If you work in daycare, you know it’s super tough to manage all the “stuff” we need to do the job. How can we organize toys so the kids don’t just dump them everywhere?
How to organize toys for daycare
One thing I have learned in over 20 years of keeping kids is LESS is MORE when it comes to toys. The number one way to reduce toy dumping is to offer less. We give kids way too many choices in the world today. They feel overwhelmed when we put out everything there ever was to play with in the history of the world and dumping it is how they deal with that.
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You will see far less dumping if you take time to put out daycare toys in a mindful way. If you have a toy basket, it doesn’t need to be filled to the brim. Kids can’t see their choices that way, so they are bound to dump. Just add a few toys in the basket so they can comb through the small parts that are available and make a play selection.
I also find, when I have too many toys out, the kids don’t play with the daycare toys as meaningfully. They fight more. They get more frustrated. Again, let me repeat, less is more.
How to organize a daycare room
When kids are overstimulated with too much, they feel more nervous energy. They feel more like they need more and more. When there are a few well thought out selections of daycare toys available to them, they have more meaningful play.
For instance, recently I went through all of our play food and dishes and took out about 2/3 of them. We had them stored in a small bucket and the kids never played with the kitchen for cooking. Guess what happened when I took a lot of them out? Everyone started play cooking. They have played restaurant, chefs, momma cooking dinner, and everything you can dream of.
Before, they climbed on the kitchen, moved it around, and fought over who could get on the stove part and sit. Not only would they have ended up breaking it or getting hurt, but they were also arguing all the time. Now they are using it for imagination play. It’s like magic!
Playroom storage solutions
Having a great variety of daycare toys for your kids is great, but they don’t need access to all of it all the time. I have our playsets organized in totes. Each week someone gets to choose a tote we call the special toy for that week. The kids play with it all week long and at the end of the week we put it up. The following Monday someone gets to select a different one.
Our special daycare toys include cars and garages, Duplo blocks, Lincoln logs, doll house with furniture and people, fishing poles with fish and bean bag toss game, a farm set, a train set, you get the idea. Those things are kept on a shelf along with games, puzzles, lacing cards, dress up clothes and much more.
As we rotate supplies, kids are more engaged with those things and enjoy playing with them more. This is a solution for how to organize toys in a daycare room.
How to organize toys
Obviously, there are a lot of toys available out there. As daycare providers, we can get caught up in wanting the best and the latest of everything. You don’t really need that. A few meaningful toys can be far better than a ton of the latest and greatest.
Just remind yourself when you see a sale, less is more. And it helps you keep more of what you earn too.
We do need to find how to organize toys we have, right? There are many ways we can make toy storage neater and easier to keep up with.
Here are some great ideas of way we can do that.
Magnets for match box cars. Install a long strong magnet on the wall and let kids stick matchbox cars or other metal toys to it for storage. They can see what they have and it’s readily available to them.
You can install a myriad of different hooks that toys can be stored on. Think about dress up clothes, hats, doll bags, blankets. Even buckets of toys can go on hooks.
Hanging closet racks
Consider those hanging closet racks to organize toys on. They could hold puzzles, games, dress up clothes, shoes, hats, dolls, stuffed animals, and just about everything else.
Good sturdy shelves are a must at the children’s level and higher storage. There are a ton of different kinds available, but they will be one of the best investments you can make.
Plastic totes (I suggest clear ones) are invaluable for sorting, storing, and organizing toys. I like having all clear totes with all white lids to make the storage area look neat and organized. Beware that they are breakable, so make sure to teach the kids to be careful with them, not get inside them or climb on them or they will crack.
Milk crates and laundry baskets
Milk crates and laundry baskets are sturdier for storage the kids have access to. They usually have holes so kids can see inside as well. These are a great solution for how to organize toys because they can climb on them, fill them up, carry them around, scoot them around and all kinds of things without worry they will break and have to be replaced. I’ve been using mine for 24 years and they are still going strong.
Small drawers are a great answer to how to organize toys and art supplies too. They are great for puzzles and books also.
You can buy a toy hammock or chain for storing lots of stuffed animals in the playroom. They are great for keeping toys up and put away at times when you’re not using them. They make the room look colorful and cozy too.
Clear storage bags
Clear storage bags are great for sets of toys. Kids can see what’s in them and carry them easily.
Another great storage solution is a plastic shoe bag. They are wonderful for small dolls or barbies, could be used for dress-up accessories, musical instruments, art and craft supplies, just about anything. They are a great solution for how to organize toys for daycare and home.
Hopefully, some of these ideas will help you get a handle on the clutter in your playroom. Don’t be afraid to downsize. It’s very freeing to have fewer things to manage. Even when we sort our toys that get mixed up, it’s so much nicer to do it after we’ve gotten rid of all the broken or unloved toys or the ones that don’t add value to the kids play as much as others.
Take some time to be mindful of what value the supplies you give the toys have. Do they have something they CAN do with their bodies inside on a bad weather day? How about an inside climber or pickler triangle or even these river stones? Do they have dramatic play items to play pretend with? Do they have things that will stimulate their large and small motor skills? Things to sort and count?
Having a balance of all kinds of things to learn with but not having too much at once is the best way to organize toys for the kids.
For more tips to make running your home daycare easier, click here.
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