Square plates seemed like such a great idea! And then I remembered that my kiln is round...
I haven't had to re-pack a kiln in a long time. I can judge ten cubic feet pretty well by now. And I have NEVER used all of my kiln shelves in one load. Ever. And then I made a whole lot of square plates. The picture above doesn't look like much, but that took a few hours and two load attempts.
For starters, if the peg and hole toy is in your toddler's toy chest, throw it away or buy your baby a hammer and a sanding block. Don't give that plastic to good-will either: There's no need to inflict non-creative thinking on anyone. While I'm thinking about it, get rid of the coloring books too. Buy a blank book, some sharpies, and a lot of praise any lines, colors and combinations thereof that have never been created before.
Then, never be too proud to dumpster dive. As a local pottery was cleaning out their "unnecessary" equipment, I learned to check the trash regularly. Rusted specialty tools, broken (new-specialty!) tools, and one of the biggest triumphs: Broken kiln shelves! Ooo... As weird as it is, broken kiln shelves are gold in a productive pottery. You can see them in the picture as both shelving AND spacers between the shelves. (What got these plates to fit was saving about a quarter inch each layer by using the shelves as spacers rather than the regular spacers which are made in one-inch increments).
It's not neat, it's not pretty, but the job gets done in a gloriously creative (and economical!) way.
So now why am I firing those broken plate pieces?? YOU tell ME. :)