Toys and toys and toys...

Toys and toys and toys! Surely every house with children has its fair share.

This question about toy organization posed to me had me thinking more about our toys and how we present them to Sister Stinky. Long story short...this resulted in a complete reorganization of our toys in the main living room.

My general rule for toy organization is simple...few toys out at a time, frequent rotation, and toys presented on open shelves and tables. I also make lots of use of baskets...anything without a shelf is neatly tucked in a basket. For the most part, this keeps clutter and messiness to a minimum (and if things are feeling too cluttered I just rotated a few toys out). But something still wasn't quite right.

Sister Stinky still didn't seem interested in playing with about half her toys in our living room, so it was time to re-think things. Clearly, there was too much out for her and/or it wasn't being presented in an inviting way. 

With a little bit of switching things around I think we've got a space that finally works for us!

To begin with, the Abbot was desperately in need of more bookshelf space in his office, so started off by moving some toys off of the white shelves and swapping in Sister Stinky's picture books (which were previously housed in the Abbot's office).

This opened up some space for an extended prayer shelf space for Sister Stinky 
(which is where her Nativity Scene came into play).

What books didn't fit on the main toy shelf were put on the smaller toys shelf. All that remained on the smaller toy shelf was one larger toy (in this case a thrifted Thomas felt set...I tried to look it up online just now but it looks like it's no longer being made). I did leave out her Viewmaster and blocks in the basket next to the shelf, too.

Sister Stinky also has a little stool that sits in front of the coffee table and I tend to put some small toy there for her. I decided to leave a toy there, so her lightbox is currently there.

Thanks to the joys of FreeCycle and the like, we recently were given a large number of gorgeous animal puppets and  I opted to leave those out. They sit next to the book shelf.

BUT here's the real secret to good toy organization and focused play...a small world play area!

I bought this simple play table at a local church rummage sale for $5, but you could easily make one out of an old coffee table or the like. (Or keep your eye out for an inexpensive thrifted one.) It's been the focus of much of our play in the main living space. I rotate out various small world scenes for Sister Stinky, changing them whenever she starts to lose interest in what's being presented. Our current set-up is a small neighborhood with a playground, etc. Previously, we had a train set-up followed by a farm yard scene. 

This small world play is perfect for Sister Stinky! It can be interactive if we want it to be, but she can also play independently. She's just started to show interest in dramatic play, and this is a great introduction. Best of all, it limits how many toys we have out and therefore keeps her visual clutter to a minimum. That helps her to be more creative and less overwhelmed....and it keeps her mommy much happier!

And let's be honest....I was happy to be able to put these toys away for the time being...

Hope that insight helps! (Of course, Sister Stinky does have a play area in her room and in the kitchen, but the same principles are applied in some way throughout the house.)


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