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The Importance of Babbling in Babies

21 Oct

shutterstock_218714161You’re driving down the road when you hear it—your baby starts cooing in the back seat. They may be gazing out the window or simply be fascinated with whatever colorful toy has caught their attention, but something has caused them to feel the need to vocalize. Babbling is a phase of early education every baby experiences as words begin to take on meaning. Here are a few ways you can take advantage of the early learning opportunities it presents and strategies for encouraging babbling as your baby launches into language learning.

What to Expect from Babbling:

  1. Babies understand more than they can say.

    Once babies start trying to talk, they have a lot to say but can’t always express those thoughts. Understanding concepts is a lot easier than voicing them. Linking meaning to words, however, is a big milestone for babies and usually takes place between eight and twelve months.

  2. A baby’s understanding of a word may vary from yours.

    When you say dog, your baby may only associate it with the fuzzy German Shepherd running around in the backyard. First word understandings are often only tied to a specific object. It’s important to use the word in several different situations, labeling and comparing objects with the same name.

  3. Baby babblings will begin to vary.

    You should notice babbles begin to vary and take on meaning as babies learn to add inflections and intonations in his or her speech. This is a good thing! You can encourage the frequency of those babbles through replying with words and smiles of your own.

  4. Babbling is a way for babies to initiate conversation.

    Even though they’re not using words, when babies combine words and gestures, whether it’s grabbing your leg or reaching for a cup, they are looking to you to engage in conversation. Be sure you’re responding in kind!

Communication Tips for Encouraging Early Language Skills:

  • Exaggerate actions and label and describe objects as your child focuses on them.
  • Use language to give your play and daily routines structure and meaning from which the child can learn. Talk more now that the child is starting to communicate more. Good labeling and attentive, language-rich conversations are even more important than before.
  • Reinforce turn taking and the back-and-forth of daily conversation.
  • Assume that the baby’s babbling refers to the thing he or she is looking at, touching, or playing with. Label that object.
  • Use books that can be chewed on and have flaps so that the child can understand that things do not vanish when out of sight.

Tips for Reading to Your Baby:

  • Reading fosters a baby’s understanding of cause and fact, fine and gross motor skills, listening skills, object permanence, and understanding of words.
  • Encourage your baby to follow your pointing or gaze.
  • Take turns with your baby as you repeat words in the book. Reading to them is not so much important as allowing them to vocalize what is being read.
  • Help him or her with understanding first words by also pointing that word out in different forms. (Ex. A dog in the book, the dog outside, a dog on the computer screen.)
  • What you should look for when reading:
    • Does the baby enjoy reading books with you?
    • Does the baby follow your gaze or pointing?
    • Does the baby babble when looking at pictures?
    • Does the baby try to direct your attention to things of interest?
    • Does the baby shift his or her gaze between you and things in the book?

At the end of the day, babbling is a good thing and an indicator that your child is on their way to becoming a regular motor mouth! The best way to encourage babbles to develop into words is by responding to those nonsensical conversations with patient responses and reading to your baby as you both engage in active dialogues.

For even more activities for encouraging early literacy in your baby, don’t miss Raising a Talker: Easy Activities for Birth to Age 3.

Have early language learning tips to share? Feel free to comment below or post on our Facebook page!

Related Resource: 3 Tips for Building Baby Language Skills 

6 Summer Toys You’ve Got to See to Believe!

15 Jul

It’s hard to keep up with the latest toys coming out these days, especially when you’ve got places to be and children to entertain! That’s why we’re giving you a quick rundown of the newest (and craziest!) toys we have lined up for the summer. Get ready for five summer toys you didn’t know about!

1. Bling20 Swim Goggles – Summer LoveSwirl

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You can’t kick your summer off right without giving these Bling20 swim goggles a try! These cute goggles come in all kinds of crazy colors, including Mango, Peppermint, Bubblegum and Pink. Keep your child fashionable even in the pool with these swim team-approved goggles! Choose from cheeta-patterned goggles to 20 Boys Vroom Swim Goggles to fit your child’s personality!

