Organizing Concepts for Kids: Rotating Toys

The following is a guest post from regular contributor, Rachel at Useful Beautiful Home.

Toys, toys, toys! I personally think the best way to sum up the subject is… LESS is MORE! However, not all toys are candidates to be tossed, donated, or sold. Since the “keepers” seem to multiply overnight, I implemented a toy rotation system.

We have a small loft at the top of the stairs for a playroom. It’s divided into play zones (more about play zones in a future post). I had the zoning epiphany when touring preschools last year. The best awarded preschool in the area operated with small play zones that divided the classrooms.

The main zone is for frequently used toys. I keep them in a 5 cube Ikea Expedit Shelf that rests horizontally on the floor. After my husband assembled it, he anchored it to the wall for safety.

Each cube has a plastic basket filled with toys. Each basket contains a different toy category, keeping like items together;

  1. Blocks/Building
  2. Collections or Sets that encourage imagination (music instruments, farm animals, doctor kit, etc.) The entire “set” of toys is what I rotate each time.
  3. Plastic Dishes
  4. Pretend Food
  5. Doll Accessories (or Action Figures)

As for the baskets, they were $1 each! I found them at The Dollar Tree.

The baskets are labeled with… you guessed it… pictures! You know my style by now, right? 😉 Picture labels are the easiest way I know to help small children with clean-up time.

The playroom is for PLAYING, so I don’t find myself implementing militant clean-up expectations. I want creativity and fun to develop in this part of our home.

However, the whole “Concept for Kids” series is teaching children independence and basic organizational skills. Open baskets and labels are my go-to tools that help this effort.

When I first created the rotation groups, I started by making piles of similar items (examples in picture below). Then, I separated the “similars” into two large groups. One group goes into the “Out” rotation container and the other goes into the “In” baskets.

To maintain my less is more approach, I also sort out the unused, outgrown, or duplicate toys on a regular basis WITH MY CHILD’S HELP. I personally think including her in the process is the best option for clearing toy clutter, even if it takes extra time!

I try to only keep what is truly sentimental. Some of her outgrown toys are kept in a large storage bin that remains in the attic for future babies. The container itself is how I limit what is kept. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t stay, or something else has to go.

As for the “out” rotation bin, I store that in attic space too. Every 6 months or so, I switch the rotation groups. Meaning, most of the toys in the playroom trade places with those that are being stored. One group takes a break while the other group goes into action.

The categories generally stay the same, so it isn’t a confusing effort for me or my daughter.

Rotating toys has several benefits;

  • Less options allows for expanded creative play.
  • “Out” rotation box provides extra storage to keep toys that would otherwise not fit in the playroom space.
  • No overcrowding.
  • Reduced over-stimulation.
  • With each toy rotation, it’s like a whole new play set for my daughter. That discourages boredom. We’ve all seen our child excitedly play with another kid’s toys simply because it’s something new and different for a change. Rotation provides inventory newness, so to speak.
  • Each rotation day is opportunity to evaluate inventory & purge items that are no longer age appropriate. I suggest having your child help with sorting the unloved toys to help him/her develop skills in giving those items a better home.
  • Best of all, NO excess toy clutter equals a happy Mama! 🙂

There just isn’t enough writing space to detail how I organize all the other toys (baby toys, legos, books, trains, electronics). So, if you don’t see a particular related topic here, chances are you will read about it in one of my future posts. 🙂

In the mean time, and if you haven’t already, you can read about how I organize Art Supplies HERE, Games & Puzzles HERE, and Outdoor Toys HERE. Have a great weekend!

Rachel In 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!


Filed under: Guest Bloggers, Kid Stuff, Rachel


15 Responses to Organizing Concepts for Kids: Rotating Toys

  1. 1
    Susan says

    That playroom is a great idea! I really need you to post a blog about organizing pet supplies though 😉

  2. 2
    Kimberley says

    I don’t have room for an entire playroom in my home so toy “control” is really high on my priority list, it seems toys take over the house on a daily basis! I love the idea of keeping just the most used toys together in labelled baskets, I can keep that in the living room and the rest of the toys in stored in the bedroom!

    • 2.1
      [email protected] Beautiful Home says

      Yes, absolutely! Rotating toys and using labelled baskets works in any room. We didn’t have a playroom in our last house, but I still used the same system to control toys. 🙂

  3. 3
    Desiree says

    I love the ikea shelf idea! Definetly have to buy!

  4. 4
    Nicole says

    Doll accessories are for girls AND boys.
    Action figures are for boys AND girls.

  5. 6
    Sarah says

    isn’t it a little bit 1950’s to say ” Doll Accessories (or Action Figures for boys)”. My kids play with everything, and ‘gender toys’ are, i think, a thing of the past…

    Love your system otherwise=)

  6. 7
    Jenny Lynn says

    I use to do something similar with my children’s toys when they were small.

  7. 8
    Dawn says

    I love the picture labels. How could I attach them to woven square baskets with handles?

  8. 9
    Jennifer Layman says

    Great advice! Love the rotating toy idea. The ICU nurse in me is super-impressed with the organization of your play area.
    Oh, and whatev to the people who just had to make a mountain out of a molehill with the dolls/action figures. THe post was about keeping the Barbies out of the wrestling bucket, not about making statements about gender roles. Calm down people.

  9. 10
    Jarilyn says

    I love the looks of it. We have a very small living room and I live the idea of those colourful bins. Just wondering where I can buy those. Thank you.

    • 10.1
      Jarilyn says

      Correction ” love ” not ” live”.


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