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How to Make Kids Wear Warm Clothes!

27 Jan

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Imagine a toddler running pell-mell outside wearing nothing but a t-shirt, sock feet, and a runny nose. Sound familiar? Getting your children to dress properly during the winter months can be a parent’s biggest struggle! Even if your children act unfazed by the cold weather, it’s important they learn how to bundle up, if only to prevent catching a cold. Here are some creative ways to get your little one to dress warmly for winter:

Dramatic Play for Winter

If there’s one way to get children to dress up, it’s involving them in dramatic play! Encourage your children to pretend to be Eskimos wandering through the arctic or polar bears trying to keep their pups warm. Whatever it is your children are pretending to be, make sure you stress how important keeping warm is to their health and being able to survive in cold environments. A great book to read while bundling up is Animals in Winter. 

Pick out Winter Clothes for Toys

Children often learn best from seeing the things expected of them acted out. Learning will come even more naturally when children are involved in hands-on activity that requires them to physically dress their toys. Whether it’s dressing your child’s Favorite Friends Let It Snow Doll or dressing Freddy Frog with his felt set,  putting clothes on their toys is a great way to remind children how to properly dress themselves.

Rewarding Appropriate Clothing

Sometimes, as parents, we have to make deals with our children. We’re sure you are familiar with the, “If you’ll do this THEN we can ____.” statements. When it comes to cold weather, sometimes it can be as simple as offering a fun outdoors activity for them to engage in after they agree to button up the coat and keep from pulling off the toboggan! Some fun activities you can enjoy with your children once they’re properly bundled up include sledding, making an outdoor fort, and even kicking around the Moon Ball!

Finally, it’s important for children to understand the health benefits of dressing warm for winter. Express your concern for their health and teach healthy habits to keep them from getting sick. Here is a great graphic from Kaplan Early Learning Company on how to keep children from spreading germs:image.axd

2015 Resources Roundup for Parents

21 Jan

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As you start the new year, it’s best to have learning resources in mind for your children. This will not only help continue learning opportunities that start in the classroom at home, but also give you options when it comes to filling weekends, indoor play days, and the special holidays you get to spend together! Without further adieu, here is a list of 2015 parent resources we hope you’ll find useful:

Early Education Blogs

Blogs go a long way in providing inspiration and a way to get connected with other parents and teachers. Here are a few of our favorites:

Pre-K Blogs

 Kindergarten Blogs

Educational Toy Suggestions

Keep up with our latest toys for the new year! Whether it’s incorporating new technology, discovering our latest dramatic play options, or finding classics on sale, here are our top toys for the new year:

  1. Stephen Joseph Wall Growth Chart
    • Keep up with how much your child is growing each day! Add inches and dates for memories to revisit years down the road.
  2. Lil Allie Gator
    • Start teaching proper brushing habits from the start with help from Lil Allie Gator! Because everyone knows if Alligators brush their teeth, then it must be important!
  3. Cottage Bed Pretend Play Tent
    • Encourage dramatic play and fanciful reading spaces with the new Cottage Bed Pretend Play Tent. Fits directly over a twin mattress!
  4. Geomag Gbaby Farm – 11 Pieces 
    • Magnetic rods allow budding builders to construct whatever shapes and structures they can imagine. Hours of building fun for babies!
  5. Laser Pegs Mini Indy Racer – 6 Models in 1 
    • Get kids excited with six different models that can be built into the Laser Pegs Mini Indy Racer! Vehicles even light up and provide for hours of racing fun, in the day or night.
  6. Practice Lacing Shoes (set of 2)
    • Let your little ones practice tying their shoes without it inhibiting their progress. Great for 3 years and up.

We hope you find these suggestions useful as you launch into the new year with your children!

Valuing Diversity on MLK Day

13 Jan

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As 2015 is underway, that means Martin Luther King Jr. Day is right around the corner! Celebrated the third Monday of every January, the holiday commemorates an American hero who fought for equality for all. MLK provides a great example for children to not only read about but also learn from. Here are a few ways you can teach your children to value diversity just as MLK did.

Fun Facts About MLK

  • Martin Luther King Jr. attended Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, GA and was so smart that he skipped two grades in high school! He started his college education at 15.
  • King was the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
  • One of his main influences was Mahatma Gandhi who taught protesting in a non-violent manner.
  • There are over 730 streets in the United States named after Martin Luther King Jr.
  • In his efforts to fight segregation and inequality, King traveled more than six million miles and spoke more than 2,500 times.

