Weigh in: How do you store the tiniest toys in your child’s playroom

Reader Stephanie is in the process of making over her children’s playroom and wrote to me asking for some organizing help. She is specifically having problems finding ways to store those small, easily misplaced, choke-able pieces of games and toys. She has tried using zip-top bags with very little success and wants a more visually pleasing solution.

I sent her some suggestions, which I’ve listed below, but thought this would be a great question to pose to our readers. How do you recommend storing the tiniest toys in your child’s playroom?

My suggestions:

Now it’s your turn. Tell us your suggestions for Stephanie in the comments.

58 Comments for “Weigh in: How do you store the tiniest toys in your child’s playroom”

  1. posted by Ruth Hansell on

    Small clam shell fast food containers – the lid is attached to the bottom. Opened out, they nest easily.

    Beading trays/sorters – pick up on sale at craft stores or at garage sales.

    Over the door shoe holders – the pocket kind.

    Fishing tackle box or small tool box on wheels, with a tray you can take out. The tool box would be good for slightly larger toys, or a set of something that has a bazillion pieces.


  2. posted by Amy on

    The tackle box idea reminds me of when I used to have barbie dolls. Caboodles were really big back then too (I guess they are still around). I would put all my barbie clothes and accessories in one and not only was it organized, but I could transport it easily to sleepovers at my friend’s house. Shoes, hair brushes, etc fit well on top while dresses and even a whole doll fit in the bottom.

    Mesh, metal desk organizers are nice too because they are partially see-through and come in a variety of shapes & sizes.

  3. posted by Liz Kay on

    I’ve gotten my nieces the Ikea Glis boxes which are stackable though not transparent, so a Sharpie would be helpful for labeling.

    I find keeping all the parts of a toy together is a huge issue — all the cars and people-pegs for the Game of Life, for example. They updated that classic game but failed to tackle problem of making it fit nicely within the box. Empty candy tins, like Altoids, are one solution, but a pill box works, too.

    Don’t forget to rummage through the recycling bin for jars and wide-mouth bottles with lids. For items like Legos that don’t need to be sorted, you might consider a pitcher, juice jug or oatmeal container. Egg cartons can serve the same purpose as an ice cube tray.

  4. posted by Jessica on

    Empty baby food jars work very well – but only if the kids are older. I hate to say it but if your kids are on the young side (think 3 or 4 even 5) they love nothing more than to dump all the tiny toys into a big pile. My kids loved to mix it all up. After spending my evenings carefully organizing everything into labeled containers it would take them about two minutes to dump it all in a pile.

    I tried EVERY trick I read to get the kids to clean it up and keep it organized but nothing worked.

    So I gave up.

    Now all the little stuff in lump together is a plastic bin, ready for dumping. I figure when they get older they may want to separate things out but not now.

    Just don’t be too depressed if your kids undo it all.

  5. posted by Elaine on

    Any home improvement store will carry several varieties of stackable plastic boxes filled with little clear plastic drawers intended for storing screws, nails, washers, etc. If you want to label them, but not permanently, you can write on the sticky side of a small post-it note and label the drawer front from inside.

  6. posted by Allison on

    How about using round magnetic spice containers that are clear on the top so the child can see into them. I use them for my little office supplies. But we’re talking about teeny-tiny things here the size of a paperclip, not doll clothes.
    The spice containers look cool up on a wall or even on a metal desk. Surprisingly, they also stick to the standard/tracks that are used for hanging shelves from The Container Store, Home Depot, etc.
    — Allison

  7. posted by Erin Doland on

    These are fantastic suggestions, keep ’em coming!

  8. posted by Dawn on

    I like the hanging jewelry organizer:

    It has smaller pockets than an over the door shoe holder (which is great for medium sized toys), but the teeny-tiny ones go into the pockets of the jewelry organizer and they can see instantly what’s what. I hang it on a nail on the wall or right inside the closet.

  9. posted by Jack on

    I “accidentally” throw it all away. The kids never even notice that it’s gone.

  10. posted by Bren on

    I don’t know if someone has already said this, but we use small ziploc bags. You can easily see inside and they are easy to throw into a bag to take to a friend’s home to play.

