Ready to put the Simplicity Parenting book into action? I remember the start of my journey being exciting but overwhelming. One of the things I was never able to locate (and I research online for a living!) was a Simplicity Parenting Toy List that could offer some advice.
A list makes so much easier.
What I needed was a simple list to help me figure out what to keep from my child’s overwhelming toy collection. In addition, I also need to know what I would need to buy to complete her Simplicity Parenting toy collection.
I needed help with this journey. Even though I had decluttered toys before. But this was different, this was a lifestyle change.
And what a journey it has been! My family started down the Simplicity Parenting path when my child was a toddler. Reading Dr. Kim John Payne’s book for that first time made my spidey-parenting senses tingle. I knew that Simplicity Parenting was the healthiest way to parent children today.
But you know that, or you wouldn’t be here.
What You Need To Know About The Simplicity Parenting Toy List
The Simplicity Parenting Toy List is based on the Waldorf educational model. That means there are lots of multi-use toys that encourage exploration and imaginative play.
But it’s not just free play. While Simplicity Parenting places a strong emphasis on creating boundaries and rhythms for your family, it’s all about the follow-through.
And follow through is crucial to your success.
When our family decided to purge the toys, it was rough. I won’t lie. But here’s the good news: It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be! Once I committed to following a Simplicity Parenting Toy List, it just got easier. I promise.
So my daughter, by this time, was 4.5 years old. We had downsized, to live a more intentional life. As I unpacked the toys, all I could think was where did all this stuff come from?
I’ve done a pretty good job of decluttering our toys, but the collection kept growing. We rotated toys, storing most out of sight, but with every gift and impulse buy the stack got higher.
You can’t keep everything. And I didn’t, but when I decided to create my own Simplicity Parenting Toy List I found most of the toys we owned were gifts.
I felt so guilty about putting thoughtful gifts and expensive toys away for good.
But if my child can’t find those lovely gifts in her piles of toys, then what good are they?
I got rid of about 95% of my child's toys and books.
Planning What Toys To Keep
Here’s how I got my young child to agree to the toy purge without tears or anger: I sat her down and said we have too many things. Then, I briefly explained that I want her to be able to enjoy her things and move in her room. To make that happen, most of her toys would have to move into the attic.
She could sense I was serious this time.
The Simplicity Parenting Toy List was happening.
I asked her to help me make a list of her favorite toys. Be sure to do this away from any visible toys, or I promise those will end up on the list 😉
Here’s what my daughter wanted to keep, without any prompting. After doing this exercise, I’m 100% sure Simplicity Parenting is the way to go:
What My Child Asked To Keep
- Harry (#parentingfail as she could see this doll from our kitchen table)
- “Fairies” (meaning play silks and dress up items)
- Ashlyn (doll)
- Drawing materials
What?!? Where’s the plastic junk, the expensive but pointless games, the endless shelves of toys? I was sure she would try to list everything her little brain could remember. Instead, she chose high quality, fun items… and bubbles.
Just like what would be on any good simplicity parenting toy list.
It’s also worth mentioning she was calmer after this quick chat.
What I Prompted My Child To Keep
I moved on to prompting her on a few items I thought were favorites we should keep.
- Cash register (can be bank, market, shop, accountant, grocery store, and more)
- Kitchen (meaning pretend food)
- Tea set
- 4 favorite stuffed animals
After this chat, I could see she had some anxiety over the potential loss of her stuffed animals. So, I assured her she could keep her dolls and animals, but only her absolute favorites.
And that’s exactly what she did.
We moved on to my list of items I planned to encourage her to keep.
More Items I Planned To Keep
- Blocks or building materials
- Waldorf play mat and fairies (small selection)
- One shelf of Books
- Soccer ball
- Sewing materials
- Cleaning supplies
- Art supplies
For us, the trick to making this work was talking it out in advance. Not every family will be like that, nor would I encourage families to involve toddlers.
It's easier to do when your child is not watching, but if you're not comfortable with that, then go with an honest talk.
What made the purge easier was I promised not to throw anything away unless it was broken.
