Backyard Explorations

31 Mar

The weather is finally warm enough to encourage your kids to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Need ideas? We have a few fun ways that you and your little one can play together that will leave you both smiling and feeling fresh from much needed outdoor time. But the best part is that you can do everything in your backyard! Here are ways you can turn your backyard into a place of wonder and exploration for your little one:

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1. Outdoor Reading Palace!

 

-Build your very own Reading Palace with our “Outdoor Pillow,” perfect for creating a comfy environment outdoors for you and your children to settle in and read.

Even more pillow choices:

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2. Splash Some Color Outside

 

-Spring is all about bright colors! Inject a little into your day by going out with your kids and drawing together with the “Wheelie Painter!” It’s a perfect for color exploration and encouraging your child’s creative flair!

Even more painting supplies:

 

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3. Go on a picnic!

 

-Not only can you spend some quality cooking quality recipes, (like those from “The Budding Chef” ) but you can also take the finished product outside for a picnic! Our “Picnic Play Set” is a soft basket that comes with a soft play food so that even children as young as 18 months can enjoy there time outdoors.

Find even more picnic products:

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4. Start your own EarthBox

 

-Kids love to see things grow! Let them help you choose and then plant seeds. Show them how to be attentive to the plants’ needs daily as they grow in your Earthbox.

Even more gardening products:

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5. Go Camping in the Backyard!

 

-Children will feel like real-life explorers as they help you pitch their very own shelter. You  can peer out from within with your little ones and teach them about the world around them.

Even more camping products:

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6. Make Your Own Water Park!

 

-It doesn’t take much to leave kid’s smiling when water is involved. Use the “Grub Scouts’ Sprinkler” to have water streaming in all directions as kids are involved in active play. Don’t forget the towels when you’re finished!

Even more water play fun:

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7. Sketch, Journal and Draw!

 

-Have your kids practice their letters, draw a nearby bird or simple journal about their day with these unique pencils made from real twigs. Everyone knows natural lighting is the best for doing homework!

Find even more outdoor writing supplies:

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Fight Childhood Obesity Through Active Play

24 Mar

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Various initiatives have been started in recent years to combat childhood obesity, but the number of overweight and obese children is still staggering. The CDC recently reported that more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese in 2012. The high number of overweight and obese children indicates that more needs to be done at home and in the classroom to help children learn to eat healthier and be more active.

Infrequent exercising is a major cause of childhood obesity, so you can help your kids keep a healthy weight and fight childhood obesity by encouraging active play. Participating in active play activities with your children will give you a chance to show your kids that you value physical activity and will help you spend quality time together as a family. Here are five active play activities you and your children can enjoy during the spring and summer months:

Five Active Play Activities for Spring and Summer

1. Create Sidewalk Art

Children can get creative as they use paint and chalk to make works of art on sidewalks and driveways. This is a great activity for kids of all ages and can help them stay active as they mix colors and draw and paint various designs. Work with your kids to see how big of an art piece you can create, and be sure to snap pictures of your kids’ designs before the rain washes them away.

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2. Learn a New Skill

Spring and summer are great times of the year to learn new skills. Kids will enjoy learning how to ride a bike or scooter, and teaching them how provides wonderful bonding moments for parents and children. Learning to juggle, speed stack, and balance on stilts are also fun new skills your kids will enjoy learning. All of these activities will help your kids stay active as they learn about balance and motion.

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3. Explore Sand and Water

Kids love digging in sand and playing in water, and the spring and summer months provide great opportunities for fun, motion-filled sand and water activities. Sand molds, buckets, sprinklers, and other sand and water tools all facilitate active play as children explore sand and water. For more ideas on how kids can stay active with sand and water activities, check out Sand and Water Play: Simple, Creative Activities for Young Children.

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4. Help with Outdoor Chores

There are plenty of opportunities in spring and summer for children to help you do outdoor chores. Let them help you plant or water the garden, pick up sticks from the yard, or practice mowing with their pretend mower. You can even turn these activities into competitions to see whose plant grows best or who picks up the most sticks. Activities like these will help children stay active while they learn important life skills. Read The Budding Gardener for other ideas on fun-filled gardening activities you can do with your children.