Ways to Teach Diversity to Your Kids

1. Read Inclusive Books

It’s important that the children’s books you choose are inclusive and represent a variety of cultures and races. Children can use these books as examples of the diversity America is proud to represent every day. Be sure to encourage acceptance of those small differences by choosing diverse reading materials like the ones below:

2. Schedule Multicultural Play Dates

Know a family in the classroom or neighborhood of a different race or culture? Suggest scheduling a play date so your children can come to appreciate and accept differences in others and themselves. Introduce children to different cuisines during snack time, different languages spoken in the home, and even different greetings, clothing, and mannerisms from their fellow peers. Sometimes, children’s differences can even lead to closer friendships.

3. Make Diversity an Open Discussion

Whether you’re walking in the park, in the grocery store, or simply riding home from picking your child up at school, be sure you encourage them to discuss the differences they see in the people around them. Opening up children’s discussion on those differences and pointing out how positive they are will lead to a broader perspective and overall acceptance in children. You can also take it one step further by getting children to see instances where their peers may be struggling, whether because of language barriers or physical handicaps, as opportunities to reach out and help.

Activity: A Song for MLK Day

Sing the following to the tune “Have You Ever Seen a Lassie?” for MLK Day!

We are all different,

All different,

All different,

We are all different,

Each in our own way.

Whether dark skin or light,

We should get along not fight,

We are all different,

Each in our own way!

(Source: The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities For Children 3 to 6)

Resources:

4 Values to Instill in Children for the New Year

6 Jan

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More studies are finding that social emotional learning in young children is just as important as academics because those core values play largely into how children will act as adults. Just as working with a team requires communication skills and the ability to relate to other people, children should also foster those values early on with their peers. As you and your children launch into the new year, here are four key values you can promote in the household for children to display both in and outside of the classroom:

Empathy

Empathy is important for children to understand, as it is the ability to view a situation from another person’s point of view. Without it, children would not be able to relate to their peers or teacher. More importantly, they could end up unintentionally hurting someone if they are unable to relate to that person’s pain. To ensure your child not only understands empathy but is also putting it into practice, keep an eye out for teachable moments. For example, if their friend or sibling falls to the ground and no one notices, involve your child in caring for them. Likewise, if someone is struggling with a task on their own, ask your child to help them finish their task. Simply engaging with and relating to people in their daily lives will help children apply those values in the classroom and in the future.

Grit

Grit has become popular in the classroom, but it should also be present in the home. Simply put, grit is the ability to overcome obstacles through determination and learning from mistakes. There are several ways you can help your child grow in “grittiness” including inspiring them to take risks, talking them through failures to see them as learning opportunities, and encouraging open communication where children feel comfortable getting out of their comfort zones. As always, lead by example and ensure your children sees you reaching for goals out of your comfort zone and displaying determination to achieve them.

Resilience

For children to become capable of handling daily obstacles, they must first develop resilience. Overcoming challenges through practicing resiliency skills can only be done, however, if a child has a growth mindset. To teach your child to have an open mind, make sure they know how to first identify their problems, set achievable goals, recognize the risks that come along with those goals, and finally, have the persistence to see them through.

Diversity

Learning to recognize and accept differences in a child’s peers will help them go a long way in the classroom and in life. By recognizing that other families do things differently, it will broaden a child’s perspective and open them up to new experiences. You can help diversify your child’s experiences by introducing them to families in the neighborhood who are of a different culture or by reading books about different parts of the world. Also, creating new experiences at home like cooking a new recipe is a great way to open your child up to a variety of life experiences.

How are you promoting social emotional learning at home? Feel free to share by commenting below or sharing on our Facebook page with the hashtag #SEL.

Resources:

Indoor Winter Play for Restless Kiddos

23 Dec

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Are your kids getting the fidgets, brimming with restless energy? Waiting for Christmas break can be quite the undertaking for young children, especially if cold weather is keeping them indoors. That’s why we want to make sure you have options when it comes to keeping children learning, moving, and having fun! Here are a few indoor ideas for encouraging movement in children during winter months:

Parachute Play!

This activity should inspire cooperative play, build gross motor skills, and work on children’s ability to follow directions to make snowflakes dance.

