Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How to Store Toys in a Small Space

         I don't think I've ever been to a Montessori blog or site that shares posts about what is currently on the shelves in their home.  Every month or so, there are tons of new, awesome materials for the child to explore.  This certainly is one of the few things that causes the "keeping up with the Joneses" plague to strike me. I want to get everything I see! But, as I've started to collect materials, I've often wondered, where are all of the items that are out of rotation?  With the neatness and organization stressed within Dr. Montessori's philosophy, I have to assume all of the materials are neatly tucked away.

         But, I must confess, my out-of-rotation materials were a giant mess! We live in a smallish apartment with extra storage, so I ended up throwing things here and there.  In addition to looking terrible and taking up tons of space, it made material rotation time a huge headache.  So, I decided to re-organize. 

This is what everything looked like when I pulled things out of the closets:  AHHHH!

Here are the steps I took to clean up: 

Things were too out of hand to do a true "before" shot, but this is in the beginning stages.
  1. Throw away "Happy Meal Toys."  True, we've only gotten one happy meal for Q-ball (who subsequently lost the accompanying toy about 1 hour later somewhere in the car...), but we've gathered tons of small favorite-toys from birthday grab bags to awesome finds at the park. I got rid of pretty much all of these toys as they really aren't in line with any of the goals for our shelves.
  2. Group items by type.  My previous problem was when I was looking for a certain object, I didn't know where to start looking.  I'd tried labeling boxes, but as I was consistently rotating materials, the labels didn't do much good.  By grouping items by generic type (sensory, puzzles, blocks, music, bead activities, etc.), I can still label my boxes. 
  3. Package items individually, when possible.  Here, I grouped blocks in paper bags and reused boxes.  I have also seen people use the plastic, zipper bags that come with new sheet sets and mattress pads for this task- that way you can see inside!
  4. Label boxes.
  5. Find a place to stash. This step has been the toughest for me given our current storage limitations.  For larger items, I used large storage tubs.  For smaller items, I used a hanging shoe organizer and a larger hanging closet organizer.  

    Montessori Monday

1 comment:

  1. I love those hanging shoe organizers! That's how I keep our art supplies in order and it's awesome. Keeping out of rotation materials well organized is do difficult for me, but it feels so good to reign it in every once in awhile, too.

    One of the many things I love about Plan Toys is the boxes they come in - I always hang onto those to put the toy right back into when it takes some time away from our shelves.


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