  11. posted by Caroline on

    COmpartment containers for screws and such work great for small bits and pieces, but for the larger, yet still small stuff, I have thought I might try a drawer in our son’s chest of drawers, with one of those organizer/separators from IKEA in it (its an IKEA dresser). Our son is very good at opening and closing the drawers safely, and this might be incentive for him to open it and put toys away etc. We don’t use all the space in it anyways. We have a similar TV stand with drawers downstairs we can do the same with. πŸ™‚

  12. posted by Rachel on

    http://www.clearlyorganizedbags.com LOVE these as an alternative to ziptops. and handles!!

  13. posted by Kate on

    I don’t have kids but I do have a ton of small craft supplies, office supplies and hardware bits.

    I use Snapware craft containers (found at Target or online) that stack endlessly, can easily be toted around, and come in different sizes, some with dividers, for all-sized items. Note that the snaps may be too difficult for small children to use.

    Snapware’s food storage line has also changed my pantry for the better, but that’s another story.

  14. posted by John on

    I actually like the zip lock bag idea the most. However, we consolidate several bags into the kind of plastic bin we use for other toys (I believe we use a rubbermaid bin from WalMart). Having them in the same bin makes it all look more visually appealing. The key thing, IMHO, is teaching kids to clean up one kind of toy before going on to the next kind. In this case there is the extra step of using the zip lock bags before putting them into a bin.

  15. posted by April on

    I’m not sure what it was called, but I used a 2’x2’x5″ (HxWxD) box with a zillion little drawers in it as a kid to hold all my Barbie accessories. All the tiny shoes, gloves, jewelry, etc. went in there. My mom got it from the hardware store, I think, and I plastered the thing with girly stickers.

    It was perfect, since it held everything with room to spare (and I had a BIG Barbie collection), containing it all in one place. But each drawer was clear, so I could see what was inside.

  16. posted by April on

    Kind of like this, only mine was bigger and had WAAAAY more drawers.


  17. posted by Debra on

    All those wipe tubs. They snap closed and you can put a bunch of little items on them and write in sharpie (don’t forget to draw a little picture for kids who are too young to read yet).

  18. posted by Margaret on

    You can try a fishing tackle box, but not the huge one, the one that is just a tray with the dividers. You can get them inexpensively, so you could have a different one for each toy set.

  19. posted by hula on

    Toolboxes or drawers for screws, bolts etc are amazing.

  20. posted by Debi on

    Mason jars are great. We also use plastic shoeboxes and storage bins that are at least translucent so you can have an idea what’s inside. All my daughter’s Barbies and accessories are in clear plastic office supply organizer drawers.

  21. posted by Melissa on

    I’m with Dawn and Ruth… I don’t have any storage space (no linen closets or medicine cabs) so I use over the door shoe holders in my laundry area, in my kids rooms and in my bathroom. I think they’re great for kids toys.

  22. posted by Aleisha on

    Once you find your storage solution, don’t get too crazy on the sorting. For example, I used to sort Barbie shoes from clothes from food… that kind of stuff just isn’t realistic for a kid. And it’s unnecessary. Now, we just have a container with all tiny Barbie stuff. Much easier for my daughter to put away and she can still find it.

  23. posted by Melissa on

    I’m with Debra–we use a lot of empty wipes containers to store games with small pieces. I also recycle those plastic zipper bags that linens (sheets, curtains, blankets, etc.) are packaged in. They are perfect for sets of blocks, Little People, action figures, matchbox cars, etc. They are easy to plop into the toybox, too–no stacking of bins necessary.

    My son uses egg cartons to organize his Bakugan balls, and my daughter uses an Antonius storage cart for all her Barbies and doll clothes; she can pull out an entire drawer and put it on the floor to play, and then it’s easy to pick everything up and slide the drawer back in.

  24. posted by Patti D on

    I highly recommend “Lock n Lock” storage containers. They are see-through, come in all different sizes, and the lids are fun to close and make a very satisfying “snap” sound when they close. I use a pile of them myself in my garage because they stack so easily and it’s easy to see what’s in them. Rather than writing on the container itself, I sometimes stick a card on the inside with writing on it, because it’s easy to change if I change what’s inside. I LOVE these things!

