4 Values to Instill in Children for the New Year

6 Jan

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More studies are finding that social emotional learning in young children is just as important as academics because those core values play largely into how children will act as adults. Just as working with a team requires communication skills and the ability to relate to other people, children should also foster those values early on with their peers. As you and your children launch into the new year, here are four key values you can promote in the household for children to display both in and outside of the classroom:

Empathy

Empathy is important for children to understand, as it is the ability to view a situation from another person’s point of view. Without it, children would not be able to relate to their peers or teacher. More importantly, they could end up unintentionally hurting someone if they are unable to relate to that person’s pain. To ensure your child not only understands empathy but is also putting it into practice, keep an eye out for teachable moments. For example, if their friend or sibling falls to the ground and no one notices, involve your child in caring for them. Likewise, if someone is struggling with a task on their own, ask your child to help them finish their task. Simply engaging with and relating to people in their daily lives will help children apply those values in the classroom and in the future.

Grit

Grit has become popular in the classroom, but it should also be present in the home. Simply put, grit is the ability to overcome obstacles through determination and learning from mistakes. There are several ways you can help your child grow in “grittiness” including inspiring them to take risks, talking them through failures to see them as learning opportunities, and encouraging open communication where children feel comfortable getting out of their comfort zones. As always, lead by example and ensure your children sees you reaching for goals out of your comfort zone and displaying determination to achieve them.

Resilience

For children to become capable of handling daily obstacles, they must first develop resilience. Overcoming challenges through practicing resiliency skills can only be done, however, if a child has a growth mindset. To teach your child to have an open mind, make sure they know how to first identify their problems, set achievable goals, recognize the risks that come along with those goals, and finally, have the persistence to see them through.

Diversity

Learning to recognize and accept differences in a child’s peers will help them go a long way in the classroom and in life. By recognizing that other families do things differently, it will broaden a child’s perspective and open them up to new experiences. You can help diversify your child’s experiences by introducing them to families in the neighborhood who are of a different culture or by reading books about different parts of the world. Also, creating new experiences at home like cooking a new recipe is a great way to open your child up to a variety of life experiences.

How are you promoting social emotional learning at home? Feel free to share by commenting below or sharing on our Facebook page with the hashtag #SEL.

Resources:

Giving Children Goals for the New Year

30 Dec

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The New Year is finally upon us! As children prepare to finish the latter part of the school year, it’s important to encourage kids to make educational goals for the new calendar year. Children can change their whole attitude toward the classroom, their peers, and even homework if learning is approached with intentionality. Here are some positive ways you can encourage your child to not only become passionate about learning, but also intentional.

The Importance of Planning

You can never stress the importance of having a plan enough when it comes to encouraging children to be prepared. There are several ways you can point out the planning that occurs every day to help children apply those same lessons to their own decisions:

  1. Talk about your plans.
    1. You make decisions every day. Discuss those decisions aloud with your child to allow him or her to understand your thought process. This will teach your child that your thoughts and actions are intentional.
  1. Make both long- and short-term goals.
    1. When you make goals, be sure you share them with your children. Whether it’s saving up for new furniture in the house, or even something as simple as making a list before shopping at the grocery store so that unnecessary items aren’t bought, include children in the planning process and allow them to see you accomplish goals both within your day and in the future. Encourage them to make their own goals when it comes to classroom accomplishments, pursuing subjects they are passionate about, or even improving behavior problems.

Leaving Time for Reflection

Though you can plan to the best of your ability, it’s natural that not every plan is going to work the way you imagined it. Some plans fall through no matter how much you wanted them to succeed. Unsuccessful goals can provide the perfect opportunity for reflection and making adjustments to try something new in the future. Here are a few ways to include children in the process:

  1. Ask the right questions.
    1. It’s important to ask questions that will require children to reflect on the topics being learned. If a child is not grasping a certain concept, try asking questions differently. For example, if your child is learning about safari animals, try something like, “Giraffes have long necks and long legs. What might be good about having long legs and a long neck? What other animals have long necks and long legs?” Great questions will help children make sense of new information by offering comparison. It will also give them a new approach to learning that may offer greater success in the future.
  1. Discuss the results of intentional planning.
    1. This is a great time to allow children to focus on the goals they’ve made and the results of trying to achieve them. If they’ve come up short, redirect their focus on ways to make goals more attainable and not on the disappointment of failure. Knowing what went wrong and how to fix it is all a part of the learning process!

Encourage Persistence and Commitment

  • Read stories like the Itsy Bitsy Spider or I Knew You Could! to instill values of persistence and determination in children even in the face of great obstacles.
  • Create a “Tomorrow Box” where children can store unfinished artwork to complete later.
  • Help children celebrate small successes by using charts or calendars to mark off daily accomplishments.
  • Model and encourage new ways to finish work children may be struggling to complete.

