Tag: raising children

Toy Rotation Tips for Kids

Toy Rotation Tips for Kids

A few years ago, one of my online friends remarked that our family must live in a toy store. If you follow us on Instagram, you might think that’s true! But what else would you expect from an early education advisor who believes in learning through play? It’s true that we have hundreds of toys in our collection, but since we did preschool at home with our kids, I consider each purchase an investment in my girls’ education. My friend was floored when I told her that our family of four (and all of our toys) resided in a very small, two-bedroom apartment. For five years, the only way to contain the kid clutter and maintain our sanity was our toy rotation system.

Toy Rotation Tips for Kids | learning through play, toy rotation ideas, parenting tips, weekly toy rotation, play spaces, toy rotation system

Toy Rotation Tips

  • Toy rotation for babies happens naturally as your little one develops new skills. You’ll find your baby outgrows toys at a pretty rapid rate–but don’t get rid of them too quickly! You may be able to use a “baby” toy differently down the road.
  • Rotating is most effective toys is most effective for families with toddlers and preschoolers. You reduce clutter and make play spaces more appealing with fewer toys available at a time. Bonus: your child learns how to tidy up without a lot of help from mom!
  • Setting up your toy rotation system might take a few days. Try not to mind the mess while you’re working–you will save so much time and stress down the road, I promise.
  • Children don’t need access to every one of their toys all at once. After a few weeks of toy rotation, you will see stronger attention spans, more creative play ideas, and increased confidence when it comes to cleaning up after play.

See our 13 recommended learning toys here!


Toy Rotation Tips for Kids | learning through play, toy rotation ideas, parenting tips, weekly toy rotation, play spaces, toy rotation system

Step by Step Process

  1. Set aside a day or two to complete this project.
  2. Purchase a few bins to store toys when not in use. I love the TROFAST boxes from IKEA because they stack nicely and help you contain the chaos. You’ll also want some quart-size and gallon-size zipper bags.
  3. Gather ALL of your child’s toys in one room. If you can do this without your child, great! If not, just be prepared for a big mess. Remind yourself it will be worth it in the end!
  4. Purge the toys your child has outgrown, the toys you can’t stand, and the toys that are broken/missing pieces.
  5. Sort your child’s toys into groups or categories. (See below.) You may find you have WAY TOO MANY of one type and see a category that is lacking. That’s okay. You’ll be more intentional when shopping for gifts in the future!
  6. Choose one toy from each category to start your toy rotation system. Arrange those toys in your designated play area. Everything else will go into toy storage.
  7. Decide which items you want to leave in their boxes and which toys can be fit into zipper bags. (I really only saved boxes for toys I thought I might want to resell in the future.)
  8. Organize your storage area and talk with your kids about the new toy rotation system. Decide how often you’ll want to switch out toys and if your kids will be involved in the choosing. (I was pretty flexible about letting my kids trade a toy for another in the same category during the week because it didn’t happen often.)

Toy Rotation Tips for Kids | learning through play, toy rotation ideas, parenting tips, weekly toy rotation, play spaces, toy rotation system

Toy Rotation Categories

Once you have gathered all of your child’s toys, it will be easier to choose categories that work for your family. Here are some ideas for you:

  • games & puzzles
  • building toys (blocks, LEGO, etc.)
  • transportation
  • fine motor/visual toys
  • imaginative activities (dress up clothes, play kitchen)
  • arts & crafts
  • educational toys

Note: some of your toys will fit into multiple categories. (THAT’S GOOD!)

When we first started toy rotation, I usually grabbed one toy from each category. As we got more comfortable with our system, I got much more flexible about mixing and matching. As you can see in the images, one of our favorite activities was the color bowl, a mish-mash of toys that had nothing in common except for their color. I was amazed by the creative ways that my girls started to play and how LONG they would stay engaged and focused on one activity.

Toy Rotation Storage

As I mentioned earlier, we lived in a small, two-bedroom apartment when our girls were younger. We had a HUGE closet in their room that I turned into a toy storage corner. The rule was that the girls couldn’t take their toys out of the closet without permission, and they were really good about it. (If they weren’t, I would have put the toys up high, moved them into MY closet, or found an alternate location.)

You can see in the image above, I had a bookshelf in the closet to hold all of the toys that were self-contained in boxes and containers. All other loose pieces were contained in zipper bags and shoved in the TROFAST boxes stacked in a tower. (Each category got its own box.)

I used a variety of baskets, bowls, and containers to display the “out” toys in the play area. I found great, inexpensive baskets at thrift shops and bought all the green plastic containers at Dollar Tree. Having small, open containers made it easy for the girls to:

  • see which toys were available
  • move toys around to different play areas in the apartment
  • clean up when play time was over

Sign up for a FREE mini-plan! Our mini-plan gives you a sneak peek at the planning process and includes 3 custom activities for your toddler/preschooler.Once you have all your toys organized, you may be wondering how to utilize them for SMART play.

As a former classroom teacher and homeschooling mom, I want to help your toddlers and preschoolers get ready for Kindergarten! Individualized education is my passion, and I love working with parents. 

I cut through the parent overwhelm (so many ideas on Pinterest!) and target your child’s next skills with a variety of simple and fun, hands-on learning activities in one of four categories that you choose: gross motor, fine motor, literacy & language, or science & math.

Your family’s personalized learning plan begins with two questions:

  1. How does your child learn best?
  2. What does your child need to learn next?

Fill out this quick form to get a FREE mini-plan for your child!

