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Melissa’s Playbook: Moments of Wonder

2016-11-23 by Melissa

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We recently partnered with Gallup for a study on parents’ perspectives on childhood play. You can see what we learned here. This blog is part of our “Time to Play” series, with advice and tips on how you can make time for play in your child’s life!

This blog is part of our “Time to Play” series, with advice and tips on how you can make time for play in your child’s life!

“Free play and exploration are, historically, the means by which children learn to solve their own problems, control their own lives, develop their own interests, and become competent in pursuit of their own interests.”

—Peter Gray, Research Professor, Department of Psychology, Boston College


The older I grow, the more I realize that the moments I have found the most profound are the truly simple ones, largely involving nothing material and often experienced alone. For the most part, they involve engaging with my environment in a way that brings me a sense of awe. And yet, although these moments of wonder are readily available to each of us, they are easily overlooked in our constant race to charge ahead to the finish line. But once we open our eyes and see the marvels right in front of us, we can develop tremendous appreciation and find immense pleasure in life’s simplest gifts, serving as the launch pad to exploration and discovery.

It occurs to me that these tiny snippets have been stitched together like an intricate quilt to form the person I have become – someone capable of finding the wonder in all that I do. In an era where childhood is becoming more like a job, my wish is to embrace these little moments and create an archive of simple ways to experience awe and wonder every day. In order to Take Back Childhood and nurture children to discover themselves, their passions, and their purpose, they must appreciate all the moments of wonder right in front of them. My belief is that if they begin to see the ordinary as extraordinary, they will then view the world as a magical place and feel empowered to set out on their own journey to discover awe and wonder in everything they do.

Here are just a few of my favorite moments, narrowed down from a list of hundreds (yes, hundreds!):

Moments of Wonder


 Jumping into a pile of leaves
Searching for an exquisite leaf
Catching falling leaves before they land
Following a path in the woods
Throwing a spiral pass with a football

Playing in a pile of leaves


 Making a snow angel
Eating a handful of snow
Starting a snowball fight
Catching snowflakes on your tongue
Collecting pinecones


Finding the season’s first bud
Chasing butterflies
Studying an ant carrying food to its family
Whistling on a blade of grass
Watching a bird make a nest
Playing in the dirt
Making mud pies
Splashing in a rain puddle
Looking for four-leaf clovers
Watching a snail slowly move
Drinking the rain
Planting a tree and watching it grow

Hunting for 4-Leaf Clovers and Flowers


Running barefoot through the grass
Studying a bug then letting it go
Chasing fireflies
Running through the sprinkler
Sleeping outside under the stars
Being the first to jump into ice cold water
Eating a fruit or vegetable right off the vine
Body surfing in the waves
Making a sand castle
Blowing on a dandelion
Playing with a hose
Splashing in the water
Finding treasure at the beach
Staying outside in the pouring rain
Drinking from the hose
Doing a cannonball in the water

Blowing a Dandelion


Finding the first star and making a wish
Running through a meadow
Flying paper airplanes
Starting a rock collection
Doing somersaults down a hill
Making up a secret language
Singing in your loudest voice
Staying in your pajamas all day
Watching a flame flicker
Skipping rocks across the water
Riding on someone's shoulders
Closing your eyes and swinging as high as you can
Watching the entire sunset
Dancing with abandon
Going down a slide head first
Wearing your superhero cape all day
Trying to catch a bubble
Twirling round and round
Finding pictures in the clouds
Climbing a tree
Studying your reflection in the water
Letting a balloon go; watching it disappear

Please share with me some of your favorite moments of wonder! What were the magical memories that still stay with you from your childhood? What are the experiences you want to give the children in your life? It can be something small (“finding the perfect seashell”) or something big (“seeing the Grand Canyon”). Something sweet (“reading books on Grandma’s lap”) or something silly (“blowing a double bubble with my bubble gum”). Something common (“jumping in a pile of leaves”) or something specific (“winning 1st place at the county fair for my macramé pot holder”).

Share your moments of wonder on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you happen to have photos to share, be sure to tag them with #TakeBackChildhood. Let’s create a wonder-full list, and commit to ensuring our children experience these same magical moments!

Wishing you and your family a season of discovery and wonder!

Signed Melissa



Melissa is the co-founder of Melissa & Doug. She credits her creativity to a childhood of boredom, relying on only her imagination to fill the blank canvas — with magic. Concerned this generation of children is missing out on the kind of unstructured downtime that enables them to find their passions and purpose through exploration, Melissa is leading a movement to Take Back Childhood. She dreams of a day when kids are free from over-scheduling, undue pressure, and digital distractions so they may discover themselves, develop into free thinkers, and realize their full potential.

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