Oh, How I Love Toy Sets! Let Me Count the Ways...

In our house, this means:
  • matchbox-size cars with fold-up cloth roads
  • people with houses/cars/etc.
  • animals with fold-up ranch & rodeo
  • Thomas the Tank Engine and friends w/ traintracks & accessories
  • Wood blocks/Duplos/Legos
  • Dress-up outfits -- firefighters, "Bible men" (cotton tunics w/ headwraps), policemen, cowboys, doctors, football players, ballerina skirts for Maranatha, etc.

Here are some reasons why. They:
  1. Are easy to keep cleaned up. -- We only allow two "sets" out at a time-- one on the enclosed balcony and one in the boys' room... that way, sets generally stay separate.
  2. Are great for longevity. -- Essentially, this allows you to reintroduce the same toys over and over again, because each time you pull it out it "feels" new and exciting.
  3. Facilitate group play. -- Enough for everyone, even when friends come over!
  4. Are easy to add to. -- Which makes for an easier time at birthdays & Christmas
  5. Help the kids to keep things organized. -- Like the "kindergarten room" set-up... everyone knows where various components belong.
  6. Encourage group decision making. -- We have the rule that they have to agree in order to trade in one "set" for another, so they learn to give in sometimes, and learn how to make a compelling "case" for persuading others.

Yes, I realize that when they're 10, 12, 14, & 16, this stuff won't matter so much. But right now, it makes things FAR less complicated, keeps things far more tidy than they would otherwise be, and has many advantages.

So, if you like our system, borrow whatever parts you like.
And if you have a great system for keeping up with toys, please feel free to share it here!


Jacquelyn said...

I like getting our boys to pack up one set before another one is able to come out...they can pack up really fast when they want to!

And for something special when they can't go outside, bringing out lots of sets and building a whole town, with a railway, roads, cars, the garage, farms, a dock with boats, houses and the little people, like the old Sim City game but made with toys....so maybe I have more fun than them....

The Warrior said...

No no, indeed this is not only for small children. Believe it or not...I still create models with Lego. :-P NO JOKE

Laura said...

Oh I totally agree! Sets just make sense and are easier to keep together and play with when only one comes out at a time. Great stuff!

Brenda said...

Yep. One basket of toys out per kid at a time. Each basket is labeled with words and picture.

Things that don't fit into one of our categories make me lose sleep. :)

berrypatch said...

I just took away half of my two younger boys toys & packed them away. We decided together went was going to go. Then in about 4-6 months we'll switch it out again. They love trains & had four different sets so I let them keep two but they are only really playing with one. Hmmm, maybe I should take out the other set...I like this idea though!

Anonymous said...

I have seen how dress up outfits are wonderful playtime fun for all of my grandchildren. And, this time of year is a fantastic time to pick up outfits at a very low price from Thrift Shops, re-sale shops, discount stores, etc. I was recently able to pick up "a bunch" of costumes for Christmas & birthday presents. One of my grandsons had specifically asked for anything having to do with Power Rangers for his birthday - well, at the local thrift shop, guess what I found? Two dress-up outfits totally different of Power Rangers characters - $1.99 each - we priced them at a popular discount store - $20-$40. We were very excited! And, after Halloween, the selections will be picked over, but the prices will be marked down quite a bit. These costumes provide lots of fun!

The Hooper Family said...

I love toy sets too - though I never knew to call them that!! We have plastic bins with one open at a time rule. I have 4 and 2 yr old daughters whose toy sets are play food, duplos, little people, doll house, baby doll stuff, and balls/puzzles. I find that even if their room/our family room looks like a tornado hit it, everything can still be quickly picked up even by a toddler within 5 minutes or so. What a blessing to busy moms! My 6 month old son will surely change the girly dynamic of the sets soon. :)

Anonymous said...

When my second son was born, my husband used I-Movie (or whatever that program is called) to make some short films using our train sets and legos. He was even able to add some voice-overs and special effects.

This year my five-year-old has gotten to make a few movies himself. Daddy holds the digital camera while our son moves the trains and narrates the story. It is so much fun!

We also love the classic toy sets--no batteries needed or desired.

Laurie B

Ashley said...

well, i got your blog link from chris powell, but i don't think we ever actually met. i would love to meet sometime in the future, though! we plan on having four kids, too, so i love all the words of wisdom you give on here!! i LOVE this post! you are so organized, it's amazing! i would love to hear about your monthly repeated menu. i have a five week one-my goal is to make it a 12 week menu to repeat 3 times a year....still a work in progress!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much. You've inspired me to get organized with our toys. When I just had two kiddos I used to do a similar system. Now we have four kids and I'm going crazy trying to keep toys cleaned up. Somewhere along the way I forgot about keeping some toys packed up. Thanks! Jennifer

Donna D said...

Toy sets--awesome! My only exception is Little People. The toys themselves are wonderful to play with, but I find it difficult finding room for all the buildings--farm, zoo, garage, airport, etc. etc. (my middle child was REALLY into Little People at one point and everyone we know bought him some kind of playset). I find these bulky and difficult to store. They take up so much room and really frustrate me. Anyone have any ideas? I know the obvious, most effective one would be to downsize but they are still played with quite frequently.