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10 Toys to Avoid Car Ride Boredom!

23 Jun

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Traveling for the 4th of July weekend? Have a family vacation coming up? We all know how bored and restless children can get during long car rides. Here are some toy and activity ideas that will keep kids entertained and learning throughout your summer trips. These toys are easy to travel with and they’re also educational, so you’ll get the best of both worlds!

1. Plastic Coated Playing Cards

Play classic games or learn new ones, either way these small playing cards will be the perfect addition to any car ride. They are small and compact, making them an easy add-on to your luggage!

Plastic Coated Playing Cards

2. Addition Wrap Ups

Keep math skills sharp with this easy-to-carry Addition Wrap Up. Wrap the string from the problem on the left to the answer on the right, and then flip it over to see if children’s answers are correct!

Addition Wrap Ups

3. Regal Games Classic Travel Bingo

Turn traffic into a learning opportunity with these classic games! Interstate Bingo, Traffic Safety Bingo, and License Plate Bingo will keep kids entertained and teach them about geography and travel at the same time! Whoever completes a row first wins.

Regal Games Classic Travel Bingo (Set of 3)

4. Crayola® Dry Erase Activity Center

Kids can use the included activity sheets or slip in a blank one and just doodle! This dry erase surface is versatile, and children can simply wipe away the marks and start over. Integrate technology by encouraging your kids to create their own activity pages online!

Crayola® Dry Erase Activity Center

5. Classic Doodle Sketch

The Doodle Sketch will provide no-mess drawing in the car, and it’s easy to carry! It is the perfect size for children’s laps and sparks creativity. Practice math, art, or vocabulary for extra summer learning!

Classic Doodle Sketch

6. KidsSongs 2 CD Classic

Two discs full of sing-a-longs to pop in the CD player during your car ride and an included book of lyrics. Practice reading, listening, and encourage musical literacy in your kids, all while having tons of fun!

Kidsongs 2 CD Classic

7. Amazing™ Baby Sound Balls

Your infant will love these sound balls to play with while riding down the highway. Each of the three balls has a different texture and sound, which will help your child explore and develop! When you get to your destination, just pack them up in the reusable vinyl carrying case that’s included.

Amazing Baby™ Sound Balls

8. First Atlas

Let your child explore the wonders of geography while traveling! First Atlas is a great learning tool with pictures and concepts that children will love! They will see the countries of the world and bright images of what they have to offer.

First Atlas

9. Crayola® Large 8 Count Washable Crayons

Don’t worry about stains with Crayola’s Washable Crayons. These large crayons are perfect for little hands to develop their motor skills and explore their imagination. A piece of paper and these eight crayons are all your child will need to create a car ride masterpiece!

Crayola® Large 8 Count Washable Crayons

10. Highlights™ 2015 Hidden Pictures Puzzle Books

Help your children develop their problem-solving skills by searching for the hidden objects within these puzzles! It has clues and answer pages for the more than 350 hidden objects in each book.

Highlights™ 2015 Hidden Pictures Puzzle Books - Set of 4

What strategies do you use to keep your children busy during car rides? Let us know by commenting below or sharing your ideas on our Facebook page!

Showing Dad How Much He Matters!

16 Jun

shutterstock_132978608Father’s Day is right around the corner! Fathers are an integral part of a child’s early education in the home as they provide stable male role models and play unique roles in children’s development. According to research, fathers are more likely to

  • promote children’s intellectual and social development through physical play;
  • emphasize independence and allow children more freedom to explore their surroundings, take risks, and challenge themselves; and
  • push their sons to higher levels of achievement.

To celebrate the special role father’s play in the lives of their children, we have a few fun crafts and books your kids can share with dad!

1. A Gift for the Car! Car Visor Clip

Help dad keep his car organized with this special gift!

