4 Indoor Activities for the Winter Months

13 Jan

Have you been feeling the effects of the winter weather recently? Being cooped up inside because it’s too cold outside can leave kids restless and parents at a loss for activities to do to keep their children entertained. But don’t worry, we have a few tips and toys to help you out and give kids options that will have them both learning and expending all of that restless energy!

1. Teach Your Kids How to Dress for Winter Weather

Winter weather can be a great time to teach your little ones how to dress properly for the different seasons. Keeping warm is important and you can show them how to with our cute felt sets! Let Freddy the Frog and Wally the Weather Dog help teach your kids about the world of weather and how to dress for it:

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The felt sets are great for visual learners and can be used along with our book “Froggy Gets Dressed” and our seasonal felt backdrops.

2. Learn About Seasons with Puzzles

The change in weather can be the perfect time to teach your child about the seasons and what to expect with each one. While they’re at it, they can develop motor skills through putting together our Seasons Puzzle Set. The puzzle pictures are easy matching and can be used as a storytelling board for discussions on how seasons might be different depending on where you live.

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3. Read Books About Weather and Seasonal Changes

Of course, a great go-to for indoor activities with your children is reading, but why not take that time to learn about the natural processes at work that are keeping you indoors? Sit down with your child and learn about the magic of the season through observations and playful rhymes in the “I See Book Set,” or introduce your kids to the basics of weather with cool facts and awesome nature photos in the “Weather Basics Book Set.” Learning about the changing world outside is a great substitute for not being able to go out in it!

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4. Make Your Own Winter Crafts with Signs of the Seasons

Being indoors is a great time for you and your kids to engage in art projects. Your child can paint a winter wonderland, cut out a paper snowflake, or even transition their creativity into the kitchen by making homemade ice cream! We have signs of the season that you can use to print for a variety of artistic outlets, including decorating, art projects, book covers, games and more. Whatever you end up doing, make sure to encourage your child’s creative side.

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For even more winter activities that you can do indoors, you can check out this Pinterest board.

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.

Ring in the New Year!

30 Dec

As this year coasts toward an end, we must remember all of the things there are in life to celebrate. You can send off 2013 and bring in the new year with a little musical celebration! Make some noise and give your kids a chance to unleash their creativity with these musical instruments. There are items for all ages!

10 Musical Instruments to Bring in the New Year

1.    Glockenspiel

  • Age range: 3 years & up.
  • Description:This unique bell set features letter names on each colored bar, accurately pitched with a diatonic range from C2 to C3 and rounded corners for safety. Pair of mallets included.

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2.    Tap-a-Tune Drum

  • Age range: 12 months & up.
  • Description:Tap-A-Tune musical toys help preschoolers and toddlers take their first steps into the world of music. This brightly colored drum and drum sticks encourage children to tap into developing creative skills and make their own musical tunes. Color may vary.

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3.    Kaplan Shake, Rattle, and Beat Bag

  • Age Range: 3-6 years old
  • Description:This unique set of multicultural instruments with get bodies moving to the rhythm. Set includes a Kente cloth bag, 4 MoJo sticks, 2 agogos, 4 den den drums, 4 caxixi baskets, 3 single bell jingles, 3 confetti bell jingles. Kente cloth fabric may vary.

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4.    Chimalong Jr.

  • Age range: 3 years old and up
  • Description:Encourages kids to sing along and experiment with notes and expression. Rich musical quality promotes understanding of tone and pitch. 8-note metallophone comes with 2 mallets and a 28-page songbook.

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5.    8 Note Hand Bell Set

  • Age range: 3 years old and up
  • Description:Introduce tonality and the one-octave scale with these colorful hand bells. Promote cooperation by having each child play one bell, creating their own melody.

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6.    Zoo Rhythm Instruments (Set of 7)

  • Age range: 3 years old and up
  • Description:Young children are invited on a musical adventure by seven beautiful wooden zoo animals, such as a crocodile guiro, whale jingle, shark bells, snail shaker, dolphin bells, elephant den-den and cow tone blocks. Each instrument is approximately 8 inches long.

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7. Rainmaker

  • Age range: 3 years and up
  • Description:Multi-colored beads cascade through the clear tube creating fascinating visual tracking opportunities while enhancing listening skills. 16″ long.

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8. ABC Clappers 

  • Age range: 2 years and up
  • Description:Set of 3 wooden castanets, each with a different sound. Features numbers 1, 2, 3 on one side and A, B, C on the other. Use for color, number, and letter recognition; beginning pattern making; and hearing high and low sound changes. Activity guide included.

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9.    Baby Tambourine

  • Age range: 12 months and up
  • Description:Perfect for a toddler’s first tambourine! Features include comfortable grip for small hands, light weight and durable design and 4 pairs of steel jungles under safe clear cover. Colors may vary.

