Take Back Childhood

Our good friend in the toy industry Melissa, of Melissa & Doug fame, has started and continued with her mission of Taking Back Childhood and letting kids play. We couldn’t agree more and are helping her in this mission locally right here in Lake Zurich, Il. We recently held the first of 3 Take Back Childhood days in which we allow Toy Testers(kids) to play with several toys and allow them to express themselves about the goods, bads, complexity or boredom with a toy. It isn’t necessarily the toy we are testing but rather the play patterns and creativity of the child. So, what did we find out?  Our own Katie H. conducted the play date on June 12th from 10 am till 4 pm with a variety of toys and interaction with kids from 3-12. Here is her write up to Melissa and Doug;

Take Back Childhood

M&D Take Back

Dear Melissa and Doug,

I was responsible for the Take Back Childhood initiative at the Lake Zurich Learning Express Toys. I personally wanted to say that, as a student majoring in neuroscience and studying early learning and development, the goal of this initiative is extremely important and I am glad that your company understands this and created this event.

Most of the kids we got in for our event were a little too young to really get into filling out the lab notebooks (although we had a few) so I just gauged where their interests were and took some notes on what they liked and what they didn’t.

Construction Set in a Box-

Many kids loved this set and enjoyed being creative with it. Some of the kids tried building cars and others enjoyed creating little houses and buildings. One issue that some of the kids had and that one parent pointed out was that some of the screws were a bit difficult to screw into the blocks. One parent commented that wood shavings would come off when they tried screwing the pieces together.

Perfect Pasta Playset & Food Cart-

The Perfect Pasta Playset was an instant hit with many of the younger kids ages 3-5. The kids loved that you could stuff the lasagna with different fillings and that the playset seemed very “real”. We also set out the Food Cart Playset for the kids which the kids and parents really loved. The kids enjoyed mixing and matching the food items.

Magic Set-

The magic set was less popular with the kids. The younger (4-6 yrs) kids found it too difficult to understand the tricks, but they enjoyed watching them being performed. The older (7-9 yrs) kids found the tricks too easy and simple and were not interested. The toy was a great item for the younger kids to watch tricks being performed and might be a good toy for younger ones to “grow into” but it was not enough to keep the older ones interested.

Stamps, Markers, and Crayons-

We rolled out a big sheet of the Melissa and Doug easel paper on our table and the kids really enjoyed drawing all over the table, using the stamps, markers, and crayons. We set out a couple of the stamp sets that we carry for the kids to play with and the kids really had fun.

I hope these notes are helpful for you and your company. Our customers really enjoyed this event and I am happy that I got to be a part of it.

Best, Katie Harbeck

Now Katie is 20 years old and she gets it despite growing up in a tech/social world through her middle school and high school years. The fact that she gets it, gives me great hope that the Mom’s and Dad’s to be of the future will indeed embrace this mission and kids will get back to playing, creating, inventing and socializing with others. Kids talking to kids not just texting.

If you want to learn more about the Melissa & Doug Mission to Take Back Childhood visit this link.  https://www.melissaanddoug.com/our-mission.html

So, until next time, let’s all play this summer and experience a little childhood again.

Best Regards,






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