Materials

  • clothespin, spring type
  • library pocket or small sturdy mailing envelope
  • paint
  • cotton swabs or thin paintbrushes
  • glue
  • nontoxic permanent marker

Make Your Great Gift

  1. Paint the clothespin and library pocket using the cotton swabs or thin paintbrushes.
  2. After the paint dries, glue the library pocket to one side of the clothespin.
  3. Use the permanent marker to personalize the clip by writing a title on the library pocket such as “Dad’s Car Clip.”
  4. Include a note with the gift suggesting that the recipient clip it to the car visor and use the pocket for parking stubs or other receipts.

Helpful Hint

  • The library pocket will last longer if it is laminated or covered with clear contact paper before attaching it to the clothespin. Glue does not adhere to laminate well, so use self-adhesive Velcro to attach the pocket to the clothespin.

Variation

  • Add magnetic tape to the back of the clothespin to create a refrigerator clip that can hold papers. Use the library pocket for storing pens and pencils.
  • Use a cut off denim jeans back pocket instead of a library pocket.

2. A Gift for the Office! Made-It-Myself Mouse Pad

Impress Dad with a unique mouse pad for the office!

Materials:

  • White or light-colored craft foam, cut into approximately 8” x 9” pieces
  • Nontoxic permanent colored markers
  • Clear vinyl, cut the same size and shape as craft foam
  • Clear 2” wide book or packing tape, cut to 9” length

Make Your Great Gift

  1. Brainstorm ideas to draw on the mouse pad. The following are possible ideas:
  • Draw a scene for the mouse to travel through
  • Trace simple shapes
  • Draw a self-portrait
  1. Draw the design on one side of the craft foam with the permanent markers.
  2. Place a piece of tape approximately 9” long to adhere clear vinyl to craft foam along the top long edge. Then you can slide notes, memos, or photos between the vinyl and the foam.
  3. Trim as needed.

Helpful Hints

  • Add notes and photos under the clear vinyl.
  • Clear vinyl, sold by the yard, may be found at stores that sell fabric. Or use leftover laminating film, clear page protectors, or clear report covers for the top of the mouse pad.

Source: 101 Great Gifts Kids Can Make

3. A Recipe to Make with Dad! 

Ingredients

  • 2” pieces of celery
  • 1/4 “ slices of carrots
  • peanut butte

Celery Race Cars

An easy and fun snack that will keep your child’s motor running!

What to Do

  1. Encourage your child to spread peanut butter into his celery “cars.”
  2. Spread peanut butter on the carrot slices and attach them to the celery to create “wheels.”
  3. Enjoy talking with Dad about your child’s favorite cars!

Source: The Budding Chef

4. Books to Celebrate Dad!

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Finally, there’s no better way to spend quality time with dad than by reading books together! We have a few selections that are sure to inspire bonding between little ones and their real-life heroes:

Have fun this weekend and a special Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there!

Making the Most of Bath Time

2 Jun

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Do your kiddos like taking baths? For many parents, it can be a struggle trying to convince children baths are a good thing. Whether it’s a fear of water or simply not wanting to stay still long enough, children can make taking baths difficult and leave parents soaked by the end of bath time. We have a few toy suggestions that will not only leave children seeing the tub as a new play space, but also teach a few educational lessons along the way!

1. SoapSox Bath Scrub Terry Cloth Bath Sponges – Harper The Hippo & Ava The Dolphin 143909

These soft washcloths just happen to be absolutely adorable and in the shape of loveable sea creatures! Pour soap into the SoapSox pocket and add water to work up a lather. Place your fingers in the side pockets and scrub as your baby giggles in delight at their newfound bath time friend!

2. 5 Large Dino Bath Buddies 

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Who doesn’t like dinosaurs? These five colored dinos are soft and squeezable for small hands. Encourage dramatic play and practice color recognition as you wash your baby!

3. Freddy Finz Bath Spout Guard 

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What can make bath time more entertaining than turning the faucet into a funny fish? Freddy Finz Bath Spout Guard is a great way to keep young children safe from hitting their head during bath time and can be rotated so that water sprays out, providing tons of fun and laughter!

