Toys have been a part of childhood play since ancient times. But in today’s world of cheap plastic, finding good quality and natural toys is becoming more important. A small selection of carefully chosen toys can provide as much value as a big toy box full of things that have limited use.
With a bit of creative thinking and imagination, parents can extend the value and life span of toys - instead of a child using something for one stage of development and then ‘growing out of it,’ parents can find new ways of using the toys and extending the challenges it offers, thus adding months or years to the period of time it can be enjoyed within.
Another idea that can help extend the life, enjoyment and value of toys is toy box rotation.
The way that toy box rotation works is that you divide the child’s toys into 3 boxes. You may like to keep aside some of their favourite toys that are used all the time.
The idea is that you have one toy box at a time available for the child and the other two put away. Each week, rotate the toy boxes, taking one away and introducing a new one. By the time two weeks have elapsed and the child is back to Toy Box 1, those toys seem like they’re brand new!
When children haven’t played with a toy for a while, they engage with it with a new enthusiasm. During the time that they haven’t played with it, they will also have developed their skills and thinking and so when reintroduced to a toy, they may well be ready to use it in a new way.
Again, this idea is to be used flexibly - don’t take away a child’s favourite dolls or teddy. Some toys such as their dolls, beloved cars, blocks, balls and so on should stay out for use. The rotating toy boxes are things that maybe they’ve been given for a birthday or Christmas, or puzzles, manipulative toys, particular sets and so on that are going to provide more enjoyment when played with every few weeks than being left out all the time and ignored after the first use.
You can use this trick with older children too, even though they may not have an actual toy box. Schedule times to bring out certain games that are usually stuffed in the cupboard and put them in a visible and accessible place - or have a game with them. In our family, we used to have a board games session at least once a week, so that we would rotate through our games and get lots of use from them.
Give toy box rotation a try and see if it works for you!