 

2. Aquapod Bottle Launcher

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Safe and easy, the Aquapod Bottle Launcher is a fun way to blast into summer! Get outside and set up the launcher, pressurize the Aquapod, and stand back to launch bottles into the air with a quick tug to a 15-foot string! Launch the bottle as many times as you want, testing to see how different amounts of water affect how high it goes! Watch a video of our IT department testing out this toy firsthand here!

3. Gold Rush Panning Kit

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Is your child a little explorer? Spark his or her sense of adventure with the Gold Rush Panning Kit! Turn your backyard into a gold mine as children pan for real gold! Every kit is guaranteed to include real gold in each bag of Pay Dirt.

4. Wheel Brightz

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Love to ride bikes but feel like there’s not enough time in the day? The fun doesn’t have to stop just because the sun goes down! Add a little color to your child’s bike with these diamond bright MicroLED lights for bike wheels. Wheel Brightz put light-up shoes to shame – mesmerizing children with wheel-spinning fun!

5. Nancy B’s Moonscope

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Does your child love to stargaze? Does he or she get excited when there’s a full moon? Then your child will love Nancy B’s Moonscope, a kid-sized microscope children can use to learn more about the moon and constellations! Each Moonscope comes with an activity journal, so kids can keep discoveries logged.

6. Folding Binoculars

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Children love to explore, so naturally binoculars come in handy! The Folding Bincoulars are convenient for storage and are great for nature walks. Encourage children to bird watch or even play I-Spy when on hiking trips. Discovery is always right around the corner!

Want to keep up with our latest and greatest toys? Keep an eye on the New Toys section on our website or sign up for our email newsletter!

 

Beach Learning for Independence Day

1 Jul

shutterstock_159281705It’s here already: the 4th of July! Are you looking forward to family time, food and fireworks? Will you be going on vacation with your children for Independence Day? We have great options for learning on the beach so your little ones can understand the importance of the holiday while having fun at the same time! Here are a few fast facts about the holiday so children will understand why America celebrates the 4th of July:

Facts on Independence Day:

  • Congress approved the Declaration of Independence all the way back in 1776 when America was first established as a nation!
  • The name “Independence Day” was first used in 1791, fifteen years after the Declaration of Independence was signed.
  • America held its first Fourth of July celebration in Eastport, Maine in 1820.
  • Today, many Americans celebrate with barbeques, parades, picnics and fireworks!

Now for the fun! Here are three ways to keep little ones learning on the beach:

1). Alphabet Bean Bags!

21393Many families hit the beach and throw horseshoes for the fourth. Here is a way for little ones to get involved! Alphabet Bean Bags provide hands-on play for preschoolers, allowing them to engage in alphabet games, build words, and learn letters as they throw and catch beanbags. See if they can pick out the letters to a word like “picnic” and then work on gross-motor skills by trying to toss them to a line drawn in the sand. The words games are endless!

2) Number Sand Molds!

Who knew playing in the sand could add up? Number Sand Molds provide an inexpensive way to get tots engaged with math on the beach. Let them dig in and make number molds to build their own equations. You will have to check the answers, of course!

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3) Memory Match Clams

Break out these durable toys for tons of water fun! Memory Match Clams challenge children’s memory skills and hand-eye coordination as they try to remember which clams have the matching sea creatures inside. Dig a hole in the sand and fill it with water with your fun floating memory game to keep children entertained for hours!

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For even more sand and water play, check out our full toy selection here.

We hope you and your little ones have a great Independence Day! Enjoy learning games on the beach during the day and a beautiful display of independence during the night. Have a great 4th of July!

Reaching New Heights in the New Year

6 Jan

ImageThe start of a new year is a great time to come up with things you want to have accomplished by the end of it. Do you have dreams you’ve always held close but never pursued? Did you not chase after it because you thought it was too big? Well, this amazing story of one girl is enough to inspire just about anyone that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.

Did you know Amelia Mary Earhart saw her first plane when she was only 10 years old? She was not impressed. It was not until she went to a stunt-flying exhibit a decade later that a dream began to take up full residence in her mind. On December 28, 1920, pilot Frank Hawks gave young Amelia a ride that would forever change her life. “By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground,” she said, “I knew I had to fly.”

