Shelf Rotation: an Easy Guide For Engaging Your Toddler

Let’s get one thing out of the way before we start: shelf rotation will not keep your play area spotless. That’s a good thing, though, because a spotless play area means that play isn’t happening. I try to think of our play area as a beautiful mess. Selecting items for your shelf with purpose and intention helps to limit the quantity and decrease the clutter. A smaller number of purposeful toys gives your little one the ability to get deeper into their play.

In this post I will take you step by step through my shelf rotation process. I will show you the shelf I begin with, a break down of the items of the shelf, the items I rotate to vs items that remain on the shelf and the finished shelfie. This post does contain affiliated links.

Table of Contents

    Starting Shelfie

    Before rotating my shelf, I analyze what resource were utilized throughout the week and which weren’t really used. I often think about the following things:

    1. Were the items not accessible enough?
    2. Were there too many items that were too similar?
    3. Do the items need to go away in the closet for a bit?

    Even having a few items in a basket, things can still get lost and I remind myself to be mindful and double check. If I notice baskets are not being used then often they are too full of things and it is either not of interest of the kids have forgotten what is inside of the basket.

    Sometimes I find myself so excited about particular toys that I have a hard time narrowing down which to select! I can always tell if I have too many out because they do not get played with as much. My youngest enjoys running to the shelf and clearing it off so that he can play, so if there are toys left on the shelf – we know there were too many to start with. Another indicator is when the kids take the toys and throw them directly on the floor. My kids have grown up playing at their shelf and if it is too cluttered then they have no space to play.

    The final question I ask myself before a rotation is, “does this toy need to be put away for a bit?” As much as both myself and the kids might enjoy a toy, packing something away in the closet briefly doesn’t mean we like it any less but it does mean there will be more excitement when it comes back out. We spend a lot of time in our playroom and it is helpful to vary the resources we have available.

    Initial Shelf Resources

    These are the initial resources from our shelf. Included I have:

    • Play silks for movement
    • Grimms Rainbow for building
    • Grimms Stepped Roofs for building
    • Grimms Blue Truck for pretend play
    • Holztiger farm animals for pretend play
    • Ostherimer people for pretend play
    • Papoose Trees for pretend play
    • Guidecraft Beehive for fine motor skills

    The kids love to use the play silks for costumes as capes, to dance to music, as baby blankets, and more. The Grimms Blue truck has a pull string and they love to load the back up and pull it all around the playroom. Building skills for Ethan and Lily are evolving at their own pace but both are really enjoying starting to stack the rainbow. Ethan also loves to use the rainbow as a track for his cars.

    Wooden animals are a great way to discuss animal habitats while simply playing. Play based learning at its best. It is also an amazing way to work on animal sounds and classification with toddlers as you play. I don’t know about you, but neither of my children enjoy sitting and looking at flashcards. The Ostheimer people are a great way to model caring for the environment in which the animals are living in and caring for the animals and having trees for each season allows you to organically discuss seasons with your child again while simply playing!

    Fine motor skills are a crucial skill for little ones and building their dexterity. I always try to incorporate it into our play in some way. This Guidecraft Behive is a favorite and even Lily at age 5 enjoys it!

    Rotated Shelf Resources

    After observing I noticed there were too many animals available. I opted to pack some away and put out a couple dinosaurs and Maileg instead. Lily has really taken interest in dressing and undressing Maileg. For Fine Motor I added or Wiwiurka Porcupine (PLAYROOMACTIVITIES10 will save you 10% off of all WIWIURKA products) . This is a great activity and the kids also like the pretend these are popsicles!

    I also noted we had too many play silks available and the kids were often dumping out the deep basket to find the silks they wanted. I switched the silks to the Maple and Lark Gather basket which is longer and put less in it. The Sunset rainbow was rotated out for the traditional rainbow and our winter Papoose trees were rotated for our snowy pine.

    New Shelfie

    This weeks shelfie seems to be a hit so far and the kids are happy playing and making their “beautiful mess.” The resources included were:

    *WIWIURKA link is non-paid affilated link and I have linked their Toadstool which is an amazing fine motor activity. For all WIWIURKA purchases you can use PLAYROOMACTIVITIES10 for 10% off!

    I decided to keep some of the play silks and the Ostheimer people because the kids were really enjoying both items. The silks I just need to change the basket and have fewer to make it a success! Sometimes it isn’t the item, just the presentation. I have heard people say the same with Grimms sets. Some children are not fans of them being presented put together on the the trays but when they blocks are in a basket they will freely build. Before you become frustrated or discouraged, try various presentation options!

    For more on organizing and rotating your playroom, check out this last blog post with 10 easy tips, happy playing!

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