We hope you found these strategies useful for helping your child approach the New Year with intentionality. Find even more social and emotional strategies in the book Seven Skills for School Success. 

Indoor Winter Play for Restless Kiddos

23 Dec

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Are your kids getting the fidgets, brimming with restless energy? Waiting for Christmas break can be quite the undertaking for young children, especially if cold weather is keeping them indoors. That’s why we want to make sure you have options when it comes to keeping children learning, moving, and having fun! Here are a few indoor ideas for encouraging movement in children during winter months:

Parachute Play!

This activity should inspire cooperative play, build gross motor skills, and work on children’s ability to follow directions to make snowflakes dance.

Having a parachute ready for children to play with is always a great option to encouragement movement, inspire giggles, and create fun from whatever theme you’re teaching. Cut out a couple of snowflakes and bring in winter properly—with lots of laughter and indoor snowfall! Here’s how:

Related Books:

What to Do:

  1. Talk to the children about snowflakes and how they fall.
  2. Show the children the parachute, and ask them to help lay it out flat on the ground.
  3. Ask the children to stand around the outside of the parachute, hold it with both hands, and lift it into the air.
  4. Take out the snowflakes and toss them into the parachute. Invite the children to shake the parachute to make the snowflakes dance.
  5. Challenge the children by having them move to the left or right while making the snowflakes fall. Or have the children make the snowflakes jump slightly or jump very high.
  6. Talk with the children about how all of this requires them to work together.

Pro Tip:

  • Have children practice the moves with an empty parachute first. Direct them to move the parachute up, down, fast, slow, high, low, and so on.

Don’t have a parachute? Never fear! Find your own parachute along with related resources here:

https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/40794/kaplan-12-rainbow-parachute?c=1%7CKTAP16

https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/13018/parachute-play?c=1%7CKTAP16

https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/40534/a-world-of-parachute-play-cd

Source: Learn Every Day About Seasons 

Masking Tape Fun

Tape your floors to create racecar tracks and more for children to play indoors!

The possibilities are endless when it comes to masking tape! Whether it’s taping tic-tac-toe to the floor, taping a track for cars to follow around the house, or creating a hopscotch course, tape is a great way to encourage gross motor skills. Best of all, it doesn’t leave a mess!

Extra: Do your children love cars? Tape three circles to the floor to form a bull’s-eye. Encourage your children to sit the proper distance away and try to roll their cars into the smallest circle. Who can get the closest?

Pro Tip:

  • Blue painter’s tape works best for hardwood floors while masking tape is best for carpets.

Resources:

-https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/82152/family-cars-set-of-3?c=20%7CKTVC08

-https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/88003/little-autos-set-of-4

-https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/142701/wow-friction-powered-turbo-twins?c=20%7CKTVC11

Source: http://www.savvysassymoms.com/blog/wintertime-indoor-activities-for-kids/

Spider Web Obstacle Course

Children will feel like superheroes as they practice balance and dexterity moving through spider webs! 

String yarn in different directions to zigzag across your hallway and create the perfect obstacle course for children! Kids will have to get creative as they weave their way through the course trying not to touch the strings. For more resources to build your indoor obstacle course, check out the products below:

Source: http://www.savvysassymoms.com/blog/wintertime-indoor-activities-for-kids/

Starting New Family Traditions for the Holidays

16 Dec

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Happy holidays! Many families are already celebrating Kwanza and Hanukkah while Christmas is right around the corner. The holidays are a great time to start new traditions that families can look forward to for years to come. If you don’t have certain routines to fall into to engage the whole family, we have a few suggestions you can try out with your kids to make the holidays a little more magical!

Gather Round the Table!

Taking time to sit down as a family over a special meal for the holidays is the perfect time to connect with your loved ones. One thing you can do before the whole family gets together is prepare questions beforehand for every family member to answer. This proves to be a useful insight in getting to know loved ones better and can always lead to some interesting stories! Here are a few example questions from Around the Family Table:

  • “Are you a secret keeper or a secret teller? Which is best?”
  • “What is something you had in your childhood that no longer exists and you wish you had back?”
  • “If you could give the children of this world one thing, what would it be?”

 Little Hands in the Kitchen

There’s nothing like planning to cook with your little ones each year for the holidays. Talk about your favorite recipes and find something fun to make that can be enjoyed by the whole family. The more creative the recipe the more fun it is to make together! Here is an example of a fun winter recipe you can make with your kids:

Marshmallow Snowmen

Turn your kitchen into a winter wonderland any time of the year.