But, there was a catch. I told her if she didn’t ask for it repeatedly over the next few months, we would pass the toys along to someone else.
It worked. My preschooler proceeded to help me dump everything she owned onto the living room floor, knowing I was taking most of it away.
Here’s what it looked like (doesn’t include books or clothes, and I had purged before our move!):
She hung around the living room for a few minutes, as I started to sort through the piles. I used black trash bags for everything, so she couldn’t see what was inside them (out of sight, out of mind).
It worked. The bag of trash wasn’t too big since we're pretty careful, but here’s what we ended up with for the attic:
The toys went into the attic right away, and I sorted and stored them later on when she wasn’t keeping an eye on me.
The Simplicity Parenting Toy List
So that’s my journey! While it took me a couple of years to commit to the Simplicity Parenting toy list, I’m proof that it works.
My one wish is that I had done it sooner. My child is calmer, happier, and able to engage in deeper play for longer periods of time.
Our toy collection is still a bit bigger than I'd like, but it's so much better than it was. I plan to revisit this list and do one more purge in a few months.
So here's a Simplicity Parenting Toy List based on the Simplicity Parenting recommendations–and if I could do it all over again.
Below you'll find the toys recommended for a Simplicity Parenting Toy List.
Everything (and I mean everything) else goes.
Hopefully, you have a lot of these in your home already. In case you don't, I’ve included links to items available on Amazon whenever possible.
Here’s another good article to read, on the Simplicity Parenting website, about deciding which toys to keep.
Start by making a list of your child’s favorite toys, books, and lovables. Then supplement with open-ended, creative play items, like the ones on this list.
I’ve listed them in the general order I would buy them. Keep in mind a key philosophy of the Simplicity Parenting model is offering items that feel good to the touch. Good materials and textures are often a bit more money upfront, but they last so much longer and see more use. It's worth it.
I’ve noticed a massive upswing in the amount of time my daughter spends engaged in pretend play. Playsilks are a must - for girls AND boys.
Playsilks aren’t just for girls, so we’re clear. They’re unisex and I love to see my daughter and her friends (boys and girls) running through the house as witches, knights, and more.
How a play silk works: The blue one is an ocean when spread out on the floor, the sky chasing her as she runs with it behind her, a magician's cape, a perfect door for a fort, and sometimes a soft blanket for her legs.
Offer a basket of play silks, in varying sizes and colors. I’m still adding to our collection, as it’s worth buying a few quality ones instead of a dozen cheap ones. Sarah Silk’s are soft, washable, and lovely. It’s a brand recommended by Waldorf stores, and I’ve always been happy with their quality and price point.
I started with the larger play silk and was glad I did. In this case, I got one that is nine feet long and used for everything from fort-building to fairytale play. It's a great one to start with.
Then I added in the smaller play silks, starting with blue/green.
There are lots more colors to choose from.
As I add more play silks, I removed some of the cotton blankets I had originally left for fort-building. Play silks are way more fun!
For fort-building, add some clips
and a rope, and let their imagination run wild!
I use these play silk clips, designed for play silks and little hands.
Bears, Dolls, Lovables
Do NOT trash any of your little one’s favorite stuffed animals, dolls, or lovables (blankies, etc). Create a toy rotation if you must, but it’s important to respect what your child treasures.
We’ve found dolls receive more love if there’s only 1 or 2 of them. A baby doll (preferably Waldorf but Corolle can work) helps your child to process emotions and feelings through play. If you have one, keep it.
If you don’t have a doll, Kathy Kruse dolls are recommended because of their natural texture and simple faces.
If you already have dolls, limit the accessories. A basket can be a cradle, her big bed the doll’s bed. Play silks can be outfits and blankets, or choose 1-3 treasured outfits and cut the rest
As for stuffed animals, they seem to be everywhere. Keep one or two out, and put the rest away. You can always rotate through them.
Lovables like blankies stay. No exceptions.
This was my hardest step to tackle on the Simplicity Parenting Toy List. I love books. Reading them, collecting them, sharing them. But we had so many books neither one of us good find our favorites.
