Toy Rotation the Cheap and Easy Way [Get Organized for 2016!]

Toy Rotaton The Cheap & Easy Way

So your kids have a few new toys, huh? Are they playing with all of them, or are they already showing favorites?

We spend a ton of time here at BC talking about which toys are the “good” ones that kids actually play with, and I’m sure you’ve made some fabulous choices. Even so, it’s natural for kids to gravitate towards one or two toys and play with them semi-exclusively for a while.

But what about the perfectly good toys that never seem to see any action?

No need to ship them off to the Island of Misfit Toys. There are some things you can do to encourage them to play with more of their stuff.

First, make sure your kids can see and access their toys. When toys are out of sight and/or out of reach, they’ll most likely be out-of-mind as well.

Of course, when we see the same items in our rooms every day, they become invisible to us over time. The same goes for toys on the shelves and in the toy bin. Enter the idea of toy rotation.

In addition to encouraging kids to play with more of their toys, toy rotation helps solve the problem of being short on storage space and cuts down on the time it takes to tidy everything up. It works with books, too.

The Basics

Setting up a basic toy rotation system is a lot less time consuming than it may sound. You don’t need any special bins or supplies, either.

You can get as complicated as you like with your toy rotation system, but the essentials are as follows:

1. Divide up the toys. How many go in each set depends on the space you have, the number of toys you have, or you or your child’s personal preference. A dozen is plenty.

2. Keep one set of toys out at a time. Put away the others.

3. After a week or two (depending on your child’s continuing interest in the toys that are out), switch to another set.

Read More

There are many variations on this them. Check out these articles for more toy rotation strategies.

Have you tried implementing a toy rotation system? How did it go? Have any tips? Share them in the comments!

photo in top image by Elizabeth/Table4Five [via Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/table4five/377763536/]

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2015 “Buy it Now’ Prices for 40 Top Toys [Part 2 - Bigger Kids]

2015 “Buy it Now’ Prices for 40 Top Toys [Part 2 - Bigger Kids]Here’s the second part of BC’s 2015 toy “Buy Price” list. You can see the first part (and read more about what this is) here.

Note: The first price is the list price and the second is the recommended “buy-it-now” price. These “Buy It Now” prices are what I consider “very good” prices on the item. They’re the best sale prices you can expect to find fairly regularly, based on records of previous sales. Don’t confuse these with the “lowest price ever” price or even with current prices. You can beat this price if you happen onto a unusually great sale.

Think any of these “Buy” prices are out of line? Let me know!

Related:

See all the Toys That Get Played with Lists

See more more Buy-it-Now prices

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2015 “Buy it Now’ Prices for 40 Top Toys [Part 1 - Little Kids]

2015 "Buy it Now' Prices for 40 Top Toys [Part 1 - Little Kids]We’ve talked about which toys have proven track records. Now it’s time to figure out the “Buy Price” for the toys on the lists.

Typically, you can expect toys to go to about 40% off list price around the holidays. Not all of them will, though. Some will only go as low as about 20% off, and the hottest and newest toys may be in such high demand that they don’t go on sale much at all.

Tracking past sales and price histories allow us to estimate the price a smart shopper should pay for these toys. Could the price go lower? Sure. Whether you wait to see if it does depends on your tolerance for risk.

So here we go, starting with toys for the littlest kids. I’ll be breaking the post into two parts due the the amount of info I’ll be dishing up. The links go to Amazon so that you can learn more and read reviews.

Note: The first price is the list price and the second is the recommended “buy-it-now” price. These “Buy It Now” prices are what I consider “very good” prices on the item. They’re the best sale prices you can expect to find fairly regularly, based on records of previous sales. Don’t confuse these with the “lowest price ever” price or event the current price. You can beat this price if you happen onto a unusually great sale.

The Toys

Think any of these “Buy” prices are out of line? Let me know!

Coming Soon: “Buy it Now’ Prices for 40 Top Toys [Part 2 - Bigger Kids]

See all the Toys That Get Played with Lists

See more more Buy-it-Now prices

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Toy All-Stars: 8 Toys Your Kids Will Play With for Years

Toy All-Stars: 8 Toys Your Kids Will Play With for YearsThe last of the 2015 Toys that Get Played With lists has been posted. If you’ve taken a look at them, you’ll notice several toys that appear again and again spanning several age groups. These toys clearly have SUPER staying power. They’re true All-Star toys!

