Monday, November 19, 2012

Montessori Mondays: Toy Rotation

Having too many choices overwhelms children, just as it does adults. (Right? ;) So it's so important to make your child's toy storage respond to that need so that you can have a happy, independent player on your hands. I advocate for making your child's toy selection appealing in its simplicity, accessible in its organization and manageable in its size. That said, it's much harder to do than it sounds. 
Last week, I set out to organize Coco's toys and ended up taking three full bags of toys down to our cellar space! Now she has one small box of plush toys, one small box of hard-sided toys, one pushcart and five other toys out at a time. It's still a lot of toys. Then, every ten days, I'll go down to the cellar and rotate out new ones. 
It was surprisingly very difficult to pare down her toy selection. I felt like I was getting rid of her toys and then I found myself almost sorting them unintentionally. That was when I realized I had to take a different approach. So instead of demoting lesser toys to the cellar, I decided to put many of the favorite toys in the cellar to start out instead. It was actually a really good approach. 
Surprisingly, the toys that remain are getting so much more use. I shouldn't be surprised, because it follows exactly the idea that too much choice is actually overwhelming, but it surprised me anyway. And knowing all those lovely favorites are down in the cellar is my motivation to rotate after ten days and not just forget about them. That will keep things novel and interesting for Coco all the time.
Best of all, I love that our living room is no longer being taken over by toys. (Now I just need to install the wall shelves in the kitchen so that everything that was in the sideboard before the left side was given up for toys isn't left just sitting on top. ;) Can you believe how quickly a small child accumulates toys? Do you rotate your child's toys? If not, would you?

10 comments:

  1. We do this, too! Sometimes I need to rotate after 10 days, and sometimes we can go even longer (even up to a month!). It makes clean up so easy, and he really gets to use the toys in creative and subtle ways that he wouldn't if he were always thinking about the next interesting thing.

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    1. I love that it makes clean up easy! That sense of accomplishment and independence is so wonderful for them. :)

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  2. I was just talking about this the other day! We do this as well....I actually put them away for almost a month at a time....maybe I will switch to a bit earlier? ;)
    I find it so interesting that when the "new" toys come out again, he is so occupied by them...I get almost a whole hour to myself with him playing quietly in a corner! :)

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    1. I might try letting it go a little longer. Or maybe just rotating out the toys that aren't getting much use, but leaving some. I think it's all about observing what's happening and acting accordingly. So glad to hear it's working well for you. Isn't it cool how things can seem new again when they disappear for a while? ;)

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  3. Do you read this blog:
    http://childhood101.com/2012/11/creating-a-baby-play-space/

    It's one of my favorites. She's always got ideas for how to set up play spaces and there's lots of other kid-related fun stuff there.

    In my google reader, that post in particular came up right after yours about organizing Coco's play area, so I thought I would pass it on to you to get hooked on too! :)

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  4. I definitely plan on doing this with Anj. I also hope to keep her toys minimal and use time in nature, books, and creative supplies for exploration and play. It is so easy to accumulate TONS of toys, most of which are cheap and lack inspiration. I'd prefer to have a few high quality toys and a lot of random things kids always love (wooden spoons, pot and pans, rocks, boxes) but that don't cost much, for her to play with.

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  6. Those are good tips for parents and teachers. I don't think anyone knows how to handle being overwhelmed by lots of choices. Children can be affected too. This makes it easier for them to cut down on decision time and move to their main goal.

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