Baby and Kids

Montessori Inspired Toy Organization and Storage

I vowed to be one of those parents that had very few toys in her home. No brightly colored or light-up toys. I’d be different and keep things simple –  my kids wouldn’t need much. Then came winter and a pandemic. Months and months at home without anything to do. I found myself researching toys and activities to keep my toddler and baby busy, adding anything and everything that might help my girls thrive during isolation. A ball pit (cute, but not necessary), Pikler climber (highly recommend that one) and even some plastic, musical, light-up toys. So here’s some Montessori-inspired toy organization for you. 

Montessori Inspired Toy Organization and Storage

At first, a new toy is exciting, but when it’s stuffed in a cabinet or always accessible, interest is lost quickly. A Montessori environment relies on open shelves and rotating toys to keep the space organized and to promote independence in children. It’s not for everyone, and it’s not all or nothing – you have to do what works for you. Up until recently, our cabinet was full of bins that were not used very often because my kids didn’t have easy access to them. It was just too much.

So I did another toy edit.

I paried things down, organizing, and simplifying our toys – I decided to create a Montessori inspired shelf for our girls. I can’t claim full “Montessori” here – we definitely have “more” and not all our toys are Montessori style. I do prefer open-ended toys when possible and embraced some Montessori philosophies. This has definitely fostered more independent play and has also encouraged more meaningful and focused play at home.

Our Toy Shelves and Bins

It’s pretty simple. We had a lot of toys stuffed into a cabinet that our girls did not play with. And then the toys that were nicely on display (like their farmer’s market and ice cream counter) got tons of use. So why not implement a “system” that would give our girls access to the toys we own? And then rotate toys out when they lose interest, and bring them back weeks later, making them fun again.

How to Set up a Montessori Inspired Storage System

Purge toys you no longer need 

I went through every basket, the play kitchen, and our toy cabinet, and made a few piles. Toys the girls use and toys they don’t.

Toy rotation

Any “overflow” went into one of two bins in the basement that I’ll rotate out every few weeks. The toys they’ve outgrown or show little interest in were listed for free to a family who could use them on facebook marketplace. 

Make toys accessible

As you can see, dress-up clothes were a disaster and didn’t get much use. I ordered a child-size clothing rack for the girls’ dress-up stuff and they’re already using them a lot more. It’s nice to have everything on display, at their level. 

Set up a Montessori-style shelf

A Montessori shelving unit should be at a height that is easily accessible for your child, and the shelf should be completely open (we have this system and open the doors during play time).