Each of the toys on the list below shows up on THREE or more Toys that Get Played With lists this year:

  • Train Sets: On the lists for kids 1 year old to 5 years old. Manufacturer’s listed age range is 2 to 7. See BC’s shopping guide.
  • Play Kitchen and Play Food: On the lists for kids 1 year old to 4 years old. Manufacturer’s listed age range is 2 to to 7. Keep an eye on age range for specific kitchens as you shop. See BC’s shopping guide.
  • Imaginext Play Sets: On the lists for kids 3 years old to 7 years old. Manufacturer’s listed age range is 3 to 5.
  • Playmobil Play Sets: On the lists for kids 4 years old to 9 years old. Manufacturer’s listed age range is 4 to 10.
  • Plasma Car: On the lists for kids 3 years to 7 years old. Manufacturer’s listed age range is 2 to 5.
  • Lego: On the lists for kids 3 years to 9 years old. Listed age range is 4 and up.
  • Magna Tiles, Magformers, and other magnetic building toys: On the lists for kids 3 years to 9 years old. Manufacturer’s listed age range is 3 and up.
  • Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars: On the lists for kids 3 to 9 years. Manufacturer’s listed age range is 3 and up.

Some toy categories stay relevant with kids for a very long time, but the specific toys or accessories within that category may change. Toys that fit this category are:

  • art supplies
  • dolls – Disney Princess, Stella, Barbie and more
  • dollhouses. See BC’s shopping guide.
  • musical instruments
  • dress-up clothes
  • puzzles
  • cars and trucks
  • LeapPad and other electronic toys
What do you think? Which toys have your kids played with for years and years?

Related:

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BC’s 2015 Guide to Choosing a Play Kitchen [And Buy-It-Now Prices, Too]

BC's Guide to Choosing a Play Kitchen [And Buy-It-Now Prices, Too]Play kitchens are on our all star toys list. They’re hits for both girls and boys from about age two to age five. With all the models out there, how can you pick the best play kitchen for your home?

This guide will help. It’s even got buy-it-now prices so you know when you’re getting a great deal. Enjoy!

Considerations

  • Consider your space carefully. How much room do you have? Would a corner kitchen work better than a straight one? Take time to measure your available width and depth before your shop.
  • Consider your budget before you buy so that you won’t be tempted to spend more than you should. Kitchens list from about $60 to $300 and up.
  • Consider checking your favorite second-hand sources for a gently used kitchen.
  • Does then kitchen need to allow room for more than one kid to play at once? A larger kitchen or a kitchen with two-sided play can help avoid squabbles.
  • Do you care if the kitchen you choose requires batteries? Most of the plastic kitchens need them to power lights, bells, whistles, etc.
  • Don’t be afraid to get a “simple” kitchen. Kids are creative and will fill in for the missing bells and whistles with their imaginations. Electronic bells and whistles can get annoying for grownups, too.
  • Allow plenty of time for assembly. The wooden kitchens generally take longer to put together than the plastic kitchens.
  • Does the kitchen offer room for play food and utensil storage? If not, think about how you’ll corral those small pieces.
  • Be prepared to secure the kitchen to the wall if you think there’s any possibility of tipping.

Popular Kitchens and Buy-It-Now Prices

All of these kitchens are top sellers with great ratings. I’ve linked to these kitchens at Amazon so that you can learn more and read customer reviews. Unless otherwise noted, the appropriate age for these kitchens is 3 and up.

“Buy It Now” prices are what I consider “very good” prices on the item. They’re the best sale prices you can expect to find fairly regularly, based on records of previous sales. Don’t confuse these with the “lowest price ever” price. You may be able to  beat this price if you happen onto a unusually great sale.

Note that the buy-it-now prices may be up to 45% of the list prices. Expect to see lots of deals on play kitchens in the weeks starting after Halloween.

See the kitchens after the jump.

[Read more...]

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2015 Dollhouse Shopping Guide [Top Picks and Buy-it-Now Prices]

2015 Dollhouse Shopping Guide [Top Picks and Buy-it-Now Prices]

Because dollhouses are so good at fostering the open-ended play that keeps kids interested, they always make BC’s Toys that Get Played With lists. They’re fabulous toys, but choosing a dollhouse for your child can be overwhelming. There are over 400 dollhouses and accessories on Amazon alone! How can you choose the one that’s best for your child?

This guide will help. It will also clue you in on what price you should pay for the one you choose. Read on!