Best Books About Kindness and Friendship

Best Books About Kindness and Friendship

Valentine’s Day is around the corner! While February is typically known as a time to show romantic love, it’s also an excellent time to teach children about the power of friendship and and kindness. There are many great ways to teach kids to be kind to others, but our favorite is through books, of course!

Books about kindness and friendship give children the opportunity to learn about empathy in a safe environment. Taking time to talk about the characters and their choices is the most important part of the family read-aloud experience. Read on for our five favorite kindness books for kids!

Best Books About Kindness and Friendship | kindness books for kids, intentional bookshelf, teaching with books, recommended picture books

Best Books About Kindness & Friendship

(Rolling Prairie Readers does use affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission if you purchase any items we recommend. For the full disclosure policy, you can click here.) 

Chrysanthemum
by Kevin Henkes

I’ve talked about our love for Chrysanthemum in our favorite books for new readers post, but I really do recommend this book to everyone! It’s a great story for back to school or when a child is feeling anxious about a new experience. It’s also the perfect introduction to what bullying can look like in a classroom. Why don’t Chrysanthemum’s classmates stand up for her? Are they afraid they’ll be bullied next? Use this book to talk about what YOU would have done if you were in the book.

Bonus: You can also watch this one on DVD (narrated by Meryl Streep)!

Corduroy
by Don Freeman

Corduroy is one of those “classic” books that really has endured through many generations. It’s a sweet and simple story that any toddler will love, especially if there is a special lovey in the family. Use this book to talk about taking care of others. What does it look like to be a friend?

Officer Buckle & Gloria
by Peggy Rathmann

This is one of my favorite picture books because it’s just ridiculous from begining to end. Children will love looking at all the details in the illustrations! But the best part of this Caldecott-winning book is the true friendship between Gloria the dog and her human, Officer Buckle. It’s a great invitation to discuss how our friends can (and should!) bring out the best in us.

My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother
by Patricia Polacco

Growing up, I always wanted an older brother. My husband tells me of his many adventures and mischief-filled days with his older brother, much like Patricia and Richie in this autobiographical book by my very favorite author. Don’t be turned off by the title; this relatable book ends with a very sweet moment between two siblings, showing our kids that family can be friends, too.

Chicken Sunday
by Patricia Polacco

As I mentioned, Ms. Polacco is my favorite children’s author, and I probably could list every book she’s ever written in this kindness category. But I am choosing Chicken Sunday as our family’s “book of the month” because it has so many rich characters and moments of kindness. Set a few years after the story above, Tricia is now living in California with her mom and brother. She has added new family members, neighbor Miss Eula and her grandsons Winston and Stewart, and builds a true friendship with hat shop owner Mr. Kodinski. This book features so many rich cultural and religious moments, showing our children what a life of diversity and respect can look like.

We’ll be taking the lessons found in Chicken Sunday and using them as a jumping off point for our “theme of the month” discussions in The Intentional Book Club.

Throughout the month of February, Club Founder Samantha Munoz is leading the conversation about using books to teach our kids about cultural awareness. She has family activity ideas, book recommendations, and even an interview with children’s author Medeia Cohan! I am so excited for this new, amazing resource for our family.

You can learn more about The Intentional Book Club here, or click on the image below to join us!

Join other intentional families in The Intentional Book Club!

Before you go, I would love to hear YOUR favorite kindness books for kids!

Early Literacy Tips For Parents of Toddlers | Video Training

Early Literacy Tips For Parents of Toddlers | Video Training

Toddler Literacy Tips: Free Video Training | toddler literacy activities, fun learning ideas, reading at home, tips for parents, language development, listening activities, nursery rhymes, tot school, preschool at home, parenting

If you have a busy toddler, you know how tricky storytime has become! There are fun ways to keep your little mover interested in books, and we’ll talk about them in this free ONLINE video training about raising readers. Get five simple toddler literacy ltips that you can use immediately to set a good foundation for raising a reader!

Scroll down for all the resources mentioned in this training.
Click on the image below for more information about our online class for little ones & their caregivers!

Join us for a FREE online Literacy & Language Class for babies and toddlers!


Get ideas for an educational playlist for your toddler here! Listen and learn while you move and play.


Books and resources mentioned in this video:

(Rolling Prairie Readers does use affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission if you purchase any items we recommend. For the full disclosure policy, you can click here.) 


TOP TODDLER LITERACY TIPS:

  • Toddlers learn by doing. Allow them to move while you’re reading or choose quiet toys for reading time. (We love bristle blocks.)
  • It’s okay to flip through the pictures with an impatient toddler–attention spans are only about two-minutes long at this time!
  • But don’t give up on reading! The more you do it, the more stamina your child will have.
  • Use audio books or personal recordings so your toddler can listen “on demand.”

Read and re-read favorite books. Young children are obsessive about their favorite toys, T.V. shows, and friends—books are no different. (We often let our girls pick a book and we pick something new/more literary to complement our reading time.) Click here for more on the importance of repetition!

  • Make story time at the library a priority! Use the time to meet other local families, meet the librarian, participate in family reading challenges, and check out books each week.
  • Choose interactive books at this age: lift-the-flap, books that make noise, and flashlight books. (All Better is one of our favorites.)
  • Leave small groups of books in each room your child is in. You will be amazed what “strewing” can do to pique interests.
  • Choose lots of interest-based books for daytime reading. (Construction books near the matching toys, etc.)

Grab our FREE Guide for Parents of Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers!

Grab our FREE Guide for Parents of Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers!

Raising children who love reading doesn’t just happen. So let’s be more intentional together, okay?