Toy rotation has a huge range of benefits for young children, and is a great system to help manage clutter and improve play skills both at home and in your Speech Therapy room. I’ve shared this simple guide about toy rotation for SLPs and parents to help you get started today.
What is Toy Rotation?
Toy rotation is where you have a set amount of toys out on display for children to play with, and you store the other toys away. You rotate the toys in and out at regular intervals based on the child’s interests and any skills they are developing at the time.
Toy rotation for SLPs/SLTs would look like having a few toys available during your sessions, and storing the other toys away. If appropriate, you would then change the toy selection each time that child came to the therapy session, so they have new ones to play with.
Benefits of toy rotation in your Speech Therapy room and at home
Rotating toys in your Speech Therapy room and at home can…
- Improve a child’s attention span, as they are less distracted by the other toys around them, so they focus for longer on their play (Dauch, et al, 2018)
- Help reduce feelings of overwhelm, as there are fewer toys around, so the amount of clutter and choices are reduced.
- Help foster deeper play; as children have more opportunity to focus on their play, their play can become more elaborate (Dauch, et al, 2018)
- Help to increase independent play.
- Help to develop patience, perseverance, and creativity.
- Make “old toys” feel new again, so you don’t need to purchase as many toys.
- Help children to master individual skills.
Top tips for toy rotation for SLPs and parents
- Aim to have about 8-10 different toys/activities available at a time.
- Try have a wide variety of activities/toys available (e.g., blocks, puzzles, musical instruments, cars, etc.). Try to avoid having multiple of one type of toy, e.g., several puzzles out each week.
- Rotate the toys regularly (roughly every week or so, though there’s no “hard and fast” rule).
- When choosing which toys to rotate out, choose those which the child is no longer playing with. Keep the ones they are playing with in rotation for the next week. You can also keep out toys that can be used for open-ended play, and which can be played with in various ways.
- Consider rotating in toys that are relevant to the current season or holiday.
- Store toys away when not in use– a cupboard/wardrobe, or even a high shelf can work, (think- out of sight, out of mind!).
- For therapists- make a note of the different types of toys you have (e.g., construction, role play, small world play, etc.), then provide the child with a range of toys which can be used to meet their goals.
- You can use this approach for books too– rotate them regularly to keep children engaged. You can group books by theme to help with rotation. E.g., group books by season, topic, or skill.
- Remember that everyday objects can become toys too, so consider adding things like pots and pans, a salad spinner, or a laundry basket to the child’s toy selection that week, to see how they engage with it in play.
Want to learn more about toy rotation for SLPs and parents?
This blog post by Casey at Lifelong Little Learners answers a range of frequently asked questions about toy rotation, and gives useful tips for implementing a system at home.
This blog post by Montessori Method explains more about toy rotation with plenty of photo examples too.
The information in this post has been taken from my set of Parent Handouts for Frequently Asked Questions. This parent-friendly resource includes a handout all about toy rotation and one about choosing toys for children (as well as many other handouts). Check it out in my TpT store now.
I hope you’ve found this blog post helpful. Have you tried a toy rotation system at home or in your Speech Therapy sessions before? Do you have any tips to share? Let me know in the comments.
Dauch C, Imwalle M, Ocasio B, Metz AE. ‘The influence of the number of toys in the environment on toddlers’ play’. Infant Behavior and Development. Vol.50, pp.78-87.