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10 Tips To Get Children To Play With Their Toys

Do your children have lots of toys but complain they're bored? Here are 10 great tips to get children to play with their toys!

We’re almost 3 months post-Christmas and you may be wondering why your child doesn’t seem satisfied with their toys. Today I thought I would share a few child care tricks which help my children re-engage with their toys.

Provide toys that are open-ended

Open-ended toys are toys that allow the most diverse ideas for play. Wood blocks, toy animals, toy people, play dishes, and costumes are some examples of open-ended toys. Try to avoid the toys that have the sound effects that go with it. Children can “honk”, “moo”, and “cluck” if they feel like it… avoid toys (or neglect putting batteries in toys) that limit their imagination.

Minimize their choices

Children struggle when they are presented with too many choices. Keep their toy selection small. This also means less to clean up… yay!

Rotate their toys

While you minimize their choices, put some toys in storage and rotate toys in while rotating other selections out. I often find that the toy that my children hadn’t seen for a month becomes suddenly “new” and exciting when it’s brought back into their play space.

Keep it clean

“I just cleaned up the play room and NOW they suddenly want to play with everything!” Does this sound familiar? Children, like adults, often function better in a clean and organized space. If everything is thrown into a toy box, they are less likely to dig through it to find something to play with.

Have clearly defined play spaces

Children won’t play or engage in play if they know that their “work” will be constantly disrupted or repeatedly put away/cleaned up. Each of my girls have a small table in their room. Toys can’t stay on the floor all the time, so a table allows them to set up something and come back to it whenever they wish. I also have shelves in the playroom to house Lego projects that are in the process of being built.

Do your children have lots of toys but complain they're bored? Here are 10 great tips to get your children to play with their toys!

Appeal to their senses

I have an end table located by a small window in the living room. Under the table are a couple baskets of toys. I find this is one of the most utilized spaces in the house. Even though it’s small, it’s brightly lit, and their senses are brought to life by the sight of the scenery outdoors and the smells wafting in from the kitchen.

Reserve some toys for “desperate” occasions

I have five small Rubbermaid bins of toys that I reserve for times when I am in desperate need of a break. I usually take these toys out when my husband is on a business trip or if I’m having an exceptionally difficult day.

Invite a friend over

By having encounters with other children, your children may learn how to play with their toys in a new and unique way. They may learn a new “scenario” to engage in and relive the activities of their play date when their friend is not there.

Present the toys in an interesting way

I always like to create an inspiring play “scene” or a provocative space to create in. Whether the toys are set up on a contrasting mat or the animals of the farm are organized into their individual “pens”, I set up scenes that are waiting to be brought to life by little hands. This sort of forethought will often spark your child’s interest and immediately engage them.

Do your children have lots of toys but complain they're bored? Here are 10 great tips to get your children to play with their toys!

Consider using books and photos to extend their play

I love to include books that apply to the play equipment I am providing. The reason is, my children will often interact with the toy, then they will look at the book, and then afterwards will be inspired to interact with the toy in a brand new way. Posters or interesting photos often have a similar effect.

Do you have any tips or tricks to keep your children interested in their toys?

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Jennifer Bly
Jennifer Bly
Author of My Kitchen, My Classroom: An Introduction to Homeschool, creator of The Deliberate Mom, Deliberate Homeschooling and regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Jennifer writes about parenting, her faith, and life with her husband and two girls. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration Degree with a specialization in Early Learning in Child Care. 

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36 thoughts on “10 Tips To Get Children To Play With Their Toys

  • shannoncblog

    This is a great post. Even though my kids get lots of toys (much to my dismay) they always want to play with kitchen utensils and old boxes. Limiting selection is a great tip since we use principles of assortment when marketing to adults all the time. Oh, and rotation works great for dog toys too…um, yeah I guess I should come clean and admit that there really is no distinction between dog toys and baby toys in my house anymore LOL. Cheers!

  • Emma @ P is for Preschooler

    Non-parents will see this and think, They really need a post for that. But parents will get it! We’re using a toy rotation-type thing that helps keep interest in the toys. I think minimizing choices helps because even adults get overwhelmed when there are too many options!

    • Jennifer - The Deliberate Mom

      I think even as parents though, we need a reminder as to how to “freshen things up”. At least I know I do. The former early childhood educator in me knows the importance of keeping things minimal, fresh, and interesting for my children. Sometimes though, I forget and it takes some misuse of items, a cluttered toy bin, or squabbling children to remind me to change things up.