  25. posted by weavermom on

    I have a 9 & 6 year old and I cannot imagine either one of them actually putting all the little pieces of anything into organized little containers. It is an accomplishment to train them to sort things into larger categories and to keep things off of the middle of the floor. We homeschool, so they are home all the time and play with their toys most every day.

    I read a book once about how ADHD ADULTS should organize things, and it suggested having nothing that nests and nothing that has a lid because both of those things are barriers. Ah, there’s my kids! πŸ™‚

    We keep all the Barbie things in an underbed box with no lid. It is low and wide so she is less tempted to dump everything out to find what she wants and it is easy to scoop it all back in and slide back under the bed. Polly Pockets and Littlest Pet Shop also have plastic bins with no lids that are stored under her bed.

    We use big plastic bins with no lids that go on shelving for most everything. We have bins for baby dolls, dress up, cars, play kitchen items, train set, alphabet blocks, etc.. We don’t try to keep the little stuff separated and orderly – it all just goes in the tub by category.

    My daughter is also crafty, so I ask for crafty items because they are consumable! So she gets gifts of beading, weaving, etc… I found that just the cheap clear plastic shoeboxes have worked really well. We cut a part of the packaging and tape it inside the box so that you can see what project/kit is in the box. We do use the lids on these as these are typically things that she does at the table in a little more controlled environment. When she has completed the project, then we just stack the boxes until her next birthday or Christmas and then we bring them back out for the new things she gets.

    I am SO not saying this picture fits with the Uncluttered lifestyle. I get that we have an obscene amount of toys. But, we are home a lot and they play with the vast majority of these, and it works for us. Here is a picture of our crazy playroom from a couple of years ago. http://weavermomof2.blogspot.c.....ackle.html The toys have changed since then of course, and the middle of the floor is now clear since they are both over age 5 and we were able to get rid of the baby/toddler toys. But the organization is basically the same.

    Good luck! Be sure and share if you find an amazing solution that your kids actually help with!!

  26. posted by Karen on

    I bought some cute little galvanized buckets from Target – they have different colors/themes during the year. They are usually in the $1 spot section. Perfect for all sorts of little items!

  27. posted by Cookie on

    If you are crafty, and want something a bit more decorative, you can try repurposing large soup/tomato cans. Smooth any sharp edges by hammering as needed along the inner edge. Take the labels off, paint them with acrylic paint, and decorate with stickers. Coat with decoupage goop. It’s really easy. We still keep markers & pencils in cans I decorated for my son about 10 years ago, they still look perfect. I also made him a “treasure box” to hold little bits & pieces with a wooden recipe box, decorated using the same method & covering the inside with self-adhesive felt.

    I also liked clear plastic jars with screw-on lids; the kids could see what was inside & they look appealing but organized on a shelf.

    I agree with Aleisha as well – it has to be a simple, general system your children are invested in and can manage, otherwise it won’t work. It’s nice to keep things organized to a point, i.e., Legos are separated from Barbie accessories. No sense separating Barbie accessories into categories, though.

  28. posted by Brenda on

    I love really useful boxes

    They are finally available online.
    The ones I have, I got from office depot.
    They come in every size from very small to file box size.
    Most of my daughter’s toys are in reallyuseful boxes.
    They are a bit more expensive, but worth it.

  29. posted by suse on

    @Jack – Amen! Glad to know I’m not the only one to do this… πŸ™‚

  30. posted by Splomo on

    Weavermom, I really appreciate those tips. especially the idea that nesting containers and lids act as barriers.

    We use some similar solutions with mixed success in the bedroom shared by two preschool boys …

    Wide, low, OPEN underbed bins are a WIN in our home.

    We use a lot of the stacking plastic drawers that are modular and have clear fronts.

    They are not cute, but they can mount on casters and will hold lightweight things (plastic roads, hot wheels trick tracks, and plastic train tracks, etc.).

    Heavier collections (battery powered vehicles, die-cast cars, trio building sets, etc) go in the open bins. The size of the bin controls the size of the collection.

    For the important wee pieces, I do just two things:

    A small container nestled within a larger collection. For example, an open box (small wood cigar box) within the cars box catches the weapons and add-ons. Nothing too complicated, but without it we were going nutso.

