8 Tips for Preparing Kids to Go Back to School

5 Aug

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Are your kids all strapped in to new backpacks and shoes, ready for the new school year? Whether your child has first-day jitters or he or she is excited to make new friends, there are a few tips you’ll want to keep in mind to make the transition to the first week of school a smooth one! Get ready for eight tips for preparing kids to go back to school!

1. Establish a Morning Routine

How a child starts the morning usually determines how the rest of the day will go. To make sure your child is starting off “on the right side of the bed,” make sure you begin the school year with a well-established morning routine. This can include setting an alarm for a consistent time to start the morning throughout the week, making time for healthy breakfasts, and having children pick out clothes for school the night before so you don’t find yourself scrambling in the morning to find a pair of shoes that match!

2. Determine If Your Child Is Packing Lunch

Knowing whether your child will pack lunch or eat in the school cafeteria is an important part of preparing for back to school. If they are eating at school, make sure lunch accounts are stocked and ready to go with proper allowances. If your child prefers to pack lunch, ensure they have a suitable lunch bag to carry in and pack lunches the day before. This also allows room to leave children a special note to calm those first-day jitters!

3. Encourage New Friendships

Talk to your children about making new friends. It can be easy to talk and laugh with the same friends and forget to reach out to new classmates. Encourage children to strike up conversations with peers they don’t know for a change. You can also support those newly formed friendships by keeping informed on what’s going on in the classroom and scheduling play dates accordingly.

4. Pay Attention to Classroom Rules

First days and first weeks of schools will be full of paperwork! Make sure your children hold on to the important ones and that you read through classroom rules together. Children need to know what is expected of them in the classroom and you need to know how to best communicate with your child’s teacher to better support learning at home.

5. Help Teachers Know Children Better 

Does your child have certain allergies? Maybe they are left-handed. Whatever it is about your child that isn’t commonly known needs to be shared with the teacher so they can accommodate lessons and snacks around your child’s needs. Be sure to have medical records on hand for the classroom.

6. Know Transportation Options

Will you be driving your child to school or will they be riding the bus? Knowing your neighborhood (safe routes to walk, awareness of bike lanes) and making enough time in the morning to get your child to school on time will make a huge difference in bringing stress levels down for daily school mornings. It’s also important to know where school drop-off zones are located. Be sure your child knows before they leave for school whether they are a car or bus rider.

 7. Establish Homework Habits from the Get Go

Setting homework expectations for children before they start school will not only set a precedent for school work, but it will help children better manage time after school. It’s best to set aside time in the afternoon for homework when children cannot use social media or watch TV. This will keep them from being distracted and hopefully coordinate with a time when you can answer questions they may have.

8. Tell Them to Have Fun

Some children may have first-day anxiety, but it’s important to show them how much there is to be excited about! Before your child starts school, sit down together and come up with a list of positive things about going back. This can be anything from getting new school supplies to returning to a favorite teacher! Let them know how proud you are of them. A special note on the first day goes a lot further than you think!

-We hope these tips help you and your child as you prepare for back-to-school fun! If you’re looking for toys to get children ready in the few days before the start of school, here are some great options:

Resource: http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/learning/back_school.html

5 Ways to Make Chores More Fun!

29 Jul

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It’s hard to motivate kids to clean up; let’s face it, who wants to do chores? But cleaning, whether it is in the classroom, home, or even at a friend’s house, is an important part of learning responsibility. Children should learn at an early age that messes created affect other people who live in the same environment and that regularly tidying up is a requirement. But cleaning doesn’t have to be boring! We have a few fun ideas for you to use with your children that will not only teach responsibility, but also give children the motivation to take it!

1. Show Them How It’s Done!

It’s important to remember that children cannot be expected to know what or how to clean without being shown. Work alongside your child in every chore you assign to ensure they see how it is properly done. This will help with both visual learning and setting cleanliness expectations.

2. Dance as You Sweep!

Trust us, sweeping becomes much more enjoyable when dancing! In fact, that one favorite song will make children feel happier about doing whatever chore has been assigned. Movement is important in early childhood development as children work on gross motor skills, handling kid-sized brooms to make sure the floors are kept tidy! Adding a little movement to the picture and encouraging your children to dance as they sweep will have them laughing as they go – keeping messes to a minimum!