4. Number Ducks 

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Nothing is more fun than sharing the tub with a family of counting ducks! Number Ducks are great for number recognition and simple counting as children begin to learn their numbers.

5. Make a Splash™ Vinyl Book Set (Set of 4) 

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There’s nothing like story time in the bathtub! Stories are a great way to get children to look forward to your time spent together. These adorable waterproof and baby-safe books are a great way to keep babies entertained.

6. Bubble® Twin Pack

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Add more fun in the tub by pouring in scented bubbles! Toddlers can create shapes or make funny hair with the floating foam while enjoying bath time.

7. Water Twinklers 

83681Babies will love watching these three twinklers float in the tub! The viewing dome adds extra visual stimulation by allowing children to see the objects moving inside.

8. Splish, Splash Water Play 

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Try to catch colorful insects as they glide across the water or scoop and pour water from fun creatures! The Splish, Splash Water Play Set offers endless bath time fun as toddlers squirt from textured Scrubbles! The different textured tops provide added sensory play.

9.Tug Boats Set (Set of 6) 

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These brightly colored boats are fun for racing, easy to chew on, and teach little ones to stack as they nest the little tug boats inside each other! The Tug Boats Set is also a great way to introduce sequencing.

10. Eco-Friendly Stacker Cups 

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With six graduated, numbered cups, young children can sort and stack as they learn basic counting and math concepts. Pour from cups one and two and watch as they fill the volume of cup three! A great way to keep kids learning while bathing.

Do you have strategies for keeping young children calm during bath time? Comment below or tell us on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KaplanToys

Establishing a Summer Learning Plan!

19 May

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It’s almost time for summer! As your kids prepare for freedom, they may not be aware that without use, a lot of the lessons they worked so hard to learn will begin to fade. Since you’ll be spending more time with your little ones, it’s important that a summer learning plan is introduced to prevent summer learning loss. Here are a few easy steps you can take to ensure your children continue to learn outside of the classroom:

 1. Ask your child’s teacher about a summer learning program.

Many times, teachers have already created summer learning activities, programs, or websites for children to engage with during the summer. Check with your child’s teacher to see what options are available. If nothing is in place or you want to delve a little deeper, we also have the following options:

 2. Break out the reading games to encourage early literacy.

Promoting early literacy over the summer is a necessity as reading is one of the biggest indicators of eventual academic success. We have plenty of fun literacy activities you can engage your children in for summer:

3. Take advantage of free community learning resources.

Many times, your community offers free learning opportunities for children that are just waiting to be taken advantage of! A couple of ideas could include:

  • signing your child up for a public library card
  • browsing local parks for nature centers
  • strolling through a nearby university campus
  • checking online to see when music festivals are coming near you or when museums and zoos are running specials for families

The learning possibilities are endless when you see the world through your child’s eyes!

4. Introduce math in everyday learning.

Math learning is all around us! Take time to be intentional in your day-to-day routine by finding opportunities for your children to practice counting, number recognition, and time telling. Some ideas could include adding up prices at the grocery store, counting time while waiting in line, or measuring ingredients while cooking. For even more ideas on how to incorporate financial literacy into everyday learning, check out our post: Small Ways to Teach Math Every Day!

5. Keeping active through imaginative play.

Putting precedence on active play is so important throughout the summer as many children’s natural inclination may be to become a couch potato! The outdoors just awaits adventure and children’s natural curiosity is just the beginning for science investigation. Whether it’s establishing a designated outdoor play time or gathering the family together for a fun game of basketball in the evenings, make sure active play is a part of your child’s summer schedule. Sports teams, trips to the park, and swimming pools are also great ways to keep little feet moving! Find a selection of cool outdoor summer toys here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/store/trans/search.asp?tbSearch=summer&sc1=1

6. Stress the importance of nutrition through starting a garden.

There’s no better way to get children excited about the healthier aspects of snack time than by starting a family garden! When children invest their time (and love) into growing plants, they are more appreciative when the vegetables and fruits spring up to provide a healthy snack. It’s also a great way to teach responsibility and provide an activity you can do together. For creative garden lessons you can teach preschoolers, check out Gardening: A Growing Process for Children.

