The ABCs of Learning Toys and Manipulatives: U-Z and Organizing Your Toys

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The ABCs of Learning Toys and Manipulatives: Day 5~ U-Z | This Reading MamaWelcome to This Reading Mama!  If this is your first time here, get yourself a cup of coffee and stay awhile.  I’m on the final day of a Kid Blogger Network Series called The ABCs of.  I’ve been posting about learning toys and manipulatives you can use with each letter of the alphabet.  Click on the image above or here to see letters A-T. Today I will post learning toys and manipulatives for letters U through Z (these were some TOUGH letters) and I finally get to SHOW some photos of how these learning toys and manipulatives are organized in my home.


Words highlighted in blue are actual links and will take you to a product page or a post where you can see the item being used in action.


U is for…

  • UMBRELLAS – you know, those cute little umbrellas that you can buy at a party store
  • UTENSILS– tongs, scoops, spoons, ladles, etc.


V is for…


W is for…

  • WATCH– a real one or a stop watch

 stacking wedgits


X is for…


Y is for…

  • YARN– You can use yarn to make letters, for artwork, for some fine motor work with chopsticks , it can also be used for lacing if you wrap the end tightly in tape.
  • YELLOW– have some fun with primary and secondary color mixing


Z is for…

Displaying and Organizing Your Toys and Manipulatives

I have a dear friend who comments every time she comes over that my house is always so neat and orderly.  First, here me loud and clear: IT IS NOT!  As you can imagine with four kiddos going at full-blast, life is not always clean.  Some days, it’s downright messy. BUT there are two main “secrets” I have to keeping our toys and manipulatives somewhat tidy house: 1-STORAGE & 2-DISPLAYING.

Storage doesn’t have to cost a lot.  The $1 store has some great containers.  You can recycle objects, like peanut butter jars or coffee canisters.  But one thing is for sure- when we buy (or are given) a toy that has a lot of pieces, I always, always, always buy/find a container for all those pieces.

photo of Storing toys with lots of pieces in a container

My most recent purchase was for our domino run and marble run around.  I think I spent about $6 on this container at Target, but it’s well worth my money when I’m not stepping on pieces scattered throughout my home. :)

 photo of organizing small manipulatives

In the schoolroom, my smaller manipulatives and toys with smaller parts are all stored OUT OF REACH.  Call me mean.  Call me a control freak.  I’ve learned the hard way that smaller manipulatives make a mess. :)  You can read more about how my manipulatives are stored in my schoolroom post.

This summer, we made a big purchase: a Trofast IKEA shelving system…and I am so glad we did!  We use it all. the. time.

using pictures to organize for young children

Just recently, I hopped onto amazon and copied picture images of what was inside each bin, then laminated and taped the pictures to the bins.  {The X‘s mean: do not enter, for mama only!}

IKEA Trofast Organizer for Organizing and Storing Learning Toys

NJoy was so excited to find the pictures and while I was trying to take photos, he was pulling bin after bin out.  He said, “Oh, thank you, mommy!  Now I know what’s in each bin!”

Another “secret” to my toy storage is that I try and display them so that my kids know that every toy has its place.  To do this, I organized our toys somewhat by category.  A few of my categories are: baby toys, vehicles, kitchen toys, and bigger toys.  Then, I labeled our shelves/playroom for each category.  Let me show you what I mean:

photo of displaying and organzing toys (vehicles) We rotate out toys in the playroom every so often and when we do, the vehicles go here,

photo of displaying and organizing toys (baby toys)baby toys go here,

DSCI3216kitchen toys go here, etc.

The placement of toys is predictable and organized {Please note: these picture were taken while my kids were ASLEEP, not awake}.  To see another homeschooling mama blogger in action, visit Carisa at 1+1+1=1.  She has some great tips for organizing those learning toys and manipulatives, not only in the closet, but in the classroom.  I follow her model as much as I can in displaying the manipulatives in our schoolroom. You can also visit my Cleaning and Organizing Pinterest board for more ideas on organizing those toys and manipulatives.

Thank you for joining This Reading Mama this week!  I hope you’ve been inspired.  I’m just so excited to have my toys and manipulatives organized in lists so I can refer to them over and over; as I still have two little munchkins who will be doing letter work at home!

Stay connected so you don’t miss a thing:



Now, go make another cup of coffee and hop on over to visit these fabulous bloggers of Kid Blogger Network as they finish up their ABCs of… posts, too!


  1. I love kitchen utensils! we did some painting with them! It was fun for everyone!


  1. […] just posted about organizing manipulatives last week with my KBN series! My favorite 4 places to get storage bins, listed from lowest to […]

  2. […] Day 5: U-Z and Organizational Tips […]

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