Toy Rotation – How Fewer Toys can Lead to Successful Play

When children are young, it feels like new toys are constantly making their way into the home. As children age we incorporate new things for them to use into play spaces all the time, and it doesn’t take long for those play spaces to begin doubling as storage spaces for all your little one’s stuff.

Toy rotation is the simple yet effective technique that involves strategically organizing and periodically swapping out toys in a child’s play environment, and creating a space that inspires exploration, discovery, and imagination. Rotating toys not only declutters your space, but also sparks children’s creativity and keeps your little one engaged and entertained. A study conducted by researchers at The University of Toledo in Ohio found that children presented with four toys to choose from played with them in more varied ways and for longer periods of time than children presented with sixteen toys to choose from.

If you’re curious about how to implement toy rotation in your home, read on for some practical tips and insights on where to begin!

  • Curate a Thoughtful Selection. Begin by arranging around 9 to 12 different items on a low shelf accessible to your child. Choose toys that encourage various types of play, such as fine motor activities, imaginative play, and sensory exploration. **Be mindful of selecting toys that align with both your child’s interests and their developmental stage!

  • Out of Sight, Out of Mind! Put other toys in a separate place somewhere out of reach and view. This helps reduce visual clutter and allows your child to focus on the toys available to them, promoting deeper engagement and concentration.

  • Observe and Adapt. Over the next few weeks, pay close attention to the toys that capture your child’s interest and how they use and play with them. Notice which toys spark their curiosity and creativity the most, as these insights can help guide your toy rotation strategy.

  • Embrace Repetition. Don’t be surprised if your child shows renewed interest in an old favorite toy! Toddlers thrive on repetition and enjoy discovering new ways to play with familiar objects. Allow them the freedom to explore and engage with toys at their own pace.

  • Timing is Key! Rotate toys when it feels right, aiming for no more than once a week and potentially every few weeks. Some weeks, you may only need to change a couple of toys, while other times, you may swap out several, depending on your child’s evolving interests and play habits. Try to perform toy rotation when your child is not around to minimize disruptions and ensure a smooth transition. Keep favorite toys in their designated spots to maintain a sense of familiarity and consistency for your child.
  • Respect Favorites. Some toys may become beloved favorites and can stay on the shelf for extended periods, sometimes even a year or more. Honor your child’s attachment to these toys and allow them to continue enjoying them as long as they provide value and engagement.

  • Offer Unstructured Exploration. Encourage your child’s curiosity by presenting toys in their “undone” state, such as puzzle pieces separated from their base or stacker rings in a basket near the peg. This allows for open-ended exploration of the materials and promotes the use of problem-solving skills.

  • Organize with Purpose. Utilize baskets, trays, and containers to organize small related pieces and create opportunities for your child to practice fine motor skills, such as putting in and taking out objects. This not only promotes organization but also enhances sensory exploration and spatial awareness.

  • Extend to Books! Apply the same principles of rotation to books, offering a variety of titles and genres to spark your child’s interest in reading and storytelling. Rotate books periodically to keep their literary experience fresh and engaging.


Practical life activities don’t have to end at home – Inspire Kids Montessori will guide your child through the wonders of a Montessori education. Give us a call today to schedule a tour of our facilities! 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *