Whether you’re familiar with Montessori or the concept of Montessori is new to you, toy rotations can be daunting. There’s so much information out there, how do we know where to start?
That’s exactly the reason I went LIVE in our Montessori Toddler’s FB group. If you’re interested in learning more about toy rotations and how to implement them, be sure to watch the video below, or just keep reading.
If your children are anything like mine, they have so, so many toys! So, of course you find yourself thinking, “There’s NO WAY they can play with all of those toys.” Which is completely accurate. In fact, research has shown that when it comes to toys; “Less is more.” What I mean by this is, if children have too many toys they become overwhelmed. And when children are overwhelmed they are less engaged with what they have.
That’s where the concept of toy rotations come into play.
The idea of toy rotations is to take all of the toys your children currently have and become more intentional with what is being placed on their Montessori shelves. This also means a more minimal, clutter-free environment. I know as my children were growing up I felt as if our entire family home was FULL of toys. I’d get a wild hair and decide to move them around, but then I just found that instead of our main living space being full of toys, their bedrooms were full of toys. I hadn’t solved the problem. I’d just MOVED the problem to another room.
Rotations are so beneficial because they help diminish overwhelm for our children, while increasing their engagement. This translates to longer periods of independent playtime for them, and more time to get other things done for you. Rotations also allow us to organize our lives a bit better.
A good ‘rule of thumb’ is 8 – 10 toys maybe even 12 toys out at a time. Ideally the toys should be at eye-level to the child and easily accessible. This is important for two reasons. One, we want our children to get to what they want when they want it. Two, we want our children to be able to put things back in an orderly manner when they’re finished. Accessibility is what allows children to become engaged in independent playtime.
As often as feels good to you! Some people rotate weekly. Some people rotate every 10 days. Others rotate monthly or even seasonally. If you’re particularly minimal, seasonally might work best for your lifestyle. It’s really, entirely up to you. Despite what you read about rotations, the frequency should be dependent on your child. When you’re rotating you don’t need to switch out every single toy on the shelf. This is where observation of your child is key. If there’s a toy your child engages with every day, then leave them on the shelf. However, if you notice there are toys that they haven’t touched in quite a while, it may be time to rotate these out. This ensures your children don’t get bored and continue to engage with the items on their shelves.
When you’re ready to start or revamp toy rotations, it’s a great opportunity to purge. The best way to do this, is to gather all of the toys you currently have, while your child is perhaps at school, or at their grandparents’ house, OR if you’d like to involve them in gathering the toys that’s great as well. Gathering doesn’t necessarily mean getting RID of all the toys, it just means that we’re going to organize them, and rotate them on and off the shelves in a meaningful way.
First, you’ll want to get rid of toys that are incomplete, broken, or don’t serve your child. Then it’s best to store toys not currently being used, in clear boxes so you can still see what is in them. The way you choose to organize unused toys is really dependent on what makes the most sense to you and how much storage you have available to you.
First of all, themed shelves are NOT necessary. If themed shelves are something you choose to participate in, that’s great too. Just be sure you’re following your child’s lead when it comes to the themes. Some basic ideas for themed rotations might include;
Really, any theme you have seen your child interested in is best.
Above all remember: There is no RIGHT way to participate in toy rotations. Just be sure to follow your child’s lead and really lean into observing your child to know how often to rotate and what to include in those rotations. If you’re interested in learning even more about rotations, and how to follow and observe your child I’d love for you to join us in our upcoming 4 Days to a Montessori Home Challenge. We begin Aug. 22 and in just 4 days we’ll go through all of the basics of how to practice Montessori at home (without the overwhelm). ALSO, one lucky person will receive a FULL scholarship to The Montessori Learning Center (everything you need to practice Montessori at home, including curriculum).
So don’t hesitate, get signed up, and we’ll send you reminders as the date approaches. In the meantime, I’d love to hear in the comment section below; Do you currently use toy rotations? If so, how often do you rotate?