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AT HOME | a blog by Joanna Gaines

Playtime Without the Clutter

August 6, 2015

Moms struggle with this all the time: leaving toys out looks cluttered, but as soon as you put them away, they seem to magically find their way back out into your living spaces. And fast.


Instead of constantly battling the toys, sometimes a compromise is in order. I’ve found that anytime you leave something out that consists of building or creating, the kids will play with it! With this in mind, we came up with a fun way to leave “toys” out without the feel or look of clutter.


Head outside and gather little stones, rinse and dry. You can also get stones from a craft store.
With a sharpie, have your kiddos, or yourself, print several letters onto each stone.
Display in a bowl on kitchen counter or dinner table and play scrabble while dinner is cooking. (You can also use real Scrabble pieces!)


These little wooden cubes can be found at craft stores, and displayed in a bowl like the stones. Not only are they a conversation starter, but they are a great way to develop spatial and problem solving skills.
You can also write letters or numbers on the cubes for the kids to form words or answer math questions.


Fact: Everyone loves a heated game of Jenga! Having these pieces displayed is a great way to create spontaneous play with or between your kiddos. The best part of Jenga is that the pieces are neutral in texture and color and aren’t distracting in your space. It could also be fun to write prompting and fun questions on the side of each piece to spark conversation with your kiddos.

There are many other ways to conceal toys in your main living areas such as boxes that can be slid underneath the valances of the sofas or stored in an armoire or hall closet. Get creative and make sure the kiddos know where the toys’ homes are located.

Remember that the kids won’t stay little for long, and before you know it, the legos and toys scattered in every last room of your home will be a thing of the past. Hey, you may even miss them someday! Enjoy.


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  • Jesenia
    8:45 pm, June 29, 2017
    Good post! We are linking to this particularly great content on our site.
    Keep up the great writing.
  • dana minak
    4:48 pm, January 3, 2017
    Do you know you have a pretty large fan base on face book but I know your so so busy but it would be so nice if you just said Hi to your fans once in awhile.
  • Kathy M
    6:05 pm, September 2, 2015
    thanks for this idea. plan to use it for tables at our double graduation party next year. u guys are truly blessed to be a blessing.
  • allyse
    10:58 am, August 24, 2015
    love this idea! obsessed with those bowls! where can i get them?
  • carolyn cox
    10:24 am, August 19, 2015
    I am going to get the little stones and have them in a jar for my grandkids to enjoy!!! Such a great idea!!
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