We hope your summer kicks off to a great start! If you have any creative ways to keep children’s minds engaged while out of school, feel free to share by commenting below.

Fun Places to Get Caught Reading!

12 May

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May is Get Caught Reading Month! To promote early literacy in the household, especially as students gear up for summer, challenge your children to read in different places around the home. Make a game of seeing how many different places you can “catch” your child reading and take a picture each time. At the end of the month, you can see a collection of spots your children love to read, inspire a love of reading along the way, and encourage children to understand how different spaces can complement their overall reading experience! Get inspired with some of our favorite places to find children reading:

 1. A Space with a View

Whether it’s hanging out in a tree, sitting by a window, or lounging on the balcony, spaces that give children a view while they read can be all the more inspiring! There’s nothing like being reminded by the worlds within books that the world outside waits at children’s feet!

 KT Book Suggestions:

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 2. Spaces Filled with Friends

Many times, children find books more engaging when reading to an audience, whether it’s to friends or to teddy bears. Being comfortably surrounded by a familiar audience turns reading into a community experience and is a great way for children to take on a teaching role as they read aloud.

 KT Book Suggestions:

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 3. Outdoor Spaces

One exciting thing about reading outside is that children can find examples of what they’re reading about right in front of their eyes! Tree houses, jungle gyms, or picnic blankets are all great places children can sprawl to be inspired as they read!

 KT Book Suggestions:

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 4. Sensory Spaces

Reading in areas that give children an opportunity to use their other senses is a great way to complement the reading experience! Whether it’s reading near flowerbeds about spring, reading beside you in the kitchen as you cook, or dipping their feet in water as they learn about frog life cycles, sensory interactions will bring children’s stories to life!

 KT Book Suggestions:

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 5. Spaces Surrounded by Books

Many times, books are more like companions than simple pages. Young children can find comfort in being surrounded by walls lined with books, either in your home or at a library. It is also a great way for children to get excited about what they will read next!

 KT Book Suggestions:

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We hope you have fun looking forward to the many places you can find children reading. Wherever you may find them, knowing they are developing a love of reading is enough to make any parent smile!

Do you have creative ideas for spaces children can read? Share them with us on our Facebook page.

Small Ways to Teach Math Every Day!

5 May

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Trying to fit math learning into a busy schedule can be hard! That’s why it’s important to begin seeing every day situations as potential learning opportunities, so that children can enjoy math lessons on the go. Here are a few simple ways you can have fun with your children throughout the day as you reveal that math is all around!

1. A Trip to the Bank

Going to the bank is a necessity, but using it as a time to teach children about the value of money can many times go overlooked. Next time you’re preparing to take a trip to the bank, set aside a little extra time to go inside and teach your children the following:

 What To Do:

  1. Ask your children to save up 100 pennies. Once they’ve reached their goal, ask them to count the coins into stacks of five and ten. Put the pennies into a coin sleeve and put your child’s name on it.
  2. Visit the bank to exchange the pennies for a dollar bill.
  3. Talk to your children about the value of 100 pennies and the dollar bill. Discuss similarities and differences of the two forms of currency.

Assessment: At the end of the day, children should be able to count to 100 and sort objects into groups of five or ten.

2. Nibbled Pretzel Numbers

Pretzels are a common snack, whether it’s on an airplane, at a ball game, or at a park. This salty snack is also a great opportunity for number recognition!

 What To Do:

  1. Give children napkins and about three pretzels each and take some for yourself. Nibble tiny bites out of a pretzel so that the remainder is in the shape of a number.
  2. Place the nibbled pretzel on your napkin so the outline of the number is seen clearly.
  3. Let the children tell you what number they recognize. Nibble another pretzel into a different number so children can see the possibilities.
  4. Enjoy the laughter with children as they nibble their pretzels into numbers and display their creations on napkins.
  5. You can make this activity a bit more challenging by using straight pretzel sticks. The sticks will need to be broken or bitten into shorter lengths in order to make rounded edges. Napkins help keep snack time neat.