Choosing the Best Dollhouse for your Child, Home and Lifestyle

When choosing a dollhouse, think about the following:

  • Consider your space. Where will you keep it? Where will your child play with it? How much room do you have in your chosen location? Big dollhouses can span four feet wide or more, whereas the smallest can easily fit on a tabletop. If you’re short on space, consider a folding dollhouse or a corner dollhouse.
  • Consider your budget. The prime ages for playing with dolhouses are from about three to age six. That’s a pretty long span for a toy. How much do you want to spend? If the house you want costs more than you want to spend, check consignment sales, consignment stores, Craigslist. etc. for a gently used model.
  • Does the house come with furniture and/or dolls? If the house you choose isn’t furnished, you’ll end up spending more on those little tiny sofas and chairs. Be sure to take the extra cost into consideration.
  • Will it fit dolls your child already has? Little People? Barbie? American Girl? There are dollhouses to fit all sizes. You may want choose a dollhouse that will work with your child’s cherished pals.
  • Do you want plastic or wood? Plastic can be wiped down, but may parents prefer the aesthetics of wood. You may also be able to repair wooden items if they break.

Top Dollhouses

Here are my top dollhouse picks, taking into consideration a variety of needs and wants. I’ve also listed the Buy-it-Now price for each house, and I’ve linked to the item at Amazon so that you can learn more.

Note: If you’re new to my Buy-It-Now price lists, here’s what you need to know: “Buy It Now” (BIN) prices are what I consider “very good” prices on the item. They’re the best sale prices you can expect to find fairly regularly, based on records of previous sales. Don’t confuse these with the current price (although they may be the same) or the “lowest price ever” price. You may be able to beat this price if you happen onto a unusually great sale.

The picks:

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 2.54.33 PMBest deluxe wooden dollhouse:

KidKraft Majestic Mansion: Top selling dollhouse at both Amazon and Walmart. Assembly required.

  • Dimensions: 51.0 x 14.0 x 52.75
  • Rooms, etc: 4 stories with 8 rooms
  • Furniture and dolls included: 33 pieces of furniture. Dolls sold separately.
  • Additional accessories available? Yes
  • Fits Barbies

List price: $246.99. Buy-it-Now price: $130

Note: You really can’t go wrong with a KidKraft dollhouse. If buying for the holidays, be sure not to wait until the last minute to assemble the house. Some of them can take a while. For extra savings, check out the very similar Imaginarium dollhouses at Toys R Us.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 2.55.41 PMBest if you’re short on space:

Melissa and Doug Folding Princess Castle

  • Dimensions: 27″ x 15.25″ x 17.5″
  • Rooms, etc: 2 stories, 5 rooms
  • Furniture & dolls included: 6 pieces of furniture, princess, prince, 2 horses
  • Additional accessories available? Yes

List price: $49.99. Buy-it-Now price: $35

Note: Also comes in gender-neutral gray.

See also: Fisher-Price Loving Family Dollhouse. It also folds.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 2.56.34 PMBest for toddlers:

Fisher-Price My First Dollhouse. Ages 2 and up

  • Dimensions: 22.25″ x 9.125″ x 16.0″
  • Rooms, etc: 3 stories, 5 rooms
  • Furniture & dolls included: mom, dad and baby figures and a few interior items–kitchen, table, chairs, etc.
  • Additional accessories available? Yes

List price: $40. Buy-it-Now price: $35

See also: Fisher-Price Little People Happy Sounds Home

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 2.57.03 PMBest eco-friendly:

Hape All Season Dollhouse. Solid wood construction with child-safe paint finish. Gender neutral.

  • Dimensions: 23.6″ x 11.8″ x 28.9″
  • Rooms, etc: 3 stories, 6 rooms
  • Furniture & dolls included: four room sets: Master Bedroom, Family Bathroom, Media Room and Kitchen. Dolls sold separately
  • Additional accessories available? Yes

List price: $199.99. Buy-it-Now price: $127

See alsoPlan Toys The Green Dollhouse with Furniture

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 2.57.56 PMBest plastic:

Fisher-Price Loving Family Dollhouse

  • Dimensions:  25.6″ x 9″ x 16″
  • Rooms, etc: 4 stories, 6 rooms
  • Furniture & dolls included: Mom, Dad, Baby, sofa and baby seat
  • Additional accessories available? Yes
  • Requires 2 AA batteries
  • Folds for storage

List price: $69.90. Buy-it-Now price: $65

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 2.58.47 PMBest for 18″ dolls (American Girl, Our Generation, etc.):

KidKraft Elegant Doll Manor with Furniture for 18″ Dolls

  • Dimensions:  47.7″ x 19.5″ x 65.5″
  • Rooms, etc: 4 stories, 4 rooms
  • Furniture & dolls included: 12 pieces of furniture
  • Additional accessories available? Yes