    Otherwise, a clear acrylic cup on the shelf catches stray bits left out or overlooked during cleanup time. It is clear so that I actually empty it occasionally and re-home the stray cards, marbles, tokens, accessories, coins, rocks, feathers, puzzle pieces, tiny folk, keys, and assorted miscellany.

    Oh, and somehow we misplaced the Elefun. Shame, not sure what happened to it (Booooooooooot!)

  31. posted by Marcie Lovett on

    Love this organizer for Lego http://www.box4blox.com
    You throw them all in the top and they sort themselves by size.

    For everything else, clear containers with labels work well. Limiting the number of containers out at one time will help to keep a room from becoming chaotic and makes cleanup easier.

  32. posted by Sharonus on

    I am a big time organizer and I’ve tried lots of different products. My kids are 4 and 5 so I look for things that are easy for them to close and allow them to see what’s inside. My absolute favorite thing to use are plastic tubs with lids like those that hold nuts and chocolate candies from Costco. Hopefully this link will work:


    I have even found bigger ones to store toys with lots more parts (like their collection of plastic animals). I like them because the opening is large, you can see what’s inside, multiple containers fit well in the cubbies we have, and it’s easy for the kids to take the lids off and put them on. You can get them for “free” if you buy those types of products or by asking friends and family to save them for you. I’ve also found some very cheaply at second hand stores.

  33. posted by Rosa on

    We have a bin or box for each large category (lego, train, rock collection, wooden blocks) when we clean up everything gets dumped into the box it goes in.

    Then, for when he’s actually working on something (like a lego project that needs lots of wheels, or trying to figure out what kinds of rocks he has) my son has 2 silverware sorters, the kinds you keep in a drawer. They came from the thrift store & sit on a shelf on his desk.

    My son’s five and he hates to sort carefully during cleanup, but loves to do it when it’s part of something he’s figuring out.

  34. posted by Cat on

    My daughter is nearly a teenager now so way past the tiny-toys stage. However, when she was little I tried everything, but as others above have said – the kid may not comply. Typically what happened after I obsessively organized all the little pairs of Barbie & Polly Pocket shoes (handbags, dishes, hairbrushes, etc etc etc) is that they would end up on the floor, under the bed, batted all over the house by the cat, in my daughter’s pockets & later found in the washing machine or the dryer lint trap, stepped on & ruined …

    We ended up with a series of cloth-lined baskets from Pottery Barn. All the crap just got loaded in there. She was going to dump it all over the floor anyway, and I got tired of fighting that. As long as it all got scooped up off the floor once a week for vacuuming, I figured she deserved her childhood chaos. A kid who is obsessive about Barbie having matching shoes will probably be more compliant with an organizing scheme, but my kid has never been too concerned about matching anything.

    Also, like Jack, if the layer of crap got too deep I would “accidentally” throw stuff out or stuff would get mysteriously “lost.” I’m a bad mom, I know. :-)Kidding!

  35. posted by Abeline on

    My family is obsessed with those Smart Spin “as seen on TV” tupperware sets. There are three sizes of containers, and they all take the same lids. They’re great for stacking in rows because they nest perfectly, being all the same footprint.

    We use them for bulk dry goods in the pantry, hardware in the garage, thread and buttons for sewing repairs…

  36. posted by infmom on

    You know, I’m against the whole concept of a “playroom.” Because I have never, ever, seen one that wasn’t just a room full of stuff strewn everywhere, and rare indeed is the kid who actually plays in one for long.

    And having a room in which to store toys just leads to the acquisition of more and more and more toys, because, gee, there’s a whole room to put them in.

    Take the Unclutterer “less is more” approach. The toys get stored in proper containers in the kids’ bedroom(s) and when there’s no more space there, no more toys come in unless some go out.

    And yes, I did indeed practice what I preach. Because of our economic situation my son and daughter had to share a bedroom till they were 17 and 14, so we not only had to make the most of the space we had, but find ways to give each child a private space within that space.

  37. posted by habithacker on

    Wow! I don’t have a need to store toy parts, but I’m going to comb through these ideas for ways to store little office thingies and craft supplies.