Ingredients:

  • Marshmallows
  • Miniature peanut butter cups
  • Red shoestring licorice
  • Small tubes of black gel icing (or any color your child prefers)

What to Do:

  • Help your child put three marshmallows on toothpicks to resemble a snowman. Make sure to leave some room at the top of the toothpick above the snowman’s head.
  • Show how to attach a peanut butter cup (wide-side down) to the top of the toothpick to resemble a hat.
  • Help your child tie a piece of licorice around the snowman’s neck to make a scarf.
  • Encourage children to use the black gel icing to make eyes, mouth, and buttons on the snowmen.

For more creative recipes for any occasion, check out The Budding Chef. 

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Magic and Mischief with Elf on the Shelf

If you have small children and haven’t joined the Elf on the Shelf movement, you may want to reconsider! This chipper little elf brings magic back to the holidays as children find the elf in different positions every morning. You can get as creative as you want and watch as children’s eyes glow with wonder upon finding what mischief the elf has been up to during the night. Your elf can help children count down the days to the holiday, leave encouraging messages for children to find, and even instill good habits (like brushing teeth in the morning!) To get your own elf or find mischief inspiration, check out our Mischief for Your Elf on the Shelf Pinterest board.

Create a Holiday Playlist

It’s always fun to listen to your favorite holiday songs! Whether it’s funny selections like ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer’ or more classic choices like ‘White Christmas’, ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas,’ or ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’, sharing your musical taste for the holidays is a great way to share something you love with your kids. Hopefully, your selections will turn into songs played for holidays to come and lead to a few fun dances in the living room along the way!

Whether it’s building something together for a DIY project, leaving cookies out for Santa, or making a gingerbread house, traditions are an important part of keeping loved ones close and families engaged. What do you do every year for the holidays? Share your fun suggestions with us by commenting below!

Need to do a little last-minute holiday shopping? Don’t miss our top picks for holiday gifts here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/shop/great-gift-ideas

Elf on the Shelf: How to Manage Holiday Mischief

2 Dec

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Toys catch on in big ways when it comes to the holidays, but none quite so much as the Elf on the Shelf. This magical little fellow has managed to wriggle its way into every child and parent’s heart by giving families a tradition to engage in together. Whether your elf is drawing with toothpaste or hanging from a Christmas tree, the Elf on the Shelf gives you a chance to challenge your creativity and bring some magic to the holidays for your children. We’ve come up with 10 of the top creative ideas to get you started with mischief inspiration for your Elf on the Shelf:

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1. Blame the Dog!

Have pets? Bring them in on the fun by having your elf get into the dog or cat food to leave a fun message or picture for the kids. Get as creative as you want with what is left behind!

Source: http://www.frugalcouponliving.com/2012/12/03/elf-on-the-shelf-ornaments-dancing-elves-ideas-and-more/ 

 

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2. Let the Holidays Sink in!

There’s nothing like a little indoor fishing. Throw in some gold fish for an added effect.

Source: http://www.skinnymom.com/2013/11/20/75-family-friendly-elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/

 

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3. Take Elf on the Shelfies!

A photocopier makes everything more fun! Have your elf take selfies by photo copying him or herself. Be sure to leave evidence of the pictures your elf has already taken to make kids giggle.

Source: http://www.skinnymom.com/2013/11/20/75-family-friendly-elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/

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Let your kids answer the mystery of how your elf ended up in a water bottle! (Find out how the magic works here: http://athriftymom.com/elf-on-the-shelf-ideas-easy-ideas-for-elf-on-the-shelf-day-five/.

 

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5. Take a Load off!

Teach kids how to be responsible by making your elf do a little laundry of his or her own!

Source: http://www.amittenfullofsavings.com/27-creative-best-elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/

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6. Play Elf Games!

Simply add some marshmallows and draw on a Tic-Tac-Toe game for kids to find your elf playing.

Source: http://www.amittenfullofsavings.com/27-creative-best-elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/ 

 

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7. Let the Fun Roll!

Wrap your elf in toilet paper and send him or her for rides down the stairs. This is always a fun surprise for kids to find in the morning!

Source: http://athriftymom.com/elf-on-the-shelf-ideas-day-15-enter-to-win-your-own-free-elf-on-the-shelf/

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8. Bring on Breakfast!

Surprise your kids by letting them find your elf hiding in plain sight! Simply cut out a hole in the Rice Krispies box and your elf has successfully become a part of the most important meal of the day.

Source: http://melanielee86.blogspot.ca/2012/12/elf-on-shelf-day-7.html

 

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9. Get Social!

Part of the magic of the elf is that he comes “alive” at night, sparking children’s imagination at the toys around them. Get social with your elf and create whatever fun “Toy Story” moment you want your child to discover in the morning!

