Friday, August 26, 2011

Toys: The tools of childhood

From this...

To this... in 1 hour

If you've got kids... you've got toys! Even the most organized RV parents will find themselves howling in the night after walking through a lego mine field.

We have 4 kids in our camper so you can be sure that Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels abound! To keep it all organized - sometimes we have to throw everything out of the RV and start from scratch like we did today.

This is a brief overview of how we figure out what to keep, what gets tossed and what gets stored in the basement to be "rediscovered" at a later date.

Step 1. Get ALL the toys out of the RV - this is the step my kids like the most 'cause they get to make a big giant mess.

Step 2. Determine just how many boxes (crates, bags, whatever your container of choice is) you'd like to keep. Pick the vessels first - then fill them.

For the big boys (2 of them) we have a file box and a oval container. Tonia gets her own file box and the baby has a smaller box. In addition to these, we have a box of Legos and a large tub dedicated to outside toys like Nerf guns, tea sets, and sports equipment. We have one crate for toys to be stored. Our last box is our Emergency Toy Box.. more on this later.

Step 3. Let the sorting commence. Have the kids sort through the giant pile of toys and place the keepers in the designated box. We're mean... so when the box is full... it's decision time. The kids can only keep things if they fit. If the boxes are overflowing, the kids have to make cuts and choices so all their selections fit.

Step 4. If the overflow toys are in good shape, we set them aside for donation.

Step 5. Two file boxes, the oval container, and the Lego box are stored under one of the beds in the bunkroom (see pic above). The baby's chest is stored in the living room. The outside toy tub is stored under the RV while we're parked. The crate is put away in basement storage.

Step 6. The Emergency Toy Box: There are times when cabin fever sets and threatens to infect every single one of us. This is when we pull out our Emergency Toy Box. In it, we store play dough tools, Mr. Potato Head (and accessories) and Fuzzoodles. We spread out a picnic blanket and get busy playing. No matter what your age or disposition, these toys are sure to occupy you.

You may have noticed that there are tools, but no Play Dough in our Emergency Toy Box. That's because making our own Play Dough is part of the fun.

Quick and Easy RV Friendly Play Dough Recipe

  • 1 cup of all purpose flour

  • 1 cup of water

  • 1/2 cup of salt

  • 1 tablespoon of oil - any oil will do

  • 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar

  • 1/8 teaspoon of food coloring paste or a few drops of food coloring liquid
(the secret ingredient is Cream of Tartar / Alum Powder - so if you don't have any of this in your RV be sure to put it on your shopping list)

Mix all the ingredients into a pan and blend with a whisk.

When all ingredients are blended, place the pan on the stove on medium to medium-high heat.

You will need to mix continually until the mixture thickens. It may take 3 to 4 minutes.

When the mixture starts to clump and is difficult to mix, take the pan off the stove.

Pour the dough on a floured surface and when it is cool enough to handle start kneading like bread dough.

Remove from the floured surface when the dough is no longer sticky. Knead away from the floured surface until all the flour on the dough is absorbed and the dough is smooth and pliable.

You're done!

To store, keep in:

  • Plastic wrap

  • A plastic bag

  • Or an airtight container such as Tupperware.

Want to see how we organize the rest of our RV? Check out the tour of our RV here:

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  1. You outlined the perfect step-by-step process and I know it works because I do the same - not only for the toys, but also when I clean. I find that piling it outside the RV is less daunting and having bins sitting in wait, is not as overwhelming for the kids. Makes it a game! (Hmmm, suppose it works for husbands too?) LOL

    Thanks for the great tips and I see play dough in our future - that sounds fun!!!


  2. Great way to teach your kids how to get rid of clutter and keep organized in a tight space. I remember making play doh with my parents. This sounds like a great idea to do when RV camping with the kids