    I’ve got one to add, too: there’s a brand of eggs that comes in a clear plastic carton. I use the washed cartons for jewelry items, nails, screws, etc.

  38. posted by Cecily T on

    I’m getting ready to tackle the same problem, having spent much of yesterday engaged in the play game of ‘solving the mystery of the missing X’ (X=purple shoe, small blue puppy, polly pocket bathing suit).

    All of her stuff is jumbled together downstairs. Upstairs we use wipe containers for her Playmobile stuff, but b/c these range from teeny-tiny to doll-furniture or trees, it’s not a great solution.

    I think we are going with the IKEA Trofast system (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/search/?query=trofast) for the (yet to be done) playroom. They have trays of varying depths, so deep ones for stuffed toys, shallow for art supplies like markers/crayons and tiny toys like ‘all the red lego blocks’ or ‘all the polly pockets’.

  39. posted by Rita B on

    When my children were small I made net bags to hold small toys. Since I made the netting I could determine how small to make the mesh so things would not fall out. I could also choose how thick a string or thread to use. I ran a cord around the top of the bag and hung the cord on a peg board attached to the wall. It was easy for the children to see which bag had the toys they wanted to play with and easy to toss the toys into the bag’s mouth to clean up. I also used a dresser to hold things like match-box cars.

  40. posted by momof3 on

    I liked any clear bins for my kids stuff. We could tell at quick glance what went where when clean up time began.
    LEGO(tm) is the only toy that we tried to keep in it’s own containers. I was lucky and found several empty buckets at tag sales.
    Barbie and Playmobil items were kept in what my dad called tackle box organizer boxes–clear and stacked near like items.
    Books in bookcases in bedrooms or hallway. (just donated another three shopping bags to the local grade school, since oldest is close to being done at middle school)
    The vast majority of grade and middle school age reference type books we have will be donated to the grade school when the youngest graduates high school.
    Also we handed down/donated/gave away as kids out grew much stuff. We have a select items saved from each of them for their own kids….a LONG way off yes, but we still want to save the things

  41. posted by Beth on

    An extra tip to help with the organizing. When I decided, for example, that all of the plastic animals should go into a certain bin, I took a picture of them and taped it to the bin. Now my toddler twins can help pick up, even though they can’t yet read.

  42. posted by Rebecca on

    Egg cartons work great for this and they can be closed.

  43. posted by Jenn on

    I have a couple of tricks for smaller stuff
    really tiny stuff see through medication planners (1 pair of barbie shoes per section.

    I have tacklebox with see through containers that you can pull our like drawers, but they have a lid.

    Finally, my fav, are the “scraponizers” I stole from my crafting supplies. They snap closed, completely see through, can fit entire barbie ensembles or kids crafts, etc.. they have different internal tray styles that really work for me. I also use them for sewing, scrapbooking, stamping, and my jewelry (so I don’t end up with drawer filled with pile o’ stuff tangled together.

  44. posted by MellieTX on

    Jessica, you are a wise woman. My kids are in the “lump and dump” stage and we just roll with it. They have space in their rooms to store general categories together- train stuff gets put on the train table, blocks go back in the same bucket(IKEA trofast system). The small odd things like a piece of string are often what my kids play with most. We have a couple of baskets for what they are playing with downstairs in the living room- those are dumped out daily and picked up nightly. Whenever they overflow we carry the excess back to their “homes” in the kids rooms.

  45. posted by Elias on

    Some folks on a parenting list came up with a great method for toys with lots of parts, like Legos, Construx, Playmobil — spread out an old sheet, dump them all on, tie it up as a bundle. When it’s time to play, open up the bundle and sit on the sheet. The toys stay on the sheet (as a rule and hopefully in action), and when they’re done, tie it up and stash it away.

  46. posted by Jess on

    We generally use large bins but put similarly sized toys in each so they don’t get lost amongst each other. But for little things that must stay together, if you must have them, I use empty vitamin or other medicine pill containers with screw-on lids.

  47. posted by Janelle on

    I use reallyusefulboxes too, especially the tiny ones for Polly Pocket, Littlest Pet Shop etc. They stack great and look tidy. Lids come in different colors and my daughter can easily put the lids on and close them.

