Friday, February 24, 2012

Rotating and Organizing Kids Toys

If you are a parent, you have them, EVERYWHERE! So over the years I have read tons of help tips from all the magazines and books, all saying that the best thing for your kids and your pocket book, is to "rotate" the toys. Well, after first, I was all for it, sounded easy and made sense. For those of you who have not heard of this process- You take half of the toys and store them for months (or until they get tired of the ones that are out) and then rotate the ones in storage out and store the current toys away for a period of time. This process is meant to give kids the feeling of getting 'new' toys every few months, but without you spending a dime on new ones. So I started doing this about a year ago, and at first it was hard to choose toys to take away from my kids, I wanted them to play with everything they had. As my third child got older, more toys would get dragged out and left. This is when I implemented the plastic storage containers and storing certain toys. I started out with the things they played with the least at the time. Those toys got put into a solid colored storage bin and placed in the back of the closet. My kids didn't even notice those toys were missing. This was also a great chance for me to organize the toys. We sorted through and threw away broken ones, donated inappropriate aged toys, and put the toys that are parts of a set together in clear bins (things like potato head pieces are all in one bin). I know, I know, that's expensive! Not really, I promise, we are on a very tight budget, and I was able to pick up a few medium sized clear bins from the dollar store and the larger ones we ONLY buy when they are on clearance or a really good sale.(Everything in my house is in plastic bins, makes moving very very easy) With that said, unless you have extra cash to spend, this can take sometime to get bins purchased and have a good stock of them. We did it little by little, gradually adding bins for new toys or replacing bins that the kids broke :( After a year of rotating toys, I am a firm believer in what the magazines and books claim. My kids toys are more organized and each toy or set of toys, has a bin that the toys return to when the kids are done playing.

 Another nice feature of rotating, it gives you a chance to weed out broken and out-grown toys. We donate and sell a lot of our kids old toys, and having them organized has made it easier to sell them because all the pieces are there (well most of them anyway). Now, I know you are saying "My kids would NEVER keep the toys organized and would dig for the ones they want" Well I never would have imagined my kids understanding that certain toys go in certain bins, but they figured it out and do well and my youngest, 2yrs, is doing well with it now too. It does take some direction from you and a little time to switch toys out, but the look on their faces when they see toys that they forgot about being pulled from the bin, it's like Christmas in July! ;)And please let me know if you have questions on how to rotate or if you already do, how well does it work for you?

Here are a few more places to read about rotating toys :) 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine's Day Crafts!!

Here are a few last minute ideas for V-Day handouts!

Give a valentine a piece of your heart with this clever pin made from old jigsaw puzzle pieces.
  • Puzzle pieces
  • Red spray paint
  • Newspaper
  • Glue
  • Pin backing (available at craft stores)
  1. Place 20 to 25 old jigsaw puzzle pieces, excluding the straight-edged border pieces, on newspaper and spray-paint them red (brush-applied paint will also work).
  2. Let the pieces dry thoroughly before gluing them into a heart shape. Use only as many as you need; each heart will look different.
  3. Glue on a pin back and present it to your true love.
Glue on magnetic backing to create a sweet magnet.

  • Red and green construction paper or card stock
  • Scissors
  • Lollipop
  • Glue stick
  1. From red construction paper, cut out a heart that's just larger than the lollipop candy and glue it to the wrapper.
  2. For the leaves, fold the green paper in half and cut out a leaf shape, leaving the two sides attached at the seam.
  3. Unfold the double leaf shape, coat the entire inside surface with glue, and fold it back over the lollipop stem, pressing to secure.
If you use cardboard templates, one child can trace and cut hearts while another works on the leaves.
Make cardboard templates of the hearts and leaves.

  • Crayon pieces
  • Heart-shaped metal cookie or muffin tin (our hearts are about 1 1/2 inches across)
  • Scrap paper
  • Double-sided foam mounting tape
  • Scissors
  • Colored card stock
  • Marker
  1. Heat the oven to 250°.
  2. Crayon Hearts - Step 2
     Fill each mold with crayon pieces and bake until the crayons melt, about 10 to 15 minutes. Tip: Place a sheet pan under the crayons to catch any drips.
  3. Crayon Hearts - Step 3
     Once they're cool, remove the hearts from the molds and smooth any rough edges by rubbing them on a piece of scrap paper.
  4. Use small pieces of foam tape to stick each heart to a 3-inch circle cut from card stock -- or use our template, then add your message.

    Suggested messages:
    You color my world
    Valentine, you make my heart melt
    Have a happy Valentine's Day, for "crayon" out loud!

FREE Printable Cards!!