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3 Tips for Building Baby Language Skills

30 Sep

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Want to encourage early language skills in your baby? With a few simple adjustments to your play time and a little understanding of early development, your babies will be chattering away in no time! Here are three activities and tools you can use to build language skills in your baby:

 1. Bring on the Babbling

Babbling is a baby’s way of attempting communication. There are a few responses you can adapt to progress language learning. It is important to respond consistently to baby’s vocalizations and vary responses by either repeating or changing sounds. Encourage your baby to listen to variations in babbles, whether it’s differences in length, stress, or intonation.

Strong and Weak Babbles: Alternate stressed syllables (louder and longer) such as BAAAA and unstressed syllables (softer and shorter) such as ba to help the baby discern stress differences. You may end up saying things such as BAAba BAAba baBAA! This gibberish may not sound like much to you, but it is a great listening exercise for the child because real words vary in the way they are stressed. For example, when you say BAA-ba, the stress pattern is the same as in the word DOG-gie. Discerning and tracking strong and weak syllables is crucial for language learning.

-Did you find the activity useful? Find even more like it in Raising a Talker: Easy Activities for Birth to Age 3!

 2. Talking Through Tech

Believe it or not, your smart phone can help when it comes to language learning in your baby. From letter recognition to understanding sound differences, here is a baby app we think will aid in learning on the go:

-Endless Alphabet: This interactive app encourages early language learning through having babies repeat letters, words, and sounds, promoting recognition. Adorable monsters hold children captive as they learn new words!

Review: Our 22-month-old loves Endless Alphabet. This app has helped tremendously with letter recognition, and it has fun graphics and sounds, also.

- S. Peninger, Greenville N.C.

-For even more baby apps to foster language learning, check out this related post “10 Apps to Keep Babies Learning.”

3. Learning with Simple Signs.

Sign language is a great tool to encourage early language learning in children as early as six months old. Whenever your baby begins to display a desire to communicate, begin using your hands for words that are often repeated, such as Mom or Dad. Using those hand motions while also putting stress on the word will give babies a visual representation of the language as they learn. Another great word to sign is whatever the child’s favorite toy is, so that children will begin to learn how to ask for what brings comfort through communicating with their hands.

Resource: http://www.babysignlanguage.com/dictionary/first-signs/

-We hope you found these tips for language learning in babies helpful. Do you have tips for teaching your baby to speak? Let us know by leaving a comment below or commenting on our Facebook page with the hashtag #babyspeak.

10 Apps to Keep Babies Learning

16 Sep

shutterstock_146931251As a parent, it can be hard to fit everything in. Between nap times, diaper changes, grocery shopping, and making sure the house is semi-clean, allowing time in your schedule to research ways to keep your baby entertained in the busy moments can be hard. Especially if you don’t have a babysitter lined up! That’s where we can help. With the prevalence of tablets and smart phones, it just makes sense to use available technology as learning resources for babies. Here are 10 baby apps that will not only give you a few moments to breathe as your baby engages in independent learning, but will also foster digital literacy in babies as they learn!

Music Apps:

1. Baby Piano (Free)

Do you have a baby Beethoven on your hands? Now you can take the piano wherever you go with Baby Piano! The eight-key piano allows babies to play notes and hear animal sounds as each key has a different animal face on it. Children can also play a nursery rhyme by following lighted keys.

2. Kidzongs ($0.99)

A simple app for simple learning! This app includes six different songs for children to sing along with. Cute animated lyrics accompany each song, sure to stimulate children visually with bright colors and characters.

Early Literacy Apps:

3. Learn To Talk ($1.99)

Great for children between one and three, Learn To Talk teaches children vocabulary and early language skills through the use of flashcards. Babies will use both sound and sight for language learning. This app is great choice for bilingual families.

4. iWriteWords ($2.99)

Allow children to practice handwriting skills as they play entertaining games and learn everything from uppercase and lowercase letters to numbers! iWriteWords is a great app to prepare children for preschool.

