Organizing Concepts for Kids: Garage Toys + free printable

Yay, today I get to introduce you to my last regular contributor, Rachel. We have very similar opinions on getting kids involved in the organizing process and setting them up for success along the way.  Rachel will be blogging here twice a month and I’m super excited that she’ll often share organizing tips to help us with our kiddos.  Her first post today is all about organizing garage toys and I love what she’s done and I think you will too.  This is just awesome!

Great ideas for organizing garage toys plus free printable labels at I'm an Organizing Junkie

Teaching concepts of organization to young children begins with implementing kid-friendly systems wherever necessary.  The ultimate goal is to intrinsically motivate your little one to use his learned abilities for organizing and controlling clutter (especially for later in life).  Today I’ll show you how I created an uncomplicated framework for our garage toys.

There are dozens of beautiful, color coordinated, organized garage systems to drool over on Pinterest.  Many of them cleverly include outdoor toy storage.

One thing I started noticing was most are not designed with young children in mind.  They usually consist of a tall shelving system, loaded with matching bins, and labeled in an attractive manner.  Nothing wrong with that, my heart skips beats over organized eye-candy, but it just won’t work for our household.

Let me explain, organization doesn’t come easily for my 4-year-old.  In fact, she tends to construct cluttered piles with serious talent.

If I want to teach my little girl about properly caring for her outdoor toys, I’m not going to busy myself by putting her things back into bins and boxes up high on shelves.  In fact, at her small height, I’m pretty sure she could only manage to reach the bottom one or two shelves.

Furthermore, most bins are opaque and include lids and labels.  My daughter isn’t old enough to read, can’t safely pull large bins off high shelves, and isn’t good at removing cumbersome lids. With that type of framework, I would always be a part of the toy retrieval AND clean-up processes.  Frustration would eventually lead her to give up and go play with rocks instead.

UBH Elliana's Rocks

So, what makes a storage system easy for a small child?  First priority was finding a bin system that would make clean-up EASY.  I searched for a while until I found these baskets at The Container Store. You can also find a set of four white ones on Amazon HERE (affiliate link).

UBH Large Stack Basket in Kiwi

  • They’re stack-able and customize-able for any space.
  • They are narrow enough to line along the edges of the garage without interfering with open car doors.
  • They DO NOT have lids or latches that require young children to open/close.
  • They are ventilated for air to circulate and dirt to fall through for sweeping out the door.
  • They’re lightweight.
  • They are relatively inexpensive compared to most major organizing systems.
  • Virtually no assembly is required.

I hooked two columns of bins together with small plastic cable ties I found at Home Depot. Also available on Amazon HERE (affiliate link). I wanted to keep the whole system as stable as possible.  I’m still debating about anchoring them to the wall, but for now it seems sturdy enough for our purposes.

UBH TwistTail Cables for Labeling Toys

I created some basic labels to help keep similar items grouped together.  I laminated the tags for durability and then used the same cable ties to adhere them to the baskets.

Free Garage Toy Printable Labels

If you’d like a copy of the labels to use, feel free to download and print the 6 Garage Toy Labels printable.

I have my daughter and her neighbor friends getting in and out of these bins.  So, I’m not looking for a sophisticated or elaborate garage system to organize toys.  I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars setting up an expensive wall unit.  The purpose here is to teach independence in using and then cleaning up outdoor fun.

UBH Kiwi Bins for Garage Toy Storage

That said, not everything fit perfectly in the bins I found.  Specifically, the bouncing balls were too big and too many.  I stumbled on a narrow upright laundry basket at a Dollar Store.  I knew it could contain all the outdoor balls, allow for easy access to them, and be as simple as shooting a hoop for clean-up time. Here’s something similar on Amazon (affiliate link).

UBH 2 Bushel Basket for outdoor bouncy balls

I also had to address the randomness I wanted to include in this kids’ zone.  Not a problem with something called the Deko-System (also available from the Container Store).  It’s a lightweight grid that holds customize-able bins and hooks (like a modern version of a peg board).

