Do you have trouble finding the toys you want to rotate into your learning spaces? Is your storage room out of hand? Having an organized storage room will save you time. Below you will find suggestions on how to organize your storage room for toy rotation.
New to toy rotation?
Too many toys can be overwhelming to both you, and the children in your care. Toy rotation is the process of setting out a minimal amount of toys, while storing the rest and rotating them in an out of your space.
There are many benefits to toy rotation including: more engagement from having less toys out, children use their creativity to reinvent more, having fewer toys out will make it easier for children to clean up independently, and they will find it easier to make choices without feeling overwhelmed.
Creating a space for storage
Having storage space for excess toys, is a key element of the toy rotation process. Consider converting a small room to a storage room, adding a few shelves to your Garage, converting a closet, or even using an under the bed storage container if you are short on storage space.
If you plan on installing new shelves I recommend an adjustable shelving unit, which will allow you to reduce the amount of wasted storage space. If you plan on using fixed shelving-hold off on purchasing storage containers until you see how many you will need, and measure to see how many you can fit in your storage space.
The first step to organizing is to declutter. Go through ALL of your toys and let go the items you don't need, want, or those that are broken or never used. Donate these toys to another program, or sell them on a local buy sell site.
It's time for sorting
Once you've decluttered all of your toys, you'll need to sort them. This is also a fun activity for the kids, so be sure to include them in the process wherever you can.
First, sort your toys into 4 main categories:
Step 1: Sort your remaining dramatic play items into these categories: Dress-Up, Play Food & Dishes, Dolls, and Accessories.
Step 2: Organize your Items into containers or boxes. If you have Pretend Play Themes (Doctors Office, Grocery Store, School, etc) consider placing those items in Themed Prop Boxes.
Step 3: Label your Storage: The easiest way I have found to label plastic boxes is by writing on a piece of masking tape (which can be easily removed).
Cognitive/Fine Motor Toys/Manipulatives/Loose Parts
Step 1: Sort your remaining toys into these categories: Literacy, Math, Science & Social Studies, Fine Motor Toys, Manipulatives/Loose Parts, and Puzzles. Check out this post for creative ways to store puzzles.
Step 2: If possible, store each of these categories on a different shelf. Wherever possible store items in their original boxes, or clear boxes for good viewing. Math counters and manipulatives should be stored in the same area, in small boxes that can be stacked. Recycled lunch meat containers are great to re-purpose for storing these kinds of toys. You can also use clear divided boxes (sorted by season) for easy access.
Step 3: Label your items to make it easier to find what you are looking for.
Construction and Small World Play Toys
Construction Toys and Small World Play
Step 1: Now that you have decluttered, you can sort your remaining construction toys into these categories: Building and Construction Sets, Transportation, Blocks, and Block Accessories (Pretend People, Signs, Animals, etc.)
Step 2: Organize your Items into appropriately sized containers or boxes. Construction toys tend to be heavy, so consider that when selecting storage options. Don't hurt yourself: Place larger items (such as dollhouses and Play Sets) on the floor or the bottom shelf.
This VESSLA Storage Crate from IKEA is one of my favorite containers for Blocks. It's study, has a lid, and it's casters make it easy to move in and out of your storage space without even lifting.
Gross Motor Toys
Step 1: You can sort your remaining gross motor toys into these categories: Balls, Balancing Toys, Tunnels/Pop Ups, Push Toys, Music & Movement
Step 2: Balls can be stored in lightweight boxes, or hampers. Hang tunnels on a large hook. Fold pop up toys and store them vertically against a wall, or lay them flat and store them under a bed.
Inventory what's left
Now that you've decided what you are keeping, and have it organized, it's time to create an inventory list. Download my free editable toy inventory list at the bottom of this post! Create an inventory list of what you have, and label your toys.
These lists are also great to:
You can download a free copy of my inventory list at the bottom of this post!
Decide on your rotation
Now that you've organized your space, it's time to decide on your toy rotation. First decide on how often you plan to rotate items in your space (Weekly, every other week etc.). After that look at your schedule and choose a day that works best for you. I preferred to do this right after work on Friday, so the learning spaces were fresh and ready on Monday morning.
Make your shelves inviting
Since you will only be setting out a few toys at a time, take care to create inviting learning spaces. Use baskets. or attractive bins for the toys. Place out one item per shelf, so that it is "highlighted". The children will love seeing all of the new selections. Don't feel pressured to replace all of the toys. Instead leave out a backbone of their favorite items, that you compliment with new accessories.
Download your free copy of my Inventory List!
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