The Pretzel Song by Kay Flowers

One salty, two salty, three salty pretzels.

Four salty, five salty, six salty pretzels.

Seven salty, eight salty, nine salty pretzels.

Ten salty pretzels I see!

3. Buried Treasure at the Beach

Planning a trip to the beach for the summer? Learn on the go with the addition of plastic numbers!

What To Do:

  1. Tape a number card on five of your child’s sand toys and set the toys up on the sand. Make sure the five plastic numbers are buried beneath the toys.
  2. Ask children to identify the numbers on the sand toys.
  3. Explain that there are matching numbers buried in the sand. Challenge children to dig through the sand to find the plastic numbers.
  4. Encourage children to feel the numbers they find and try to identify them before they lift them from the sand.
  5. Have the children display each number they find beside the sand toy with the matching number. Congratulate the children as they locate numbers and match them!

4. Snack Time: How Many Spoonfuls?

Snack time is most likely already included in your child’s daily schedule. If that’s the case, young children can begin learning numbers with something as simple as a spoon!

What To Do:

  1. Give children cereals, puddings, applesauce, or any food that requires a spoon to eat.
  2. Tell the children they will be counting how many spoonfuls it will take to eat their snack.
  3. Have visuals to keep track of how many bites are taken. Anything from blocks to tally marks can work.
  4. Older children can make a hypothesis to predict how many spoonfuls it will take to eat their food.

All activities inspired by Learn Every Day About Numbers by Kathy Charner.

Don’t miss out on our featured math products for easy ways to teach math at home!

 Featured Math Toys:

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Sand and Water Inspiration for Spring

21 Apr

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It’s spring and with the sunny season comes plenty of opportunities for sand and water play. Whether you have a sand and water table or a sandbox outside, we have a few learning activities you can engage your children in to embrace spring time.

Sand and water tables provide added benefits, including the ability to bring outdoor elements inside when the weather isn’t cooperating! If you don’t have one yet and are considering what table would be best for your child, we have a few options we think you’ll enjoy:

4 Hands-on Activities for Spring!

1. Water Play! Bring it Onboard

What happens when objects are added to a floating jar boat? Children can compare the objects that sink their boats to objects that leave boats afloat.

Materials:

  • different weighted materials such as plastic or wooden spoons, rocks, fishing weights, corks and metal washers
  • plastic containers with lids, small plastic jars with lids
  • sand and water table or a large container filled with water

What to Do:

  1. Float a closed plastic jar on the water in front of your children. Talk about floating. Ask, “Do you have toys that float in the bathtub? What happens when you push them down to the bottom? Let’s pretend this is a boat and see what it can carry without sinking.”
  2. Remove the lid and place a large, heavy object in the jar. Say, “Let’s see what happens when we bring this onboard our boat.” The object should not be heavy enough to sink the jar, though it should make it noticeably lower in the water. Talk to your children about why.
  3. Select a heavier object that will sink the jar. Repeat the process of placing the jar in the water and discussing what happens when the boat sinks.
  4. Allow children to explore with several more objects and containers. Ask, “Which objects let the jar boat float and what sinks the boat?” Have children group the objects in these two categories and discuss size, weight, and material characteristics of the objects in the groups.

Challenge: Do the activity using only sand or water as a weight. Add varying amounts to identical jars. How much does it take to sink the jar? Challenge your children to keep track of how many scoops of sand they put in the jars.

Source: The Preschool Scientist 

 2. Water Play! Aluminum Foil Boats

Make boats from aluminum foil, and experiment with how to make them float and carry objects!

