Toy Rotations For Creativity and Purposeful Play

Your home looks like a toy shop, there are toys EVERYWHERE yet your child still seems bored and is constantly jumping for activity to activity. 

Then a toy rotation could well be the answer you are looking for, take a look at the; what, why and how below to start making the toys you already have work for your family.

What is a toy rotation?

A toy rotation is where you put the majority of your child’s toys into storage. leaving out a few different toys for your little one to explore and play with. When they begin to lose interest you put them toys away and bring out some toys that have been hidden away. Then simply watch the magic happen!

To keep your little one entertained you don’t have to have all of the toys. Actually less is more in the case of building purposeful, fully focused play. That’s what we want isn’t it?When our children are engaged in their play they are building them key components within their brain so they can concentrate for longer, increase their problem solving skills, push their limits and ultimately test their ideas like the little scientist they are. 

Where do I even start?

So, the key is, less is more.

Now is your chance to sort through all of your little ones toys and organise them into categories. This bit is up to you. You can do it by theme, development area, role of the toy or any other way that will make it easy for you to find the toy when you are ready for it to come back into rotation.

As you go through their toys throw away, donate or sell any toys that are broken, no longer age appropriate or have missing pieces. 

Now it’s time to box up the toys into their categories leaving out one maybe two toys from each category. Hide the boxes out of sight! 

Out of sight out of mind is key! 

Now with the toys you have left out set them out in an inviting way, I use a cubed unit but that’s not essential. Deconstruct any toys that are completed through play because lets face it puzzles are far less inviting to redo when they are already made up.

Why should I bother?

So you’ve done your toy cull and your organisation, but who says toy rotations are even worth while? 

A research paper was released in 2018. They were trying to find out if the number of toys in a toddler environment influenced toddlers play and the results where really interesting. 

They took a group of 36 toddlers and split them into two groups. One group had 4 toys available in their play space while the other group had 16 toys available in their play space. The trial found that the children with only 4 toys played with each toy for twice as long as the group with the bigger selection. The play was also of higher quality, meaning they where more engaged with their play and used each toys in a variety of ways, 1 and a half times more than the group with more toys to choose from.

Here’s the link to the research paper in you would like to have a read yourself 


So although they didn’t explicitly research a toy rotation they did find that having less toys doubled attention span. 

How will it help my family?

Creating Opportunities for purposeful play
Purposeful play is when a child is fully engaged within their play. Creating what they want to create whether that’s rolling a car down a ramp or creating a small world scene. When children have less toys within their environment it means they don’t get distracted quite so easily by another toy in the corner of their eye.

Creativity and Imagination Bloom 
It gives them opportunities to flex their creative muscles, they will use items that for us may only have one or two uses and create a whole range of different play scenario’s. They might use their blocks to create a tower or a house but they may also use them to create a pattern or pretend it’s a item of food they have just bought from the shops. Play doesn’t have to be perfect to work.

Tidy Up With Ease

Who doesn’t need this one!! Because there is less out there is less to pick up at the end of the day and even better, because toys have their own spot your little one will quickly work out where toys need to go when it’s time to tidy up.

Make Gift Season Super Easy
Last of all, because you have your categories and because they are now fully engaging in their play, when it comes to holidays and birthdays you will know where the gaps are or what sets to extend on. Plus you haven’t been buying new toys all the time!!

Your Questions Answered

What age should I start?

Once little one is mobile and able to make use of their play space. But why not start as soon as you’re ready too.  

How often should I rotate?

When the interest starts to dwindle I roughly change things around every 3 weeks however I am not set to any particular period of time.

How many activities should I leave out?

It depends how many children are playing with in the play space and each individual child I would aim for no more than 10 but why not play around with how many items you have out and see what works best for your family.

When should I rotate the toys?

I normally do it while Ayla is in bed, purely because we end up with all of the toys out!

How should I organize the toys?

organization is key for an easy rotation! Group items together however you like; theme, skill, what it is so you can find it again easily when you come to the next rotation.

What do I put out?

try to get a variety of toys out. Construction based, fine motor skills, small world ect. Also follow your child’s interests so if they are particular interested in rolling toys or filling and emptying have something that supports that too.

Bit at a time or all at once

I will do a big rotation but then I will swap things out if I notice Ayla has no interest in it.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below if you found the information above useful!! 

Happy Playing – Emily

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