Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

4 Nature-Inspired Hearts for Kids!

11 Feb

Everyone makes hearts for Valentine’s Day in one form or another; why not tie them in with outdoor exploration? Go on a nature walk with your little learner to collect a handful of decorations for creative ways to make Valentine’s hearts! Here are four outdoor materials you can collect to make nature hearts and foster organic love and learning in the home:

1.png

Smooth Stones

Go on a walk with your child to find round stones to paint! These stones are usually found near creek or riverbeds. The smooth surfaces are perfect for colorful creativity. Draw hearts with Fluorescent Do A Dots for easy painting!

Source: http://www.firefliesandmudpies.com/2014/11/03/gratitude-stones/

2.png

Backyard Berries

Do you use bird feeders? Help your child show love to their feathered friends by making birdseed and berry hearts! American Holly berries are the best, but if you have raspberries or blueberries growing in your backyard, those will work, too! String the berries along heart shaped wire for a lovely addition to your bird feeder.

Want to build your own bird feeder? Check out the Hanging Bird Feeder Kit! (https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/143861/hanging-bird-feeder-kit?c=1%7CKTAP09)

Source: http://www.hometalk.com/6929358/birdseed-cakes-and-berry-hearts?utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=featured

 seashell.jpg

Seashells

Live near the beach? Go on an exploration for seashells! Shells can give way to all sorts of creativity, but one way to use them is to make nature hearts. Simply use a hot glue gun to shape them into a heart on a hard surface. Whether you use cardboard or wood, the final result is pretty breathtaking! Place in a shadowbox as a treasured memento.

Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/448460075371453298/

 5.png

Sticks & Twigs

Now this one is fun! Go outside and pick up sticks of varying lengths. Once your child has collected a handful, break them into varying sizes to start making your wooden heart. Have fun painting the sticks, connecting them with wire, and hanging your colorful nature heart!

Find high-quality tempura paint for your child’s creations here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/18753P/kaplan-kolors-tempera-paint-16-oz

Source: http://www.handmadecharlotte.com/fall-crafts-playing-leaves-twigs/

 

Groundhog Day: Forecasting Weather for Kids!

2 Feb

It’s Groundhog Day! Are you tuning in with your family to see if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow? Even if relying on a groundhog’s predictive skills isn’t the most accurate way of determining weather patterns, the tradition can be a fun one for your family to engage in! Not to mention it’s a great segue into conversations on weather, seasons, and how you can forecast weather patterns with your kids! Here are a few of our favorite ways to promote science play with weather toys:

21548.jpg

1. Track the Weather

Introduce isobars, jet streams, wind chills and more with this super-sized 44″W x 28″H weather map of the U.S. and Canada. Use bar and line graphs to chart temperature changes across the cities! A write-on/wipe-off board is included for easy display. Educator’s guide with weather terms, activities, vinyl cling weather symbols and recording charts included.

144055.jpg

2. Weather Today Carpet

Settle in for weather talks with the Weather Today Carpet! It’s a stimulating visual for season changes and the months they take place in. Not to mention the adorable cloud pictures that are included for creative weather pattern display!

31392a.jpg

3. Dress for the Weather

Engage toddlers with this creative puzzle! Discuss each season while putting the puzzle together and dressing each character for the appropriate season. Flip each season to reveal a seasonal stencil for extra enrichment!

22397

4. Weekly Weather Calendar Chart

Peek outside and see what the weather looks like! Teach children to observe weather patterns for different days and seasons as they fill out the weekly chart with fun weather and number cards! Make hypothesizes about what the week will bring while putting observation skills to the test.

25130c.jpg

5. Weather Vocabulary for Young Readers 

Boost non-fiction skills in children with weather terms! This engaging book will expand children’s vocabulary as they absorb scientific concepts behind different types of weather. Includes diagrams, captions, a glossary, and comprehension questions for extended learning!

51703a.jpg
6. Hot Dots Science Set

Not quite sure how weather relates to natural earth processes? Learn with your little scientist as you read through the Hot Dots Science Set, Earth & Weather to learn key science concepts and build vocabulary. Comes with 36 double-sided illustrated cards with questions for comprehension


Have fun forecasting! Let us know by commenting below if you have any creative ways to track the weather.

Kid’s Edition: Finger Foods for Thanksgiving

25 Nov

Whipping up recipes for Thanksgiving? Don’t forget to include young children in the process with a few fun finger foods they can help make. With a little creativity, simple snacks become a fun way for children to learn nutrition, math skills through measuring, and how to follow directions in the kitchen! Here are five of our favorite Thanksgiving snacks for kids to make:

1.jpg

1. Turkey Shaped Cheese Platter

Encourage children to work on sorting skills as they use a little creativity and a lot of cheese to create a turkey-shaped cheese platter! Find out how here.