Simplicity Parenting recommends keeping a handful of books, so they can all stay out. I can’t get my collection down to that size. So I’ve modified this and I keep one shelf of books, with 3-4 books out at a time. My daughter can reach the shelf and will often go searching for a specific book. We then swap her books out, as needed.
Keep your child’s favorites and get rid of any you don’t enjoy reading. You want your child to sense your pleasure in reading, not feel your boredom!
I’ve found we visit the library a lot more now, too.
Books we enjoy:
- Grimm’s Fairy Tales
- Classic Fairy Tales
- Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
- Children of the Forest
- The Reluctant Dragon
- A.A. Milne’s poetry (he wrote Winnie the Pooh and has wonderful children's’ poems!)
- Winnie the Pooh
- books by Jack Ezra Keats
Baskets and Bins
Baskets and bins become playthings quite often! But you also need baskets for storage.
Baskets can become a baby cradle, doctor’s bag, grocery cart, laundry basket, and more.
Resist the temptation to pile everything in cute little storage bins. You want items in low-sided baskets whenever possible. If you don’t have a place to put them away, store the baskets along the wall with play silks draped over them. The goal is simplicity.
We collect handmade baskets on our travels, which allows us to combine souvenirs with simplicity. Our favorites are handmade, soft-sided, and have handles fit for a child's hands.
Remember, don’t underestimate the importance of baskets for play and invest in a few of varying sizes, with natural textures and handles.
Try these low-sided baskets
For both boys and girls, offer a very small selection of costumes or silks that are not branded. Simple is best. Fabric wings turn into fairy or dragon wings with ease, a cloak becomes a king’s cape or Little Red Riding Hood’s cover, and play silks can be anything.
Recommended dress-up clothes for Simplicity Parenting Toy List:
- Heavy Cloak (for the knight or Little Red Riding Hood)
- Play silks (see how useful these are!)
- Wings (play silks work, too)
Note: Start with the play silks and a cloak and go from there. Most costumes can be made by tying play silks together. You can always add more costumes later.
Building Blocks or Planks
This hasn't changed in hundreds of years.
For younger children, a simple set of wooden blocks are perfect for construction and pretend play.
As your child gets older, think about investing in some building planks. If you were a fan of Legos or Lincoln Logs, try the Keva Planks. They’re amazing!
You want open-ended, multi-use planks or blocks. Avoid stylized sets by Lego or Playmobile that only allow for one item to be created.
If you already have Legos, dump some of them into a container and make sure you have a wide base for building freeform.
There's not a whole lot of outdoor toys on the Simplicity Parenting Toy List. But getting outside is one of the most important aspects of the parenting style. The benefits of outdoor time can't be ignored.
Take stock of what your child enjoys doing outside. Fast movements or slow? In your driveway or around the block?
Don’t push a bike on a younger child. Let them learn when they have enough independence to practice on their own a bit.
- Jump Rope
- Soccer Ball
I had no idea this was a thing until a few months ago. It meshes so perfectly with the Simplicity Parenting philosophy of getting out into nature daily, which is why I’m adding it in.
Nature journals are notebooks where you collect thoughts on things you see and find in nature. They’re a wonderful way to give a walk purpose, beyond getting you out of the house.
Carry the journal and let your child make drawings or notes about what they see, hear, and feel. Never judge the entries (think of it as you would a private diary). It's your child's alone.
It’s a great way to engage a child’s awareness of seasons, insects, weather, and more.
Use a notebook like this and bring along colored pencils or sketch pencils. Reach for your watercolors at home to fill in the sketches.
We choose to use a reference book for our nature outings. I've linked to the book, below. This book is designed like a nature journal; it’s beautiful and useful and I highly recommend it.
I did a minimalist makeover on our art and craft supplies, and the difference is extraordinary! We now keep our art supplies in plain sight, on a rolling cart like this, and find ourselves doing more art than ever, now that we can see everything we need.
Definitely invest in real art supplies, not cheap kids’ brands. Quality makes such a difference in how often your children will reach for the materials.