UBH Deko-System Bins

I use it to hold our sun block, bug spray, and dog paraphernalia.  I wanted the chemical agents of sun block and bug spray out of reach for both dogs and children. I know to some people, a dog is just like another kiddo, so I included the family pet here.  In our case, it seemed fitting to keep her leash, waste bags, and throw toys within reach.  With this grid system, I can rearrange until my heart’s content.

UBH Deko System Storing Items Out of Reach for Small Children

The Decko-System also offers a convenient way to hang some of the more dangly toys, like jump ropes.

UBH Deko-System Offers Hanging Storage

I’ve addressed the outdoor containerized toys, the ball cage, and the miscellaneous items. How about tackling storage solutions for bigger items?

Hanging bikes and scooters on the wall or from the ceiling is a popular technique, but it’s not very useful in training independence.  So, I decided to make a “bump out” section of our garage like a mini parking lot.  I sectioned off enough space for each item using colored tape.  (I also thought cutting pool noodles in half and adhering them to the floor was a creative idea but the tape is much easier.)

Great ideas in this post for organizing kid's toys in the garage

Then, I made corresponding picture labels in Word to assist small ones (who can’t read) in returning the items to designated places.

UBH Labels for Toy Parking Pad

This works great for us!  My daughter loves matching up the toy with its parking spot.

UBH Parking Pad for Outdoor Toys

I think I’ve covered all the major areas of outdoor toys.  Naturally, if your children are older, some of these methods won’t apply.

If you have both old and young children at home, you can incorporate open bin storage down low for young children, and utilize upper wall space/tall shelves for older kids.

How to organize all those garage toys plus free printable labels at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

In review, when it comes to organizing garage toys FOR THE PURPOSE OF TRAINING CHILDREN, keep these basics in mind:

  1.  Get rid of what your children don’t play with or what you don’t need.  This is a basic rule of thumb that bears repeating.  If you find yourself stuck in this step, follow Laura’s Organizing PROCESS.
  2. Create a system that involves containers to set boundaries and limits to the toy collection.
  3. Choose a versatile system that will adapt easily to multiple children and grow with their changing toy habits.
  4. Store similar items together in groupings.  
  5. Keep your storage system at eye level or below for small children.  If they can’t see it or reach it easily, they won’t play with it.
  6. Always be sure harmful and dangerous “toys” are out of reach.  
  7. Try to avoid heavy containers or other hard to use storage bins.  Your children will get easily defeated if they can’t manage to easily access their outdoor toys.
  8. Label with words and/or pictures.  This helps clean-up time go smoothly for little ones by making the expectations of where things belong clear

How to organize all those garage toys plus free printable labels at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

I have found that assisting children in developing organizational skills can teach the value of stewardship, pride in ownership, and the virtue of responsibility!

HeadshotIn the professional world, I’m a nurse by trade. But, around our house, I’m known as Mommy to our young daughter. My two worlds collided and began shaping into a blog. Useful Beautiful Home represents the hours I’ve dedicated to managing my household as efficiently as possible. I offer you motivation to keep your home healthy, organized, and welcoming. My goal is to share what I’ve implemented in my home to inspire you with fresh ideas and to encourage you to keep up the good work in yours!

See all Laura’s other organizing product recommendations in my Amazon shop:

  • *Please note that affiliate links are included in this post to make it easier for you to find what is being referenced.  A small commission is made should you purchase product using these links, but this is at no extra cost to you.  As always, any and all opinions are genuinely my own – or the author, in the case of posts by my guest contributors. Thank you!*


Filed under: Garage, Guest Bloggers, Kid Stuff, Rachel


41 Responses to Organizing Concepts for Kids: Garage Toys + free printable

  1. 2
    Elizabeth says

    Genius! I especially love the comment abt open storage allowing dirt to fall through and then be swept up. With that in mind, I think I’d probably reverse the order of a couple of the bins, moving helmets to the top of the stack and dirt/mud items to the bottom.

    Your “parking garage,” complete with drawings is fantastic! Even at 55, I know I’d still enjoy parking my bike in one of those spaces! 😉

    Thank you for some fabulous ideas!

