5 Reasons to Get Rid of Your Toys

At first glance, it might seem strange to hear one of the founders of the Minneapolis Toy Library promoting the idea of having LESS toys to play with, but hear me out. You may come to agree that more isn’t necessarily better.

  1. Reclaim your Floors (and your Sanity!)

Do you ever feel as though you’ve spent the entire day picking things up off the floor? That’s because you probably have! Kids are masters at getting things OUT to play with, but when it comes to packing them away again, let’s just say it’s a work-in-progress. Having less things available for kids to throw on the floor is an effective way of keeping the house in a manageable state, not to mention that stepping on toys can really hurt!

  1. Reduce Clutter / Reduce Stress

A cluttered house is a cluttered mind. Ever found yourself pondering more options for storing toys? Our kids acquire SO much in their short lives. According to a UCLA study, American kids own 40% of the worlds’ toys, despite the fact that only 3.1% of the world’s children live here! And it’s our job to try to store it all! It’s no wonder that “women who are bothered by their household clutter show increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Men (in this study) were unaffected.” So cut yourself a break and give decluttering a go.

If this picture makes your heart sing, it might be time to start cutting down on excess toys. Photo credit Vlada Briks (homesparkjoy.com)

3. Promote Creativity

With less toys competing for their attention, kids are not as likely to feel overwhelmed by so much choice. They are forced to become more resourceful and more creative. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all. If they suddenly need something they don’t have, they might consider making it out of household materials like a cardboard box. Reducing the number of toys in our house has led to more craft projects, hours of drawing coloring, dress-up games, and even imaginary play with no materials at all! Of course these skills can be age-dependent, but babies might enjoy getting to know some humble household materials, too.

  1.  Keep Track of your Borrowed Toys

Bringing home a bunch of new toys from the Minneapolis Toy Library once or twice a month can be super exciting!! But turning the house upside down on a Friday night before a lending event, looking for all the missing pieces can really take the fun out of the experience. Having less toys out at one time can make managing your borrowed toys a lot less stressful and a lot more enjoyable for everyone.

  1. Support your Local Toy Library

With less toys in the house, you also might find that you rely on the toy library more. Exchange your toys every two weeks if you like, to keep the materials rotating. Check-out our seasonal toys without storing them at home all year long.

And as for the surplus of toys you have gathered up from around the house? Donate them to the toy library, and if you find that you miss them, come check them out again! I like to think of it as a place to store my daughter’s treasured toys until we need them again. Only, instead of sitting in the cupboard taking up precious real estate, they are being loved and adored by other families in the community. Win-win!

So what do you say? Are you willing to reclaim your space and time?

Share your experiences in the comments below and on our Facebook page and let’s keep this community talking.

My top 5 favorite eco-friendly toy companies

As a former educator, I constantly thought about toys and materials for young children.  I picked materials that were age appropriate and that also helped to develop important skill sets.  If I saw a need for children to work on classification skills I would carefully select materials that would engage these senses.  I selected them carefully.  One thing I never thought about was the toy companies behind these toys.  I knew some of them by name and liked them for their durability and aesthetic nature, but I never learned about the companies missions and what they stood for.  Not until recently.

Now, working with the Minneapolis Toy Library, I have learned more about these toy companies.  I have a desire to know more about them so I can make an educated decision about the toys that stock our shelves.  Sure we don’t have the budget to JUST buy these toys, but when we do have the financial means to purchase toys, we buy from companies we care about.

The following is my list of the top 5 toy companies worth spending a bit of extra money on.    I explain my reasoning for each choice below.

Green Toys

We LOVE Green Toys!  All of their toys are made from 100% recycled milk jugs.  How great is that?  There are no glues or nuts and bolts that keep the toys together.  It’s completely safe for children.  Their line of toys includes vehicles, pretend food play sets, and even books.  We have so many of their materials in our inventory and are happy to promote their products.  Check out this video to learn more about their recycling process, Recycling video.


HABA makes high quality materials for young children.  Not only wood toys, but high quality plush toys and even games.  I love that their product line is so extensive without having to sacrifice quality and safety.  Their wooden toys have PEFC label (Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, PEFC.org), which means that their wooden toys are created utilizing wood from sustainable forests.  They are committed to being environmentally friendly toy manufacturers.  Thank you HABA!


