main Area of  Development: Emotional

Specific Skill: Being responsible

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 22 months + 2 weeks

1. The only warm-up to this activity is playing!!  This evening the girls had mainly two sets of toys out: puzzles and music toys.  When it was time for the bath, I asked them to clean up.  I don’t help them but I encourage them with praise and say things like, “I see one under the chair! Who can help get it?”



O gets started on the puzzles

O gets started on the puzzles

M helps with the music toys

M helps with the music toys













How can I get my baby to clean-up the toy mess?

  • Make it part of your daily routine
  • Add an audio cue (sing a clean-up song, ring a bell, etc.)
  • Ensure that it is easy for your baby to put away the toys (Can your baby easily access the toy bins?)
  • Allow ample time for clean-up.  If you start clean-up five minutes before you need to leave, you’ll probably end up frustrated at the pace and manner which your baby cleans!
  • Praise your baby’s efforts to clean-up the toys (If you have a reward chart, include clean-up)
  • Toddlers love to help so say things like, “Can you help me?” OR “Who can help put these toys away?” OR “What a great helper!”….you get the idea…
  • Toddlers love to play games so try saying things like, “Can you be a lion who cleans up?” or you can be the ‘goalie’ guarding the toy bin and they have to get by you to put away the toys… be creative!
  • Don’t expect perfection.  Your baby’s thought process, effort and improvement in clean-up skills are most valuable so remember to complement and encourage those things, not just completion of the task.

What are the benefits of encouraging responsibility in young children?

  • Aids in teaching time-management skills
  • Makes daily routines simpler and smoother for everybody
  • Encourages independent thinking
  • Encourages problem solving
  • Encourages focus & concentration
  • Increases self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Allows for meaningful contribution to the family and eventually society


Click here to see a helpful post about the benefits of rotating your baby’s toys


This post was based on an activity included in the Reaching Roses curriculum.  Click here to learn more!