Simplicity Parenting Toy List for Art
- Tempera paints
- Small selection of paintbrushes (3-4)
- Sketch pencils
- Colored Pencils
- Felt Drawing Pens
- Medium to heavyweight drawing paper (for watercolors and pastels)
- Drawing notebook (this one has removable pages)
- Tracing Paper
- Popsicle Sticks
- Assorted craft paper
My daughter enjoys playing with little things, so I keep a selection of peg dolls and Waldorf miniature dolls. We made a play mat for them, but more often she uses her play silks as landscapes.
The Waldorf miniature dolls are best in local Waldorf shops, as they're handmade, but this is totally optional.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Playdoh, or a project to do with your child, playing with Peg People is easy, crafty, and fun. We do this in two ways:
- Peg person and modeling clay- I keep a peg doll on a tray, with a selection of modeling clay. My daughter enjoys creating outfits and sidekicks for her peg person. This was a Waldorf educator recommendation, and I’m so glad I added it to our toy list! It satisfies the need for Playdoh and hands-on creation, but modeling clay is natural and doesn’t dry out!
- Making Peg Dolls - This is an arts and crafts project we do together. This wonderful book takes you step by step through painting and creating peg dolls. I love the attention to detail and the fact that peg people can slip right into a little one’s pocket. These are also great gifts to make. You don’t need the book, but I love having the ideas sorted by season and all in one place.
Take it or leave it, depending on your child’s preferences. My daughter LOVES playing kitchen, so I kept a small collection of felt food and cookware.
Oh, and the red play silk in a cupboard or empty cardboard box is the perfect pretend oven! 🙂
Rocks, shells, gems, and pieces of wood are the main ones. Most of these will come from your nature outings, but I found it helpful to supplement with these Waldorf materials. I find them used on the play silks as mountains for peg people to climb or buried treasure to search for.
- Gems often for treasure hunts, miniature doll play, sorting, and math practice
- Rocks can be collected on nature walks. Next time you’re at a museum, pick up some polished ones as useable souvenirs.
- Wood play pieces work well with miniature doll play and creating building structures with the planks and blocks.
Puzzles & Games
We’re big on family game nights. It helps us connect, get off the internet, and enjoy each other.
We only keep a few games, like these:
- Cooperative learning games (we have two)
- Go Fish (easily played with a regular deck of cards)
Puzzles are something we do a lot more often, now that we can see them in the toy closet! I like Pomegranate Kid’s large floor puzzles for younger kids and Crocodile Creek for the older ones.
Start with 1-3 puzzles, unless you’re obsessed or very talented.
How To Start
Are you ready for your kids to be kids again? It takes some initial work, but cleaning out the toys will be the best move you ever make for your family.
We are calmer, happier, and have found deeper focus and enjoyment.
My child is more creative and less whiny. She's happier.
Steps To Get Started
- Make a list of what you know you want or need to keep.
- Explain to your child (if appropriate) about:
- Why you’re removing some toys
- How you’re deciding what stays (must be open-ended, high quality, multi-use)
- Where you’re storing excess toys
- That the toys will be available if they ask for them repeatedly over a period of time (I said two months)
- Discuss with your child (if appropriate):
- First, get away from all the toys to talk.
- Ask them to list their favorite toys and write it down.
- Prompt them to list some things you know you want to keep.
- Suggest some things you would like to add (play silks, cloak, etc.)
- With or without your child, gather up every single toy from the house, car, and outdoors. Pile everything in one place… and prepare to be overwhelmed!
- Grab some black trash bags.
- Working quickly, with your list close at hand (see itemized list below), immediately remove anything that is broken or worn out. Put them in the trash, or in your car to go to the dump immediately after you finish.
- Keep up the pace! Move on to sorting items into stay, go, or unsure piles. Your ‘Go’ pile will be HUGE. Don’t worry. Bag it all into black trash bags and keep going.
- Take a look at the ‘Unsure’ pile and, if there’s nothing that jumps out as an obvious ‘Stay’ item, bag it, label it, and store it for a couple of months. If no one asks for it, no one needed it.
- Review your ‘Stay’ pile, cross-referencing with your Simplicity Parenting Toy List (below, and the one you created with your child). If it’s not on a list, remove it, and treat it like an ‘Unsure’ item.
