Mom Organizing

How to Setup a Toy Rotation

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These are our 12 STEM Toy Totes. Everything for Science, Tech, Engineering and Math goes here in the rotation.
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We've been running a Toy Rotation for Years which helps us manage the floor mess and more. Here is how we sort our toys into three sized totes for a great system. 
.
Toy Organizing, Storage Ideas, Play Room Systems and Totes. Sorting Categories for Toy Boxes. Organization Ideas for Toys.

One of the best decisions we ever made was to establish the boys’ toy collection into a Toy Rotation. When you divide up your toys into separately sorted totes you can not only manage the mess but provide renewed joy in their old toys every time they come down. See all my Toddler Life Organizing Posts on the main page, Mom Organizing. We’ve been doing our Toy Rotation for 6 years, ever since Cash was 2 and Wyatt was born. Here is how to get started:

Toy Rotation Toy Boxes & Totes

The first and largest piece to tackle is your actual rotation containers. As I’m sure you know by now, the toys just keep coming and changing in themes every Christmas. So the question is, how do you label your rotation in a way so you don’t have to do it every year?

We divide our rotation out like this: 8 LARGE Toy Boxes, 8 STEM Totes in a MEDIUM size {there are two sizes we use} and 9 MESS Totes which are shoebox-sized. I get all of my totes from Wal-Mart, but you can also find them on Amazon.

MAIN Toy Boxes | Large

For my LARGE TOY BOX TOTES, I prefer ones with a gator lid so that it isn’t floating around the house. Here is a set of 6, Clear, 12 Gallon Totes on AMazon to get you started! I also like how they stack.

STEM TOTES | Medium

STEM stands for activities that teach kids about Science, Tech, Engineering & Math. As this is one of my priorities for educational toys around here, they get their own special place in the toy rotation. They’re medium-size since most STEM kits come with a bunch of small pieces. Here is a set of 6 clear totes that also have handles, on Amazon. You may want to go with totes that are wider or more narrow to fit your storage and that is perfectly fine. I highly recommend measuring where your rotation will be displayed and stored then purchase containers accordingly.

MESS TOTES | Small

Now there can be anywhere from 9 to 12 Mess Totes in your rotation. I keep these at a shoebox-size because, well, the toys inside make a huge mess. They’re usually puzzles or tiny little things I just don’t want out at all times. Sets of containers in this size are easy to find anywhere. Here is a great set on Amazon for 12 clear totes. These are the exact same totes I use.

How to Sort Your Toys

So now the big question becomes, How do we sort out all the toys? Well, the easiest way we’ve found is to literally dump them all into a pile in the corner. We called this Treasure Island. They were babies, so it was very exciting for them to have every toy in the house dumped into a giant pile in the corner.

Look familiar? We solved THIS problem by establishing a Toy Rotation at home when the boys were Toddlers. 
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We've been running a Toy Rotation for Years which helps us manage the floor mess and more. Here is how we sort our toys into three sized totes for a great system. 
.
Toy Organizing, Storage Ideas, Play Room Systems and Totes. Sorting Categories for Toy Boxes. Organization Ideas for Toys.

By the time you have everything dumped out you can start to see what your “biggest” toys are. These will need to be where you start with the biggest toy boxes. If you’re starting with 8 or 6 large toy boxes you can just grab and sort. You don’t need labels or even themes yet. They will emerge as you sort like toys. But, you’ll want to divide out the 6-8 largest TOYS first and then anchor the totes around them.

Get started in a Toy Rotation by having kids sort toys by themes into containers. They will LOVE having everything out all at once. 
*
We've been running a Toy Rotation for Years which helps us manage the floor mess and more. Here is how we sort our toys into three sized totes for a great system. 
.
Toy Organizing, Storage Ideas, Play Room Systems and Totes. Sorting Categories for Toy Boxes. Organization Ideas for Toys.

Large Themes | TOY BOXES

For us, at the time the largest emerging themes were: Heroes, Wheels, Pirates, Animals, Catch {all the toy balls} and Food. We eventually added Costumes and Science as the boys developed their own interests and favorite toys they kept asking for on birthdays. Once you have your largest toys divided you can fill out the theme from there. Right here, right now, I’ve guaranteed that none of the largest toys they have will be out at the same time! #momwining

Our 8 Theme Toy Boxes
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We've been running a Toy Rotation for Years which helps us manage the floor mess and more. Here is how we sort our toys into three sized totes for a great system. 
.
Toy Organizing, Storage Ideas, Play Room Systems and Totes. Sorting Categories for Toy Boxes. Organization Ideas for Toys.

Science, Tech, Engineering & Math | STEM TOTES

As you gradually sort out the largest items and themes, you’ll organically be left with the smaller stuff. You may even have separate kits you didn’t even dump into the pile because you wanted to keep them all together. I’m willing to bet these are all your STEM toys. Remember, anything that teaches Science, Tech, Engineering, or Math can go here. In my Digital Download for the tote labels I don’t even bother to name them as themes but instead STEM 1 through STEM 16 for us. They change so frequently, or if you do a kit and then it’s done and gone.

We have SO. MANY. SCIENCE. KITS. They never end… I have assembled a list of our Favorite STEM Toys for Toddlers I’ll link to soon. If you do not have actual kits that you know exactly to sort in, other items you probably have are toys that build like Marble Runs, Legos, Blocks, Magnatiles, Lincoln Logs, and the like. You can also sort in any games that teach math or science. I put Play-Dough here as well as hot wheels cars and the tracks that the *engineer* to make roads.

Fine Motor Skills | MESS TOTES

By the time you get through the big themes and STEM supplies, you should be left with a very small pile of very small things. It will definitely look like that little *mess* of crap that haunts us on a daily basis. It will be craft supplies, beads, stickers, all that little stuff that comes home from pinatas, treat bags, and the prize box at school. If you’re finding Art Supplies is the majority of your mess, or you have a lot of it mixed in, I have an entirely separate system for that over on The Mess Mat where I talk about Setting Up Your At-Home Classroom.

Our 9 Mess Totes are for puzzles, craft supplies and pretty rocks. 
*
We've been running a Toy Rotation for Years which helps us manage the floor mess and more. Here is how we sort our toys into three sized totes for a great system. 
.
Toy Organizing, Storage Ideas, Play Room Systems and Totes. Sorting Categories for Toy Boxes. Organization Ideas for Toys.

But this is exactly why we do the Toy Rotation, to begin with, this MESS, and making sure only 3 totes of this stuff are down at one time to step on, no clean up no, to stimulate little brains. Our Mess Totes include puzzles, pretty rocks, mini legos that should be kept separated, and an entire bin of just random small trinkets. Some day I’ll just dump this whole thing. This is their favorite tote, of course.

Rotating on a Schedule

I hope my motivations and inspirations for a Toy Rotation have been made clear if you’ve made it this far. I’ll be sure to enlighten you further about the huge benefits in the next post. I’ll cover our schedule and the system we use. Managing the toys we have on the floor is a major component of #MomWinning around here. It also keeps me saner, which is a plus 😉

Like what you read?

Hi There! I’m Kandice
Wife, WAHM and mother to 2 Hooligan boys, sharing my Sweet & Sticky Story of Motherhood.
Life changes after 2 Toddlers {obviously} so now I’m sharing how I turn those every day #MomProblems into a Story of #MomWinning by building new Small Systems, Organizing Mom Routines and Making Mommy Money Online by Blogging.

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