Do you need some tips on outdoor toy storage? Does your backyard sometimes look like a junk yard? Balls, ropes, toys, and random stuff hide the grass. And yet, the kids still complain there’s nothing to do outside.
I’ve been there. I hate it. And if you’re like me you like to look out onto the yard and see kids enjoying themselves. You want to see the green grass and the lovely flowers, not a yard littered with discarded shoes, upended buckets of balls, and toys untouched for days! And chances are your kids don’t think they like it either. With so many play options it can be easy for kids to feel overwhelmed and not choose any option. Read more to get a
So, just like toy rotation for indoor toys, why not try toy rotation for your outdoor toys? We did. And, voila! Once the yard was clean and only a few items were available, it seems they’d spend hours enjoying their ‘new’ activities.
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Sorting and organizing your outdoor toy storage:
Implementing outdoor toy rotation will be as easy or hard as you make it. But first you’ll need to get organized…. You’ll need some containers, some storage space, and a good chunk of time.
First, find some toy buckets
You can use anything big enough to hold your toys. I recommend sturdy plastic, wood, or metal containers. Kids tend to use the containers themselves to play with so anything breakable might get broken. Keep in mind the containers will also be exposed to sun and rain. Rubbermaid tubs work well, have lids, can be stacked, and are easy to carry. Metal pails, large buckets, gardening totes, and wooden crates work well too.
Figure out where you’ll keep the containers
Consider whether you want your children to have access to some or all of the buckets at a time. For our family, I have various toy buckets, some of which the kids can pull out on their own when they like and some which only I can get out and switch for them.
You’ll need to find storage space for these containers. The garage, garden shed, and basement are all likely choices. If you are like me, out of sight means out of mind. If you want this system to work, put the buckets somewhere easily visible and accessible making rotation as simple as possible.
If the containers are solid you may even want to label what’s inside them for easier identification. These post-its work great for labeling because they are sticky everywhere and adhere well to plastic tubs.
Fill your outdoor toy buckets
This is the fun part, if you ask me… (but then I enjoy organizing and sorting).
Start by gathering all the outdoor toys into one spot. I mean Everything.
Once you have all the toys in one spot, sort similar toys into groups: throwing toys, sand toys, bubbles, chalk, sports, and so forth. Now is a good time to get rid of everything that is broken. You may also want to use this time to consider which toys are worth hanging onto? Do the kids still enjoy it? Is it appropriate for the age of your kids? Is it safe? Is it duplicated? Does the toy encourage movement, learning, or imaginative play? This is where outdoor toy rotation can get complicated – depending on how many toys you have.
Now, start organizing into your tubs, buckets, and containers. Below you’ll see a huge list of activity bucket and outdoor play ideas.
At our house, we have a few small buckets always available to the kids. One has sidewalk chalk, one has water table toys, and one has random balls, Frisbees, and skipping ropes. A few of the rotated toy buckets contain wooden boards, bocce ball and badminton, and bubble blowing.
Now, start rotating
You should now have a manageable outdoor toy storage and sorting system. Decide which the kids enjoy playing with all the time and which would be best in the rotation. Don’t forget to actually rotate through the buckets you’ve put away or all that work was for nothing.
When kids need some extra motivation to get outside, go pull out a new bucket. Make it exciting. Let them ‘discover’ the bucket. Younger kids will enjoy it you scatter items or a bucket for them to discover. Or invite the kids to choose which bucket will be brought out. Either way, this new strategy of outdoor toy rotation brings many hours of enjoyable outdoor play and helps keep your backyard from looking like a discarded toy junk yard.
P.S. If getting your kids outside is harder than you’d like, check out this list of 10 simple strategies to get kids outdoors. You may also want to grab this outdoor activity jar printable with some fun and easy activities for those kids who still need a bit more motivation to get out the door.
Outdoor Activity Themed Bucket Ideas
Natural Loose Parts Play: twigs and sticks, pinecones, rocks, seashells, feathers, wood rounds
Construction: pieces of scrap lumber, sticks, string or rope, dowels, hammer and nails
Water Tub/Table/Pool: measuring cups, empty plastic jars and bottles, spoons, watering cans, sponges (If you don’t have a water table, a large tub or a large bowl will work fine)
Gardening: trowels, shovels, gloves, watering can, toy lawn mowers
Bike Wash: Sponges, bucket, brushes, rags (kids can wash their bikes, trikes, and outdoor toys)
Bubble Play: bubble solution, an assortment of bubble wands (try making a large string bubble wand or cut the bottom off a small water bottle, put a sock on it, then blow through the bottle). Your young kids will love this bubble machine.
Fort Building: Ropes, tarps or sheets, clothespins, tent pegs, long sticks or pieces of lumber
Sand or Mud play: shovels, pails, cars, figurines, old tin baking dishes and cooking utensils
Other Outdoor games/activities to put into rotation:
Sports equipment that kids can play with:
Badminton rackets and birdies
Tennis rackets and balls
Soccer, Football, Volleyball, Basketball, and Rugby balls
Baseball mitts, balls, and bats
Hockey sticks, nets, pucks or balls
What should you do now?
- Well, unless you’re heading out right now to get started, you may want to join the Take Them Outside Newsletter to get more tips on getting you and your kids connecting more with nature.
- You could take a look at this gift guide for outdoor families and get some more outdoor activity ideas
- Or you could head over to Pinterest to follow our Play Outside board filled with fun activities and games for kids and families to do outside together.