“I’m bored! There is nothing to do”. I can’t be the only parent that hears these phrases ALL. THE. TIME?!?!? Please say I’m not…otherwise we have some serious boot camps to attend in this house 😉 However, if this is an all too common phrase in your house as well, keep on reading to find out tried and true tricks from a retired Kindergarten teacher on how to get your kids to play with their toys!
So while I think it is beneficial for kid’s to feel “bored” and learn how to play without the instantaneous gratification that comes with technology-related entertainment, I for one would not mind less of the complaining or fighting 🙂
The reality of it
At one time or another, I think we can all say that we go through this phase in our houses. With summer break about a month underway, I’ve been picking my mom’s brain for suggestions on how to help keep my kids entertained with their toys with the same excitement as when it is brand new; even if it is years old!
My mom was the most amazing Kindergarten teacher for 25+ years. She just recently retired last year. Over her long career of working with kids; she has developed many tips and tricks in order to keep her classroom of 20 kids functioning, under control and having fun 🙂 So if these tips are good enough to work on 20 kids, then I guarantee they are good enough to work with the few you have at home 🙂
So if you are ready for some tried and true tips to help re-vamp playtime with the toys you already have with kids home for the summer, then keep reading!
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Where to begin
In order to implement this idea, first, you want to get their toys organized into bins. All of them. Hop on over to this post for what you need to organize your toys once and for all. This will prepare you for the toy rotation!
What: Toy Rotation
What you are essentially doing in order to keep your kids playing with their toys as if they were brand new, is creating a toy rotation. How often you rotate is completely up to you. I tend to do it on a bi-weekly basis.
After organizing the toys, you are dividing up what will stay out to play, and what will be stored away until the rotation. This will leave a few favorites out that if stored in an easy to access space for kids, will be played with often!
A huge factor in the success of this idea is toy storage. I have this awesome stair/slide that my handy-hubby built for a loft we built in the kid’s old room. I’ve since re-purposed that as part of their current playroom. It has the most amazing storage cubbies. But if you are looking for more ideas on toy storage, check out some of my favorites here!
I pull out the few buckets of toys for the couple weeks that are pre-separated in clear bins. Those bins get emptied into the bins of this playroom organizer. Then at the end of the second week, those toys go back into the clear bins and I switch out what toys stay in the playroom.
Where: High Shelves
The toys that will be used for the couple weeks, you want in an easy to reach location. Think about where you want your kids to be playing or where you normally store toys such as a playroom, their bedroom or the living room.
However the rest that are not part of this toy rotation, you want to put up on high shelves where the kids are least likely to get to them.
For us, I added two shelves at the very top of my girls closet that I put the two smaller bin sizes in. The toys that required a larger bin, I have stored in my garage.
Then make sure you have some sort of toy organization system for the weeks toys. I love to use a combination of cubbies and bins. Big baskets are also a great way to store larger toys like bricks or indoor bowling 😉 The key to this part is that wherever and however you choose to store the toys, you need to be sure to choose a way in which the kids can easily pull out and put away the toys by themselves!
When: Every two weeks
While this may sound like more work, in reality, it isn’t. The amount of time, energy and patience you will save from the extra time your kids are playing together nicely, is far greater than the time it takes to rotate the toys.
I’ve chosen to rotate the toys on Fridays. While this is idea is especially helpful during the summer with kids at home, I continue to use this year round.
I like Friday rotation because during the year, by the time school is out, the “new toys” are as well. This creates excitement and anticipation for the weekend for the kids. It also helps to diminish the arguing between siblings over toys because they are so excited about the new ones.
This helps them to play with one toy for longer as well as give me a break 🙂
Why: Fun factor
When we are surrounded by something all the time, and it is always available to us, it loses its “special spark” or the “fun factor”. In a sense, it becomes boring.
Instead of leaving out all toys all the time, the idea is to sort them into bins and put the majority of these bins away. Out of sight out of mind right?
That way when the new bins come out, for kids, it is the sense of something new and exciting. It is almost the same reaction as when a child gets a brand new toy. But instead of adding more chaos to the overflowing toy bin, you are simply helping bring back the excitement of the toys they already have.
Include the kids
One thing I have started to incorporate that seems to be working well is involving the kids. I let them be a part of the decision on what toys will be coming out for that week.
Their involvement in this decision helps them to feel like it is their choice. This seems to make them more likely to play with them, it builds excitement and helps them to be more willing to clean up without a battle.
I hope these two suggestions of separating and organizing your toys into bins and creating a toy rotation help you as they have for us!
Thank you Nana for the amazing teacher tips and tricks 🙂
What do you do to help keep your kids excited about their toys especially during summer break?