Organize Toys

This article “Organize Toys” gives you ideas to keep your playroom or play area looking tidy and clutter free so your child can quickly find the toys. The key to organizing toys is to have "A place for everything and everything in its place." Even young children can learn to put toys away if the method is simple and easy to understand.

First step when you organize toys is to move all toys to a separate room or area where there is plenty of open space to sort them.

Categorize toys into groups like stuffed animals, cars, trains, dolls, action figures, puzzles, building blocks, books, DVDs, CDs etc.

Go through the toys and donate items that are in good condition and throw away toys that are broken. This way, you can make space for the ones they play with and reduce clutter from toys they are no longer interested in.

The best way to organize toys is to dedicate storage containers for each type of toy and/or activity. For example, assign a container for all the action figures. The dolls can go in another. Assign another one for blocks etc.

Similarly all dress-up clothes can be in one container if your child has just a few. Otherwise separate clothes and accessories (like shoes, hats and bags) into separate containers.

Put the toys in appropriate storage bins. These storage bins should be light and small enough so that your child can easily carry or move them. Use clear storage containers if possible so that they can see what is inside. Try to keep toys in their original containers whenever possible for easy identification.

You can also use different sized plastic food storage bags to organize toys. Blocks, puzzle pieces, small cars, action figures, dolls and doll accessories, arts and craft supplies like markers, crayons, glue sticks etc. can be stored in these bags. Because they can be zip locked, their contents won't spill all over the place. You can stand them up in a shallow container like an under the bed plastic storage box so they can be easily accessed without digging through a deep large container.

Try to keep blocks, legos and puzzles in their original packaging since they have the picture(s) of finished puzzles, buildings etc. You can keep puzzle pieces in a food storage bag and put in their original packaging boxes. If they don’t come in storage boxes, cut out the picture(s) of how it is supposed to look like when finished building, write the number of pieces for the particular set and store them in plastic food storage bags/containers, shoe boxes or plastic boxes with lids. You can also make a copy of it and stick them on the outside of the box/bag using tape or glue.

I reuse baby wipes containers for small toys, dolls, pencils, crayons, markers, glue sticks/glue etc. Group like items together and use separate containers for each group. I also reuse mesh fruit bags to store balls, play food items and toy cookware.

Use cardboard boxes or pop up hampers to store stuffed animals. Other space saving options are toy hammocks or toy chains.

You can also reuse large diaper/baby wipes boxes or shipping boxes for toys and books.

Another option is to use storage cubes to organize toys which could double as extra seating if space is limited.

Label all storage boxes/containers on all sides. Use a printer to print simple, large-type labels that are easy to read.

For younger children, put pictures of the type of toys along with labels on all sides of the container for easy identification. You can take photos of their own toys for this purpose. This way they don’t have to pull the bins out to see what is inside.

Be specific when labeling. Use small words like “dolls”, “cars”, “blocks” etc.

Store containers within easy reach like on the floor inside the closet so that the children can get the toys they want and put them away without assistance.

Smaller and lighter boxes can be stacked to optimize space.

If you have bookcases or storage shelves with cubbies you can place the totes/bins in them to keep the toys and the room tidy. Designate shelves/cubbies for each type of toys and label them so kids know which toys go where. Place frequently used toys on lower shelves and less often used ones on top shelves. If it is easier for your child to put things away, the toys will stay organized.

You can arrange the books on the shelves by character, theme, author etc. according to your child’s age or skill level. Arrange books, arts and craft papers etc. vertically like in a library using a magazine file, rather than stacking them. This will provide easy access since the children can see everything and pick what they need without taking the ones on top.

Keep toys with small parts, beads, scissors, paint etc. which require adult supervision on the top shelves where they are out of reach of small children.

Always anchor furniture (like bookshelves) to the wall to prevent them from tipping.

For smaller rooms where space is limited, you can use an over the door shoe organizer for organizing small toys like cars, dolls, crayons, art supplies and small books. Hang it lower on the door for smaller children using removable/suction hooks or tape. Label the pockets so that children know which toys go in which pockets.

Maintaining the organization is essential. Only the toys the children are playing with should be out of their storage. Encourage them to put back the toys they are done playing with, in their designated containers and locations like drawers, shelves, cubbies etc., before taking another one. Doing this will be more manageable than picking up everything in the end when they are tired. This way your children will learn how to organize toys. Also consider selling or donating toys the kids have outgrown or no longer play with when you buy new ones.

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