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10.     Baby Piano

  • Age range: 6 – 36 months
  • Description:Four easy-to-press keys are a great way to introduce little ones to the piano. Smooth rounded corners for added protection.

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Don’t forget to set goals  with your children for the New Year. You never know, one of your kids might make a resolution to become even more musically inclined!

For  more musical instruments from Kaplan Toys, you can browse here.

Ideas for Your Magna-Tiles® Creations

20 Dec

Magna-Tiles Creations

If you have a set of Magna-Tiles® in your home, then you know kids love building creative 3-D objects with the colorful magnetic tiles. Magna-Tiles® are a great learning toy for children because kids have fun building different objects while also learning skills in math, logic, and problem solving. Children can also learn to recognize patterns, recognize different shapes and colors, and improve their fine motor skills by playing with Magna-Tiles®.

Magna-Tiles® provide hands-on learning for children while also encouraging creativity and imaginative play. Your kids probably know how to build castles, houses, and towers with Magna-Tiles®, but you can help them expand their building and creative thinking skills with these fun ideas for Magna-Tiles® creations:

1. Encourage kids to build letters and words with Magna-Tiles®. This helps kids learn the alphabet and increases their literacy skills.

2. Help kids think out of the box by suggesting they build a racetrack or marble run with Magna-Tiles®.

3. Find online video tutorials or instructions to help kids learn how to build more complex Magna-Tiles® designs, such as an elephant or spaceship.

Find more fun designs on the Magna-Tiles® YouTube page or search Pinterest for Magna-Tiles® ideas. Be sure to stock up on Magna-Tiles® today!

Last Minute Gifts for the Holidays

18 Dec

Were you surprised when you checked the calendar and realized how close Christmas was, scrambling because you still haven’t found the time to finish your gift shopping? Never fear! We have last minute gift ideas for a quick list of presents your children will love!

Crayola Sidewalk Paint Tray

  • Age: 5 years and up
  • Price: $14.95

Let your kids express their creative side with our Crayola Sidewalk Paint Tray! Includes 3 colors that can be blended in a multitude of shades, a brush, a sponge roller, and sidewalk chalk.

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http://www.kaplantoys.com/store/trans/productDetailForm.asp?CatID=25%7C%7C0&Page=1&Max=390&Seq=14.95&PID=18384

Candy Construction Building Kit

  • Age: 4 years and up
  • Price: $34.95

Do you have builders in the family? Build some sweet structures with this 92-piece Candy Construction Building Kit!

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http://www.kaplantoys.com/store/trans/productDetailForm.asp?CatID=25%7C%7C0&Page=1&Max=390&Seq=34.95&PID=141407

 Marvin’s Magic Lights From Anywhere Jr.

  • Age: 8 years and up
  • Price: $19.95

Have a magician in the family? Check out Marvin’s Magic Lights From Anywhere Jr. that allows users to make light appear and disappear or jump from hand to hand! This fun trick is great for young magicians who are just starting out.

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http://www.kaplantoys.com/store/trans/productDetailForm.asp?CatID=25||0&Page=3&Max=390&Seq=71&PID=141952

Jenga

  • Age: 6 years and up
  • Price: $17.95

Enjoy family time with Jenga! Construct a tower of 54 blocks, removing one block at a time to stack on top. The last player to stack a block on top with making it fall is the winner! Fun for kids and adults!

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http://www.kaplantoys.com/store/trans/productDetailForm.asp?CatID=25||0&Page=6&Max=390&Seq=136&PID=34193

Boogie Board Original 8.5 LCD-Black

  • Age: 5 years and up
  • Price: $34.95

Planning on taking a road trip over the holidays? Check out our Boogie Board Original 8.5 LCD-Black. Your kids can sketch, write, or draw without a paper and pen on this lightweight LCD tablet. Erase with the touch of a button. Includes stylus, stylus clip/erase button cover, cleaning cloth, magnetic kit.

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http://www.kaplantoys.com/store/trans/productDetailForm.asp?CatID=25|KTHG04|0&Page=1&Max=59&Seq=2&PID=141761

Discovery Box

  • Age: 2 years and up
  • Price: $39.95

Want a toy that engages your child’s cognitive, visual and tactile senses? Our Discovery Box is packed full of activities that feature a mirror, a classic 12 bead set, a rainbow clock and an abacus for counting.

