So have you been wanting to start toy rotation but don’t know where to begin?
Start by reading this blog post and over the next few weeks I’ll be adding a few more parts to follow including how we set out our playroom and how our journey of play began.
Toy rotation was always something that I wanted to do with my own children after working in Childcare as a Lead Educator for 10 years. I always wanted to implement it in my room at work but it was a long daycare centre and although Montessori was known about there wasn’t too much of the philosophy implemented.
Before I fell pregnant with Big Sis and stayed at home to look after my girls I had thought about doing formal Montessori Training but dreams change and here I am running Little Toy Tribe and it’s safe to say I LOVE IT! I love sharing my knowledge and inspiring parents, carers, grandparents and other educators at home or at work to be more present with their children and more engaged in play together.
You don’t need to be formerly educated to read and educate yourself on things you are passionate about. The more you read the more you learn and the more you can grow and adapt what you are doing in your home or workplace.
I felt that everyday at work was the same. The same cars on the same mat in the same room… I would re arrange the room but that’s about it.
So the reason I started toy rotation may not have even been about Big Sis when she was little, it was about me being mentally stimulated. Being at home with one child was very different to a whole classroom of children and it was not an easy adjustment for me. To tell you the truth I really struggled after the birth of both of my kids after hard pregnancies and deliveries but through my doctor I seeked help. No, they didn’t prescribe toy rotation - but I found it really helped!
I found joy through rotating toys and finding new ways to stimulate them (and me) to take my mind off what I may have been feeling.
I personally believe the more we enjoy the toys that we provide our children the more likely we are to sit down and play with our children, which is mutually beneficial.
Benefits of Toy Rotation
Toy rotation improves concentration and helps to develop a child’s focus, creating a longer attention span. Less is more and toy rotation helps avoid clutter. You’ll also find that your children will be engaged in more meaningful and focused play.
An example is how many times can you build up a stack of blocks before it get boring? Children then need to use their imagination to come up with a new way to use them. In our home blocks turn into food in the kitchen, a road for our cars or fences for animals among many, many more ideas.
It also fosters creativity as they need to find new ways to use the same toys when they start to get bored. Don’t worry - boredom is good for them, it helps build their imagination and creative skills.
No matter how messy it gets in our playspace it can all be packed away in less than 5 minutes but even better than all those things is the benefits it has on their independent play.
So have a think about it… What do your children do when they get bored? How could you help them get through their boredom?
Mine usually start to chase each other around the house and jump on the bed BUT it can be solved by a simple question such as “can you build a tower using only the blue blocks?”
A question this specific leads to intrigue and quite often they want to know if they can and want to show me!
When they begun playing after I asked them this question Big Sis (3) started by building a tower of blue blocks but then changed to making a bath tub and putting a doll in there to wash clean. At the same time Little Miss (19m) built many towers as high as she could and begun kicking them down with her feet when it was high enough.
They played for well over 30 minutes from that one simple question and I sat back watching. They didn’t want me to join in but they did want me to watch but this isn’t always the case sometimes there is time for a cup of tea.
Toy rotation also helps to increase the life of a toy no matter whether it is open ended or not. Taking it away and bringing it back every few weeks or a month later over and over again means it is kept and enjoyed for longer as every time it comes out it feels new to them.
A Tidy Environment
We like to live very minimally in all aspects of our home and Dion and I are both on the same page when it comes to clutter (thank goodness).
I don’t know about you but my anxiety is at an all time high when things aren’t organised and I find it really helps clear my mind knowing everything has and is in its place. It’s the first step of me feeling calm and relaxed in my home when it is tidy.
A tidy environment for children is also beneficial as they won’t be as overwhelmed by the choice of too many toys and know how to help you pack up. Having less toys means it is easier for them to remember where it came from.
We have done toy rotation since Big Sis was around 6 months old and so the girls are very used to helping pack away and they enjoy it - most of the time!
Big Sis often won’t leave the house until everything is back in its place and it is usually only one thing she will spot like a Nin under the couch but she says “wait Mummy” and runs to put it away before closing the door behind her.
Where to store toys out of rotation
The next question I get asked the most from people that want to start toy rotation is where to keep the toys that aren’t out on the shelf.
I have found that storing our toys that aren’t in rotation away from the playspace and out of reach means the children don’t ask what’s not out as it’s not accessible to them and therefore not on their mind.
However if they do ask for something specific I will ask them to choose one activity to take away and replace it with on the shelf rather than adding it and becoming cluttered.
If you struggle with space get creative! I keep our rainbow rice in a box under our bed as our house does’t have a lot of storage but the rest of the toys are in a small wardrobe downstairs.
Also do a big cull and keep only what you need and use and find different ways to use the same toys over and over - open ended resources are the best!