Using Existing Toys Purposefully to enhance fun and decrease stress.

Overwhelmed with Kids Toys? How to Start Using Existing Toys Purposefully

Using existing toys with purpose can help cut down on the chaos, clutter, and boredom! Are you finding yourself unsure of how to get your children to play with the toys they already have instead of always feeling like they need more? Here are some things I started implementing recently that have helped us start using existing toys with purpose.

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Overwhelmed by Toys that Aren’t Played With?

We are too. Like most kids, my kids would much rather watch videos or play games on their iPads than any of the hundreds of toys we have. Not gonna lie, it drives me nuts. I decided to come up with a way to get them re-interested in their toys, though I’m sure it’s not what you think.

We’ve likely all heard of rotating toys, where you just have a select amount of toys available for your kids to play with and the rest are put away.

This isn’t that.

I had good intentions of doing that when my oldest was little but it didn’t happen then and surely isn’t happing now that we have significantly more toys. I love the concept, I do, I just don’t love the work and storage of the toys that has to go into it.

Incorporate Toys into Daily Calendar

Instead of doing the whole toy rotation thing, I decided to use the toys we already have in another way, by making a huge list and scheduling them out by putting them on a calendar the kids can see. Sounds simple, right?


The benefits of this method are that you’re using what you already have so you don’t have to go out and spend more money for toys. You’re also able to help your kids reconnect with toys they already have and realize that what you already have is good enough and can be played with in different ways! Through this you can also see which toys and activities your kids have grown out of and may belong in someone else’s home.

For example, if you put something on the calendar such as Duplo Blocks and when it comes time to play with them your kids show no interest or only will sustain interest for a short amount of time, that may be your cue that those aren’t needed in the house anymore.

How to Get Started

List all toys and categories

First I sat down near where the bulk of our toys are and started making a list on a piece of paper of the toys we have. I would categorize things such as “dinosaurs”, I surely didn’t write out each type of dinosaur lol If your kids have a lot of variations of one thing that could be listed separately under a group heading such as Dinosaurs with plastic, robotic, and so forth spelled out below the heading of dinosaurs.

Once I had listed everything in one area, I would get up and move to another and do the same thing. I even listed each individual game just so nothing would get left out.

Organize the List

Once I was done writing all the toys down, I typed them up and categorized them somewhat. I had games under one heading, had crafts under another heading, and so forth.

I made a sensory table and we have that out sometimes with various sensory items such as pom poms, water, water beads, sand, and more! I listed those under the heading of Sensory Table, with the various sensory items below it.

Below is my example. Since typing it up and printing it off, my kids have thought of a lot more toys and ideas that could be added so I’ve added them to the printed copy (it’d be too smart to go back and add it here too – haha!)


Make it Into a Daily Theme

As you may notice above, the header of the page is Daily Theme Ideas. I figured that we could do more than just focus on one toy to play with each day, as that wouldn’t last very long, we could figure out ways to incorporate what we’re playing with into the day.

For example, with crafts we’d do more than one craft throughout the day. Just the other day we painted wooden magnets that I had on hand in the morning and then moved on to painting canvas after that. They stuck with it longer than I had anticipated which was great since that meant we didn’t have to waste as much paint from it drying out! In the afternoon we picked up where we left off and I did a rough sketch of their favorite stuffed animal on canvas, or you could use paper, that they were able to paint to look like their stuffed animal.

Full disclosure, I am NOT an artist or great at sketching, I just do the best I can and luckily it’s good enough for them. Ha! I got into painting a few years back so I have a lot of this supplies on hand already.

If you don’t though, that’s ok!! You could use whatever you have on hand from markers to crayons to water color.

A day where we had our DIY Sensory Table out we started out with pom poms in it in the morning that they scooped into different cups and bowls and such. In the afternoon we removed the pom poms and added water beads and water which they did the same thing with but enjoyed even more!

All that to say, it doesn’t have to be complex, doesn’t have to be the entire day – you can break it up as much as you and your kids want. Just work with what you have.

How to Use

Display on Wall

You can write out or type up and print out the list of toys you have and put it on a wall for when the kids say they’re bored. You can also laminate it before putting it on the wall or storing it with the toys.

I have a copy laminated and hung on the wall with velcro-type command strips so we can reference it when needed.


At first, I planned out a whole month with these different activities, themes, toys, etc. It was great for the first couple of weeks and then life got busy and I stopped doing it. I wish I wouldn’t have though, it was really great while I kept it going. I plan on restarting it soon!

Since it’s summer, I want to incorporate outside time and toys such as basketball, football, flag football, soccer, gardening, pulling weeds (the kids actually enjoy it! lol), going to the beach, and going for walks. Here in Minnesota we only have 3 or so months where we can comfortably get outside for activities so there is a lot I need to cram in! Granted, there has been a lot of pollution in the air between wildfire smoke and unhealthy ozone in the air so we haven’t gotten out as much as I’d hoped so far.

Moving Forward

As I mentioned earlier, I love this idea and it’s helped us pull out and use so many toys that we hadn’t used in months, maybe even years. It’s also helped us see what the kids are still interested in and what they could do without.

Even if you do what I did and start out strong then taper off with using this list and calendar, you can restart at anytime! There isn’t a set way to do this, just helping you use what you already have.

Need to Organize Toys First?

If you are noticing your kids toys are all over the place and not organized at all, check out this blog post I wrote about how we organize our kids toys.

toy organization ideas

Overwhelmed with Kids Toys? How to use the toys you already have purposefully to reduce stress and enhance fun!

Founder, Professional Blogger at The Way it Really Is, LLC | [email protected] | Website

As a mom of identical twins and a son two years older, I have gained invaluable experience in the realm, and chaos, of parenting. With a Master's Degree and Education Specialist Degree in School Psychology, I spent years as a school psychologist, helping children navigate through their educational and emotional challenges. Now as a stay at home mom and professional blogger, I combine my areas of expertise to help you in your parenting journey.


  1. Jasmin Fosse June 22, 2023
    • Nicole June 22, 2023

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