Having a parachute ready for children to play with is always a great option to encouragement movement, inspire giggles, and create fun from whatever theme you’re teaching. Cut out a couple of snowflakes and bring in winter properly—with lots of laughter and indoor snowfall! Here’s how:

Related Books:

What to Do:

  1. Talk to the children about snowflakes and how they fall.
  2. Show the children the parachute, and ask them to help lay it out flat on the ground.
  3. Ask the children to stand around the outside of the parachute, hold it with both hands, and lift it into the air.
  4. Take out the snowflakes and toss them into the parachute. Invite the children to shake the parachute to make the snowflakes dance.
  5. Challenge the children by having them move to the left or right while making the snowflakes fall. Or have the children make the snowflakes jump slightly or jump very high.
  6. Talk with the children about how all of this requires them to work together.

Pro Tip:

  • Have children practice the moves with an empty parachute first. Direct them to move the parachute up, down, fast, slow, high, low, and so on.

Don’t have a parachute? Never fear! Find your own parachute along with related resources here:

-https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/40794/kaplan-12-rainbow-parachute?c=1%7CKTAP16

-https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/13018/parachute-play?c=1%7CKTAP16

-https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/40534/a-world-of-parachute-play-cd

Source: Learn Every Day About Seasons 

Masking Tape Fun

Tape your floors to create racecar tracks and more for children to play indoors!

The possibilities are endless when it comes to masking tape! Whether it’s taping tic-tac-toe to the floor, taping a track for cars to follow around the house, or creating a hopscotch course, tape is a great way to encourage gross motor skills. Best of all, it doesn’t leave a mess!

Extra: Do your children love cars? Tape three circles to the floor to form a bull’s-eye. Encourage your children to sit the proper distance away and try to roll their cars into the smallest circle. Who can get the closest?

Pro Tip:

  • Blue painter’s tape works best for hardwood floors while masking tape is best for carpets.

Resources:

-https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/82152/family-cars-set-of-3?c=20%7CKTVC08

-https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/88003/little-autos-set-of-4

-https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/142701/wow-friction-powered-turbo-twins?c=20%7CKTVC11

Source: http://www.savvysassymoms.com/blog/wintertime-indoor-activities-for-kids/

Spider Web Obstacle Course

Children will feel like superheroes as they practice balance and dexterity moving through spider webs! 

String yarn in different directions to zigzag across your hallway and create the perfect obstacle course for children! Kids will have to get creative as they weave their way through the course trying not to touch the strings. For more resources to build your indoor obstacle course, check out the products below:

Source: http://www.savvysassymoms.com/blog/wintertime-indoor-activities-for-kids/

Starting New Family Traditions for the Holidays

16 Dec

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Happy holidays! Many families are already celebrating Kwanza and Hanukkah while Christmas is right around the corner. The holidays are a great time to start new traditions that families can look forward to for years to come. If you don’t have certain routines to fall into to engage the whole family, we have a few suggestions you can try out with your kids to make the holidays a little more magical!

Gather Round the Table!

Taking time to sit down as a family over a special meal for the holidays is the perfect time to connect with your loved ones. One thing you can do before the whole family gets together is prepare questions beforehand for every family member to answer. This proves to be a useful insight in getting to know loved ones better and can always lead to some interesting stories! Here are a few example questions from Around the Family Table:

  • “Are you a secret keeper or a secret teller? Which is best?”
  • “What is something you had in your childhood that no longer exists and you wish you had back?”
  • “If you could give the children of this world one thing, what would it be?”

 Little Hands in the Kitchen

There’s nothing like planning to cook with your little ones each year for the holidays. Talk about your favorite recipes and find something fun to make that can be enjoyed by the whole family. The more creative the recipe the more fun it is to make together! Here is an example of a fun winter recipe you can make with your kids:

Marshmallow Snowmen

Turn your kitchen into a winter wonderland any time of the year.

Ingredients:

  • Marshmallows
  • Miniature peanut butter cups
  • Red shoestring licorice
  • Small tubes of black gel icing (or any color your child prefers)

What to Do:

  • Help your child put three marshmallows on toothpicks to resemble a snowman. Make sure to leave some room at the top of the toothpick above the snowman’s head.
  • Show how to attach a peanut butter cup (wide-side down) to the top of the toothpick to resemble a hat.
  • Help your child tie a piece of licorice around the snowman’s neck to make a scarf.
  • Encourage children to use the black gel icing to make eyes, mouth, and buttons on the snowmen.

For more creative recipes for any occasion, check out The Budding Chef. 

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Magic and Mischief with Elf on the Shelf

If you have small children and haven’t joined the Elf on the Shelf movement, you may want to reconsider! This chipper little elf brings magic back to the holidays as children find the elf in different positions every morning. You can get as creative as you want and watch as children’s eyes glow with wonder upon finding what mischief the elf has been up to during the night. Your elf can help children count down the days to the holiday, leave encouraging messages for children to find, and even instill good habits (like brushing teeth in the morning!) To get your own elf or find mischief inspiration, check out our Mischief for Your Elf on the Shelf Pinterest board.

