These ideas for open toy storage and inspiring childhood imagination are brought to us by Julie Kieras of HappyStrongHome.
I’ve overhauled our children’s toy area several times over the past few years. Baby, toddler, preschooler… at each age, children engage in play in different ways: gazing at toys on a blanket, grasping for toys dangling above, scooting to follow a mobile toy.
For toddlers and preschoolers, I wanted to break away from the typical toy box for various reasons. So I moved to shelf and bin storage for our toys.
Open Toy Storage for Easier Toy Rotation
Small toy bins encourage sorting and allow for easier toy rotation. I move bins from top shelves (in the curtained-off closet) down to our cubical unit for easy access to new delights! Play food in crates for sorting is more appealing to a child than if the pieces are scattered underneath heavier toys in a large toy box, don’t you think?
Shelves with a single toy or game invite inspection from little learners. The single item gives the eye a chance to rest, and little fingers can explore the item before deciding to play or not. I especially love cube storage because it gives me segmented areas to place toys, which can be visually appealing, but a long shelf works just as well.
Open Toy Storage Encourages Imaginative Play
It can take a lot to pull my little boys away from their train table (its already “open” display inspired me to find ways to get more toys into use!).
Encouraging artistic play is easier when art supplies and tools are in the open, instead of closed up in a drawer. I set up a table with picture shelves on the wall above. The bottom shelf features a weekly rotation of sticker and coloring activity books, plus blank paper. The top shelf holds two clipboards for showcasing finished artwork!
Open cups or trays of crayons and child-safe scissors beckon little fingers to pick them up and create! (I’m not quite brave enough to leave the markers and paints out yet, but perhaps in another year or so!).
Our puzzles I once stored in bags and bins to keep the pieces together, now fit into a handy puzzle storage rack. Because it fits various sizes of puzzles, both the toddler peg puzzles and preschool 12- and 24-piece puzzles are available to my boys. There’s definitely been more puzzle play lately!
Added Benefits of Keeping Toys in the Open
Switching to an “open-storage” system of shelves and bins has helped me in other ways:
Fewer toys out at one time lets kids focus on their play rather than get distracted by the excitement of “so much!”
I can create play themes (food, animals, vehicles) or focus on skills (colors, cutting, building) with a few simple switches of the bins and shelf items!
Play time is actually a bit more exciting for ME, as the parent, because I am more engaged in creating opportunities for play rather than grumbling about all the toys underfoot and unused!
Since re-organizing, I’ve seen our boys try new art techniques, sustain play with the same toy set, and develop more creative stories as they play. I love seeing all our beautiful toys on the shelves… and in our little ones’ hands!
How do you store and display your kids’ toys? Share photos of how you organize toys to inspire imaginative play on Instagram using the hashtags #TakeBackChildhood, #CountlessWaysToPlay and #MelissaAndDoug!
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