Messy (destructive?!) play and toy organisation
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  1. #1
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    Default Messy (destructive?!) play and toy organisation

    I'm after some help from all you lovely, wise, experienced CM's please!
    I tend to have all the toys out all the time so children can pick and choose, i really like it this way because they never know what might take their fancy so everything is there just to pick and play with as and when they choose. HOWEVER my son loves to tip out each and every box and gets my other mindees involved, they love creating a huge mess, all the while they are talking and playing and making up scenarios etc but the whole place just becomes a tip very quickly. They are too young to understand that they will have to tidy it up after so i end up doing it - over and over again! Its driving me just a little bit mad! I dont know if its boredom, or a stage or a type of learning but i need it to stop! So im thinking of paring down the toys available so there is less to chuck about although i am not keen on this i think its the only way forward. How do you all do it? If i just had mindees this is definitely the approach i would take but as its my sons home too i feel he should have access to all his toys all the time but its just not proving practical. I was going to make some picture cards thye could choose their toys from but dont know if they are too young for this? Any ideas/help appreciated!

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    I always limited even my own children's boxes of toys- some stored out in the garage and then swap over every few months- felt like Christmas every time they get a box swap, they loved it!
    I teach mindees right from 18mths/2yrs that we put one thing away before getting out another (unless they are linking up different things in their play). I do put things away myself too and we can't always manage this rule, but they soon get the idea and they learn to do it themselves- or I say (as they are abandoning the trainset on the floor to start getting the musical instruments out) Are you finished with the train set? We put one thing away before getting the next one out! They like to help tidy- it is a game at that age to chuck things in the right box, with a song etc. Everything has its place- they learn what goes where.
    A messy floor is a trip hazard, things get stood on and broken, no one can find anything and bits get lost.

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    I remember when my DD was having a birthday party at our home (4th bday, so a bit older than your son). I packed away all of the toys for the afternoon as I wanted her little guests to do the party games and activities that I had planned. We needed space for the party and I didn't want it to just turn into a playdate. Anyway, I never looked back. After the party I brought back just a few toys and we all benefited! There was more space to move and breathe and it's a bit of a cliché now but less really is more - the quality of play is better. Give it a try and see how you go. If you really feel you are depriving your son then put them all back again. As Moggy said, it is so exciting when you swap the toys around.

    I also though about making little picture cards but couldn't bring myself to do it as it seemed like such a lot of work. I'm glad I didn't now as I don't think it would have been used much. I remember this was discussed a while ago on here (can't remember what the thread was originally about, sorry) and the general feeling was that it's not worth the time it takes to make them all.

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    I've learnt to limit the total available toys at any one time by rotating them in and out of storage.

    Even with only a fraction of my toy collection they can very quickly create the most enormous mess.

    There seems to be quite a lot of children who'd rather tip everything on the floor than play with anything. MOG alert, but I find this quite incredible, as I had so few toys as a child and I'd get out my farm/castle/cars and play for absolutely Hours on end.

    Seriously, it's worth remembering that it's your home and your workplace. Think about your duty of care to yourself in terms of tripping hazards, etc.

    I have one of those pop-up nylon baskets that I use to do a total clearance of the floor every now and then. Everyone helps and everything goes in, then
    I can do a proper sort and put things away properly, usually while the children have a snack.

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    Like moggy, I think children have fun putting things away.

    Before they can walk they sit and put things in a nearby basket, with me and a little song or sound game, but, like you say, the main chunk still needs to be done by a grown up, with walking children's help so your resource organisation and learning environment is key to keeping our settings safe as well as a good learning environment.

    I find deeper boxes of mixed toys do tend to get tipped out in search of what they want from the bottom.

    I use mainly IKEA units and low open shelves so a toy goes in its place on a shelf...is taken off and played with and then the child can return it to its home. The IKEA school like trays are great, just big enough to fill with one set of activities ( good for construction) and light enough for children to return themselves, the tops are shelves again with a place for each item. I do have the deeper baskets that go in the cube unit, but they are rather deep so I keep these for themes or creating invitation to play trays that I get out and put away, I can pack these too as only I am going in to them.

