Organize and Teach Reading with a Toy Library

How we turned those bins of tiny toys toddlers end up collecting into an organized set of teaching tools.



1. You need 26 containers.

Note: you’ll need more than 26 if you choose to use phonemes instead of letters. You know your child best so follow your instincts.

You can use what you like. Coffee cans, large plastic jars, food containers, a handbag collection, whatever is cheap and safe. I used leftover 6x6x8 Papermart gift boxes from a case I’ve had sitting around for too many years after I stopped selling gifts on eBay.

Gift Boxes

2. Label them with letters.

I used those stick-on foam letters because we happened to have them. You can use anything.

Labeled with letters

3. Fill with toys.

In went animal figures, tiny plushies, old measuring spoons, play food, interesting buttons, prizes from an Easter egg hunt, colored beading cord, scrabble tiles — practically anything that wasn’t a crayon or a Lego got sorted into the boxes. Then I supplemented them with two alphabet teaching sets because Sagan wanted “letters and numbers” for his third birthday.

P Toys

Within minutes he figured out he could find most toys by spelling the name. So when he wants a lion and a zebra, he gets out the L and Z boxes. When he wants cars, he goes to the C box.

The best part is when someone gives him something new, he tells me which box he can put it in when he gets home. And that’s where it goes because he loves being able to find his toys using the Power to Read.