Related Books:

  • Boats by Anne Rockwell
  • Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham
  • Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen

Materials:

  • objects used as “passengers” or cargo in the boats, such as small plastic blocks, washers, or pennies
  • pieces of aluminum foil: 6” x 6” squares work well, but any size and shape can be used
  • sand and water table or a tub of water

What to Do:

  1. Talk with your child about what the word sink means. What might make a boat sink?
  2. Show your child a flat sheet of foil and a small toy. Talk about how you might make the foil into a boat so that the toy can ride in it.
  3. Create several boats, experimenting with different designs and testing each boat in the tub of water. Add animals or other toys to see what happens.
  4. Talk about your boats and what you noticed when you put “passengers” in each boat. Does it make a difference where you put the passengers? Can some boats carry more passengers than others? Does the shape or size of the boat make a difference?
  5. Test your ideas about boat designs by redesigning and floating many different boats.

Source: Where Does My Shadow Sleep: A Parent’s Guide to Exploring Science with Children’s Books 

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Kaplan Toys Suggestion: Looking for items to float in your boat? Try out My Buddies, the perfect companions for water play!

 3. Sand Play! Dinosaur Dig

Children will learn about colors and paleontologists as they dig for dinosaurs!

Materials:

  • laminating machine or clear contact paper in different colors
  • sand and water table or tub of sand
  • scissors

Preparation:

  • Cut dinosaur shapes out of different colored paper. Laminate or cover with clear contact paper.
  • Hide the paper dinosaurs in the sand.

What to Do:

Tell children that they are going to be a special kind of scientist called a paleontologist. Explain what they study and the history of life on Earth.

  1. If appropriate, ask each child to find a certain color dinosaur.
  2. Offer an additional challenge by cutting the dinosaur shapes into puzzle pieces that the children find and then put together, just as paleontologists put together the bones they find to re-create the bone structure of animals that once lived on our planet.

Source: Another Encyclopedia of Theme Activities for Young Children 

  1. Sand Play! Coloring and Mixing Sand

Have fun showing children how to paint sand, and then mix the sands to form new colors!

Materials:

  • containers for mixing sand and paint
  • pans for drying sand (one for each color)
  • resealable plastic bags, small
  • sand and water table full of sand
  • spoons
  • tempera paints
  • mixing spoons
  • permanent marker

Preparation:

Collect several containers of white sand, various tempera paints, and find a location where children can set the painted sand out to dry.

  1. Have each child make a color of sand using separate containers to mix each of the primary colors—red, yellow and blue.
  2. Help each child measure and pour 1-2 cups of sand into each container, and then pour 1/4 cup of wet or dry tempera paint into the containers. Explain to the children that they should add 1/2 cup of water for each cup of sand in their containers. Help children add water and paint as needed to help make a good rich color and a runny mixture. Mix well.
  3. Help children pour the colored sand onto the sand and water table to dry, and then place the table in a warm, sunny place. When the sand is dry, encourage the children to crumble the sand back into granular form. At this point, each child should have one container of red, yellow, and blue sand.
  4. Next, talk with children about the primary colors. Ask the children why they think we call them primary and explain that they help to make all other colors.
  5. Set out several mixing spoons and resealable plastic baggies. Invite the children to use the spoons to measure the colored sands carefully and combine spoonfuls of each in various plastic baggies. Tell children to use no more than three spoonfuls of each color of sand. Be sure children mix one or two spoonfuls of color with three spoonfuls of another color, so that they can see a variety of results.
  6. Help children record on the sides of the baggies the number of spoonfuls of each color of sand they add to each baggie, and then help the children seal the baggies.
  7. 18753groupInvite the children to shake the bags well to mix the colored sand and watch as a new, secondary color appears. Point out to the children how the grains of the primary colors are still visible in the secondary color.

Source: Science Adventures: Nature Activities for Young Children 

Kaplan Toys Suggestion: Find non-toxic tempera paint for coloring your sand here.

Want to show off your child’s sand and water creations? Share pictures with us on our Facebook page!

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