Teaching Toys: A new store that celebrates learning, fun

Hank Minckiewicz 

Tired of seeing the same old things when you walk the toy aisles at Walmart or Meijer or Target? The same Disney toys, the same action figures, the same Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars? 

Well, moms and dads, grandpas and grandmas, there is a new store in town – literally – and if you are looking for creative, educational gifts that are still loads of fun, this place is going to knock your socks off. 

Owned by Grosse Ile resident and Trenton native Marie Liburdi, Teaching Toys opened Dec. 1 at 3331 West Rd. in Trenton and it has a wide array of toys that will appeal to kids who are babies and toddlers on up. 

Liburdi is no johnny-come-lately when it comes to creative, educational playthings. She is the owner of Children’s Place Montessori of Grosse Ile and Brownstown and in that capacity she currently services 300 families. In the 10 years the Montessoris have been open, she has taught and touched the lives of literally thousands of children. 

“I’ve seen what kinds of toys help kids learn, what kind help teach them to concentrate,” said Liburdi. 

The mottos at the Montessoris are:”Helping kids grow by exploring their surroundings” and “Teaching kids with ways that are intuitive to them.” 

Both of those things carry through at Teaching Toys. 

“Opening this store has been my heart’s desire,” Liburdi said. “I have always wanted a one-stop shop where people can find fun, educational toys. These types of stores are out there, but it was always discouraging there was not one Downriver.” 

Rebecca Brockington, who is the Curriculum Director at the Montessoris and an occasional worker at the new store said this: “We have the kinds of things you find at museum gift shops; wonderful, educational things that you want to buy. But we have a bigger selection.” 

Schools are heading more and more to teaching the S.T.E.A.M. method – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math – and Teaching Toys is right in step with that. 

“We have a whole line of STEAM products – it’s important to us – and it’s important to let teachers out there know that,” Liburdi said. 

Liburdi’s Montessori business is going well. She is full to capacity at each location and an expansion of the Brownstown location is in the works, but the retail shop is a labor of love – with the heavy emphasis on “labor.” Prior to opening, Liburdi and her husband, Paul, spent days prepping the store, building shelves and unloading merchandise. 

“When we got home, I could barely drag myself into bed,” she said, laughing. 

But they made their Dec. 1 deadline. Things are not 100 percent yet; the internet is still not set up, the building owner still needs to install a window and there are product lines that have yet to arrive, but the doors are open and there is plenty of tempting product on the shelves. 

Liburdi said some important things that will be available after the first of the year are teacher supplies – fun, creative, educational teaching aids, things for the classroom and bulletin board packs. 

“You can find a lot of the things we carry (and will carry) online, but you have to wait at least days before you get it. Here, you can just pop in and buy it,” Liburdi said. 

Children’s Place Montessori began as a small dream 10 years ago and in a decade has grown into an impressive operation with 35 employees and hundreds of clients. 

Liburdi said that business began with a love for children and a love of helping them learn and grow. Teaching Toys is just an extension of that, 

“I am an optimist,” Liburdi said. “When you start something and give it care and love, it will increase over time.” 

Creative Montessori has done that. The Liburdis hope and believe Teaching Toys can, too. 

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