Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Behind the Scenes…Toy Rotation July 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 9:25 am

One thing we’re discovering more and more these days is that our particular children do a lot more when they have a lot less. We used to keep a lot of toys in our family room because we didn’t want the kids to be bored. What I began to notice is that they would spend a lot of time wandering around aimlessly, saying there was nothing to do. Then they’d just go from toy to toy, throwing them on the floor, leaving them, and not really playing with any of them. I refused to believe that they had the wrong kind of toys or not enough of them (they have toys in their bedrooms, the family room, and then a huge playroom in the basement…there are plenty of toys!) So, we decided to try something new…

Each week, I take every toy and book in the family room and put them in the basement or on the bookshelf, and then pull up a whole new stash. Since they don’t play in the basement for hours daily, a lot of the toys in the basement playroom sort of go unnoticed. So, I take up 2-3 puzzles, a couple vehicles, some dolls and doll clothes, puppets, a game or two, a couple baby Montessori-inspired toys, some playsilks, a couple of musical instruments and a Little People set, and then move them up to the family room. We have enough of each of these things to have a new set come upstairs once a week and not have to see them again for at least a month, so it’s always like having new toys! Plus, choosing things from each of these categories ensures that there is always something that each of the three children like to do… not an easy task for 3 kids ranging from 1 to 6 years old! I also don’t allow toys that are only for one person to be in the family room (they each have special toys that are just for them, and they must store them in their rooms…they can bring them down to play in the family room if they want, but they have to store them in their rooms…it keeps them from getting broken when other little hands decide to get into them!) I also don’t keep noisy toys in the family room..I want the toys in the family room to be imaginative and promote creativity, as well as keep our family room environment peaceful. They do have some noisy toys and some wild gross motor toys that we keep in the basement for those times where they need to just go crazy!

I also keep a book basket with 6-10 books in it for us to read together for the week (see What My Child is Reading posts for more about those). It helps to keep the baby from ripping 100 books off the bookshelf each time she wants a story. 🙂

The book basket & treasure basket. The treasure basket is a collection of random items--household, craft, and nature items--for the baby to explore using her senses. It's always very random! There are objects Bug can explore using taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing, and she loves to explore the basket!

The family room toy shelves (we also keep our musical instruments from Vietnam, as well as Jedi's Fire Belly Toads on the shelf too!)

We also try to keep a bin or basket of items from nature in the family room so that the kids can explore rocks, seeds, sticks, leaves, feathers, etc. any time they'd like to.


3 Responses to “Behind the Scenes…Toy Rotation”

  1. Maria Says:

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  2. bettyann Says:

    we do similarly! only difference is i let the children ‘go shopping’ – they each are allowed to pick one toy (and sometimes that toy has lots of pieces – like trains or zoob or discovery wheels/gizmo, puzzles, etc). i store all the toys that are in current rotation when not in use in a deck box, instead of a toy box or shelves. we tried those and they didn’t work for us – the toy box wasn’t large enough for three kids – when one has trains, one has baby doll collections, and the third wants musical instruments.

    i hope one day the kids are too old for little toys and i can use the deck box (with lid then) as its original purpose – to hold our cushions and patio ‘accessories’. 🙂

    i probably go about a month between toy rotations, though. and i kind of note which toys are never chosen by any of the children, encouraging those (to see if they like the item(s)) if they dismiss the item, then it goes to another family.

  3. Neat post! Thanks for sharing…
    We also have to do the toy rotation thing…less can be more, in many cases…
    I rotate them by theme. We only have one theme at a time out so that it keeps a focus and makes it fun to explore what we have that time.
    Like your shelves and your nature basket. our nature table is taking a break at the moment, as we are stocking up on new little items for it, so I wanted it to be off the shelves for a while to rekindle interest when it is placed on the shelves again.
    Like how you have your instruments from Vietnam on your shelves. We have instruments from around the world, but they are stored in our continents boxes. I had tried to have them out in our family room, but then, decided to try them as part of the continents box contents.
    Really enjoy reading your blog.
    Have a nice day today,

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