    My most popular self choice is an old bureau in my dining room that houses in the cupboard all my small world and open natural resources, about 25 small baskets with labels that show when you put them on the low shelves. My 17 month old LO was able to access what he wanted from the time he was crawling, I played games of putting things back in and putting the baskets back, they are all fairly light, and now he opens the cupboard, chooses what he wants and puts them back, we play and he might abandon one to get another, but I judge by watching what he is doing with it before I remind him to put it away before getting another one out.
    I don't have a playroom downstairs so I ' set up' for each day, giving a variety of choice across the areas, linked to next steps and interest of the group with child choice too as they know my resources and ask if it's in the den or music rooms upstairs if they want something I haven't put out. A couple of the book shelves in the living room have certain things on them or my activity trays that change weekly or when I feel appropriate. The hearth also has a couple of things that they could choose to play with too. I have a couple of different sized children's foldaway tables that I invite them to play at with a created set up activity. Everything has a place which makes it easy and quick to tidy away. Or we play upstairs in the den and music room where everything is set up in a child friendly way, nursery like way.
    I think as long as you plan for different skills and areas and for their next steps a child doesn't need to have every toy available every day. Like Moggy said if they haven't seen something for a while it's all excitement and motivated interest when you get it out again. I do have set things linked with what I know they particularly like to play with available daily though.
    There is an educational thought that only a few choices encourages more sustained imaginative play which is taken to a deeper level and therefore deeper learning takes place.
    The older LO's more creative imaginative play can still take place as the children soon learn where everything is kept and fetch what they want from a shelf basket or a tray then at an appropriate time I will help and support the tidy up session.

    I would Imagine it is tricky when your resources are also your child's toys. But my IKEA units were originally my own children's bedroom units as I have always been a bit obsessed with organising toys....they were got out of the loft when I started childminding and given a new life.

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    I find a limited choice of toys and resources is so much better for everyone.

    If there's too much choice children can't decide what to play with so the best game is to tip it all out onto the floor. Often people think a bigger choice is better, but I do think it makes it harder for children to see what they want and to narrow down their choices.

    One thing that I have found useful is having a box of mixed toys. There'll be things like a few building blocks, some small world play, some play food etc. If I notice the children are particularly interested in one particular thing I will get more of that toy out. I guess it's similar to a photo book, but is more reflective of what they will play with, not what they think they want to play with. How often would they say they want a certain toy out, you get it, only for them to lose interest withing a few minutes.

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    I totally agree with all the answers on here. When I had my first son I thought he had to have every toy he owned out all the time, chaos ensued and he never really played with anything just made a load of mess. My mum said to just have a few and put the rest in the loft/spare room then after a few weeks rotate them - what a difference, he was so excited with his 'new' toys. So I do that now in my work and it definitely is so much better for kids and adults alike.

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    I agree less is definitely more, since returning to work after Christmas the main "toy" has been a large cardboard box which along with imagination and a few props has entertained 13 children aged 1 to 12 years for many weeks.
    They have been to the moon in it, camped in it, driven, hid, "slept", eaten, swopped socks??, it's been a theatre and a shop, TV and postbox and this week we've been to sea in it!! Possibilities endless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mouse View Post
    I find a limited choice of toys and resources is so much better for everyone.

    If there's too much choice children can't decide what to play with so the best game is to tip it all out onto the floor. Often people think a bigger choice is better, but I do think it makes it harder for children to see what they want and to narrow down their choices.

    One thing that I have found useful is having a box of mixed toys. There'll be things like a few building blocks, some small world play, some play food etc. If I notice the children are particularly interested in one particular thing I will get more of that toy out. I guess it's similar to a photo book, but is more reflective of what they will play with, not what they think they want to play with. How often would they say they want a certain toy out, you get it, only for them to lose interest withing a few minutes.
    Love this idea - will be implementing this as I don't personally feel that the photo album I have works
    When someone tells you nothing is impossible, tell them to go slam a revolving door

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    When I started childminding two years ago my kids were 2 and 4 so I we had most of their toys downstairs to be used by them and mindees. I didn't mind at the time, but now a lot of my kids' stuff lives in their rooms to come down when they want them to. I'd like to do some toy rotation but thought it would be a hassle putting things in the loft and taking them out all the time - but it seems like some of you do it ever few months rather than every week! I think I can manage that!

    I'm wondering if this is something to do before or after Ofsted visit for my first inspection (due any day now).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellisha View Post
    When I started childminding two years ago my kids were 2 and 4 so I we had most of their toys downstairs to be used by them and mindees. I didn't mind at the time, but now a lot of my kids' stuff lives in their rooms to come down when they want them to. I'd like to do some toy rotation but thought it would be a hassle putting things in the loft and taking them out all the time - but it seems like some of you do it ever few months rather than every week! I think I can manage that!

    I'm wondering if this is something to do before or after Ofsted visit for my first inspection (due any day now).
    I don't have a loft. I put my things in big plastic lidded boxes. I have a couple under the bed, at the bottom of my wardrobe, on a shelf at the top of my wardrobe etc. If I put them in a loft we would probably never see them again!

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    we have a mantra...choose it , use it , put it away.
    Theyre never too young for tidying up either , certainly my under ones can help with a basket and a little direction.

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