    • 2.1
      [email protected] Beautiful Home says

      Thank you, Elizabeth, for the kind comments! Our largest sand/dirt bucket was too tall to fit upright in the bottom bin. However, you make a very logical (and good) suggestion for other Moms!

  2. 3
    Jodi says

    I love love LOVE the look and function of this. As a teacher, it makes my heart flutter to see parents teaching children organizational skills. Was there a reason you put the helmets on the bottom? I’m just thinking they may end up with sand and dirt inside. Love the coordinating ball bin too. 🙂 Jodi from The Clutter-Free Classroom

    • 3.1
      [email protected] Beautiful Home says

      Another observant reader, thank you Jodi! 🙂 Yes, you make a good point about the sand & dirt (see my previous comment response to “Elizabeth”). Additionally, my daughter isn’t very interested in bike riding at this point (still learning), she’d rather play with other outdoor toys. That makes helmets rank a little lower in our bins. HOWEVER, the beauty of this system is that I can re-arrange it later as needed. 😉

  3. 4
    Autumn Leopold says

    Love the stacking baskets and double love the parking space ideas and laminate pictures! Great find on the upright basket. I was just going over product ideas for ball storage today for a client! Thanks!

  4. 6
    Eydie says

    Thanks! Great ideas. I especially like the parking spots!

  5. 7
    Annette {This Simple Mom} says

    Love this. Even showed it to my husband! FYI, the shelves are $9 currently at the Container Store’s site. They are on my wish list!

      • Annette {This Simple Mom} says

        He did! We won’t be doing the baskets any time soon (budget), but they are fabulous for many reasons. We don’t have room in our garage for the lawnmower (and more), garbage cans, and two vehicles to make taped homes for the bikes, but I still think it is a great idea!

  6. 8
    Jolyn @ Wander Love Travels says

    How did you know I planned to clean my garage this weekend? Even though my kids are old, I love the concepts and I think I can adapt this for the rest of our household garage stuff!

  7. 9
    Melody says

    What a treat to read! I love the parking lot and bin ideas that I just might start incorporating ASAP. Thanks!

  8. 11
    Abby Hamilton says

    I have the same bin from the container store that i use to actually organize toys in my 3 year olds bedroom and through out the house and since i dont have a garage or shed at the moment i organize all outside toys with the regular inside toys in thier own bin

  9. 12
    Kathleen says

    Fantastic ideas!! We’ve been so frustrated with trying to store & organize all the kid stuff in the shop out back. I may try the taped-off spots for bikes & riding toys….and don’t you just love the Container Store? 🙂

  10. 13
    Russ A. says

    There are some really good low cost ideas you have mentioned in this article!
    We have a product we represent called Monkey Bars, they have a bit more modern industrial look but they do a great job and can support a lot of weight. We have helped with many installations and have helped hundreds of families reclaim their garage space. This product give many options and help you choose the best possible solution for organizing your garage mess into convenient and accessible storage space.

  11. 14
    Garage Design Works says

    Great post – thank you for offering such great tips for parents to help organize their garage in a fun, accessible way!

  12. 15
    Paige says

    I love this post! Helping children learn the importance of organization will make any mom’s life easier! Utilizing wall space is a great way to keep things out of reach of children as well as taking advantage of valuable storagestorage

  13. 16
    Aprille says

    May I say, AWESOME? Thanks for sharing!

  14. 17
    Rachel says

    Love this! Online at the Container Store right now… What size stackable baskets did you go with? Regular or large?

  15. 18
    charm says

    thank you

  16. 19
    Jessie says

    I have a three-year- old daughter and she already has so many toys that I don’t know where to put them. Amazing ideas in this article! Thanks a lot!

  17. 20
    Stacey Weinberg says

    Can you share the link or the the name of those baskets? I can’t find them on the container store site.

  18. 21
    Addy says

    I love this!! It make ME want to play too!! Can’t wait to set something like this up for my toddler girls! Thank you!


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