Critical Thinking Apps:

5. Baby Flash Cards (Free)

This is a great app for babies that provides colorful flash cards children will love manipulating to learn letters, numbers, shapes, colors, and more! The clear and helpful voice will guide babies along as they begin to understand patterns.

6. Tozzle-Toddler’s Favorite Puzzle ($1.99)

Puzzles are always a great way to develop critical thinking skills in little ones! With Tozzle, children can choose from 20 different puzzles to work on shape recognition and motor skills. Bright colors are sure to make it a favorite!

Animal Apps:

7. Peekaboo Barn ($1.99)

Let children learn by taking an adventure! The app offers both English and Spanish learning as babies hear what sound each animal makes. Not only are adorable illustrations included, but babies will also learn the name of each barn animal they see.

8. I Hear Ewe (Free)

With this app, babies can tap the device to hear different animal sounds. With a range of 24 different animals, babies can play and learn as they touch an animal or vehicle to hear its name announced and get a real sound effect! This is a great app for auditory learning.

The Essentials:

9. Parents Flash Cards (Free)

Get involved with your baby’s learning by teaching them colors, shapes, letters, and numbers all from your phone! Each digital pack contains different games varying from quizzes, to flashcards, to tracing to make it the perfect educational tool for babies! Reward visuals are a bonus that is sure to keep babies engaged!

10.  iBabyPhone ($0.99)

Young children are always fascinated by their parent’s phones. Now, they can have their own with the iBabyPhone (with the exception of no accidental calls made!) This app allows kids to dial numbers without actually calling anyone – saying the name of the number when touched. Babies will learn colors, numbers, animals, and more!

-Having second-guesses about how much time your baby should be spending in front of a screen? Learn how to balance digital learning with appropriate screen time in this related blog post “Managing Your Kids’ Screen Time.”

Resources:

12 New Tools for Infants and Toddlers

28 May

We’ve got a lot of great new infant and toddler products for you to try out–and we’ve picked out twelve in particular that we really love!

Manipulative and Gross Motor Toys

1. Winkel™ Owl & Lion 30811set

(Birth & up.) Familiar with the original Winkel™ toys? This versatile set of toys has been updated to include friendly faces! These owl and lion toys are spun into shapes that are easy for baby to grasp! When you chill it in the refrigerator, it becomes a teething toy for older infants. Available as a set, or sold separately (owl & lion). (Set, item #30811, $26.95; $13.95  sold separate)

2. Puzzle Ball Puzzle Ball

(6 months & up.) This puzzle ball offers more than just squeakers, clickers, and rattles! It pulls apart to reveal three pieces: a rolling shaker and two activity toys. It helps develop manipulation skills, and it’s easy to put back together. (Item #30036, $14.95)

 

3 & 4. Flapping Owl Pull Toy and Rock & Stack Pull Toy pulltoys

(18 months & up.) These pull toys offer multiple options for your toddler’s fun! The owl flaps his wings when your toddler pulls him across the floor with soft felt and vibrant details to entertain your child. The Rock & Stack pull toy can be pulled across the floor by the string, or your toddler can move the wheels up and watch the boat rock! The animals can be switched around on board the boat, as well. (Item #s 62719 and 62720, $21.95 each)

Activity Gyms and Tummy Time

5. Gymini® Monkey Island Activity Gym 88178

(Birth & up.) Offer your baby a colorful and interesting world of investigation and interaction in 3 positions: on their back, on their stomach, and seated upright! With a baby-activated plush monkey (with 3 songs and lights), a tummy time pillow, and washable padded mat, this activity gym provides 18 developmental activities to keep baby active and learning! Batteries not included. (Item #88178, $69.95)

6. Treetop Friends Activity Gym 62220

(Birth & up.) If you prefer treetop friends, here is another activity gym for you! This gym features nature-inspired graphics and textures, with a tummy time pillow and birds, an owl, and a squirrel for children to play with, equaling up to 17 different developmental activities to help your baby grow! (Item #62220, $79.95)

