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!

Summer Fun with Santurian Balls!

9 Jun

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Celebrate summer by taking playtime outside! Children can stay entertained for hours when balls are adapted into play. Different types of balls are used by children around the world to supplement imagination and encourage healthy habits as they participate in physical fitness. We have two game suggestions from Let’s Take It Outside that we think your children will love:

Step 1: Pick out your Santurian ball!

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Step 2: Get outside and play!

1. Bottle Bowling

Learning Objectives: To recognize letters and practice large motor skills by rolling a ball toward a target.

Materials:

  • Playground ball
  • Craft paper, cut into six 5” x 15” strips
  • Glue or tape
  • Markers
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Six 2-liter soda bottles with caps
  • Water

Preparation

  • Write a different letter onto each paper strip. Use letters the children are learning, and write the letters large enough to be seen easily from a distance.
  • Wrap each paper around the middle of a bottle and attach it with glue or tape.
  • Fill each bottle with about 3 inches of water. Cap tightly.
  • Draw a bowling lane with chalk on the pavement, approximately 3 feet wide and 8 feet long.
  • Set up the bottles (pins) at one end. Arrange the pins in a triangle shape with one bottle in front, two bottles behind it, and three bottles in the back row.

What to Do

  1. Show the children how to roll the ball toward the target with one hand to the side or with both hands between their legs.
  2. When a child knocks over one of the bottles, ask him or her to name the letter written on it.
  3. Allow each child to keep rolling the ball until he or she knocks over one or more pins before moving on to the next player.
  4. Reset the pins and proceed until all children have a sufficient number of turns.

Pro Tip: Ball retrieval will be easier if you are able to set up your alley with a wall or other barrier directly behind the pins.

2. Hoop Play

Learning Objectives: To enhance balance, coordination, large motor skills, imaginative play, and listening skills.

Materials:

  • Playground balls
  • Construction cones
  • Rope
  • Several large plastic hoops
  • String or Velcro strips

Preparation

  • Set up a variety of stations for the children to practice their motor skills

What to Do:

  1. Hang a hoop on a tree branch or from a piece of playground equipment. Have the children toss a ball through the hoop to each other. This will help them work on catching and ball control.
  2. Tie several hoops together with string or Velcro strips and place them flat on the ground. Let the children practice hopping in the hoops like in hopscotch, trying to get the ball from one end of the course to the other. Pass off the ball once they make it through.
  3. Encourage the children to roll hoops up and down a hill or incline or stand a distance from a fence and roll the hoops into the fence. How far can they roll the hoop before it falls over? Can children toss the balls through the hoop while it’s rolling?
  4. Using construction cones, let the children toss the hoops like horseshoes.
  5. Encourage children to make up their own additional games.

Pro Tip: Hanging the hoops at different levels is also a great way to work on aim and ball control in soccer. Just make sure you have something or someone set up behind for ball retrieval!

What are your favorite ball games to play outside? Share with us by commenting below.

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

5 Water Toys to Take on Summer Vacation

27 May

With summer on the horizon, you may be considering taking your family on a road trip to the beach. Whether your child is playing in the pool, splashing in the lake, or taking in the ocean waves, we have five toys you can’t miss to ensure they keep learning while having fun in the sun!

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 1. Color Play Penguins 

Color Play Penguins are great for teaching children color recognition as they match each penguin with the appropriate inner tube based on colored bowties! Best of all, the toys float and are small enough to easily pack in a beach bag.

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2. Number Ducks 

Math learning becomes much more enjoyable when paired with water play! Number Ducks are the perfect way to teach toddlers number recognition. The dots on the ducks’ backs make counting, sorting, and simple equations fun and easy!

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 3. Letter Link Crabs 

Make small words, work on letter recognition, and even go fishing with Letter Link Crabs! Children can squeeze and release crabs to fill with water, making them a great water toy for fine motor skill development and early literacy.

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 4. Scoop and Pour Tug Boats (Set of 2) 

These brightly colored tug boats are great for small hands. Toddlers can fill up the boats and pour water from the hole on front or let it seep out the drain hole on deck. The boats also offer an easy-to-grip handle to make bringing water back for sandcastle building easy!

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 5. Underwater Explorer Boat 

Children can learn science on the go with the Underwater Explorer Boat! Featuring a magnified floor, the boat enables kids to see beneath any water surface as they explore different ecosystems. What will your child discover?

Finally, as small children learn to swim, a great way to begin teaching them is through the use of swim vests. Browse our brightly-colored selection here:  http://buff.ly/1GBn6U0.

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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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