Hape has a passion for developing toys that invite children to play and learn important skills along the way.  Their wooden toys are made from bamboo.  This material is anti-bacterial in nature, water resistant, and is grown in abundance around the world.  It is very durable, so the toys will last for a long time!   I love their passion for creating appropriate, inviting, and educational toys for young children.


Tegu builds those beautiful wooden blocks that have the hidden magnet inside.  They are aesthetically pleasing to the eye and feel great in the palm of your hand. OH, and they are so much fun to create and build with.  This company is based out of Honduras and was founded by two brothers.  They believe in creating a positive social impact on the people who work for the company and the neighborhood where they create their toys.  The wood they use is forested responsibly and if for some strange reason the blocks become unusable (maybe a dog got ahold of some?) they will pay for the shipping of the pieces and will recycle them for you!  Neat!


I’m not sure how I found out about this toy maker, but I’m glad I did!  This environmentally friendly toy company creates plant based materials – vs plastic based. They create a wide variety of toys that are made using non toxic paints, wood from rubber trees, and recycled plastics.  They want children to create and have fun while also playing with toys that are durable, safe, and beautiful.

I hope this list helped you learn about toy companies that are building a product line for children that is safe, beautiful, and has less of an impact on the environment.  These toys will last – they’re worth the money you pay for them!

~Rebecca Nutter

Toy Librarian

Former preschool teacher

Toy lover!




Toy Drive

November 5th we are collecting toy donations to add to our inventory.   A group of volunteers will drive around our community to pick up any toy donations that you might have.  A way to make it easier on you!

toy library collection

How to donate?

Send us an email at mplstoylibrary@gmail.com to say that you want to donate toys, include your address, and we will respond with more details about when we will pick them up.

This is all thanks to Thrivent Financial Action Teams, where members of the bank can do something good for the community by putting together teams and giving them a bit of seed money to help fund their efforts!  Our little library appreciates their help and support.

Feel free to ask your neighbors or coworkers if they’d like to donate.  We take the work out of having to bring these donations to a secondhand store or the like, we will come to you!



Photo by vistamommy

Connectagons – a toy for all ages

Have you checked out Connectagons from our collection?


Photo credit: http://www.hearthsong.com

They are such a fun and open ended toy for children of all ages.  4 and 5 year olds will enjoy building and creating.  They offer sets that are themed, such as an under the sea collection or Connectagons that are in the shape of butterflies.  However, my 14 month old found a way to use them too!  I recycled a plastic peanut container for her to drop them into.  If you want to try it at your house it’s quite simple.

1 – find an empty plastic container with a lid that is made of soft plastic that can be cut with a kitchen knife

2 – cut a slit in the top.  I used the shape of a Connectagon to see how big I wanted it to be

3 – cut a piece out of the bottom of the container.  Big enough for that piece to fall out or for your child’s hand to grab it

4 – cover any rougher cut edges with tape

5 – find a place to tape it to a wall, chair leg, or just leave it on the floor.  I found my daughter was frustrated with it when it was on the floor, because it just fell over.  I taped it to the end of our wall with a LONG piece of packaging tape.

6 – keep a small bowl or basket of your Connectagons nearby.

(You could also cut a circle for balls to be dropped into. If you have a couple of containers you could have one for a small ball and one for a bigger ball.)

This is near our kitchen where I often am desperately trying to find activities to occupy her while I’m making dinner!





We have moved!

We have finally acquired a space for our toy library.  Beginning with our toy lending events on August 18th and August 20th, we will now be at Richfield Lutheran Church, 8 W 60th Street, Minneapolis.  Our entrance is on 60th and closest to Nicollet.  We will have signs on the door.  There is a parking lot across the street for the church that you can use.  The room is down one flight of stairs (you can leave your strollers in the entryway or carry them down).  The room is spacious and carpeted.  Our intention is that your child(ren) will feel comfortable to explore the space.


Here are some pictures of the day we moved in.  We were lucky enough to have the youth group help us move and organize the toys.  After a couple more days of work, it should be cleared out and ready to go!



Toys everywhere!


Toys on the shelf and organized!


Starting to come together.