- Place the items on your list back in your child’s room, aiming for cleanliness and ease of use.
- Enjoy all your hard work!!
- Finally, supplement your child’s remaining toy collection with items from the Simplicity Parenting Toy List that inspire open-ended, creative play! (See the recap list below for quick links to recommended items.)
- Drape baskets with play silks or blankets to make the room look as simple as possible.
- Make sure the room can be cleaned up in five minutes or less if every item was taken out. If you can't, there's still too much stuff!
- Remember to take out things you are unsure about; you can always add them back in later.
Congratulations on creating your own Simplicity Parenting Toy List! You started with the recommendations in the book and this post, taking what works for your family and discarding what doesn’t.
Here’s a recap of what’s recommended for your Simplicity Parenting Toy List:
Basic Simplicity Parenting Toy List:
- Favorite stuffed animals and/or blankies and other lovables
- 1 Doll
- Low-sided baskets
- Play silks
- Clips and rope for play silks
- Hooded Cloak for pretend play
- Building Materials (planks or blocks)
- Basic Art Supplies
- Books (ideally less than 12)
- 1-3 games
- 1-3 puzzles
- Jump Rope or Soccer Ball
Extra items you might want to include:
- Felt food for kitchen play
- Nature Items (rocks, shells, gems)
- Nature Journal
- Extra dress-up items (cape, hat, wings, wand)
Whatever you do, don’t forget the play silks!
Did I miss something on this list? How is your list going? Questions?
Let me know in the comments!
I completely agree with doing away with unused, unnecessary toys. There are so many donation sites where those toys will be used and loved. My husband and I do the same process for our garage and hutches. Why do we have this stuff? We don’t even know what we have. Well, we donate and recycle what is not used and it’s so freeing to have more space for the items you do use. Our grandkids are so spoiled with toys (they’ve got everything) so we try to give them more educational items for birthdays and holidays to cut down on more clutter they don’t need. Yes, I had about 150 stuffed animals on my bed when I was young. I love the minimalist approach! Thanks so much for sharing!
What about train sets?
I am not seeing links to the art supplies or peg people book… Would you mind sharing your favorites for those please?
Hello, loving your toy list! Thank you for taking the time to put that together. I’m curious, where did you find (or find a pattern to make?) the heavy cloak? I would love to get (or make) a couple for my little ones! Great idea! Thanks:) – Meghan
Hi, Meghan! Glad you liked the list. The cloak is on Amazon and made by Sarah’s Silks. They’re lightweight and kids love them. If you scroll back up, you can click on the link and it will take you right to them.
If the price point is not comfortable, there’s a great website called Twig + Tale that has a cloak pattern. https://www.twigandtale.com/products/childrens-unisex-cape-bundle There’s an option to make it long and the pattern is beginner friendly. Hope this helps! Ashley
I, mother of three now, but also former child am missing some “technical” toys here, where kids can discover mechanisms or do some more sophisticated constructions than what one can do with wooden blocks – as much as they are beautiful, as much they were really frustrating for me, as my buildings would never stay together for a long time. And to build as complicated structures as one can with Legos, one would need a huge amount which takes up way more space than Legos. I agree that Legos really don’t make cleaning up easy, but in my opinion, if I had to keep a single toy system for myself or my children, it would be Legos, the possibilities are just endless, the children can make their own car, undo it, make a plane, then build a house.
Hi, Jessica. Thanks for your thoughtful comment! I can absolutely see where you’re coming from on the Lego front. From what I see in the Simplicity Parenting program, removing items like Legos makes room for creative avenues that are not toy-based. So taking apart a old radio to see how it works instead of building a lego structure that moves and other things like that. I often see myself trapping my daughter into our collective modern idea of parenting, which is one of kids needs “smart” toys (and lately, kids need toys that teach STEM). But STEM is all around if we sit back and take note, right? Legos certainly fill a need (oh my gosh, I LOVE them!) and we have since purchased a set, but I do notice they close our minds to the world that’s around us. Instead of figuring out how the kitchen table extends to seat more, we add blocks to the Lego collection. Both have their merits. Thanks for your input!