28 March 2011

Organizing toys

Toys aren't pretty. And most of us have way more of them than we would like. But no matter how many toys you have living at your house, you don't have to live with a play room that looks like this:

All it takes is some organizing {and yes, usually a good amount of daily nagging} and you can have a playroom that doesn't look like the site for the beginnings of world war III. 

I am a huge fan of cubbies. Instead of having all the toys thrown together into one big box, I like to keep things separated by type. With cubbies you can have small toys in bins and baskets inside some sections, and use others to store bigger things like books or games. I bought cubbies and colorful canvas bins from Target to store everything in. I chose tan and bright green bins so that they would look fun while still blending in a little with the rest of the house (our playroom is right next to our front door).

I spread out all the toys onto the floor (it actually looked a whole lot like the above picture- I think that's what those people were doing too!) and sorted everything by type.

The irritating part about sorting toys is that there are always those annoying ones that refuse to be categorized.
Seriously, what am I suppose to do with this???
If you said "throw it in the trash" you are absolutely right, but I can't because my son still plays with it. So for all of the random junk  toys that I didn't know what else to do with, I made a "misc toys" pile. Then I made sure that I had the right amount of bins for the piles that I had, and then every thing got put away. 
BUT what good is separating everything if you have no way of keeping it that way? Sometimes those bins get completely emptied and then how do you know what toys go where?? 
The bins have to be labeled.

The first way that I labeled my bins was probably the best way for kids, but it was one that didn't last long for me because I didn't love the way that it looked. I took a picture of a toy from each category, typed up the name of the category, (like "Cars") taped the name to the picture and attached the picture to the front of the bin. It worked really well; my son knew exactly where to find a type of toy he was looking for so he didn't have to empty every bin to find what he wanted, and he knew where to put things when it was time to clean up.

But the pictures looked too busy for me, so after a couple weeks they all got ripped off and I made cute little tags instead with just the toy names on them.
To make the tags I cut out the tag shape from a brown paper bag {I wanted brown and that's what I had on hand already}. I typed up my toy categories and then cut the words out into small strips. The white paper against the brown tags stood out too much so I made some coffee, dipped the strips of white paper into it to dye it, and then laid them out on wax paper to dry. We're not coffee drinkers at our house, so I had to make a special trip out to the store just to buy it. It was worth it though, because the aged-looking paper makes my tags so much cuter.
Once the word strips were dry I laid them on top of the brown tags inside of a laminating sheet, and ran them through the laminator so I wouldn't have to worry about them getting ripped. Then I punched a hole in the top of the tags and tied them onto the handles of the toys bins.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I added a quick stitched-looking detail to the top of the tag with a sharpie pen. Just gives it some extra cuteness.

If I was making these again I would have taped the white paper to the brown before laminating it- I had everything carefully lined up in the sheet but as soon as the laminator started pulling it through, some of my tags got kind of screwy. But it doesn't bother me enough to change it. 

Even though having the pictures made things so easy, I like the look of this a lot better. And my son still doesn't have a problem finding where things go- he just has to use his brain a little more now. But he's learning to read so I figured this is good for him. One of the bins got the label "misc toys" so I had to explain what "miscellaneous" means....so they are even helping him expand his vocabulary.

There are tons of ways to organize toys, but so far this one is my favorite.

Weekend Bloggy Reading


  1. that is awesome with the cubbies. I have tall book shelfs and all of the truck and play sets stay on that. I took pictures of what belongs on each shelf and taped it to it, so at night they know where things belong

  2. Really, really nice job.

  3. Yes to the bins!! That's our system too, and it really does work...when you make them use the bins. ;) Your playroom looks awesome!

    Thanks so much for joining my Weekend Bloggy Reading party. :) Hope you’ll visit me at Serenity Now again soon! :)