Toy rotation, minimal toys, not having much our and available for play at any one time…it’s something that makes many people look at us a bit funny but I’m telling you straight off the bat, it’s completely changed our daughters play and the feeling and flow of our play space.
Play is the most important thing in our children’s world and a focal point in their early years education. When we had our first child, our daughter, we very quickly found toys taking over every inch of living room space. It inspired us to look further into ways in which play and toys can work for all of us within our home. Toy rotation isn’t a new idea and certainly isn’t something that we created ourselves, but is an idea based on science and child development. All we do is take these ideas and apply it to our home and what works for us. We have been able to find out what works, what doesn’t and how we can make not only a wonderful learning and growing space for our children, but also do what we can to do to support them.
Play is the most important thing our children do in their day. You only have to take a moment out of your day to observe them at play to realise just how important it is to them. It’s no coincidence the Maria Montessori described play as the work of the child. While we don’t subscribe to a full Montessori practice in our home (opting more for an eclectic mix in our life and home education) we are passionate about supporting play and putting at utmost importance in our children’s life.
What is toy rotation?
Have you ever read that offering fewer toys to our children creates a better depth of play? It means having less choice around for them and encourages them to play with what is around, rather than dealing with the overwhelm of having every toy at their disposal. This simple change encourages them to play better without having too much around, and really shows in all areas of their play, especially within their imaginative play. It enables them to be more imaginative, more creative and can even be attributed to deeper cognitive development too as studied in “The influence of the number of toys on the environment on toddlers’ play” published in the journal of Infant Behaviour and Development.
When children have a high number of toys it inevitably creates more mess which then goes on to stifle their play and imaginations. I have seen it happen in our home before we decided to drastically the amount of toys we have around. With more toys available my daughter would either play sporadically or just bypass the option to play entirely. When we significantly reduced the number of toys available she noticably began to play more deeply and creatively. At the moment we rotate our toys monthly and we notice such an incredible difference between the beginning of our rotation cycle, when everything is fresh and new, and by the end when things are starting to get a little stale.
Why is toy rotation important?
Aside from the obvious science and anecdotal evidence that shows that children do indeed play more deeply with far less. We see it every day in our home in the way our daughter plays, creates, imagines, and interacts with her toys. Less is more and is a great in so many ways for her. It encourages her to be more creative with her own toys too, in the mind of a child anything can be anything they want it to be, we don’t need to provide every toy “just in case”. When toys are messy and overbearing creativity is stifled and play is so much more limited.
Should I be aiming for minimal toys?
We spent a great deal of time throughout 2020 and 2021 decluttering, minimising and streamlining much around our home. I wouldn’t say we live as strict minimalists but we do live a more minimal lifestyle.
The question and observation I get the most when I talk about minimal toys or toy rotation is that people for some reason think that our children go without. I would say that the opposite is true and instead we are gifting them a childhood and a chance at play which will enrich not only the play experience itself but their early years and beyond. It really is such a great gift to be able to gift them with something so simple.
Download my 5 easy steps to minimal toy rotation
We’ve been doing and loving toy rotation for almost 2 years and have seen the positive impact and benefits it has provided our daughter. We have seen how her depth of play has increased, her creativity grown and her imagination limitless, and these changes are never more evident than when we refresh her toys at the beginning of a new rotation.
I would love to share with you our simple steps to minimal toy rotation, helping you beat the overwhelm, how to divide up your toys and how to simply manage your toy rotation with ease. Pop your email in below and I’ll send you my simple guide straight to your inbox.
I know what you’re thinking, that you already own too much and wouldn’t know where to start, but let me share this with you – it doesn’t all need to be out and available at the same time. We have a fair few toys that we have accumulated through preloved toys, things being handed down and gifts and I know we want it all to be used.
If you are interested in toy rotation and minimal toys I want to urge you to think of it this way: the toys will be used far more intently and more often if you offer them in smaller batches through toy rotation, and if they aren’t then maybe they aren’t the right toy for your child. What we have seen is when all the toys are available things don’t always get played with in any depth. When offered with a smaller batch of toys then they seem to be played with and used at a much deeper level.