 

7. Boppy® Tummy Time 62709

(2-6 months.)  Baby will have fun exploring the two developmental toys that come along with the Boppy Tummy Time! It features the SlideLine toy adjustment system so toys can be perfectly placed and moved to encourage tummy time fun.  (Item #62709, $19.95)

 

 

Board Books

8. Look at Me Bilingual Board Books (set of 4) 62768

(6-24 months.) For the dual language learners out there! Babies enjoy looking at other babies, and these board books are full of baby pictures! The books are easy for little hands to hold–and turning the page helps children develop eye-hand coordination. (Item #62768, $19.95)

 

 

9. Mini Masters Board Books (set of 4) 62749

(12-24 months.) Step into the magical world of fine art with this set of 4 board books that feature the works of four great artists: Degas, Monet, Matisse, and Van Gogh. These imaginative board books feature their beautiful paintings paired with playful, rhyming text. (Item #62749, $19.95)

 

 

Dramatic Play and More

10 & 11. Lion Cape Costume and Tiger Cape Costume liontiger

(18 months & up.) Lions and tigers (and bears, oh my!) in your home or classroom! Start your jungle adventures with these fun cape costumes–they’re easy to put on and made from easy-care, machine-washable fabrics. (Also available in horse and dragon options for fairy tale adventures!) (Item #s 30969 and 30971, $31.95 each–temporarily out of stock, but will be back soon!)

 

12. Smile & Ride Buggy 62750

(18-36 months.)  Your toddler will enjoy the ride in this fun push-around car! They will feel like they are really driving with a working horn to honk and wheel to turn! It includes a safety seat belt. (Item #62750, $43.95)

 

 

Let us know what you think! What is your favorite out of these? Which will you use this summer? :)

Our “Go Green” Favorites: Mother Nature Would Approve!

29 Mar

What better time is there to “Go Green” than spring? Choose toys that are good for your kids, the world around them, AND your budget with a few of these favorites from Kaplan Toys!

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Eco Friendly Creative Peg Board

Teach children about colors, sorting, and patterning with this bamboo peg board with 2 different sized pegs for varying degrees of difficulty. Contains 25 large and 25 small pegs in 5 different colors, 3 full-sized activity cards, pegboard, and activity guide. 3 years & up.

98303 | $32.95 | Plan Toys

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Eco Friendly Stacker

This unique stacker has no center post, stacks in any order and contains no BPA, PVC or phthalates.This Stacker is made in the USA from 100% recycled plastic milk containers which save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Packaged using only recycled and recyclable materials and printed with soy inks. 8 nesting pieces. 6 months & up.

89565 | $13.95 | Green Toys

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Eco Friendly Plastic Tea Set

Invite friends to a make-believe tea party and brew up an imaginary pot of tea. 17 piece set includes tea pot with lid, sugar and cream bowls, 4 cups and saucers and 4 teaspoons. Made from recycled milk jugs, non-toxic and meets FDA requirements for food contact. 3 years & up.

85878 | $27.95 | Green Toys

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Eco Friendly Forest Mobile

Bring a bit of nature to the classroom with this whimsical mobile. All-natural from start to finish, this certified organic cotton mobile is eco-friendly and uses only plants and minerals to create a soothing color palette.

62272 | $49.95

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Eco Friendly Balancing Monkeys

Helps develop mathematical skills through discovery play as children move the monkeys around to keep the tree balanced. Includes one tree and 6 monkeys. 3 years & up.

98325 | $22.95 | Plan Toys

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Eco Friendly Fire Truck

Solidly constructed from 100% recycled plastic milk containers, this fire truck features a sturdy roof ladder that pivots vertically and rotates 360 degrees, two removable ladders and no metal axles. 1 year & up.

