Baby Time: Ideas for Creating and Storing Toy Stations


When I made the decision to stay home with my children it was a big step from teaching in the classroom with many children to just one.  I couldn't help but think how am I going to keep my baby entertained and engaged during the day just by myself.  I think one of the biggest tips I can give you as a Mom and as a teacher is to set up stations.  It's really helpful to create toy stations around the house for your baby and toddler to explore during playtime


For our house we have a family room with a few areas that easily made toy stations or corners.  What I did was create some zones around the room for her to discover as she played.  We also did the same thing in her bedroom too so we would have two areas during the daytime to play with. I've always found if I can create something visual for her she tends to stay in that area a little bit longer and engage with the toys for a longer period of time.  Sometimes I even set up rugs or a foam mat too, under the toy storage to encourage the length of time spent in an area and also visually it just seems more attractive.  I like to set up a fine motor station, a gross motor station, a pretend play area and a book station .


As I set up the stations I try to keep a theme so that she will start to learn how to group things together that are similar.  I don't put out everything we have for her to play with.  We rotate toys frequently in our house.  I keep the others stored in her closet and the toys by groups there too.  I find that my children really enjoy discovering new things but it's not necessary to keep buying new ones, just rotate frequently.  I usually keep a group of toys out for about 3 weeks and then it's time to switch.  Even if it's too a new area of our house.  One tip I learned very early on is to also share toys with our close friends.  When friends come over for a play date and find a toy they love love love... we file it into the back of our heads and the next time it's time to switch we'll switch some favorites that our little ones are not playing with currently.  It's worked out really well and is budget friendly, eco friendly, plus it builds responsibility and friendship with others. 


There's a bonus to group things into containers too.  Creating Themes also makes Cleanup time a lot easier when you know where they go.  Especially for visitors on play dates and also for family members who are busy at work and school during the daytime.  As my little one gets older I will also start to label the containers for environmental print to help her learn to read. 

I love this post How to Rotate Toys from Kim Rowe at Little Stories who's site is about Early Speech and Language Development but truthfully I think it's a great blog for parenting and raising successful children.  She suggests dividing toys into 3 categories.  I'll have to say she read my mind because that's what we've been doing too at our house.  The recommended categories are Thinking Toys, Moving Toys, Pretend Toys, and SCLAN...shapes, colors, letters and Numbers...told you you'd love her ideas.  I know I'm learning things from her site that I look forward to using.    

Ideas for Storage Containers for Toy Stations 

There are so many containers out there to store toys.  I thought I'd share with you some of the things that have been successful at our house.  We really like using the fabric boxes to store things in.  They are pretty sturdy but don't hurt when you run into them as a crawler or beginning walker.  Plus they easily transition to bigger kids and even to college, mine just took a few of his boxes to his dorm room.  We also like using baskets for toys and books.  Whenever I'm at the Dollar Tree or Dollar Spot at Target I keep my eye out.  Here's are some ways we use our baskets. 
We use fabric boxes for Themed Stations

We use Plastic Baskets and Containers
 
We love our Fabric Bowl that Amanda made for my daughter. 
We use Baskets, Plastic Baskets, Boxes and
 even Handmade Bags for storing Toys and BOOKS! 

Here are some great links that we pinned 
for ideas for DIY storage containers
to create your own toy stations in your home. 

  
Want to make your own? 

Check below for links to their Tutorials.
DIY Fabric Bowl from The Crafty Gemini includes a tutorial video
DIY Lined Boxes Using Diaper Boxes and Fabric from Positively Splendid

I can't wait to try some of these out the next time we need a storage container for a new station.  I'm hoping to make the Structured Fabric Basket for our car soon.  We're always needing a place to put our treasures while we're traveling. 

Looking for Inspiration for your Toy Stations? 

Here are a few Toy Stations we've shared on Baby Time at The Educators' Spin On It
Ball Activities , Blocks Activities and DIY, Snuggle with a Book , Handmade Toys & Gifts, First Scribbles, Let's Make Music, Hands On Valentines

Have a Toddler?  Amanda just posted about how she Organizes Toys for Tot School
Check them out and don't forget to look for more to be updated soon! 

Hope your little one enjoys the stations you set up and they provide many hours of engaging playtime and development! And help you keep you keep organized!  Children thrive on structure. 


 
Here are a few storage options and toys that are similar on Amazon. 
Just click and it will take you there. 

16 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing some great ideas. As I was child-proofing our living areas recently I too, decided to set up different play areas around the house, but I really love your idea about grouping toys together and rotating. Can't wait to reorganize!

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  2. What great ideas! I especially like tr Therese of toys, I need to incorporate that. I recently started labeling toy boxes with environmental print as you suggest and it's a great resource.

    I will be the host for February's Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism. It is scheduled to be posted on Feb. 23 at www.perogiesandgyoza.blogspot.com and I would love to have your submission! When you have chosen your post, please email the link to perogies.gyoza at gmail.com and check back to the site on the 23rd!

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  3. Thanks for mentioning us! There are so many great ideas in this post! Here's the post on Little Stories that lists the different categories of toys http://thelittlestories.com/2011/12/12/how-to-rotate-toys/ .

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  4. Nevermind! I see you already DID link to that article. Oops! That's what you get for reading blogs on your phone! Also, I love the station idea so that it's clear to a child what types of play will go on in that area. Then when you rotate toys they still know what to expect! Lovely. ;)

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  5. Kim @ Little Stores, I adore your site and hope that many read your information. Thank you so much for putting it out there for parents and educators.

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  6. What a fun blog! I am following you now. :)
    Lori
    Conversations in Literacy

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  7. Hi! Thanks so much for linking to my storage cube. I love your ideas for creating different play areas throughout the house... and especially the idea to rotate toys. It's like Christmas all over again at our house when we switch out toys! :o)

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  8. So glad you found us Lori! Looking forward to seeing more of your posts as well!

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  9. Found you via Pinterest. I think your ideas re setting up stations around the house are fantastic, and I'm going to start today. It'll help me move from 'haphazard' to 'intentional.' I've done toy swaps before, and they work well, and now it's time to do some toy rotation in our own home. Thank you!

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  10. Thanks for these tips! My son goes to daycare where they do stuff like this, but I'd love to do some fun things like this at home for him.

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  11. Care...thanks for the fantastic tutorial. I hope lots of parents are able use it to make Toy Stations for their little ones.

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  12. Shannon and Lisa I'm so glad you found us and are going to create toy stations at your home. You and your children will love it!

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  13. This is a great way to keep them interested in their toys and group them together. Zoning toys is genius!

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  14. Love this! We have our Kitchen Fun and Crafty Friday Link Party going on now and would love for you to share this! http://kitchenfunwithmy3sons.blogspot.com/2012/02/kitchen-fun-and-crafty-friday-link_16.html

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  15. Thanks Jill! I'm heading over there now to check it out!

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