Toy Rotation: Increasing Imaginative Play

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I don’t know about you but it seems that our house is the land of overflowing toys! We have toys EVERYWHERE!!! I was fed up with an overabundance of toys that never got played with. So, I started a toy rotation.

A toy rotation is exactly what it sounds like. You rotate toys in and out of play.

It is meant to encourage your child to play more with the toys they have and feel more appreciative of what they do have. The toys that aren’t being played with are kept out of sight in a closet, attic, basement or some room where your child won’t see them.

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Ultimate Guide to Toy Rotation with building blocks

Since we were bursting at the seams with toys I decided to try a toy rotation system to see if it helped us out at all. I took two different approaches once implementing our rotation and I’m here to share all the ins and outs of success with toy rotation. 

I am loving toy rotation and am now a toy minimalist because of it. I’m really thinking of telling family and friends that no toys need to enter our home for the upcoming year.

I would rather money be put toward an experience for them. I especially feel guilty that money is spent on toys when I often give them away shortly after receiving them due to them never getting played with.

Prior to Toy Rotation

To start the toy rotation I decided I needed to purge a bunch of the toys. No sense in rotating toys that I knew we wouldn’t ever use.

I started by gathering ALL the toys. This took a little strategy but I found a designated area that I could keep the kids from and simply began placing all the toys there. I went room by room and scoured the area for toys. I emptied the diaper bag and even cleaned out every toy I could find in the van.

Toys gathered to go through for toy rotation
All the toys gathered and ready to be sorted

Do this organizing when the kids are either out of the house or asleep to save yourself some sanity!

After gathering all the toys I placed them into 3 piles:

  1. Toys to keep.
  2. Toys to give away.
  3. Toys to toss.

With the toys all organized I loaded up the give away toys and trashed the toss toys. Then began my first toy rotation process.

Toy Rotation Method 1: Weekly Rotation

The first method I used I called my weekly toy rotation. I set aside 3 drawers in our toy chest in the closet and one basket for the play area. The plan was to rotate through toys every week with a total of 4 toy rotation sets (basically new toys every week for the month). 

I separated all the toys based on categories (ex. cars, paw patrol, building blocks, educational). Once I had all the toys separated by their category I began to split them between the 4 weeks. So basically each week had the same category of toys but different toys within each week. 

So week one would have different Paw Patrol toys than week two. And week one would also have different cars than week two. But each week had all the categories of toys.

What Worked with Weekly Rotation?

This method worked well to help me see what types of toys Blake likes to play with. He definitely plays more with a select few toys than he does when he has every single toy he owns out. I can quickly see now which toys he plays with and which ones we need to get rid of.

This method works well if your kid stays entertained with a variety of toys week to week.

What Didn’t Work with Weekly Rotation?

For Blake having the same set of toys for a week began to get old. He seemed to lose interest in playing with the toys altogether by the middle of the week. He also seemed overwhelmed by how many categories of toys he could play with. 

It was difficult to keep that many toys in one little basket and it took some work rotating them out each week. Due to my finds I decided to try a second approach that has honestly worked a lot better.

Toy Rotation Method 2: Rotate by Category

With the second method I rotated every couple days by category. So, I still organized toys by category but instead of spreading them out between 4 weeks I keep the categories together and let him play with just one category.

For example I will rotate just trains into his play area basket and let him play with those for a couple days. Then I put those away and he gets educational toys for a couple days. Then he gets another category like tools or building blocks to play with. We rotate through each category and sometimes I even give him a choice between two categories so he has a say in what toys he plays with.

basket of toy cars for toy rotation
We get to play with cars today!

What Worked with Rotating by Category?

This method has worked so much better for Blake and for cleaning. Putting away toys meant for a couple days is much easier than cleaning a week’s worth of toys. Blake seems to like the change every couple days and doesn’t get bored with his toys like he did with rotating weekly.

This second method has also made it VERY easy to see which toys he prefers within each category. I am decreasing the number of toys frequently that we keep in the house.

What Didn’t Work with Rotating by Category?

Honestly, I didn’t have too many issues with rotating toys by category. I will say that it doesn’t allow for a lot of extended play with toys. So, if your kid seems to like playing with toys more than a couple days this may not be the best method. It does require more frequent rotation which means more for you to stay on top of as far as rotating goes.

Final Thoughts on Toy Rotation

I have noticed an increase in not only the number of toys he plays with but also the manner in which he plays. He has become much more imaginative with his play. He seems more content to play with his toys.

Toy rotation has definitely helped us limit screen time and we make it a fun experience when the new toys come out. He plays longer with his toys and has even asked me to play with him more than he used to.

My next task is to tackle Raelynn’s baby toys and start a simple rotation for her as well. However, from this process I have drastically limited the number of toys she has so I know it will be much easier once I implement a toy rotation for her toys.

Have you done toy rotation? What methods have worked for you? Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Let me know in the comments below or message me at morgan@graceforthismoment.com

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Hi Morgan,
    I also have a toy rotation for my kids. I like the two methods you mentioned. I don’t yet have mine in categories or anything I think I do more of the when they look bored, swap out some toys approach. lol. Having a plan though would make it work so much better. I also like to set aside unopened toys from Christmas or birthday gifts and then they open like 1 a month or so. They always love getting a brand new toy. Great tips to help me adjust my toy cycling process, thanks!
    Heather

    1. Morgan P

      I love the idea of setting gifts aside to give throughout the year! I’m going to start doing that for sure! They both get SO many gifts during Christmas and birthdays. Having a plan in place has really helped me stay organized. I tried doing it other ways and it was overwhelming me. I wished I would have started swapping out toys sooner lol.

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