89272 | $27.95 | Green Toys

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Kettler® Go Green Folding Trike

With over 95% of the plastic parts made from recycled material, this trike is as eco-friendly as it is unique. The folding frame allows for easy storage and one-button assembly. Features removable rear bucket and multi-position adjustable seat to comfortably accommodate toddlers. Maximum weight 50 lbs. 18 months – 4 years.

62227 | $79.95 | Kettler International Inc.

LEGOS for One, LEGOS for All!

23 Feb

For bakers…

DUPLO® Creative Cakes

Item #: 141020

Price: $28.95

Build delicious DUPLO® cakes of all shapes and sizes with the Creative Cakes building set. Share them with your friends at a fabulous tea party! Set includes 2 muffin cups, 3 muffin tops, 3 candles, 2 meringues, flowers, and assorted DUPLO® bricks. The storage box lid can be used as your serving tray! Also includes inspirational building recipes. Set contains 55 pieces. For ages 2 – 5.

For builders…

LEGO® Technic Tracked Crane

Item #: 141057

Price: $22.95

Building skyscrapers is an easy job with this crane. Features rotating superstructure, moving tracks, raising boom, extending arm, and raising/ lowering hook. Rebuilds into a bulldozer with a lowering blade and ripper! The Tracked Crane measures 12″H x 4″W x 11″D and the bulldozer measures 3″H x 4″W x 6″D. 218 pieces. For children 8 years & up.

For Star Wars fans…

LEGO® STAR WARS Tie Fighter

Item #: 141050

Price: $69.95

Open the cockpit of the TIE Fighter, place in the pilot and pretend to fight the Rebels using your dual flick missiles! Includes TIE Fighter Pilot, Imperial Officer, Death Star Trooper, R5-J2 Droid, TIE Fighter and 1 blaster. The TIE Fighter features opening cockpit and dual flick missiles. TIE Fighter measures over 9″ tall. 413 pieces. For children 8 – 14 years.

For those who love cars…

LEGO® CARS Red’s Water Rescue

Item #: 141045

Price: $23.95
Help Red put the fires out that Acer started with his water gun! Set includes vehicles Red and Acer. Features include flick missiles, elevating ladder, welding equipment, and protective glasses. Red measures over 5″ long and Acer measures over 3″ long. 199 pieces. For children 5 years & up.

LEGO® Fun with Vehicles Set

Item #: 141023

Price: $34.95

Build your dream vehicle with LEGO® vehicle building! Create cars, trucks, racing cars, and much more! Set Includes 2 mini-figures, lots of wheels, a windshield, workshop tools, lots of color-coded basic elements, and LEGO® brick separator. 525 pieces. For children 4 years & up.

And even for toddlers…

LEGO® DUPLO® Creative Sorter

Item #: 141019

Price: $22.95

Illuminate your child’s mind with this LEGO® DUPLO® Creative Sorter set. This set includes an assortment of color-coded basic and rounded DUPLO® bricks. Your child can sort the shapes needed to build a parrot, elephant and giraffe on the blue, yellow and red sorting plates. The sorting plates double as a lid for the sturdy plastic storage box. 23 pieces. For children 18 months – 5 years.

DUPLO® Pink Brick Box

Item #: 141021

Price: $17.95

Young minds pretend with this cute starter set that features rabbits, carrots, flowers, house elements, and an assortment of basic DUPLO® bricks in both pink and classic colors. This set comes in a sturdy brick storage box and includes an idea booklet to encourage creative play. DUPLO® products are fun and safe for younger hands. 30 pieces. For children 18 months – 5 years.

Love and Your Little One: Children’s Books About Love

14 Feb

Teaching children about love and what it means to be loved is very important! Celebrate the magical spirit of St. Valentine’s Day by cuddling up with your young one(s) and reading together. But first, join us as we count down our favorite children’s books about L-O-V-E!

8

Taggies™ I Love You

By Scholastic

Book Description: Curious babies will love to touch and tug on the TAGGIES™ fleece blanket that covers this special book. The soon-to-be favorite of your baby also features eight colorful tags made for small fingers. The adorable bears illustrated in pastels make perfect daytime or bedtime companions. Machine washable. 3 pages. Cloth book. Birth & up.

