When and How to Rotate Your Play Space

When and How to Rotate Your Play Space

This is a question we are often asked... I usually rotate our playspace every 2-4 weeks by observing how my children are playing.⁠ Some rotations last longer than others!


When should I be rotating our toys?

Here's some things you can look out for in your child's play to know if your playspace might be due for a refresh!⁠


Now lets talk about that a little more...⁠

1. If you're child usually plays well independently but they are relying on you to get their play started, needing invitations to play more often or want you there more it may be time to rotate.⁠

2. If you observe that your child needs support in learning a skill or is interested in something such as ⁠
space, animals, letters or colours be sure to include an activity to support that in your next rotation.⁠

3. If you notice your child is not playing in their playspace it may be time to switch things up. I also like to do a rotation if they have 'trashed' the space by pulling everything out!⁠

Sometimes I also just swap out a few things rather than rotating the whole space and that is enough to spark some new play.


How do I rotate my toys?

Now you might know when to rotate them but you may also be feeling overwhelmed at the thought of where to start when rotating your playspace so here's a few simple steps to follow!⁠


1. Plan ahead, think about what your child is interested in and also areas they may need to develop. ⁠For example if they are enjoying playdough but need to work on scissor skills include cutting tools with playdough set out in a basket.⁠

2. Take everything off your playspace shelving. Start with a clean slate. Anything that they are still enjoying, consider putting it back in a different location to inspire new play.⁠

3. Fill in your spaces with different resources from your storage area. Make sure your choices are consistent with your child's interests or schemas and maybe even consider a theme such as sea life.⁠


I like to get my children involved by asking them what they would like to take away and some ideas as to what they would like on the shelves again.

WARNING: It can get messy and sometimes a little overwhelming doing it with your children as mine like to pull things out but it definitely inspires new play for them and gets worse before it gets better.

If that's not your thing you can also do it whilst they are not around and they will love waking up to a refreshed play space!


How many activities should be in your Play Space? 

We find the average amount of toys to have in our play space is 8 to 10 activities, however this varies depending on your family situation.

It is important to remember not to overwhelm the play space. This means the number of toys has to reflect the size of the area, the number of children and their ages.
A child that is not yet mobile can successfully play with 4 or 5 accessible toys. 
An only child who is an older toddler would be comfortable with 8.

A family of 3 children of varying ages may have 15 on display.
Some of these would be shared activities, the rest divided between their individual stages and interests.
When choosing the toys for a rotation, try to cover a range of activities that aid in different developmental areas. Covering all bases means the child can explore and play with what they're in the mood for without being overwhelmed by choices.
Listed below are some categories with some suggestions:

Art supplies

Vehicles and transport
Puzzles and Games
  • Egg Shakers
  • Bells
  • Drums

Written by Alison Barnhill & Caitlin Apelt

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