Even the youngest children quickly learn where their favourite toys are located in the playroom. If they need a tool they head over to the workshop area. When they want to join the others in a song they know where to look to see which musical instruments are available. They know which shelf in the housekeeping area has the plates and bowls and which bin has the fruit. The fact that I organize the play food according to food groups is a playful learning opportunity.
Personally I enjoy arranging items according to size, type, color etc. When I’m in the playroom with the children I will automatically sort and organize toys. I put the farm animals on the shelf according to family groups;
I do encourage all the children to put away toys when they are finished using them however grouping them is not a requirement. Some of the children also like to arrange toys as they play or when they clean up. Others will simply place them in the general area where they belong but find sorting them is too much of a chore. That’s fine – it gives the rest of us something to do later if we get bored. 😉
The main reason I like to organize the shelves is so a quick scan of an shelf will reveal if all the toys are accounted for or if one is missing. If one is missing we can look for it right away – the less time it has been missing the more likely we are to easily find it. This is especially important for the toddlers in particular.
Many of the toddlers have favorite toys that they like to carry at all times. The pink ice cream cone, the rice bag, and the stuffed unicorn are the current favorites – if one of them is missing there will be meltdowns if we don’t find it. Sadly some of the older children seem to find it amusing to occasionally hide these toys and ‘watch the show’. Grrr.
It is rare that a toy is missing and cannot be found but occasionally it does happen. The little stuffed swan from the Ikea farm has been missing for months. I have an idea which four legged, stuffed toy loving, feline may have absconded with that particular item during a nocturnal hunting expedition. Taken beyond the confines of the playroom there is little chance we will ever find it.
One mysterious disappearance that baffles me is the plastic heart shaped container. It was the beginning of February that I put two of these containers in the playroom. By 7:15 Monday morning one of the containers was missing – two lids and one container were in plain sight near the shelf where they belong but the second container was gone.
It is not a particularly small container – at a little over three inches wide it is bigger than many of the cups and bowls. Still, after many hours of searching over the past eight weeks we have never found it. I think the children have given up but on weekends, as I clean, organize, and rotate the toys in the playroom sometimes I can’t resist searching some more…