Mr. Rogers may have said it best, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
Children explore and learn about the world around them through play. And when we think of play, we often think of TOYS that drive those little explorers to absorb new concepts and provide some guidance.
Studies show that less toys equals higher quality play. The University of Toledo in Ohio studied 36 toddlers (ages 18 to 30 months) in free-play sessions with either 4 or 16 toys. In the groups who played with only four toys, toddlers played in more varied, advanced ways for longer periods of time.
I rotate toys based on observation (see yesterday’s post!). Consider rotating your toy “inventory” to limit clutter AND encourage higher-quality play and exploration. My daughter’s room has open shelving - I keep one item in each “section” (about 10 toys out at a time). My son’s room doesn’t have open shelving, so I use the floor! I keep between 6 and 8 toys out for him at a time.
I just rotated his toys, here’s what’s out based on his interests:
🎹 Piano / xylophone combo
🧩 One-piece puzzle
🐴 Farm animal “basket” / sound book
✈️ Airplane model
🚚 Truck and figure
📦 Object permanence box
You can see my “back stock” that I don’t keep out and use for rotating in the third photo. You don’t need to have a large space to store “extra” toys - I use this cabinet and a small area of another closet for some of my daughter’s stuff and that’s it! I follow “one in one out” often, and declutter and donate/gift once loved but not-as-interested-in toys.
Wouldn’t it be GREAT to have less toys to pick up, trip over, and find tiny pieces for?! Stepping on a LEGO is no joke. What’s your LEAST favorite toy in your home? I have a few - they all talk and sing!