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5. Play Outdoor Games

Establishing a family routine that includes physical fitness can help you and your children keep a healthy weight. Make time to play an outdoor game with your kids a few times a week, especially in spring and summer. Play a game of basketball or volleyball as a family after dinner or teach kids how to play badminton or tennis. Even a quick game of tag or a simple 30 minute family walk will help keep you and your kids healthy.

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Be sure to browse our Active and Outdoor Play section for additional ideas on how you can help your kids be more active.

Going Green on St. Patrick’s Day!

17 Mar

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We are all aware of the fascination with shamrocks, pots of gold, and tiny bearded men who look resemble certain characters on cereal boxes that come along with the holiday. But instead of focusing on leprechauns, we wanted to take a moment to consider something more important: the color green! Of course, by observing all things green, we mean the way we approach the environment. With factors like climate change, pollution, and water quality surrounding us daily, it’s important to make young children aware of how to be environmentally conscious. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun!

Here are a few simple things you can do around your home to teach your children to go green on St. Patrick’s Day!

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1. Breathe Easy by Planting Inside or Out!

-Teaching kids the importance of trees and plants as oxygen providers is important not only in that it contributes to their eventual understanding of photosynthesis, but it will also help them to appreciate giving back to the environment. Keeping plants inside is always a great way to teach kids about plant care and they can even produce the added bonus of home-grown veggies!

2. Color Coded Recycling Bins

-Sorting trash into plastics, paper, glass and cardboard are great ways to teach your little ones about recycling. You can even make it more fun by assigning colors to each and using it as an opportunity to teach children their colors. There are tons of recycling songs to sings as you do your part together to go green.

3. Borrow Books Instead of Buying

-Going to the library is always an adventure for young kids. Libraries become magical places as children stumble across books shared by other people. By borrowing, you can teach children how they are limiting waste, as opposed to going to the book store to buy titles new.

4. Make Your Mondays Meatless!

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-Get with your kids and look up their favorite vegetarian recipes online. Not only can you cook together, but you can cut down on consumption while you’re doing so. Explain to your kids that through not eating meat on Mondays, you’re helping to cut down on greenhouse emissions.

5. Waste Not!

-Make sure you kids know to turn off the water while they brush their teeth and to turn off the lights when they aren’t using them. You can also do little things like using dish towels instead of paper towels, reusable water bottles intend of plastic water bottles, and make cards from home instead of buying them. The possibilities are endless when you look around your house for ways to minimize waste.

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6. The Green Games

-The biggest way you can help your child to go green is through teaching them about things like pollution and what little things they can do every day to stop waste. A great way to make them aware of environmental problems and solutions is through playing green games. There are plenty of online resources where green learning becomes fun and easy. (Not to mention the added bonus of technology integration!) Here is a great resource for online learning for kids: http://www.edge-gogreen.com/home/green-kids2/

We hope you enjoyed the small ways to go green on St. Patrick’s Day and found it more rewarding than the motivation to pinch someone! You can find even more ways to reduce your carbon footprint by checking out the green resources below. Thank you for playing your part in sustainable living and passing it on to the next generation, after all, that’s a pot of gold to look forward to in itself!

Resources:

Help Kids Become Future Innovators with Fun and Educational Toys

10 Mar

Innovators like to ask questions about the world around them and use their creativity to solve problems, so being creative and inquisitive are important traits kids should practice and develop. Here are five educational toys that can help children become future innovators by introducing them to engineering concepts and helping them increase their problem-solving skills:

1. GoldieBlox & the Spinning Machine (4-9 years)

goldibloxIf you’re looking for a construction toy for girls, look no further! A 2014 Educational and People’s Choice Toy of the Year Award Winner, GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine uses storytelling and construction materials to introduce engineering principles and help girls build spatial and problem-solving skills. Girls can help Goldie, the main character, build a belt drive machine and experiment with a variety of design ideas. Girls can also learn about wheels and axles with Goldie and her friends in GoldieBlox and the Parade Float.

2. Magna-Tiles® (3 years & up)

46315Kids of all ages love playing with Magna-Tiles because they can build castles, houses, and a variety of other 3-D objects. The colorful magnetic tiles are a great way to introduce kids to basic engineering concepts and can also help kids expand their building and critical thinking skills. Be sure to browse our Ideas for Your Magna-Tiles® Creations blog post to help kids further expand their creativity and understanding of building concepts.

