Toddler Free Play Shelf : Toy Rotation : June Part 2

title card showing a close up of the toys on out free play shelf

Free Play is my number one thing I want Bitty to learn. Not only is it so important for her brain development but its also such a joy to watch her and see what new interest she has in a toy or what new game she has created for herself! There is also something to be said about the few moments of alone time it gives me. 😉

I could go on all day about the benefits of free play but it boils down to

  • encouraging creativity – You’ve all seen this in action a simple box becomes a rocket ship, a bowl of dirt is a soup they have slaved away at and their trains have traveled all the way around the world.
  • social & practical life skills – often when playing independently kids end up mimicking real life. This pretend play is so important to practice these skills!
  • physical exercise – ever notice when left to their own devices they are often up and moving?
  • critical thinking & problem solving – without instructions or guidance you have to figure out your own way to solve the problem!

If you want to read more about how important free play time is I think that Nadia over at funwithmama.com did a really nice post on it.

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Living Room Free Play Shelf

Bitty’s free play space is in the living room and I wanted her things to feel at home. I didn’t want to feel like I was at daycare but I wanted everything to have a home. These bookshelves are great as they are right at her level but then I can decorate the rest of the shelves to suit the living room!

our free play shelf set up in the living room on the bottom two shelves of some black bookshelves

Activity Tables

I left out the ABC puzzle from our ABC& chickpea sensory bin last week. I know that she isn’t anywhere near ready for learning letters per se but she likes the pictures and I figure we can just work on it that way. This puzzle is too complex for her, and I plan on switching out between this and some of her easier puzzles to keep her from getting frustrated.

We are at an interesting stage with puzzles I feel like she has pretty much mastered the chunky Mellisa and Doug puzzles but we aren’t quite ready for anything else.

a small table with an ABC puzzle and small tray full of pieces with a baby bike tucked under it

We are also keeping her baby bike under this table. She has been using this soo much more now. It’s great to see and I think we might be about ready to get the Strider out. Have you ever brought your strider inside while your little was learning it. I’m tempted…

a lisa frank coloring book on an activity table with a small tray of crayons

Over on her activity table I have some free coloring with just some crayons and color book. This will rotate with her sensory bin. So neither will be out full time, hopefully creating some renewed interest when they change!

Weekly Animal Toy Rotations

This week’s small world free play doesn’t have a stacker included. (I do have a wave I could have put out but I wanted a little change) I went with this ocean placemat instead so we could do some matching as well as it sets a nice little backdrop!

a ocean art placemat taped to the wall on the back of the shelf behind the tray of ocean animals

Our ocean animals are a random collection of tiny little ones and some from an adventure force set. I would love to add some other larger animals to our collection. What ones would you recommend!?

close up of random ocean animals of all sizes layed on a wooden tray

Deep Dive into our Free Play Toys

title card for our toy rotation showing a top down view collage of toys
  • These stacking cups are mostly just nesting cups for her. They honestly haven’t been touched for the last couple days so I may try some kind of invitation to get her to play with them and if that doesn’t work we may put then away early
  • Her green toys bus is out this week with the addition of some little dolls to ride in it. I don’t see her push the bus around much but she loves putting the dolls in and out of it.
  • These music instruments are a random collection of some baby rattles, some Target Dollar spot instruments and a cymbal shaker from a Melissa and Doug set.
  • She loves her little treasure basket, this week we put away the seashells and instead have some rocks and pinecones she collected while we were camping.
basket of balls for free play

We also have a basket of texture balls out. I am going to set up a basket for her to throw into to work on throwing with purpose this week. We’ll see how that goes. lol

The Big Baskets

It has been a long time since I rotated these, and its time. I plan on switching her mega blocks for her wooden blocks later this week. Her baby dolls on the other hand…those aren’t going anywhere. She plays with them every day.

large wicker baskets filled with Megablocks and babydolls on the bottom of the play shelf

Loose Parts Free Play

I have been making a point to have more loose parts free play opportunities for Bitty. This week we have out the rings that I painted (you can check out that post here) and a base to a stacking toy. I want to find a mug tree so there are multiple options on where you can put the rings but alas I still have not found one at the thrift stores…I may have to give up and DIY.

DIY wooden rings and a stacker base for stacking open ended free play

We also have her dance scarves out this week with the addition of a Kleenex box to stuff and unstuff

basket of dance scarves and a kleenex box for free play

The Rest of our Free Play Space

With her free play space in the living room, I try and keep the toys at least a little under control. Her gross motor stuff takes up the most space but I made a point to select things that weren’t big ugly plastic things. So that helps!

DIY wooden pickler turned into a tent in front of a large window
a large nonfiction books about animals on the windowsill

I always have something in the window sill for her. Most the time its a discovery basket but this week its a First Big book of Animals!

living room with large bay window with a pikler triangle and a wobbleboard as well as a toddler armchair

Free Play Everyday

If you want to get near instant updates as to our toy rotations as well as any little changes I make you can follow me on Instagram – I tend to share that stuff in my stories!

Do you make sure each day has free play time or is it something your kids just squeeze in when they have time?

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