Are you constantly reminding your kids pick up their toys? Do you have stuffed animals floating out your ears? Do your children find your bookshelves overwhelming? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then maybe it’s time to try a book and toy rotation system.
This is where we were at the beginning of the summer. I kept hearing phrases like, “there’s nothing to do” and “I’ve already read everything we have twice.” Yet, nothing could have been further from the truth. The conclusion? We had too much stuff.
We have been blessed with many books and toys, thanks to the generosity of family and friends. However, more is not necessarily better. All our “stuff” was becoming overwhelming. It was time to give toy rotation a try…again. Only this time it going to be intentional and include our books too!
Steps for Creating a Toy and Book Rotation System
Step 1: Figure Out a Place to Store Your Rotation Boxes
My number one challenge in creating a book and toy rotation system was finding a place to store everything. The main reason we had everything out all the time was because our school room does not contain a closet. This is why a toy rotation system hadn’t worked very well the first time we tried it. We just didn’t have the space.
However, this time I knew I needed to make the space. Thus, through the process of elimination we put everything we didn’t expect to use in the next 12 months (clothes 2 sizes up, keepsakes, etc.) in the attic. When all was said and done I was amazed at the space we found. It was just enough.
Step 2: Sort and Eliminate Excess Stuffed Animals
Once we knew the amount of storage space we had available, we began going through all the girls’ stuff animals. I am embarrassed to say we said goodbye to over 100. Yes, 100! The girls were only allowed to keep 30 animals each–6 to keep out all the time and 6 for each of our 4 toy rotation boxes.
Step 3: Sort and Eliminate Toys
Next, we went through ALL our toys both in the bedrooms and the play room. If a toy had not been played with for awhile or had broken pieces, we got rid of it. Tip: Take pictures of your child with the toys you are eliminating so that they can remember them down the road. Sometimes just knowing their toys are honored makes all the difference and helps them to let go.
Step 4: Divide Toys Into Equal Groups
With the elimination complete, we sorted the toys and games remaining into 4 fairly equal piles. Our goal was to have a variety of activities in each box, similar but different from the next. To keep groups of items together we stored blocks and puppets in Ziploc bags and stuffed animals in plastic grocery sacks within each box.
Step 5: Label and Box Toys
Now that the toys were divided, we placed the toys into large Rubbermaid tubs (2 boxes per pile for a 4-month rotation). As we packed the boxes, I created an inventory/box label to go on the front of each tub. On the box label I included 3 check mark boxes next to each toy to mark which toys the girls played with each rotation. If, after 3 rotations (or a year of play), a toy has not been played with, it will go in the giveaway pile for some other family to enjoy.
When finished we chose one set of tubs to open for our first month’s rotation. It was met with a great success. The girls played with nearly every toy on the shelf that month as they could “see” the toys. The second month was even more exciting as the girls had not seen those toys in over 30 days. They were hooked.
Step 6: Gather and Group ALL the Books You Want to Include in Your Book Box Rotation
Next we tackled the book box rotation system. This process took a little longer as we have a lot of books in our homeschool library. That said, we began by grouping the books according to genre, season, or use. Our categories included seasons, early readers, interactive non-fiction, biographies, Golden books, Disney books, fairy books, classics, and so on. If there was a book I knew we would be using often in the next school year such as a reference book or spine book, these books were put in a separate pile as they would not go in the rotation boxes.
Step 7: Divide the Books by Month
Next we divided the books into 12 different piles, one for each month. We began by dividing the season books according to season (Spring books in March and April, Summer books in June and July, Christmas books in December, etc.). We then divided the remaining categories equally among the different months being sure to keep books in a series together for easy reading.
Step 8: Label and Box the Books
For our book rotation storage we found that banker’s boxes work great. They are big enough to hold nearly all larger books but small enough to be manageable when full. As far as boxing up the books, we followed a similar routine as we did for the toys, inventorying the books on the computer as went.
When finished we had 16 boxes of books so we made a few of the boxes 2-month rotation boxes instead of one. In these boxes we included book series which might take longer to read, secondary reference books, and longer novels.
Finally we were finished!
How the Toy and Book Box Rotation System Changed Our Lives
At first I thought rotating the boxes each month would take up a lot of time, but I’m actually surprised how little time it does take. We usually don’t tackle the toy boxes and the book boxes in the same day which means the girls also have something “new” to look at on more than one occasion each month.
On our toy rotation day, which is usually the first of the month, I get out the empty toy boxes, read the label on the front of the box and have the girls “fetch” the toys needed. Once the old toy boxes are packed, the girls take the lead in unpacking the new month’s toy boxes and organizing them in baskets or stacks on our toy shelf. They love this part! In fact, on toy rotation days their afternoon is usually filled with squeals and playing of the “new” toys. It’s almost like Christmas day. This fact alone has sold me on toy rotation.
When we rotate books, I personally box the books up as it is easier for me to find the books than the girls. After the old book box is packed, the girls and I unpack the new book box together and place the books neatly on our designated book cubes. Again, book rotation afternoon is often met with hours of silent reading as the girls find old favorites and spot “new” books they never knew we had.
How has the book and toy rotation system changed our lives? I now enjoy the rotation system because 1) the girls actually play and read what we have, 2) clean-up is a breeze, and 3) if I need to find a particular book or toy, all I have to do is look it up on my computer which tells me exactly what box the item is in. It’s fantastic! Before I would have to look across our bookshelves for hours to find a particular book. No more!
While I thought a book and toy rotation system would actually take MORE time, it actually saves time! In addition, we have space to breath again which is fantastic! I could not recommend it more. Interested in giving it a try? Do it, and let me know how this new system works for you!Where I thought a toy and book rotation would actually take MORE time, it actually saves time!Click To Tweet