At one time, I aspired to be Martha Stewart.  I labeled my linen closet, I made my own napkin rings.  I pruned plants in my backyard and created swags and centerpieces with the clippings.  I made my own marshmallows.  Oh yes, Martha was my daily inspiration.  And then came the kids.

Nowadays I’m doing well just to remember to close the garage door before we zip out to run the morning carpool.  Laundry is done on a daily, as-needed basis, and ironing consists of a fifteen minute tumble in the dryer with a damp towel.  Our centerpiece on our table now is a stack of However, there are a few things that Martha taught me that stick with me in my parenting.  And my favorite is my labeling system for the kids’ playroom.

I wanted a way to organize my boys’ massive collections of trucks, cars, Legos, play dough, little plastic animals, and miscellaneous other interests, and I wanted it fun and simple enough for my children to participate or, ideally, independently use.  I sorted the toys into various lidded bins according to type.  Then, I labeled each bin with a simple word or phrase: “animals”, “small balls”, “cars”, “zoob“, “airplanes” and more.  Then, before I adhered them to the end of the container with a swatch of clear packing tape, I attached a photo of the toys inside.  My three year old, who isn’t able to read the words on the boxes quite yet, is still able to successfully pick up his toys by simply looking on the sides of the bins for the match.  And, he no longer asks me to find his Thomas trains, because he can find them himself with the pictures on the bins.

Pictoral labeling as an organizational tool for children is a great way to empower your children and give them the opportunity to take care of themselves.  It makes the bins cute to look at on a shelf, too!