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Here is how I vary the toys and the play locations throughout the day. I hope this well help give you some ideas.

In the playroom, I have toys in plastic containers with lids. The containers with toys are all kept on shelves I bought from Walmart for $15 each. We have 4 shelves (with 3 shelves each).  I only let them get out two containers at a time. I also have a play kitchen in the playroom and a small table and chair set in the playroom.
Toys we have in each container are:
– Wooden Train Set
– Playfood, Cups, Bowls, and other kitchen items
– Plastic Animals
– Building Legos
– Medium Sized Cars
– Puzzles
– Toddler Toys in 2 different boxes (various toddler toys)
– Little People Items

In my son’s room, he has a few toys. The toys are arranged in plastic containers with lids too. He is allowed to choose 2-3 different type of toys to have out during roomtime. The rest stay on his shelves in their containers and are not played with. The kids also do sibling playtime in Coopers room a few times a week- and the same rules apply, only 2-3 types of toys out at a time.
– McQueen Cars (from the Movie Cars)
– Chuck Car items
– Marble Run
– Books
– Other Match Box Cars
– Felt Roads & Play Rug with Roads
– Tag Junior
– Vet Clinic Toy
– Stuffed Animals

In the Girls’ Room, they have a few toys. I store all their toys in their closet. They still have IPT in their cribs. I usually allow them 2 types of toys and some books during IPT. They toys stored in their closets are:
– Little People Sets
– Little People Builder Blocks and Sets
– Light & Sounds Toys (electronics)
– Playfood
– Babydoll items
– Books
– Stacking toys & Shape sorters

In the Gameroom, I store all their educational materials, art supplies, and other table activities. I have it stored in an entertainment system with doors. I have things in plastic containers with lids marked with what time of things are inside. We don’t really have any other toys in the gameroom because we don’t play too much up their yet because I cannot keep an eye on them in there if I am down stairs working (game is upstairs).

In the living room, I have a basket of random toys- some cars, some stuffed animals, some little people stuff, some other toys (doctor kit, etc). They can take anything out of the basket when we are in the living room, but it all has to be put back when we leave the room.

In my bathroom, I have a small tub of toys for when I am getting ready in the morning or during bathtime. I usually bathe all the kids at the same time, but they don’t all get in the tub at the same time so I need toys to keep the occupied during bath time. I have books, cars, and a few small toddler-ish toys in there.

In the kitchen, I have a few leap frog toys on the fridge and I also have some file folder games, busy bag activity, quiet books, and play dough items all stored in my pantry. That way if I need a quick table time activity for a time of transition or while I am cooking dinner, I can quickly pull them out.

What I have found, is even though I don’t rotate all the toys, I think allowing them only a few toys at a time helps. Having them play in the playroom, bedroom, and living room at different times of day helps too. I think that free play, Independent Play Time, and table time/ blanket time help to keep it interesting. I also do outside play every day and try to include a walk. So variety of activities, organized toys, and not allowing them to play with too many things really helps to keep the kids happy and having fun throughout the day. The toys don’t get as boring this way.

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My son just turned 12 months old and his toys are becoming boring to him. I am on a quest to find him some more stimulating toys, but I am on a tight budget. Here are some ideas I came across and have worked!

Balls: Any size balls will work. My son loves to play with balls. I place several different size balls in plastic container or a basket. My son likes to take them out, bounce them, and place them in different containers.

Containers:

  • Stackable bowels was a great idea. I bought some stackable cereal bowels from the dollar store for $2 (6 total). He enjoys stacking and unstacking them. This can keep him entertained a a while.
  • Stackable plastic cups
  • measuring spoons/ cups- he enjoys putting them together and taking them apart
  • Mixing bowels- different sizes and different colors. We already had a set at home. I just let him play with them. Great because it did not cost me a thing.
  • Plastic Tubberwear- The cheap plastic food containers that you throw away worked great as toys. I have a few I have received at Christmas time or when people have given me food. I have given them to my son to play with. He will stack them, try to put on the lids, and throw them about the room. He will even take tiny objects like puzzle pieces, balls, shapes, and plastic sorting items and put them in the plastic containers.

Board Books: My son loves to turn the pages of board books. He loves touch and feel and books with flaps. Buying books can be very expensive, so I have started checking out a bunch of board books from our local library and changing them up every week. This keeps him happy and less bored with the selection because I keep changing up the books weekly. You could also buy cheap board books at garage sale or dollar stores.

Shakers and Sound Makers: I have taken old plastic water bottles and jugs with various materials- beans, rice, colored water, pennies, and small rocks. He likes to shake them and stand them up. It keeps him occupied for a while.

Climbing Obstacles: He loves to crawl over things and crawl under things. I set up pillows on the floor for him to crawl over and make tunnel with blankets for him to crawl under. This keeps him busy for a while.

Create Your Own Piggy Bank: Save the tops of the plastic milk jugs and use them as coins. Then with an old formula container or oatmeal container, cut a hole in the top and use that as the slot to insert the tops from the milk jug.

Boxes:

  • Old Food Boxes as building blocks- You can save a bunch of cereal, cracker, pasta, and other food boxes to use a building blocks. You can just glue or tape the flap shut. You can leave them plain or decorate them with colorful wrapping paper.
  • Big Boxes as forts- You can take a big box and put a door on it or make tunnel to crawl through. Then decorate the outside with paint or markers
  • Put items inside old boxes and let your child take them in and out. You can put balls, milk jug tops, small toys, etc.

Pictures:

  • Photo Albums- Children love to look at picture. You can take an old photo album and put pictures of your family in there. You could also clip pictures from a magazine of bright colorful pictures and put it in there. Pictures of animals are always a hit. You can image on the internet and print them out to put in the photo album.
  • Key Ring Pictures- you can laminate pictures and punch a whole on them and place them on a large key ring. You can also take large index cards and cut and paste different photos from old magazines, internet, or even old books.  You could make a key ring to have a theme. For instance the whole key ring could have things with the color red or the number 3.
  • Poster Board- You can take a large poster board and cover it with various colors, photos, and images. Then hang the poster board at eye level with your toddler where they play.
  • Digital Frame- if you already own one, place it somewhere where you toddler can look at the pictures throughout the day. My son loves to watch slide shows.

Touch & Feel

  • Grab Bag/ Box- with empty bags or boxes, you can put different textured items in the box. Your toddler will enjoy touch and feeling the different items in the box
  • Texture Wall- using a poster board, paste different textures on the poster board. You could use sandpaper, sponge, soft cotton, etc.
  • Touch & feel Book- Create your own touch and feel book. Glue different textured items on a large index card. Then with a large key ring punch whole and connect all the cards together.

For Other Suggestions:

http://kids-toys.suite101.com/article.cfm/educational_and_cheap_toddler_toys

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2006/11/04/free-toys-for-your-infant-or-toddler/

http://everydaytlc.com/blog/2009/06/make-your-own-toys-for-babies-and.html

http://www.mops.org/page.php?pageid=2339

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