3. Race the clock!

Giving children a time limit will make chores a challenge children are willing to conquer! Tell your children they have 15 minutes to see how many chores they can get done before the time is up. This will really get kids moving and motivated to see how much they can accomplish. Have children concentrate on a specific room so they can see the results of before and after.

4. Make It Visual!

Small children are visual learners. Being able to see what is expected for the day will go a long way to keep young minds on track. Establishing a chore board where daily responsibilities are written out under each child’s name is a great way to communicate expectations and give children the satisfaction of crossing off accomplishments. If children have siblings, it will also challenge them to keep up with “big brother” or “big sister!”

Source: http://www.theyellowcapecod.com/2010/02/organized-chaos.html

5. Give Praise for Jobs Well Done!

When your child sees a chore through from start to finish, it teaches them the importance of following through. This is a big accomplishment! Praise children for jobs well done and it will build self-esteem along with instilling pride in completing assigned chores. Even though cleaning skills are sure to have plenty of room for improvement, concentrating instead on what children have done well will go a long way toward providing encouragement and affirmation.

-We hope you discovered some helpful ways to motivate your children to clean up their mess without the muss! Don’t forget to check out our cleaning sets for kid-friendly brooms, mops, and more!

-Have your own creative ways to get kids excited about cleaning? We’d love to hear from you! Share with us by commenting below or tweeting us @KaplanToys with the hashtag #makingchoresfun

3 Ways to Make the Most of Picnic Time!

22 Jul

 

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July is National Picnic Month! Take advantage of the good weather and get outside for some quality family time. Picnicking has many benefits, ranging from cutting back on screen time and encouraging closer family interactions to taking time to explore new healthy snacking recipes. If you have a garden at home, it’s also a time to take pride in what you’ve grown as you reap the benefits of going green! We have a few suggestions for making the most out of your picnic time:

 1. Snacking Healthy

Picnic time is a great opportunity to instill healthy snacking habits in children as you enjoy the nice weather. Believe it or not, children adapt the behavior of parents and grandparents, so when they see you snacking healthy, they will want to do the same. A few ways to get little ones excited about healthy snacking include starting your own garden, making food preparation a work of art, and reading child-friendly books that encourage proper nutrition.

-An EarthBox is a great way to start your own garden, indoors or out! Teach children about responsibility through gardening and reap the benefits at the picnic table.

-Cooking Art is another great resource that will allow you to turn your kitchen into an art studio and enjoy snacking on creative snacks outside with the family.

-Finally, for a fun recipe to share with your family around the picnic table, find out how to make Yogurt Dipping Sauce and play the Veggie Game!

2. Encouraging Movement

Being outside for a picnic is also a great way to get kids moving before and after they snack. With so much energy to burn, children will love engaging in games of tag or exploring the terrain and insects around them! When preparing for your picnic, be sure to bring active options for children. Whether it’s a Frisbee, soccer ball, or kite, children love to get involved.

-One great option to set up beside your picnic is a Slackline! Challenge the whole family to see who can keep balance the longest!

3. Taking Time for Family.

Finally, picnics are the perfect time for focusing on the important things: each other. Take the time to set aside the smart phones, tablets, and Nintendos to talk about what happened during your day or how children feel about the approaching school year. Whether you are working on your child’s vocabulary by sharing stories or encouraging creativity by making shapes out of clouds, picnics will bring your family closer together and prove to be a valuable way to spend time.

For even more great ideas for outdoor time, check out our Pinterest board.

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!

 

Creative (and Educational) Ways to Celebrate the World Cup with Your Kids

8 Jul

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Have you been watching the 2014 World Cup with your kids? Did your family collectively hold its breath over Tim Howard’s iconic saves and groan in unison over Belgium’s hard-fought win? We know we did. Although the United States is no longer playing, every country puts forth skill and heart when they step onto the playing field.

Beyond just entertainment, soccer provides an excellent opportunity for young children to learn key educational concepts and develop their gross motor skills. Here are some quick ideas you can share with your kids – inspired by the game of “football” -and a few toys that will encourage them to get their FIFA on.