Though she faced financial and prejudicial obstacles, Amelia Earhart would go on to buy her own plane, the Canary, by 1921 and eventually become the world’s first woman to fly the Atlantic. She also placed third at the Cleveland Women’s Air Derby, later nicknamed the “Powder Puff Derby” by Will Rogers, was presented a gold medal from the National Geographic Society by President Herbert Hoover, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by Congress–the first ever given to a woman.   Vice President Charles Curtis praised Earhart’s courage, saying she displayed “heroic courage and skill as a navigator at the risk of her life.”

It is so important to foster children’s dreams and let them know that anything is possible. With a little support and encouragement they can do or become whatever they want. It’s also important for adults to know that it’s not to late to make new dreams! C.S. Lewis once said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” So true! Don’t let your doubts get the best of you this year. Support your little ones and yourself and go out there to see what you can achieve.

Want to learn more about Amelia Earhart? Gear up for Amelia Earhart Day on Saturday by reading these books to your kids about her great journey:

You can also find her official website here: http://www.ameliaearhart.com/about/bio.html and find more resources on the holiday here: http://www.holidaysmart.com/1ameliaearhart.htm.

Gobble Games

18 Nov

Thanksgiving is a great time of the year for many reasons, but one of the most cherished is that it allows for a time where families can come together and express their gratitude for life and each other. In celebration of a holiday that allows you to spend time with your family, we’ve gathered a list of games for you to keep the kiddos entertained! Image

Turkey Feather Toss

  • Supplies: turkey feathers, weights, baskets
  • Instructions:
  1. Tape weights onto the quill ends of your Turkey feathers (these can be found at Micheal’s Crafts)
  2. Place baskets at staggered distances away and associate with different point values (the further away the more points)
  3. Take turns and keep score!

Thanksgiving Basket Upset

  • Supplies: as many chairs as people, minus one
  • Instructions:
  1. Put the chairs in a circle and choose a “caller.”
  2. Give everyone a “Thanksgiving name” (Pilgrim, dressing, pumpkin, etc.)
  3. Caller calls two of the names and they have to switch chairs.
  4. The Caller has to get to one of their chairs before they do.
  5. If Caller succeeds, switch! Whoever’s left becomes the Caller.

Chopstick Pass-Along

  • Supplies: chopsticks, unshelled walnut, acorn, cranberry, pea, small plate
  • Instructions:
  1. Each player gets a pair of chopsticks.
  2. Place walnut, acorn, cranberry and pea on a small plate next to oldest player.
  3. Use chopsticks to pass each object, largest to smallest, to the person to their right.
  4. Try to get all four objects back to the starting plate without dropping any!

Wall Football

  • Supplies: poster board, brown card stock, white opaque paint marker, poster tacks, blindfold
  • Instructions:
  1. Create a goal post from two-inch-wide poster board strips. (The uprights and the crossbar are each 20 inches long and the post is 6 inches long) Tack to wall.
  2. Cut 5-inch-long footballs out of brown card stock.
  3. Use white marker to decorate and add player’s names to the footballs; put a blob of poster tack on the back of each one.
  4. Players line up six feet away from goal. Player is blindfolded, spun around three times, and set loose to stick their football between the uprights (hopefully!)
  5. 3 points are awarded for each field goal. Highest score wins.

For more Thanksgiving games, visit:

Great Gifts for Kids Under $50

17 Apr

Finding the perfect gift for a child is never easy – especially if you are looking for a toy that’s both fun and educational for a child and affordable regardless of the parent’s budget. Here’s a few gifts that are great for children’s minds and for parents’ pocketbooks available at Kaplan Toys.

Under $25

For Infants/Toddlers:

Magnetic Stacking Ladybug

12 Months & Up

Toddlers will discover a new concept as they learn about magnets when they watch how two parts are attached. They can build and stack in a fun way as the animal is created.

Price: $19.95

Baby’s First Sounds Vinyl Books and Blocks Set

6 Months & Up

This set of three vinyl books with simple images will encourage the development of baby’s first sounds – the foundation of language development.

Price: $18.95

Ambi® Pounding Apple

12 Months & Up

Knock down one caterpillar and another pops up right away. The caterpillars can also be pushed into the apple by hand.

