As a therapist I am often asked what toys that I would recommend parent’s purchase for their children as their children seemingly are more interested in the toys that I have in my office than the toys that I have at home.
The reality is that children are likely more interested in my toys because of the novelty of them. So, instead of recommending that parents go out and spend their hard-earned money on even more toys, I recommend that they consider rotating their toys out.
Toy rotation doesn’t just have the benefit of your child finding more interest in a toy that they have not seen in a while, but it also can have an impact with the amount of time they play with the toys that are out and available. Having less toys available to play with at one time can ease the “over-whelm” and increase creativity.
So, consider organizing your toys into bins or boxes. I personally like wicker baskets or plastic bins with lids on top. Once you have determined the best method of storing your toys, consider organizing them into the following groups:
Cause & Effect Toys
Cause & effect toys includes toys in which your child pushes a button, and something lights up or plays music. Some examples include, a car ramp, a ball popper, a star stacker, etc.
This includes construction toys such as stacking blocks, Legos or toys with pieces in which you put something together like Mr. Potato Head or a marble tower.
Pretend toys can include items such as cars, puppets, dolls, play food or dishes as well as objects that mimic everyday items such as a play phone, etc.
This can include things such as a microphone, play instruments or toys that make music.
Art & Creation Toys
Think of arts and crafts. This can include items such as Play-doh, construction paper, chalk board, crayons, glitter, paint, etc.
Thinking toys can include items such as puzzles, shape sorters, nesting cups or sorting toys.
Games with Rules
This can include early card games or board games.
Once your toys are organized, you can offer your child 2-4 groups of toys at a time. When making your selection, try to think about how your child would play with the included items, and look for opportunities to encourage creative cross-play. For instance, you might include a family of small figurines in a rotation set with their Lincoln Logs, or put a tea set with their dolls. This will encourage their imagination and help them to expand their play in new ways.
Toy Rotation Schedule
When your children seemingly have lost interest, switch those toys out for a new rotation of toys. Or, if you prefer a more “set schedule, you can switch out their toy sets like clockwork every couple of weeks, or once a month. There is really no wrong way to go about it. The key is to be flexible.
Regardless of how frequent you decide to do toy rotation, the goal is for things to become novel again. You should notice that your children are excited to play with their toys and will likely play with them for longer periods of time, and perhaps even in new ways.
Of course, you too will also benefit from toy rotation. Not only will save yourself some money, but clean-up will also become easy, and you will reduce the toy clutter in your home.