Alright, today’s the last day for the kids’ rooms. Yesterday, I focused on sorting and organizing my kids’ clothes, and I also highlighted some of my preferences on storing books.

Today, I’ll focus on toys and craft supplies, some of the most challenging clutter monsters of all.  Mandi at Organizing Your Way shares some great tips for deciding on how to organize toys that work well for your family.

Toys

Like several types of potential clutter discussed in this series, I recommend using “meta stuff” as a finite way to put a limit on toys. Instead of unconsciously collecting toys until you can no longer see the floor, get some baskets, buckets, or boxes, and use those to cap the amount allowed. Once those buckets are filled, that’s it for the toys – if your child wants another one, she’ll need to be willing to part with one already housed in the bucket.

Working with your children, sort through the toys and toss out any broken ones or ones with missing pieces that are no longer reparable. Select the ones they’ve outgrown or just don’t love anymore, and add those to your “give” box.

I find that the fewer toys my kids have, the more they play with them. They’re easier to see, they’re more valuable, and there’s simply more room for the imagination to roam when there’s not clutter everywhere.

I’m also partial to having fewer quality toys that will last over a myriad of freebie plastic tchotchkies or sub-quality gizmos – especially if they make noise. The less a toy does, the more engaged the child is in harnessing his creativity.

For more ideas on selecting toys, read up on quality toys that are worth the money, and on many ideas for nearly-free playthings.

Arts & Craft Supplies

I love creating and crafting, and my daughter seems to not have fallen far from the tree. So I like having craft supplies easily-accessible and as stocked as possible. At four years old, she’s taken a giant leap developmentally in the past year, and I can now trust her with most everything in that cabinet (or, at the very least, she knows what she has to ask to get first).

But in the beginning, I was diligent about making sure paints, glue, sharp scissors, and anything else remotely hazardous (which can be a lot of things, with a creative preschooler) was out of reach. She’d have to ask me first to retrieve something.

Crayons, paper, safety scissors, and old magazines were at her reach, to use at any time.

I’ll have to reinstitute this policy soon, as my baby is starting to really get mobile, but for now, our daughter has earned my trust with the art supplies.

For more ideas on creating an art-friendly environment in your home, I highly recommend reading The Creative Family by Amanda Soule. She was my inspiration for creating our cabinet.

Our Playroom

We’ve done a decent job curbing the toy intake. We went through a major purge in March, so I really didn’t have to do too much in that department. We just organized everything back into its respective buckets, and displayed our current favorite toys on the shelves.

before:after:
playroom beforeplayroom after
before:after:
playroom beforeplayroom after

As usual, we keep like things with like, and label the toy buckets with both a photo of the toys and the words. Our daughter is learning to read, so this furthers that connection – plus, it helps to see the actual toys that belong in that particular bucket.

toys after

toys after

playroom after

We have a craft closet in the playroom, full of crayons, glue, scrapbook paper, pipe cleaners, finger paint, older magazines, felt, beads… I could go on.

Normally, we keep it fairly organized, but since we’ve returned home from our winter in the States, it’s become pretty disheveled. We’ve gotten in the habit of tossing craft items back in, or throwing a random piece of cardboard in there with the assumption that it’ll surely make a great tool for artwork. What once was organized has now become a clutter giant.

I tossed some of the things I just knew we’d never get around to using. We have more than enough crayons than we’ll ever need, so I put some in the “give” pile (we’ve made chunky crayons in the past with our crayon stubs, and that was fun, too).

Scrap paper, bits of magazines, and dried up glue sticks were tossed to make room for those better art supplies we’ll enjoy more. Now, it’s much easier to see what we have.

before:after:
crafts beforeart after

Still waiting are the frugal artwork waiting to be hung – I photocopied illustrations from some of our favorite children’s books – I hope to rotate these regularly with fresh illustrations.

art for the playrom

Alright, let’s see your stuff – how do you organize toys? Have any tips for arts and craft supplies?

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