How to Organize Kids Toys, and Arts & Craft Supplies

Here are some ideas of how I cleaned out and organized the toys and arts & crafts in our house.
Stuffed Animal Clean Out (Time: 2 hours)
I found all the stuffed animals throughout the house and put them on my bed. Then grouped them by size and animals. Then I showed three toys to my daughter and asked which 2 she wanted to keep, and which one she wanted to give to a child who didn’t have any toys. She was happy to give some away. We repeated this process over and over until we had a large trash bag full of some to donate. I did a quick repair of her favorite unicorn whose stuffing was coming out. Then, I found a large basket (about 18 x 14 x 9, see picture).

She could only keep the toys that fit in the basket in her bedroom. The rest could be visited in the basement playroom and are now stored in a toy box there. Mission accomplished.

Book Sort (Time: 1 hour)
I sorted the books myself, and put them into three piles: trash, give-away, and keep. I don’t buy many books these days. However, if you are trying to build a library inexpensively search garage sales, library sales, and thrift stores. Then I organized the books on her bookshelf by size, and put the chubby books in a basket. (Nice because she can carry the basket anywhere). We put a few favorite princess toys in another basket. I am trying to follow the principle that bedrooms are for reading and sleeping, so toys go elsewhere. But if you don’t have another room, then I would organize them in the closet. Library books now stay in the family room so they don’t get lost. This week she received her own library card.

My Favorite Activities List (Time: 1 hour)
With the help of my daughter, I typed up a list of her favorite activities. This list is great for those times when she says “What can I do?” or “I’m bored.” The list hangs near the refrigerator, and I read it until she hears something she wants to do. Babysitters can see what she likes to do too. Click Link: My Favorite Activities – Age 5

Arts & Craft for Her (Time: 2 hours +)
Ah. This should have been easier, but I wanted to make it user friendly. I put all the art items on my kitchen table. They were all over the house! Then I decided to be frugal and organized items in Ziploc Easy Zipper Expandable Bottom Freezer Quart bags (box of 34 for $3.50 at Walmart).

These worked great! They were easy for her to open. Love that. So, we went through ALL of the markers, crayons, paint, glue sticks, scissors, etc. Trashed those that didn’t work and gave away the duplicates.
Then I put the bags in plastic shoe containers. My little one went through the playdough containers herself and gave away many cookie cutters to the Deseret Industries. I moved all of the cleaning supplies out of my former broom closet and moved mops and brooms into the garage. It is close to the family room where she regularly plays.

My son put a bookshelf inside, and I hung some hooks on the wall for her winter coat, umbrella and backpack.

I reused the awesome door organizer and stored more art supplies there for easy access.
Toy Roundup (Time: 2 hours)My teenage daughter helped me this time.

I moved the 5-year old games into the former broom closet on top of the bookcase, and most of the toys into the basement playroom. My Little Ponies and the Littlest PetShop had to stay. The bigger kids games are in the basement. Then we decided what this future Grandma wanted to keep, and moved that into storage. Everything else was organized into play areas: Dress-up, “Play House,” Barbies, Little People, etc. Smaller toys were put into plastic shoe containers. We hung purses and necklaces on a wall rack, threw broken items away, put donations in a large bag, and then put other items on shelves.


  • Put items at eye level or just above. Get on your knees and look at what your child sees. You don’t want kids climbing shelves to get toys down.
  • Don’t keep items because Mom or Dad want them. Consider your child’s feelings, wants and needs. Most children need us to play with them. Not more toys. If you can’t get rid of something, store it elsewhere
  • Stop buying kid’s meals. You will eliminate tons of toys.
  • Buy fewer birthday toys. My daughter got a bike from us this year, and that was it. She did have a party with friends, but kids this age don’t need a lot to keep them busy.
  • Organize some things without your kids around or they won’t let you get rid of anything.
  • Keep a “My Favorite Things” tote under the bed for those special rocks, birthday cards, etc. that they can’t get rid of.
  • Think like a kindergarten teacher. Visit a classroom and look around. There are lots of great ideas there.
  • Set a rule that they take out one item at a time, and return it. It’s the Kindergarten way. I am bad at keeping it so I need some training too. 🙂
  • Have a clean up time once or twice a day. And monitor it. You’ll pull your hair out less if you join in. Play “Put away 10 things,” or “Put away just the Barbie’s.”
  • Read this great article: Organization – Toys, Toys and More Toys

Lillian Vernon Online

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