If you’re interested in becoming a member, please check out our membership page for more information.  We can fill out your membership form at the event.  We look forward to seeing you!

~Rebecca, Molly, and Rosie


co founders

What does our inventory look like?

We are excited to share with you some pictures and information about what kinds of toys we have in our collection.

Our toys and materials focus on the ages birth to age 5.  The materials are broken into different categories, which I have talked about before.  These categories are common areas that any early education classroom might focus on.  With 10 years of experience in that field, working in various child development centers, I have acquired a lot of knowledge about which toys are quality while also offering rich play for children.  Also, our organization focuses on buying toys that are durable (less likelihood they will need to go in the landfill due to breakage) and possibly made with eco friendly products.  Of course we also welcome donations from the community – another way to give those toys more mileage.

Here are some pictures of our inventory:

picture 2 toys

picture 3 toys

We are always thinking about new toys to add.  We talk with our members and see what their children are interested in and we also ask for suggestions.  We also will be adding more “discovery” type kits that offer children a variety of materials to explore different concepts.  For example a sink and float kit and a kit that explore color and light.  Also, we are beginning to add bigger ticket items, such as a trampoline, a slide, and some trikes.

Thanks for looking and happy playing!





Bilibo; a versatile new toy

Have you ever seen these Bilibo toys?


I was drawn to the bright color and unique design.  I thought they were just for children to rock and spin while sitting in it.  Well, that is just one of the many things children may do with this toy.

Bilibo is made by the company Moluk, which operates out of Switzerland.  They create products for children that invite children to use their imagination.  They are the essence of open ended materials.  Maybe the Bilibo toy  could turn into a tunnel for trains to go through or a place to lay a baby for bed.  The possibilities are endless!

So when you see the Bilibo sitting on our shelf, you will know the endless possibilities of play you are offering your child!




<http://moluk.com/bilibo.php&gt;. viewed 8 June 2016

What does FM – 11 even mean?

You might be curious as to what those letters and numbers are on the toy you are checking out. Why such a strange grouping of letters? Well, most letter or letters stands for a developmental domain. Some stand for an area of interest. The numbers are how many toys we have in that category. Here I’m sharing what each one is:

BG – Board Game

BL – Blocks

DP – Dramatic Play (cash register, dolls, and tea set)

FM – Fine Motor (lacing cards, stacking rings, and hammering bench)

L – Literacy (animal magnets, story telling blocks, and Three Little Pigs story props)

LM – Large Motor (Gonge River Stones, Wooden infant gym, and tunnel)

M/C – Mathematics and Cognitive (dominos, shape sorter, and geometric sorting toy)

Man – Manipulative (Clics and tools)

Mu- Music

Pu – Puzzles

Sc/S – Science and Sensory (Magnetic wand and shapes, textured balls, and bucket balance)

V- Vehicles

Now as you are browsing through toys you will understand our strange inventory system. In the future, when we acquire a space, this will most likely be the way we group the toys. We may add more as we see fit. Seeing some labels, such as FM and M/C, will help you to see what the developmental goal of that toy is. Others, such as Pu, well that’s a puzzle and there’s a whole lot you can learn from putting a puzzle together, but it’s much easier to just label it as a puzzle or Pu. ☺

6th Graders Find Clever Solution to Reduce Toy Waste

A bright group of 6th graders at the Clara Barton Open School in Minneapolis were challenged to finding better ways to manage trash. As part of the First Lego League’s Lego Robotics Challenge, the students’ group called the Recyclones created a website as a resource to help people find out where and how to donate “old” toys that children outgrow. Their mission is to reduce waste, specifically associated with toys.  Their website (donatetoysmpls.com) provides information about where to donate toys and how to repurpose them.


For instance, they suggest using old stuffed animals as bookends – a toy that is commonly thrown away. They also hosted an eco-minded carnival, which gave out used toys as prizes for the games instead of new ones.  Kids were excited to play the games and receive a “new-to-them” toy as a prize. The Minneapolis Toy Library is honored to be the recipient of the money raised at the carnival. They plan to add more ideas about how to repurpose toys that cannot be donated, so make sure to bookmark their website for future updates.

Last week the Recyclones won the project part of the competition and are moving onto sectionals in the next couple of weeks. The MPLS Toy Library wishes them the best of luck!