Empowering Parents Toward Purposeful Play


My Step by Step Guide to Toy Rotation

*This post contains affiliate links that aid in supporting The Movement Mama at no additional cost to you*

Y’ALL. Can I just say that I am THAT person? The one who can’t shut up about things she loves and just wants to share it with the world, including but not limited to random strangers in the grocery line. Toy rotation is one of “those things” that I just cannot stop sharing! It truly has changed the life of play that takes place in our home.

I’ve shared posts this week on:



+ Now I can’t wait to share with you the step-by-step of my process. I do this once per year and it is SO worth the time that it takes to prep on the front end because I literally can just grab a bin and go now. No effort involved!

Here are some recommended supplies:

+ Clear plastic tubs: Last year I used opaque tubs and it was a lot harder to figure out what was in each bin if I found a random puzzle piece or something that I needed to put away. You can totally use opaque bins if you already have them, just use these handy scannable labels to find exactly what you’re looking for.

+ Boxes for toys to donate

+ A garbage bag for any broken toys or toys with missing parts that likely won’t be recovered

+ Various sizes of storage bags: 2 gallon are great for sensory bin filler storage or larger toys that have small parts that need to be contained. I use quart sized for puzzle pieces or separating out Little People. I also recently discovered these mesh bags that look amazing! I plan to snag some for our bath toys, as apparently we now have so many bath toys that we need to start rotating (bless it).

+ Permanent markers

+ Duct tape or a large piece of paper (for labeling the bins)

Here are my Steps for Success:

1. Gather all of your toys in one place: Yes. I mean all of them. All of them that you can find and feel like would be good in rotation. The only things I don’t put in the bins are the large toys (play kitchen, tool bench, Pikler, etc) but I still ROTATE them. I also don’t include our sensory bin filler items or art supplies but I have these organized in a separate space (a post for another time). I find that seeing the magnitude of your toy situation all in one place is quite motivating to get rid of a lot by donating or trashing if they're broken.

2. Pull out anything you want to donate or anything that is broken or missing pieces: Let's break this down into two parts

+ Donate: Maybe you have multiples of a toy. Maybe you have 500 Little People figurines overtaking

your life (ahem, me). Maybe there's a toy your kids just never seem to play with or it doesn't bring you

joy when they do. Donate, donate, donate! But before you do, decide on a person or place to donate

TO. I made this change the last time around and it was SO much easier to part with toys knowing they

were going to a home or nonprofit that needed them far more than we did.

Some ideas I was given are: foster closets, nonprofit childcare centers for children in low socioeconomic areas, asking your church if there are any families identified as being in need, women's shelters, Facebook Buy Nothing groups, etc. Proceed to step 3 and prepare to donate some more.

+ Trash: If a toy is truly broken, trash it. Your husband isn't going to fix it. You're not going to magically

have the time to glue it back together. Just trash it. It's not bringing you or your child joy every time

you rediscover it's broken. If it's missing parts, hold it out in a specific place to see if you uncover the

parts. If after a couple weeks you still haven't found them, trash.

3. Sort into piles based on Category: This is your house and your life. Feel free to come up with categories that work for you!

Some of the categories we have used in the past or currently use are:

+ Baby toys: This one is pretty self-explanatory

+ Large Motor toys: Think basketball hoops, mini trampolines, climbing triangles, tunnels, wobble

boards, etc.

+ Fine Motor toys: Things that require more precision with the hands. This piggy bank is an example.

So is this Mr. Potato Head. Or this shape sorter.

+ Pretend Play: Our Little People are some of our favorite pretend play items (I'm gonna link my

entire Toddler Play idea list here because there are SO many we love. Plus our doctor kits, pretend

makeup sets, & farm scenes. I'm in the process of going through all our kitchen stuff, but since the

kitchen always stays out in our playroom, I'm going to do separate bags of kitchen utensils and

playfood to rotate. But you do you, sis.

+ Puzzles: I think you get this gist on this one :)

+ Stuffed animals: I have a really strong love-hate relationship with stuffed animals. While they are

absolutely adorable, they don't get a whole lot of playtime in our house. I am hoping that as my kids

get older they will begin incorporating them into their pretend play because if not, I will have held onto

500 stuffed animals from very well-intentioned family members who have no recollection of the

space it requires to store said animals. This is a great place to start your donate pile IMHO, in case

you hadn't guessed :)

+ Cars/trucks/trains: This is a rapidly growing pile in our once pink-toy dominated household. I love

these pull back cars as a crawling motivator. We also recently got this adorable train set. And I can't

wait to take Redding out in the mud to use these.

+ Building things: 100% our most played-with Christmas gift is these Picasso tiles. All family

members have enjoyed them so much! Same with our Mega Bloks, and our Lovevery Block Set (this

thing is seriously the coolest and has like 10 different ways to play with it).

+ Music toys: These are absolutely not the push and play type of music toys. My sound sensory-

overloaded brain cannot handle those. But we do have lots of open-ended musical toys like this sweet

Drum set. I've also had my eye on this music set for awhile!

+ Electronic toys: We really try to limit these in our house. Simply because these sorts of toys don't

offer the longevity and creativity in play that other toys do. If you want more info on this, check out

my Open-Ended vs Closed-Ended toy post here.

Once you have your piles, assess the damage. Is there any specific pile that has way more than others? Are your electronic toys far outweighing your more open-ended toys? Are there any duplicates you discovered this go around? Is there anything you're seeing that you're ready to get rid of? Let that donate pile grow! What a blessing it is to bless others.

4. Place Something from each Category into each bin: Here's where you take total creative license. My first year doing this I randomly placed one toy from each category into the bin. And it worked great! This year, I tried to pick "themes" for as many bins as possible.

For example, we have some great Frozen-colored Legos, beautiful princess dresses, blue Picasso tiles,

and a Winter-themed sensory bin from Purpose Play KC in one bin. Or in another, I placed our Farm,

Melissa & Doug Farm Animal Puzzle, and these hilarious Farm Animal Magnet toys. And I'm also

pretty proud of my School-themed bin, with our Little People schoolhouse, school bus, Alphabet

puzzle, and primary color Legos Duplos. I give you full permission to not go this route, I've just found

that now that Ada June is 3, she is really beginning to expand her pretend play and I think "themed"

bins will be great for this. As I begin to do some homeschool, I think it will be nice to find things easily,