The first rule of toy rotation is that there are no rules. As every child is different, so are the things that captivate them.
I could pretend that there was a philosophy and meaning behind why I began, but in fact it was purely a case of my children being overwhelmed by the amount of toys we had, as I had tumbled head first down the wondrous world of wooden toys and barely got back up for air. So after a few weeks of the toys ending up in a big pile on the floor I realised something had to change, and in came the rotation idea.
I hadn’t seen it mentioned before when I started just over a year ago, although it probably existed, so I didn’t follow any guidelines – I just played it by ear and found something that worked for us. And as there are no rules to it, you can make it your own in a way that suits your child and at your own pace.
Where to start.
The way I began is this: Firstly I emptied every drawer, shelf and box, and with all the toys laid out I removed any duplicates and toys which were no longer age appropriate. These were either sold, gifted or sent to the charity shops. The remaining toys got organised into three sections, ‘lounge’, ‘kidsroom’ and ‘out of rotation’. The only thing that has remained the same throughout are the three drawers in our TV unit which contains playsilks, puzzles and ‘miscellaneous’. The ‘miscellaneous’ drawer has turned into a soup of random toys that doesn’t belong anywhere else, or a great place to stuff things if you’re short on tidy up time.
With the toys devided and split into the three different rooms I started filling the shelves, and I try to keep it simple with one toy per shelf, or a type of toy – be it a set of respiin bowls filled with anything from Plan Toys to Grapat, a basket of Ostheimer or Grimm’s large building blocks. The real beauty of toy rotation is just to simplify the options available for the child, and varying the options whenever you see fit. So if you’ve presented a toy that hasn’t been given much attention you can just swap it for something else without having to do a full rotation.
We’re lucky in the sense that we have a spare room where all the toys that are out of rotation are kept, but even for someone with fewer toys a rotation can be beneficial. Even reshuffling toys within a shelf or storage unit can make a child see them in a different light and a toy that has been left mostly untouched becomes interesting and can spark a different sense of imagination.
Why toy rotation works for us.
I’ve come to realise that our rotations are somewhat Montessori and Waldorf inspired, with a hint of my own personal need for it to be aesthetics-centric – as I spend most days looking at it – with of course the exception of when it’s strewn all over the floor, which by the way, is most of the time.
A toy rotation is a great opportunity to showcase a variety of story scenes, play scenes and invitations to play for our children, set age-appropriate challenges and just see their imaginations bloom and confidence growing. Take for example the Plan Toys Beehives, at one year old Mali saw the bees mostly as food so they were removed. I brought them back out when she was one and a half, only for them to be a little too tricky to spark any joy. But when I brought them back out a couple of months later she was so excited when she finally succeeded in using the tweezers and could correctly match the colours, despite still insisting they were all purple! Ha!
A toy rotation can be done daily, weekly, monthly or whenever you see the need. It can be child led or you can take full control, or meet in the middle. It can be detailed or simplistic, tidy or messy, colourful or natural, and anything in between – the only aim is that it’s inviting and awakens curiosity.
Huge thanks to Kristina for sharing her ideas about toy rotation with us with us x