List price: $338.99. Buy-it-Now price: $210

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 2.59.56 PMBest gender-neutral:

Kidkraft Deluxe Fire Rescue Set

  • Dimensions:  30″ x 17.5″ x 25″
  • Rooms, etc: 4 stories, 4 rooms
  • Furniture & dolls included: 22 pieces of furniture, 3 firefighters, helipad and helicopter, Garage with ambulance and fire truck
  • Additional accessories available? No

List price: $150.99. Buy-it-Now price: $95

See also: Hape All Season Dollhouse

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 9.28.13 AMBest dollhouses with a twist:

Like to DIY? You can also make your own dollhouse from boxes, bookcases and more. See my DIY Dollhouses Pinterest board for inspiration?

Related: Baby Cheapskate’s Toys that Get Played With Lists

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC's disclosure policy for more info.

Terrific Train Sets: 5 Top Picks [Plus Buy-It-Now Prices]

Terrific Train Sets: 5 Top Picks [Plus Buy-It-Now Prices]Preschoolers are fascinated by trains. In poll after poll, readers have told me that train sets and train tables are toys that hold their kids’ interest for years, with the peak ages of interest being about two to four.

Here’s a rundown of five popular train sets and tables. I’ve linked to the items at Amazon so that you can learn more and read reviews. I’m also including Buy-It-Now prices so you know when you’re getting a good deal.

Note: “Buy-It-Now” (BIN) prices are what I consider “very good” prices on the item. Don’t confuse them with current prices. Instead, they’re the best sale prices you can expect to find fairly regularly, based on records of previous sales of the toy and (in this case, since they’re new), history of price reductions of other toys by the same brand. You may even be able to beat these prices if you happen upon an unusually great sale. In any case, look for these prices as you shop. When you see them, you’ll know you’re getting a good deal.

The Trains

Terrific Train Sets: 5 Top Picks [Plus Buy-It-Now Prices]VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels Train Station Playset: Aimed at kids as young as 12 months, this set includes electronic train station, bridge and tunnel, and a conveyor belt hill; 32 interchangeable track pieces. Ten SmartPoint locations interact with SmartPoint vehicles to trigger fun phrases, music and sound effects. Track works with other Smart Wheels and Animals track pieces. Comes with three AAA batteries. List price: $50. Buy-it-now price: $38

Terrific Train Sets: 5 Top Picks [Plus Buy-It-Now Prices]KidKraft Waterfall Mountain Train Set and Table: KidKraft is known for well-built wooden toys. This wide train table comes with three built in storage bins and 120 pieces. Mostly compatible with other brands’ wooden train sets (tunnel may be too shallow for some trains). List price: $175 Buy-it-now price: $120.

Terrific Train Sets: 5 Top Picks [Plus Buy-It-Now Prices]Step2 Deluxe Canyon Road Train & Track Table: What’s great about this table is that it has a lid. When the train isn’t in play, your kids can use the table for coloring, building with blocks, etc. Another great feature for mess-weary parents is that the tracks are molded into the table and can’t be lost or scattered about. On the other hand, because the tracks are molded into place, you can’t change the track layout. Includes three-piece train set. Made in USA. List price: $100. Buy-it-now price: $75

Terrific Train Sets: 5 Top Picks [Plus Buy-It-Now Prices]Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Railway Set. This set comes with 100 pieces and 30 accessories including  six-piece freight train with cargo, a four-piece passenger train, and a three-piece flatbed truck with cargo. At less than $30 Melissa and Doug’s Basic train set is a more affordable choice if you’re on a tight budget or if you already have a table. Tracks in both sets are compatible with other wooden sets. List price: $130. Buy-it-now price: $75.

Terrific Train Sets: 5 Top Picks [Plus Buy-It-Now Prices]Imaginarium Rescue Train Set 54 piece set is perfect for kids who are also into fire trucks, police cars and other rescue vehicles. Includes a rescue platform heliport and helicopter, rescue vehicles: 3 trains, collapsible bridge, 2 figures, roadway with crossing gate, police station and 6 scenery pieces. This Toys R Us-exclusive set is a great budget buy. Reviewers say tracks are compatible with other brands’ wooden train sets. List price: $39.99. Buy-it-now price: $30.

One more money savers:  If you have an IKEA nearby, don’t miss their 20-pc. LILLABO basic train set. It’s only $9.99!

Related:

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 8.54.53 AMTerrific Train Sets: 5 Top Picks [Plus Buy-It-Now Prices]

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC's disclosure policy for more info.