  48. posted by Dee on

    Kids love to stash and dump – so everything I use for the most part is modular, easy to see, easy to carry & spill proof (ice cube trays and plastic eggs would be out in this house), and this is the most important part – harder to get out than it is to put back! I know that sounds counterintuitive but its not for kids. For example, my kids books – they are stored in open rectangular see plastic bins up on their ends not flat. The kids need to flip through them to find one they want but in the same sense – they can simply toss one back in the bin and its still neat.

    Since this is the ONLY area that I excel at in the organizational front heres my favorite ideas:

    Clear plastic modular drawer units for (the small and mid-size ones) for legos, construction items, kits, etc. – for stuff that doesn’t get damaged when it gets tossed back.

    Lock-n-lock containers for craft items or things that I don’t want spilled when being moved or that I want to control – paints, beads, crayons, etc.

    Clear plastic shoe boxes – great for storing sets that the kids want to play with all at once: mr potato head set, my little pony collection, barbie clothes, etc. Love that they stack too.

    Recycled plastic snap/zipper bags – you know the ones that underwear packs, bed linens, hair accessories, etc. come in? These are great for small groups of items from doll accessories to play jewelry. I use the large ones that I got with comforters for dress up clothes and doll clothes. I love that they are modular and it doesn’t matter how the things get back in there – just zip/snap and their contained.

    Hanging shoe and Jewelry organizers – LOVE THEM! They store stuffed animals, hats, sunglasses, dolls, you name it.

    Cardboard Shoe Organizer: My number one favorite organizational item is a large compartmentalized cardboard shoe organizer that I have on its end and filled with dolls – the kids love that they can see all of their doll heads sticking out of it and I love the ease of take out and put back.

    Cloth, pop-up, modular containers – the only time I break the see through rule is to store items that are not needed all the time (seasonal items) or things that I don’t want the kids to see unless I suggest it (can we say moon sand).

    Zip lock baggies – All of our puzzle/game pieces go into zip lock baggies and then back in their box so spills aren’t an issue when the box is inevitably dropped in transit.

    Wholesale plastic food containers – We use the large plastic bins from wholesale food purchases for grouped items that aren’t necessarily a set like all their small dolls or farm animals of all shapes and sizes.

    The only other big suggestion I have that works for us is to allocate the closet space for toys and a dresser for clothes. We used shelf units to turn a double closet into a self contained play room – I really like that all of the toys are behind closed doors and that theres a limit to what can be stored. I’m with a previous commenter’s remarks on play rooms – they should be renamed junk rooms! The closet trick is a life saver for us and keeps all things in its place. Even when my kids little friends come over they are able to pick up on their own due to the nature of the organizational tricks in place. BTW – my kids are five and three and their shared room is only 8 X 14 and we still fit 90% of their toys and all of their clothes in it so it can be done! They aren’t lacking toys either believe me!

  49. posted by Jasmine on

    I remember using a tackle box when I first started buying LEGOs as a kid, but I eventually needed something bigger. My dad found at a hardware store a large metal storage box (3′ tall, 2′ wide, 1′ deep, if I recall correctly) with lots of drawers of various sizes. That has held my collection of LEGOs for a good decade or so. I gave the box, LEGOs and all, away last year to a younger kid (I’m now 20), and it was a handy and durable solution for the time I had it.

  50. posted by terriok on

    A big Plano organizer/toolbox with drawers. All the little parts can go into one large item. Drawers have separators. The child will know exactly where to look. You might want to draw or write picture or words on the inside lid of the box to a gameboard, for example so they can check for parts before putting the toy away. Glue a photo.

    Depending on the child’s age, she/he can be trained to put the toys away. Even pre-schoolers can.

    Make it a game.

    If I did it with 42 eight year olds…- it can be done. ;o)

    Or send him/her to a Montessori school, if you can afford it. That fits in with Maria Montessori’s philosophy.

    I am always amazed how smart kids are. They usually just need to be shown.