Source: http://www.mymommystyle.com/2013/12/19/fun-elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/ 

 

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10. Elf on a Boat!

Run some water in your sink, put your elf on a toy boat, and set him to sailing for a morning surprise your kids will love!

Source: http://www.mymommystyle.com/2013/12/19/fun-elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/ 

 

-Want your own Elf on the Shelf to get started? Find a selection of elf sets here along with new accessories! Keep an eye on our Pinterest board to see what our very own Elf on the Shelf is up to at the office for the holidays!

10 Favorite Educational Toys for the Holidays!

25 Nov

The holidays are upon us! Are you excited to see family, eat home-cooked goodies, take road trips to have new adventures? Holidays are a great time to stop and be thankful for the people around us, but they can also become stressful to parents and grandparents when children give the “deer in the headlights” look when asked what they want for the holidays! Maybe a surprise is exactly what’s in store this holiday season! We have a list of our top 10 educational toys that will not only leave children excited, but also keep them learning as they play!

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1. Frieda’s Fruit Fiesta Preschool Game!

  • Age: 4 years & Up
  • Price: $21.95
  • Description: Prepare for an alphabet board game up to four players can enjoy! Kids will love matching letters as they try to gain fruit bowls and win the game.

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2. Pretend Pay Wooden Tea Party Set

  • Age: 3 years & up
  • Price: $29.95
  • Description: The perfect play tea set to give your child the opportunity to host elegant tea parties for friends! Encourages creativity and dramatic play.

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3. Techno Kids Marble Trax Undersea Adventure

  • Age: 4 years & up
  • Price: $47.95
  • Description: Dive into this ocean-themed marble run that will test kids’ problem solving skills as they construct and then compete on this colorful marble trax adventure!

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4. Twist & Turn Activity House

  • Age: 12 months & up
  • Price: $39.95
  • Description: Teaching shapes and building problem solving skills, the Twist & Turn Activity House is a bundle of fun for babies!

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5. OGOBUILD Pod Kit

  • Age: 6 years & up
  • Price: $44.95
  • Description: Your kids will love this pod kit that encourages imaginative play as they build forts and kick, spin, and throw this flexible, lightweight structure!

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6. Aztec Large Size Blocks Primary 30

  • Age: 18 months & up
  • Price: $29.95
  • Description: Teaches basic mathematic skills from an early age. Blocks can be connected horizontally, vertically, diagonally, inward, or outward! Great for encouraging budding fine motor skills.

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7. Nightzone Light Up Hoops

  • Age: 6 years & up
  • Price: $19.95
  • Description: Bring the added thrill of glow in the dark to basketball play!  Great for encouraging movement in kids as they practice their ball skills.

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8. Favorite Friends Let It Snow! 18″ Doll

  • Age: 3 years & up
  • Price: $59.95
  • Description: This beautiful doll is great for encouraging dramatic play as children celebrate the change in seasons!

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9. Litte Tikes Handle Haulers Deluxe – Big Top Charlie

  • Age: 12 months & up
  • Price: $33.95
  • Description: Hours of fun for babies and toddlers as they listen to music and play with  locomotive trains!

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10. Remote Control Mario Kart 7 – Yoshi

  • Age: 6 years & up
  • Price: $110.95
  • Description: Reaching top speeds of 20 kn/h, the Mario Kart 7 Cars will provide hours of racing fun for your kids inspired by their favorite Mario Kart characters!

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We hope you found a little inspiration for your holiday list this season! Don’t forget to check our Facebook page every day this week at 11 for a chance to win a featured toy in our What Toy Am I? Contest. Find the contest rules here.

Wish It, Win It Pinterest Sweepstakes | Win a Toy Wish List for Your Child!

18 Nov

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It’s once again time for the holidays! We know; it sneaks up on you. That’s why we’re here to help. Enter our Wish It, Win It Pinterest Sweepstakes for a chance to win a wish list full of educational toys your kids are sure to love!

Kaplan Toys has curated eight Pinterest boards packed with sure-fire favorites across a variety of themes and age groups – including Brainy Baby, Traveling Toddler, Miniature Maven, Junior Genius, Marvelous Mademoiselle, Wonderful Whippersnapper, Creative Kid, and Brilliant Builder.

Choose your favorite board for the chance to win ALL of the items featured there. Simply repin the main graphic from the holiday board you want to win and you will be entered to win our Wish It, Win It Pinterest Sweepstakes! (Limit one entry per person.) One lucky winner’s wish will come true on Nov. 24th!

Click on the Wish List graphic you want to win to go to the board on Pinterest. Simply repin and you’ve entered!

Have questions? Feel free to ask them on our Facebook page and we would be happy to help you out!

View the official sweepstakes rules here.

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