Create a Holiday Playlist

It’s always fun to listen to your favorite holiday songs! Whether it’s funny selections like ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer’ or more classic choices like ‘White Christmas’, ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas,’ or ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’, sharing your musical taste for the holidays is a great way to share something you love with your kids. Hopefully, your selections will turn into songs played for holidays to come and lead to a few fun dances in the living room along the way!

Whether it’s building something together for a DIY project, leaving cookies out for Santa, or making a gingerbread house, traditions are an important part of keeping loved ones close and families engaged. What do you do every year for the holidays? Share your fun suggestions with us by commenting below!

Need to do a little last-minute holiday shopping? Don’t miss our top picks for holiday gifts here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/shop/great-gift-ideas

Elf on the Shelf: How to Manage Holiday Mischief

2 Dec

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Toys catch on in big ways when it comes to the holidays, but none quite so much as the Elf on the Shelf. This magical little fellow has managed to wriggle its way into every child and parent’s heart by giving families a tradition to engage in together. Whether your elf is drawing with toothpaste or hanging from a Christmas tree, the Elf on the Shelf gives you a chance to challenge your creativity and bring some magic to the holidays for your children. We’ve come up with 10 of the top creative ideas to get you started with mischief inspiration for your Elf on the Shelf:

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1. Blame the Dog!

Have pets? Bring them in on the fun by having your elf get into the dog or cat food to leave a fun message or picture for the kids. Get as creative as you want with what is left behind!

Source: http://www.frugalcouponliving.com/2012/12/03/elf-on-the-shelf-ornaments-dancing-elves-ideas-and-more/ 

 

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2. Let the Holidays Sink in!

There’s nothing like a little indoor fishing. Throw in some gold fish for an added effect.

Source: http://www.skinnymom.com/2013/11/20/75-family-friendly-elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/

 

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3. Take Elf on the Shelfies!

A photocopier makes everything more fun! Have your elf take selfies by photo copying him or herself. Be sure to leave evidence of the pictures your elf has already taken to make kids giggle.

Source: http://www.skinnymom.com/2013/11/20/75-family-friendly-elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/

elf-of-the-shelf-day-five-how-me-got-into-the-water-bottle-Elf-on-the-Shelf-Ideas-What-to-do-with-an-elf-on-a-Shelf-Easy-Elf-on-the-Shelf-Ideas4. Elf in a Bottle!

Let your kids answer the mystery of how your elf ended up in a water bottle! (Find out how the magic works here: http://athriftymom.com/elf-on-the-shelf-ideas-easy-ideas-for-elf-on-the-shelf-day-five/.

 

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5. Take a Load off!

Teach kids how to be responsible by making your elf do a little laundry of his or her own!

Source: http://www.amittenfullofsavings.com/27-creative-best-elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/

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6. Play Elf Games!

Simply add some marshmallows and draw on a Tic-Tac-Toe game for kids to find your elf playing.

Source: http://www.amittenfullofsavings.com/27-creative-best-elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/ 

 

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7. Let the Fun Roll!

Wrap your elf in toilet paper and send him or her for rides down the stairs. This is always a fun surprise for kids to find in the morning!

Source: http://athriftymom.com/elf-on-the-shelf-ideas-day-15-enter-to-win-your-own-free-elf-on-the-shelf/

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8. Bring on Breakfast!

Surprise your kids by letting them find your elf hiding in plain sight! Simply cut out a hole in the Rice Krispies box and your elf has successfully become a part of the most important meal of the day.

Source: http://melanielee86.blogspot.ca/2012/12/elf-on-shelf-day-7.html

 

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9. Get Social!

Part of the magic of the elf is that he comes “alive” at night, sparking children’s imagination at the toys around them. Get social with your elf and create whatever fun “Toy Story” moment you want your child to discover in the morning!

Source: http://www.mymommystyle.com/2013/12/19/fun-elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/ 

 

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10. Elf on a Boat!

Run some water in your sink, put your elf on a toy boat, and set him to sailing for a morning surprise your kids will love!

Source: http://www.mymommystyle.com/2013/12/19/fun-elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/ 

 

-Want your own Elf on the Shelf to get started? Find a selection of elf sets here along with new accessories! Keep an eye on our Pinterest board to see what our very own Elf on the Shelf is up to at the office for the holidays!

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