  51. posted by Stephanie on

    WOW!! Thank you all so much for your suggestions! I am now armed and ready to tackle the toys.
    I wanted to add that I agree with many of the comments regarding playrooms (despite having just refinishing ours). Over the years I’ve instituted a couple of routines that have helped keeping the toys from overwhelming us and I plan to keep in place even with this mega move to the basement (hopefully).
    My kids and I routinely go through all the toys after birthdays, holidays – everything gets pulled out. Anything that’s a duplicate I ask twice.. do you reallly need that? Anything broken, missing pieces gets “lost” … oops! We also have a toy “gremlin” who regularly eats toys that are not put away at night (I’m sure that’ll come up at some therapy session but oh well…)
    Anyway, great suggestions! thank you!

  52. posted by Kalani on

    A lot of people have mentioned the tacklebox or the toolbox or the caboodle (essentially the same thing)– I want to re-state how awesome these types of things are for collections of different-sized items, especially the kind with little tiered trays that slide up as you open them (not the nesting trays, but the kind attached to the box). You can close them shut and the pieces don’t fall out. Yes, there’s a lid, but when you open the lid, voila! all the little trays line up and you can see all your toys. We used to store our Legos in boxes like these– always plastic, of course– they’re cheaper and lighter than the metal ones and are more kid-friendly. They have multiple-sized compartments for different blocks, you can see everything easily, you haul all your legos out of the closet at once when you’re playing, you can take out just what you need from the box for that thing you’re building, and you can lock it all up and stack it in your closet when it’s time to put it all away. I bet you my Legos are still all in those toolboxes in my parents’ house, waiting for my future kids to come play with them. They’re not clutter, they’re awesome boxes of potential. πŸ™‚

  53. posted by Carolyn on

    Small, clear containers with lids could be useful. Otherwise, some nice woven or fabric covered boxes/baskets would look lovely. Supervision of small items would also make sense if you want to prevent your child from a potential choking hazard.
    Any child that has their own playroom is very lucky indeed! Our playroom is called the living room! πŸ™‚

  54. posted by Leslie on

    Don’t forget the humble baggie … they come in many sizes … they close can can fit into lots of different types of spaces … not glamorous but they work!

  55. posted by Maria on

    Really useful boxes!!

    Love those things, I got mine from staples.

    They come in lots of colors and sizes are stackable and they lock so your kid can throw/drop the box on the floor and not end up with little pieces flying everywhere. The locks are not too hard to open close even my 3 year old does it.

  56. posted by cher on

    I know I am late to this thread, but I am a great believer in sorting by TYPE of toy– all the playmobil, all the legos, all the poly pockets, and not getting bogged down in sorting little pieces. It’s not how kids play, in my experience.
    For the “other” category of small cool objects, birthday party gift bag loot, etc, we have one galvanized bin and she’s allowed to fill it up. When it is overflowing, it’s time to make some choices. Works for us.
    Letting my daughter decide when she is “done” with a toy and is ready to give it away to let someone else have a turn has given her a start at becoming a lifelong Declutterer! She’s needed coaching, but it’s up to her, and it has kept us from being overrun with STUFF.

  57. posted by Sally on

    We have too many people with ADD in this family to deal with anything that has lids, snaps, covers, or involves any extra steps whatsoever. If it isn’t REALLY easy to put away, we won’t do it. I wasted $$$$ for years buying little containers and organizers but we wouldn’t actually put stuff in them. Even boxes with attached lids were apparently too complex.

    The best solution I have found for tiny toys or craft supplies are clear glass or plastic jars from the recycling bin. No lids, because we won’t take the lid off to put the thing in the jar, or else we won’t put the lid back on. The jars are clear, so you can see at a glance what is in it and if we need to replenish our supply of erasers or buttons or whatever; there is no lid to deal with; and they actually look rather nice sitting on the shelf filled with colorful contents. I put labels on them for the older kids who can read; you could do simple pictures for the younger kids.

    We also use the plastic food containers (sans lids) and it is a good way to declutter your food container cabinet of all the ones missing their lids.

    I wish I had figured out this system ten years ago, I spent a ton of money on organizing products that were designed for non-ADD people and didn’t work for us.

  58. posted by Michelle Perrelli on

    I found a large selection of plastic bins at a local dollar store. It cost about half the price of the bins at bigger retailers. Although not as sturdy they do the trick.

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