3. Candy Construction Building Kit (4 years & up)

141407aAn alternative to traditional building blocks and marble runs, the Candy Construction Building Kit gives kids a sweet way to build eye-catching structures while helping them develop their fine motor skills. Kids will love using their creativity and critical thinking skills to make structures that look like edible works of art. The colorful set includes 92 pieces and an activity guide with building directions and structure ideas for kids to make.

4. Monkey Business Gear Set (4-7 years)

22019Kids get to build their own “gears jungle” with the Monkey Business Gear Set. The jungle-themed set includes plastic gears, connectors, base plates, and a crank to help monkeys swing and turn through palm trees. This fun set includes 136 pieces with instructions and building ideas for kids to use. If your kids love visiting the ocean or talking about ocean animals, an Under the Sea Building Set is also available.

5. LEGO® and DUPLO® (18 months & up)

141628dThese classic building toys are a great way to introduce kids to engineering concepts, especially since a number of different themed building sets are available. Whether your kids are interested in Star Wars™ or Cinderella, you can find a LEGO® and DUPLO® building set that they will enjoy. The great thing about LEGO® and DUPLO® is that they offer building sets for a variety of ages, so your children can continue to play and learn with LEGO® and DUPLO® items as they grow older and gain more building and critical thinking skills.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

3 Mar

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Today is Dr. Seuss’ 110th Birthday!

From magical worlds, to colorful characters, to lyrical lessons, Dr. Seuss is always a fun read for parents and children alike! If you’re looking for Seuss-inspired toys for your kids, we’ve got you covered. Check out our selections of educational toys that will teach your children alongside Dr. Seuss!

1. Dr. Seuss Paperback

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-You can’t properly celebrate Dr. Suess’ birthday without learning all about the man behind the books! This paperback, reading level Kindergarten – 1st grade, includes photographs and introduces the biography of the award-winning and famous illustrator, Dr. Seuss.

 

2. Dr. Seuss Pointer

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-Make your point with this This Cat in the Hat themed plastic pointer, featuring a LED light at the tip of the finger to help engage the audience and keep their attention.

 

3. ONE FISH Fishbowl

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- Bring One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish to life with this classic fill-and-spill inspired by the beloved Dr. Seuss book! Includes five fish, each makes a sound–rattle, crinkle, bell and squeaker.

 

 

 

4. I Can Do That Game

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-Hopping, crawling, twirling, and balancing are a few of the fun feats you will encounter while finding out what all you can do! Flip over three cards to create a new challenge each time.

5. One Fish, Two Fish Board Book

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-The magical world of Dr. Seuss springs to life in this board book! A great way to introduce rhyme and fun into reading.

 

 

Happy Read Across America Day! Celebrate by picking up your favorite Dr. Seuss selections and bringing them to life with your kids. Find your favorites here.

Five Fun Birthday Traditions to Start With Your Kids

24 Feb

shutterstock_121428724How does your family celebrate birthdays? If you’re looking for a new birthday tradition to start in your family or if you’re looking for some ideas to make your kids’ birthdays extra special, you’ve come to the right blog post. We know there are many different birthday traditions you could start with your kids, but we’ve come up with five birthday traditions that are pretty easy and fairly inexpensive to start:

1. Start the Celebration Early

A child’s Birthday Eve is a great time to celebrate and reflect back on the year. It’s also a chance to spend quality time with your child before everyone gets caught up in the excitement (and stress) of the birthday party and other planned birthday celebrations. You can read a special birthday book with your child, for example, or make cupcakes together for their birthday party. Asking children what they want to remember from their current age and what they would like to accomplish in the next year will help kids reflect on and remember events in their life. You can also share pictures and memories from past birthdays to make it even more memorable.

2. Have a Special Birthday Decoration Tradition

shutterstock_161542913Decorations can make a child’s birthday feel extra special, so come up with a birthday decoration tradition to help celebrate birthdays in your household. One fun idea is to decorate your child’s bedroom floor or the hallway outside their room while they are asleep by covering the floor with birthday balloons. You could also hang streamers or crepe paper from a doorway to help kids make a grand entrance on their birthday morning. Remember that simple, inexpensive decorations can go a long way in building excitement and celebrating your child’s birthday.

