Are you a fan of Instagram? What about Pinterest? As you scroll do you seem to come across posts, stories and hashtags that mention ‘toy rotations?’ Does anyone else look at these and think, I wonder what that actually means? How does it work? Why rotate toys?
Before having children myself I had never thought about toy rotations as I do now. Which is funny because as a teacher I have always regularly set up new areas and swapped the resources my children have to explore and use. Since being a mum I have done lots of research and gained so much more knowledge around toy rotations. We now do them on a regular basis in our house and both my children and I love them!
What is a toy rotation?
Houses with children are often overflowing with amazing toys and resources! This can be overwhelming for children (and adults!), and may in fact hinder their play. Toy rotations are really taking away some of those toys and resources and providing less! Toy rotations doesn’t mean getting rid of the toys completely, just putting some away so there is less accessible. Toys and resources should be displayed in a simple, yet enticing way, encouraging the children to want to use them in their play. This doesn’t mean you need to spend lots of time setting them up; it just means thinking about “how could you set them up in a different way”? For example, for one rotation you may place blocks in a basket, while for the next rotation the blocks are out. You may display them built into a castle, or in individual baskets sorted by colour. ‘Toy rotations’ also means just as it sounds – rotating the toys and doing so on a regular basis.
When should I do a toy rotation?
Take some time to sit back and observe your children as they play. Are there toys that are currently out that haven’t been used in days or weeks? This may be a sign that its time for a toy rotation. It doesn’t always have to be that every single toy needs to be changed. It may be everything or it may just be switching out a couple of things. Just make sure toys are left out long enough for the children to fully explore its possibilities. Also observe your child’s interest and skills they are practising. Is there something you can add or change that will provide them with more opportunities to practise this skill or extend on a specific interest? For example, if your child is showing an interest in exploring number recognition and there are currently vehicles out, you could add some masking tape to the vehicles and write a numeral on each one. Your child may use these to match the numbers together, sequence the cars in order, count objects out to match the numeral or use them in a way that you haven’t even considered.
How to rotate toys:
*Sort out which toys into piles of what to keep, donate and toss. Then categorise them by type e.g., moving, building, pretend play and thinking toys.
*Next organize the toys into groups that contain a few items from each category and store them in boxes that can rotated on your toy shelf or take with you visiting friends or going to a restaurant.
*Then decide how often you will rotate your toys, either daily, weekly or monthly. We suggest getting your children involved in the sorting process and to let them help decide when to choose a new a box of toys.
Why rotate toys?
Providing children with less allows them time to spend exploring their toys more deeply and encourages them to practise new or developing skills for longer periods of time. It also allows children the opportunity to think about their toys in different ways. For example, if they want to make a village with a road, but their roads are not out this rotation, they can problem solve what they could use instead for the road. This develops skills such as persistence, determination, problem solving and patience.
Top tips for toy rotations!
*Keep it simple – the toy shelf doesn’t need to be overflowing – try to provide less and see what happens!
*Don’t go out and buy more toys, just so there are more to rotate. If you feel you want to try some different toys you could look into a local toy library or even swap some toys with a friend!
*Think about how can you set up/use the same toys in a different way? How can you make them fresh for your child? Just make sure toys are left out long enough for the children to fully explore its possibilities.
Most importantly – have fun!