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http://www.kaplantoys.com/store/trans/productDetailForm.asp?CatID=25|KTHG04|0&Page=1&Max=59&Seq=10&PID=30045

For an even bigger selection of last minute gifts, browse our store collection: http://www.kaplantoys.com/store/trans/productListingRpt.asp?CatID=25%7C%7C0

12 Days of Learning | Day 12: Holiday Road Trip

16 Dec

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“Are we there yet?” You’ll probably hear your kids ask this question quite a few times during the holiday season, especially if your family is one of the many that travel an hour or more to get to their holiday destination. As you prepare for your family’s holiday travel plans, keep in mind these five ways to entertain your kids during your holiday road trip:

1. Come up with fun games to play in the car. License plate games can be especially entertaining for kids, and you can find a variety of printable license plate games on Pinterest. Other game ideas include seeing which family member can spot the most animals, cars from a certain state, or Volkswagen Beetles. You can also give small rewards, such as winners getting to choose the music for the next hour.

2. Let kids keep up with where you are and where you’re going next. Give kids a state or U.S. map to help them keep track of your family’s movements. This is a great activity because it helps your kids learn to read maps and keeps them involved while you’re traveling. It also gives kids an idea of how much traveling will be required and how much time your trip will take.

3. Bring along a variety of music and books your kids will enjoy. Kids will enjoy listening to their favorite music or reading their favorite books on road trips. Ragweed, Bear on a Bike, and On the Go are a few books that directly relate to traveling, which children may find interesting since they will be on a road trip themselves. Remember to put music and books on an electronic device for kids to enjoy if you want them to use headphones or want to avoid bringing along a lot of extra books.

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4. Tell stories or talk about where you’re going and what your kids will enjoy there. Use your road trip as a reason to talk with your family. Ask kids what they’re looking forward to during the holidays or what they want to accomplish in the coming year. You can also tell your kids stories from your childhood or talk to them about your destination and what they can expect to do there.

5. Pack your kids’ favorite toys and other activities that will entertain them. Having their favorite toys with them will keep your kids engaged and will also give them a sense of security if they’re going somewhere unfamiliar. Bring along stuffed animals to help comfort younger kids. Activities that let children write and draw, such as the Do Art Travel Easel and Doodle Roll® with Writing Board, are also great items to bring along on your holiday road trip.

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We hope you enjoyed reading our 12 Days of Learning blog posts. Be on the lookout for more fun activities and helpful resources in the coming weeks.

Happy Holidays!

12 Days of Learning | Day 11: Celebrate Winter

13 Dec

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The winter solstice is coming up soon, and we have some great ideas to help your family celebrate the start of winter. Whether your winters are warm and dry or cold and snowy, you can use these indoor and outdoor activities to have fun as a family and help your kids learn about winter:

1. Encourage your kids to read. Reading is an excellent activity for keeping kids engaged during the winter months. In addition to encouraging your kids to read on their own, you can make reading a family time activity. Books are also an excellent way to help kids learn about winter. The Snowy Day, Winter Big Book, The Mitten, Snowballs, and Snow would all be great additions to your child’s book collection.

2. Have an outdoor (or indoor) family snowball fight! This is a fun way for your family to stay active and exercise during the winter months. If it doesn’t snow where you live or it’s too cold outside for the kids to play, we have the perfect solution for your family. Snowtime Anytime Snowballs feel like real snowballs and can be used indoors or outdoors, which means your family can have snowball fights anytime during the winter or all year long.

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3. Ask children what changes they are noticing in the weather. This gives you the opportunity to discuss weather words, weather instruments, how people forecast the weather, and other weather basics. Kids will be particularly interested in snow at this time of the year, so encourage them to play in the snow or make their own paper snowflakes. Books about snow, such as Snow is Falling, will also help them understand weather and how it changes. Older kids may enjoy having a weather station to help them monitor weather conditions and make their own forecasts.

4. Take your kids ice skating at an indoor or outdoor skating rink. Ice skating is a great way to get your kids out of the house during the winter months. It will also help improve their balance and coordination. After your family burns some calories on the ice, be sure to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or a bowl of soup. Remember that it’s best not to use a frozen pond in your neighborhood because the ice may not be thick enough or your kids may wander off to an area of the ice that isn’t safe. Sledding and skiing are two other wintertime activities your family may enjoy.

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5. Talk to kids about animals and plants that are commonly seen in winter. Point out or ask kids which animals and plants they see more of in winter. This is a good way to start a discussion about hibernation and migration. Books, such as Time to Sleep, can also help you explain why certain animals hibernate or migrate during the winter months. Encourage your kids to take pictures or keep a journal of changes they notice in nature during the winter months.

6. Come up with fun art and craft projects your kids can do indoors or outdoors. Kids can become bored pretty fast during the winter months, especially if the weather is bad and they can’t go outdoors. Fun art and craft projects will help engage your kids on gloomy winter days, but make sure you also have projects they can do outside when the weather is nice enough. It’s also a good idea to have a variety of art and craft supplies on hand to help engage your children during their breaks from school or on snow days.

Check back on Monday for Day 12 of our 12 Days of Learning!

Happy Holidays!

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