      Thanks for visiting! Wishing you a lovely day!

  • Our Neck of the Woods

    Really good tips! I know I get overwhelmed with having too many choices, so I’m sure kids do as well. I used to buy gifts for my nephew that made noise until I realized they really are more of a nuisance than anything. For the parents mainly who have to listen to them haha.

  • Twingle Mommy

    We rotate toys and I will pull out a new toy/game/project for a rainy day. I buy things at the dollar store or on clearance when I’m out and about and hide them in the attic. I’ve learned the hard way this summer that kids need something new to play with by their third day stuck indoors.

    • Jennifer - The Deliberate Mom

      Rainy days are the best days to pull out a “new” activity or toy. I don’t know what I would do without my “desperate occasion” toy bins… they’ve helped me through some pretty rough times when I was on day three of the hubby being out of town! Thanks for sharing!

  • R.F. Dietz

    YES YES YES! This is beyond helpful! Dylan has a gazillion toys and I have let him have them all. After reading this post I feel so great about stashing them away and leaving him with just a few and rotating them out. You are so totally qualified to dish this advice out. When you say it, I believe it.

  • Tiffany {A Touch of Grace}

    These are such great ideas! My girlfriend started the toy rotation a few years ago and it makes such a difference!
    We have toys in our family room as well as the bonus/play room. When A’s not engaging in her toys downstairs in the family room, we go up to the bonus room and things totally change. She doesn’t see those toys as often so she gets really excited and will play up there happily for much longer stretches. I still need to implement the “desperate occasion” toy bins. :)

    Have a great week!

  • Robin Kramer | Pink Dryer Lint

    In the past, I’ve done a toy rotation, too, but I haven’t done so recently. This is a great prompt to try it again. (It works, which makes me wonder why I ever stopped!)

    One day my husband came home with a roll of bubble wrap. He put it in our basement storage closet and said, “If you’re ever having a rough day with the girls, just wind out a strip and let them stomp it out.” Sometimes we need those “desperate” toys!

    Great tips, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jennifer - The Deliberate Mom

      I’m so glad you enjoy this Robin!

      I sometimes forget to rotate toys too! I’ve tried to be more deliberate with the practice by scheduling it but sometimes their toys need to be rotated sooner than planned.

      I love our “desperate occasion” bins… it’s saved me from completely losing my patience in a number of instances.

  • Jessica Dimas

    I love this post cause I’ve actually been in the process of fixing their playroom so that they’ll play with their toys more. My boys definitely play with their toys when their space is clean and when they have just a few options. And I also agree that the toys that just make a lot of loud sounds overwhelm my kids after a few minutes of playing with them. Thanks for sharing all these ideas!

  • Remy Cruz

    I ask my self the same question! With my oldest son I never had issues when his toys and how to engage him to play with them, but with my little one is a battle. I will take in consideration these tips and see if they work with him. Thanks for sharing!

  • Growing Up Madison

    Sorry I haven’t been around. I have been suffering with severe migraines for almost a week. Even now my head is pounding but I just had to stop by. I love your tips. I’ve noticed that if I put a toy away and bring it out a few weeks later, my toddler thinks its new and wants to play with it again. With so many options she does become overwhelmed so not giving her too many choices works out great for me. Once again a very helpful post. You’re the best!

  • abcstoacts

    I love these tips! We’ve rotated toys in our house for a while now and it helps with not only keeping my son interested in the toys he already has but it keeps him from getting too overwhelmed. We’ll definitely have to try out the rest of them :)

  • The Mrs.

    Oh goodness, Jennifer! I LOVE these tips. I have found that when we don’t have too much stuff or have toys that are just battery-operated-non-creative-toys things get played with much more often!

  • Chrisy at Good North Coast Life

    Great post Jennifer :) I completely agree that with some foresight and effort on our behalf, you can really help your child get the most out of their toys. I’ve tried many of the strategies suggested, but by far the one that has helped the most and one that we still use today – is to rotate toys Every week we pull out some new ones, and back the old ones away. It’s worked a treat!
    Take care, and hope all is well with you. xx

  • sarah

    hi Jennifer! I am new to your blog and so far I’m loving it! its amazing what a few of your tips can do for us overwhelmed mothers! I love all of these ideas! Just wondering, do you happen to have any thoughts/previous posts on quiet time boxes. I haven’t had the chance to make any yet so I’ve been reading a few different blogs about them! thanks again! -sarah