Item#: 88268

Price: $12.99

7

One Hundred Is A Family

By Pam Muñoz Ryan

Book Description: Counting first from one to ten and then by tens to one hundred, this picture book celebrates the many meanings of family. The people connect in ever-widening circles, creating families of community, heritage, and simple love and friendship. 32 pages. 4 – 8 years.

Item#: 46702

Price: $7.99

6

My Monster Mama Love Me So

By Laura Leuck

Book Description: At once tender and funny, this monster bedtime story is guaranteed to generate giggles, tickles, and plenty of monster hugs.

Item #: 46442

Price: $3.50

5

Only One You

Book and Puppet Set

Book by Linda Kranz

Book Description: This inspirational book emphasizes how important each individual is to the world around them.

Item #: 91232

Price: $12.95

4

Little Sisters Are…

By Beth Norling

Book Description: Little sisters can be tiny, cuddly, smelly and sad. They can be bouncy, lumpy, sticky and brave. Every little sister is different, but we love them all the same. This book has bright pictures, easy text, and sturdy paper to help toddlers and twos turn the pages easily.

Item #: 85155

Price: $4.99

3

I Love You All Day Long 

By Francesca Rusackas

Book Description: Owen’s anxious question prompts this heartwarming, comforting tale of how a parent’s love stays with a child whether they are together or apart, all day long. Paperback. 32 pages.

Item #: 13433

Price: $6.99

2

Mama, Do You Love Me?

By Barbara M. Joosse

Book Description: In this universal story, a child tests the limits of independence and comfortingly learns that a parent’s love is unconditional and everlasting. The story is made all the more captivating by its unusual Arctic setting. The lyrical text introduces young readers to a distinctively different culture, while at the same time showing that the special love that exists between parent and child transcends all boundaries of time and place. The story is beautifully complemented by graphically stunning illustrations that are filled with such exciting animals as whales, wolves, puffins, and sled dogs, and a carefully researched glossary provides additional information on Arctic life. This tender and reassuring book is one that both parents and children will turn to again and again.

Item #: 92387

Price: $6.95

1

Guess How Much I Love You

Felt Story Set

By Sam McBratney

Book Description: This book is a wonderful expression of love between a parent and child. Set includes 15 felt figures, felt background scene, hardback book, and 2 bonus short stories. Ages 3 and up.

Item #: 62013

Price: $30.95

Huggable, Squeezable Stuffed Animals

2 Feb

Every child needs a favorite toy to cuddle up with on a cold winter’s day. Each child deserves a companion when they’re home sick with the flu. Join us as we count down our favorite cuddly creatures available at Kaplan Toys. Tell us which toy would be your child’s favorite and we just might give away the toy that earns the most votes!

#6: Roly Cocoa Owl

This soft and loveable stuffed toy is great for any young fashionable girl!

Item #: 00527

Price: $19.95 $14.96

#5: Giraffe Baby Mat

This adorable plush giraffe is the perfect addition to any soft cozy area. Toddlers will love to cuddle up for some down time.

Item #: 85623

Price: $45.95

#4: Asthma Friendly Animal Friends

Babies and toddlers will love to squeeze these soft and cuddly asthma and allergy friendly animal friends. Certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Item #: 88065

Price: #35.95

#3: Baby Birds (Set of 4)

Bring nature indoors with this set of 4 baby birds. Each has an authentic baby bird sound provided by Cornell Lab Ornithology.

Item #: 98329

Price: $29.95

#2: Animal Purses (Set of 6)

Make little ones smile with these soft and huggable plush animal toy purses!

Item #: 83807

Price: $32.95

#1: Dazey Piggie Bank

Stash your cash in style! This piggie will be sitting pretty when life calls for a little spending money.
Item #: 00523

Price: $9.95

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