Price: $22.00

For Kids:

My First Puppy

2 Years & Up

This precious puppy is ready to be loved and cared for. Set includes a puppy, 3 piece outfit, collar, chew toy and fashionable carrybag. When playtime is over, puppy and all of her accessories store in the bag!

Price: $13.95

Sky Diver Paper Airplanes

6 Years & Up

Now you can create paper airplanes that are so much better than the ones you can make in class!

Price: $11.21

Strange Plant Collection

4 Years & Up

Ignite a garden of four botanical oddities! Grow brains and eyeballs as plants move and eat meat.

Price: $24.95

Under $50

For Infants/Toddlers:

2 in 1 Snug ‘N Secure Swing

9 – 48 months

Easy to use and just right for babies and growing kids who love to swing! Features a T-bar that rotates down for easy loading and unloading. Adjustable stay-put shoulder straps hold baby securely in place.

Price: $31.95

Shape Sorter Curioso

1 Year & Up

Your baby will learn to use perception and visual skills in order to figure out which shape goes where! This matching game acquaints children with shapes and colors. The acoustic and optical elements of the colored blocks stimulate perception.

Price: $44.95

TOMY® Pic ‘n’ Pop

18 Months & Up

Pic ‘n’ Pop gets your child on the move! Launch balls from the chute with the click of the button, and then roll over the ball and magically pick it up! Includes 5 balls. Great for indoors and outdoors!

Price: $32.95

For Kids:

Custom Rides Design Studio

8 Years & Up

Gear up to create countless cool rides from scratch using a custom lighted tablet. This kit lights the way for you to combine acetates and clings to build, sketch, and customize car and motorcycle designs.

Price: $43.95

Wobble Deck

5 Years & Up (not to exceed 100 lbs)

Test your balance and reflexes with this fun electronic balance challenge! Can be used indoors or outdoors, and has 3 multi-level balance games. Improves coordination, reflexes, and mental energy. Requires 2 AA batteries, not included.

Price: $49.95

“My” Tent

3 Years & Up

Children will love to play in this bright purple, green and orange multicolor tent. Ties on front door allows for easy opening and closing. Durable and long lasting polyethylene waterproof floor. Storage bag included.

Price: $34.95

5 Toys That Teach History

13 Jan

Teaching children about history can be exciting AND educational with these products from Kaplan Toys! Join us as we count down our favorite toys that can be used to teach children about knights, pirates, dinosaurs, and even Abraham Lincoln!

#5: Castle Blocks Play Set

Build your own dream castle with these enchanting, artistic wooden blocks. Your young squire can create one large castle, two smaller castles, or a long defensive line. This unique castle set includes 28 wooden pieces with detailed graphics, and medieval characters – everything a child needs for days and “knights” of endless imaginative enjoyment! 3 years & up.

Item #: 141013  Price: $29.95

#4: Magic Tree House Book

Join Jack and Annie on adventures through time and space. Filled with Factual information, these books are great for connecting fiction with non-fiction texts. Paperback. Grades 2 – 4.

Item #: 86512  Price: 86512

#3: American Trivia Board Game

Looking for a more entertaining way to learn about the USA? With questions that are more knowledge-based than trivial in geography, history, and general information, students will find this game to be both fun and educational! 2 to 8 players. Grades 4 & up.

Item #: 91945  Price: $29.95

#2: Lincoln Logs® Classic Edition Frontier Cabin

Build your very own log cabin! This Classic Edition Tin comes with 86 all-wood pieces, including richly stained logs, and roof slats. The familiar notched logs fit together, allowing kids to build any kind of structure they can imagine. The tin acts as a handy storage container for dependable storage and portability. 3 years & up.

Item #: 00992  Price: $39.95

#1: 3D Puzzle Velociraptor & Pterosaur

Let their imaginations run wild with this prehistoric building set! Detailed and kid-friendly instructions show the way for building both a ferocious velociraptor and a flying pterosaur. The patented construction technology makes it so fun and easy to build these creatures or create totally different ones! All pieces can mix and match with one another to make totally different things! 5 years & up.

Item #:  00247  

Price: $14.95

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