December 27, 2010

Kids' toy storage

Here's how Christmas goes for us:  We open all the presents; we ooh and aah over the new toys and games and gadgets and clothes;  we recycle all the paper and boxes; then we get home and realize we have no place for all the new stuff.

This is especially true for kids, for whom the presents can sometimes be pretty big.  Plus, children are routinely outgrowing clothes and toys.

So today I thought I would share the organizational system we use in our son's room.  First, of course, it helps if you limit the really large toys and periodically go through and store or donate toys and books that are not being used.  I have a large bookcase for most of his books, but I keep a set of labeled storage bins in his closet.

I found everything I needed for this project at Target.  First, I got an inexpensive storage system (I turned it on its side) and let my son pick the colors he wanted for the bins.  Be sure to secure the storage system to the wall if you are using anything very tall at all or if you have babies who may be pulling up on the front of the unit.

Then, I grouped all the toys into categories and came up with a label for each one.  Instead of just writing the name of each type of toy ("cars and trucks," "puzzles," etc.), I used standard clip art available on the computer because my son can't read yet.  I paired a bright picture with a word on the label so my son can also start to learn some words as he cleans up.

Because paper labels would be torn off right away, I used a Scotch self-laminating product for the labels (you can find them in the office supply section).  They are technically luggage tags, but they work really well for this too because they have no strings to tie the labels on or knots that might come undone.

I created a couple pages of clip art labels, then cut each one out, peeled back the laminating tag, carefully placed the label inside, and smoothed the tag back together.

The system works really well.  Everyone--adults and kids--knows where each type of toy goes, which makes cleanup faster.  The bins with handles are great because they can be taken out and carried around to another place of the house, then easily brought back to the storage shelf at the end of the day.

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