2.jpg

2. Caramel Apple Nachos

Break out the apples and caramel for a tasty treat the whole family will enjoy! This is an easy (and healthy) snack that’s perfect for children who are eager to help out in the kitchen. Directions here.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 1.35.21 PM.png

3. Owl S’mores

Make these adorable Owl S’mores with a couple of graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate chips, yellow candy melts, and candy corn! They’re sure to be a family favorite! Find out how to make them here.

4.jpg

4. Fruity Turkey

Get creative with different fruits to create this adorable fruit turkey! Kids will work on fine motor skills as they cut different fruits in half and put on the final touches with shaped carrots!

5.JPG

5. Turkey Pretzel Snack

Break out the pretzels and peanut butter for some turkey fun! This is a cute idea to keep little hands busy as they create their cute turkey snack. Find instructions on how to get started here.

Build budding culinary skills in your children by investing in a starter kitchen set! Browse our selection here.

39944.jpg

Don’t miss even more ways to get creative in the kitchen with Cooking Art! 

Top 10 Toys for the Holidays!

17 Nov

shutterstock_163533275

The holidays are fast approaching! Looking for sweet deals on gifts for your kids? Then you don’t want to miss our Top 10 Toys for the Holidays! Children learn through play and these toy selections are a great way to foster early learning. Don’t miss this year’s latest and greatest picks for hands-on learning:

145100a.jpg1. Adora Baby Time 16” Baby 

Have a new big sister in the family? The Adora BabyTime dolls are great for little parents in training! This adorable baby is decked out with a soft blankie, feeding bottle, and a pink newborn onesie!

145038a.jpg

2. PlayDoh Fun Factory – Classic 

Take Play-Doh play to a whole new level with the Play-Doh Fun Factory! Create fun shapes, crank out spaghetti noodles, or construct I-beams for building purposes! Don’t forget the included storage tray for holding all of the shape plates when not in use.

145099a.jpg

3. SpinAgain Stacking Toy

Teach colors, work on baby’s fine motor skills, and watch as a sense of wonder is instilled in children as they see the SpinAgain Stacking Toy wobble and spin! This colorful toy encourages hand-eye coordination and baby engineering skills.

145275a.jpg

4. Roominate Townhouse

Foster engineering skills in your young girl with the Roominate Townhouse! This award-winning line of wired building toys teaches STEM skills such as problem solving, spatial and fine motor skills, self-confidence, and creativity in girls! Get started building the perfect townhouse!

145120b.jpg

5. Light Stax Illuminated Blocks Set 

What’s better than brightly colored building blocks? Blocks that glow in the dark, of course! Use Light Stax as a custom night light with three different light modes: flashing, fading, or solid. Want to build a robot? Flower? Creations are only limited by creativity!

145023d.jpg

6. Mario Thwomp Ruins Building Set 

Does your child love Mario Kart? Bring the game to life with the Mario Thwomp Ruins Building Set! Build Mario & Yoshi figures, two Karts, Thwomp obstacles and let the battery-powered motorcar racing begin!

145118b.jpg

7. Sprinkles Recordable Build a Bear

Looking for the perfect companion for your infant or toddler? Sprinkles Recordable Bear offers the perfect way to record personalized messages to celebrate occasions, milestones, or simply leave silly messages for your child! Just hold down the heart-shaped button and record up to 10 seconds. Great for parents who travel and want to leave a sweet message young children can replay!

145264d.jpg

8. Crane Lift

Put building skills to the test with the Crane Lift! Practice construction site planning with this fun engineering set for budding builders. A great way to weigh toys already in the toy bin!

143949.jpg

9. Kids First Physics Lab

Challenge your child with this beginner physics kit! Launch experiments with actions ranging from racing, rolling, flying, falling, crashing, balancing, and spinning around! Follow step-by-step instructions for completing each model and learn the basic laws of physical mechanics.

142145.jpg

10. Snap Circuits Arcade

Not sure how to teach STEM to your children? Check out Snap Circuits Arcade! This building set teaches children about electronic circuits as they work with a base grid. Includes more than 200 projects and 30 components as well as an internal Microcontroller pre-programmed with interactive games!

Continue reading

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

142225

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

142207b

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

142089a

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

141791

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

142657b

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

62031

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!

61136

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!

22859

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!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 78 other followers