You ever notice that kids usually make a mess when they play? They go into a clean room, play in it with their toys until the room is trashed, then they move on to the next clean room and trash that one. Then it's on to the next room.
You ever step on a toy when you're barefoot? Yowza! Ever practically break your neck because you tripped over a toy? Been there. Done that.
When our oldest was a baby/toddler, we put all his toys in a milk crate on the floor in the living room. That was "his" spot. As a toddler I used to take his hand and gently encourage him to pick up his toys at cleanup time and we sang a little cleanup song. As he got older, the toys multiplied. They do that. It's an evil plot. Trust me.
When he was verbal and able to ask for something I began toy training. First I put most of the toys up where he couldn't reach them. That way he couldn't just dump all the toys out and make a mess. He had to ask me for the one he wanted.
The reason I wanted him to ask is that I was teaching him to manage his toys. He would have to play with one toy at a time, and when he was done with that toy he had to put it away (bring it to me) before he could have another one. This keeps the mess to a minimum and teaches them the pick-up habit.
Of course, some toys are meant to go together. For instance, if he was playing with his plastic zoo animals, I did not give him one animal at a time. I gave him the whole plastic lidded container that held all his zoo animals. Some toys come in sets. So I gave him the whole set.
But I did not give him the zoo animal, and the legos, and the blocks, and all of his toys for him to play with all at once. That would have defeated my purpose. Of course, I did allow him to use his imagination and play with whatever toys he wanted together (like zoo animals and blocks for "building" a barn, etc.).
When you are training them, you will need to get the toys down for them at first, as well as put them back. It may seem like more work, but remember you are training them and training takes time. Once the child learns the pick-up habit, you can put all the toys back down again within their reach. Then they can get them (and put them back) themselves.
I also selected three rooms that they could play with toys in. The living room, their bedroom, and the dining room (the "room of choice" for my youngest). As they got older they were allowed to play with toys downstairs as well.
This kept some of the rooms (such as the kitchen or our bedroom) a toy-free zone. For the rest of the toy-playing rooms we had three toy pick-ups a day: before lunch, before dinner, and before bed.
This will not work for some people as they may not like being this fussy about toys. Training like this did not prevent the kids from playing with toys. It simply taught them that they could enjoy their toys without having to make a huge mess of their room or the entire house in the process.
I felt that it taught them to be more responsible and respectful with their toys and with our home. It worked for me, anyway! For more "Works-For-Me Wednesday" go here!