Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Foiling Toddler Bin Dumping

While this is a place of PLAY, with few rules and where the children are encouraged to experiment and be inventive, when that curiosity leads to toys a foot deep and necessary items being damaged, then it needs to be controlled.

Once the children reach the preschool stage, then these measures are not necessary. 

Toddlers though...[sigh!]

Our toy bins are most often used as:

trains, planes and automobiles...


or jumping and climbing platforms.
Which unfortunately ruins them...

While these are all worthy activities, there are items SPECIFICALLY in our environment to facilitate these, and we have loose parts play all over outside. SO...

since we can't just put everything out of reach...


Initially I tried screwing the bins into the wooden dowels, but the dowels split, and the screws popped through if pulled upon with enough force. 

SO...plan B, which seems to be working wonderfully.

I marked the bins of our main unit  in the middle,
about a 1/2 inch higher and lower than the bar they rest upon,

drilled holes with my largest drill bit

And threaded zip ties through them, attaching at the bottom and cutting off with my wire nippers.


For the shelving bins, I found these plastic baskets at the dollar store, thinking that the children wouldn't be able to stand on them, so they would hold up better. They do. However, this does not keep them from bin dumping them and using them as hats. 

So I again used zip ties, through a screwed in eyelet. The children can easily swing the baskets out to get to their toys, but they can't take off with them. 

They still get the toys all out, but now they have to do it one item at a time, not just up-ending it all at once. Additionally, since they can't take off with them, there is little incentive to remove all the toys unless they are actually PLAYING with them.

I left these ties long so that I can adjust them or remove the bins if needed, without wasting zip ties.

For the large dress up bin, 

I did screw it in, using good sized washers and wood screws to ensure that the plastic wouldn't rip out.

The children still climb in there, but it's a tight fit with the shelf above and they don't do it very often.


I have also found that I have to screw in shelves, because they will clear the shelves [dumping] to remove them from off the brackets to be used as bridges and the shelving unit used as a play house. The peg brackets, unfortunately, are also choking hazards, so it's important that the children can't get to them and remove them. 

I find it easiest to place the shelf in and mark the top and bottom, remove the shelf and pre-drill through the middle of the lines,

then screw in from the outside. This ensures that you hit the middle of the shelf and won't have screw ends poking out or possibly splitting the board.

While it would be idyllic if children would simply play with their toys, I like that my students are smart and inquisitive enough that I need to batten everything down or they WILL deconstruct and invent with anything and everything possible. 

It makes them much more interesting to teach.
Tags: toddler, bins, toys, play room, play, playroom, shelving, storage, daycare, child, care, childcare, preschool, homeschooling, parenting, bedroom, 

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