Kids can learn through play with Discovery Toys.
Terry Landa was disappointed to miss her first invitation to a Discovery Toys home party in October 1985, but the scheduled date was right after her family’s move from Colorado to Detroit for her husband Ken’s new automotive industry job.
Discovery Toys, a brand for more than 40 years, has a notable reputation for “specializing in premium quality, kid-powered learning products for children.” The toys are targeted at the developmental needs of newborns through school-aged children, including those having autism and special needs.
Though Landa couldn’t come to the Colorado party, she ordered Marbleworks Grand Prix anyway for their 4-year-old son.
“We played Marbleworks with Jeremy, who loved it,” said Landa, noting that Jeremy plays Castle Marbleworks with his boys today.
The Landas’ daughter, Elise, was born in March 1986 in Michigan. That’s where Discovery Toys caught up with Terry again. Attending a home-based party in October 1986, she learned that hostesses earn free toys based on sales. Landa booked her own event for the following month. The play adviser demonstrating Discovery Toys asked if she’d be interested in starting her own business.
The answer was yes. Working part-time as an independent contractor dovetailed perfectly with Landa’s desire to remain a stay-at-home wife and mother in Huntington Woods. She put in more time as her children grew older. Currently, for two-thirds of the year, she works a flexible schedule of about 15 hours a week. Her hours increase during the holiday gift-buying season of October-December.
Children don’t grow out of Discovery Toys; the toys grow up with them, according to Landa. “You invest in something today and your children will be playing with the toy years later,” unlike other toys they might get bored with.
“A toy should be challenging and not frustrating,” she continued. “It should make kids think and find new ways to play.”
The native New Yorker brings a bachelor’s degree in elementary education to her endeavors. She graduated from Brooklyn College, part of City University of New York, and is certified to teach art to grades K-8. Landa also earned a master’s in food and nutrition at University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. She has worked as a nutritionist in a retirement community.
Besides leading home parties, Landa brings Discovery Toys to educational conferences and boutiques sponsored by organizations. They included Chanukah bazaars at the former Workmen’s Circle Educational Center in Oak Park, where her children attended Sunday school, and currently at Congregation Beth Shalom’s Chanu-Con.
With success, she has donated baskets of toys and books for clients of Common Ground and Jewish Family Service and contributed to Toys for Tots and local hospitals.
Since the COVID pandemic, Landa’s conducted sales by phone with customers located all over the country. She posts online video demonstrations of her toys and uses Zoom for personal shopping appointments and chatting at virtual home parties. She maintains a VIP group to apprise customers of special pricing on her toys. In October, she returned to hosting an in-person Discovery Toys demonstration.
Landa has become “a leader within the company and a trainer of the people I help get involved with Discovery Toys.
“I thought I would do this until Elise started elementary school,” she said, “but here I am, 34 years later, and I still love selling the toys. I get to share these wonderful products with others who want to teach through play.”
Discovery Toys’ best-sellers
The company introduces 20-30 new toys each year and retires roughly the same number, though some might come back. Here are a few of Landa’s suggestions from the current collection:
Birth-6 months: Try-Angle
12 months-2 years: Measure Up! Cups
19 months-2 years: Giant Pegboard
3-4 years: Busy Bugs
3-7 years+: Hydro Launch
5-8 years+: Marbleworks Grand Prix, Think It Through Learning Tiles
8 years-adult: Mosaic Mysteries, Tricky Fingers and Jishaku games