Lessons from Soccer

Pace

The great thing about soccer is that everyone learns it at their own pace. When children hit the field, they begin at varying skill levels. Just because a child can’t juggle as many times as their peer does not mean that they are a poor player. Understanding that every child learns at their own rate is an important concept that can be applied in the classroom. Whether it’s maintaining ball control or understanding new vocabulary, children can come to embrace different paces of learning and even help peers improve in areas they have already mastered.

Responsibility

Whether you are a center midfielder or a sweeper, every soccer position comes with different responsibilities. Be sure to point these out as you are watching the World Cup with your child. No two roles are the same and each comes with different responsibilities. Every player is relied on by his or her teammates and if they do not perform the tasks asked of them, it affects the whole team. Encouraging children to understand the importance of responsibility will help them better appreciate it in the classroom.

Teamwork

Finally, soccer is a great way to teach cooperative play. A team never relies on one person, even if that player is Messi! It takes the combined effort of the goalkeeper, defense, and offense to put balls into the back of the net. Show children how to pass together and use communication to let each other know when they are open to score! Be sure to stress that effective communication is the best way to achieve a goal together.

-Now that your child has learned a few soccer lessons, give him or her the chance to play! Whether you need goalssoccer balls, or soccer books, we have the toys to get you started!

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Want a whole new way to play soccer? Check out our Light-Up Air Power Soccer Disk, perfect for indoor play! The soccer disk hovers on a cushion of air, allowing it to be used on any indoor or outdoor surface! The disk is lit up with LEDs, so that it can be used day or night. The disk provides a great alternative to outdoor play.

We hope you enjoyed these soccer lessons and toys! We hope you’re getting excited for the upcoming match between Brazil and Germany. Happy World Cup watching!

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!

5 Tips for Your Little Girl on How to Become a Princess

24 Jun

shutterstock_169580216Is your child running around the house singing “Let It Go”? Tromping across wooden floors in heels several sizes too big? Rescuing her brother from a pretend tower? With all of the fun fairytale remakes and Disney adding new lovable princesses every year, it’s hard to not want to be a princess these days. But pretending to be a princess isn’t a bad thing! In fact, it encourages creativity and engages children in dramatic play. So without further adieu, here are five tips for your little girl on how to become a princess:

1. Look in the mirror!

All your child needs to do is see her own reflection to know that all that’s needed to become a beautiful princess is what’s on the inside; the rest is simply accessory. Make sure she knows that her cute smile, button nose and big heart are all she needs to make the world a better place. And never let her forget it!

2. Choose a color.

Every princess has a favorite color. Will hers be blue like Cinderella? Gold like Belle? Pink like Sleeping Beauty? Whatever color it is, allow her to make it her own! Encourage your child to be herself and wear her favorite color proudly. Princesses know how to keep up appearances, but only by wearing their favorite colors and clothes. Does your child want to be like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty? Check out these dresses, so she can dress up just like them:

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3. Learn proper manners.

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Princesses have to know how to behave properly. That’s why every child needs to remember her manners if she wants to be like a princess. Encourage her to say please and thank you when passing food at the table. Make sure she knows not to interrupt her teacher when he or she is talking, and instead, wait until she’s called upon to speak. It’s also important to stress that princesses know how to be patient and make what they have to say count. Follow along with Little Princess to learn the importance of manners:

4. Build a castle.

Every princess has to have a castle! Not only will your little princess show off those building skills, but she’ll also have a place to show off to her princess friends! At Kaplan Toys, we have ice castles like Elsa’s, wooden castles, LEGO® castles and more! What kind of castle does your child want to build?

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5. Let it go!

Encourage your little princess to take after Elsa and let it go! Make sure she knows not to worry about what other people say when she wears different clothes or takes an interest in something that’s not popular. Tell her to do what she loves and channel her own inner-princess as the beautiful, independent young lady she is! And don’t forget, even princesses need help from mommy!

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Want to deck out your child’s room in fairytale fashion? Check out our pink princess furniture set, a magical setup your child is sure to love!

Does your child love to dress up? Share who your child’s favorite princess is and why in the comment section below, and she will be entered to win a free Cinderella dress!

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