3. Invite Your Family’s Adopted Elf to the Party

141432Learn how elves celebrate birthdays at the North Pole with The Elf on the Shelf®: A Birthday Tradition. Children will be delighted when their favorite holiday tradition becomes a part of their birthday festivities. Each Elf on the Shelf®: A Birthday Tradition comes with a children’s book about birthday celebrations at the North Pole, a cupcake outfit for your elf, and instructions on how your child can invite your family’s adopted elf to their birthday party. If your family has yet to adopt an elf, The Elf on the Shelf® Christmas and Birthday Gift Set is available.

4. Hunt for Treasure

A treasure hunt can make a child’s birthday even more exciting as they hunt for clues to find their gifts. You can choose to give them a small present with each clue or give them a big present once they figure out the last clue. Treasure hunts are also a great way to give out party favors at a birthday party. You can give children individual clues or have them work together to find their party favor bags. If both kids and adults are attending your child’s birthday party, a scavenger hunt is a fun way to include everyone.

5. Enjoy a Favorite Treat

shutterstock_131289236Blowing out candles and eating cake is a popular birthday tradition in the United States, but not everyone likes to eat cake. If that’s the case in your household, celebrate your child’s birthday with their favorite main dish or favorite dessert. You could make a lasagna or chocolate pie, for example, or have a special birthday breakfast each year. If your child has a lot of food allergies or can’t eat sweets due to health reasons, take the focus off of food as treats by treating them to one of their favorite activities. This could be anything from going to a bookstore or bowling alley to going on a short day trip somewhere they enjoy or have always wanted to visit.

Taking the time to do something special for your kids on their birthday will create wonderful memories for both you and your children, so we hope this list will help your family start a new birthday tradition. If you need birthday gift ideas, be sure to browse our Great Gift Ideas section. We also welcome you to share your family’s birthday traditions in the comment section below or on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Facts and Fun for Washington’s Birthday

17 Feb

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Happy President’s Day! Today is a day where we can take a moment to look back and recognize all of the many accomplishments of prominent figures in the United States’ history. One of those figures is George Washington, America’s first president. Washington was an interesting man and still continues to draw curiosity today at his many accomplishments. Celebrate his birthday with your kids by learning a little more about him!

8 Cool Facts about George Washington

Did you know?

  • Washington was one of our biggest presidents

-Washington stood at six feet, two inches tall and weighed 200 pounds. That’s tall!

  • Washington’s wooden teeth

-Many books say that Washington had wooden teeth, however, research done in 2005 showed that they were made out of gold, ivory, lead and animal teeth. What a wild mix!

  • Washington had to learn a lot on his own

-Washington only had around 8 years of formal schooling, from age 6 to 15. His mother did not have enough money to send him to college so he was largely self-taught!

  • washingtonWashington was the richest president ever

-In 2010, the website Wall Street 24/7 listed Washington as the wealthiest president of all time. Everything he owned at the time amounted to $500 million.

  • Washington was a dog person

-Washington was said to treat his hound dogs like family. Some of the names included Tarter, True Love, and Sweet Lips.

  • Washington came out of retirement

-Even after Washington retired, he was asked by President John Adams to take command of the nation’s military when war with France was a possibility in 1798. Washington put together a force to fight the French before retired again to a private life.

  • Washington introduced the a new breed of donkey to America

-Washington, who was also a farmer, introduced a new breed of donkey known as the American Mammoth Jackstock after breeding  donkeys from the King of Spain wit his own horses.

  • Washington loved to write

-Washington wrote more letters than any other president! They totaled over 20,000 letters.

Resources:

-http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2013/02/10-cool-washington-facts-on-georges-real-birthday/

-http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/7-fun-facts-about-george-washington

-http://www.gwashington.net/GWWashington-facts.html

It’s always fun to get your kids involved in learning about the history of the United States and all of people who made it the way it is today. We have a few toys in mind that may help you do just that!

4 Toys to Teach Your Kids About the United States

1. Core Knowledge History & Geography Homeschool Bundles

-Teach your kids the concepts of world and American history and geography through our Core Knowledge of History & Geography bundles. The student package includes 8-11 books that include 4-10 lessons of history and Geography. Choose from different grade levels.

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2. Tunes that Teach American History

-Get your little ones up and moving as they learn about our nation’s history. Learn about explorers, the American Revolution, immigration, and more with these 10 lively tunes and hands-on activities.

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 3. Wonderfoam Giant USA Puzzle Map

-A hands-on way to learn states and capitals! Each state is listed on the front side of the puzzle piece and the capitols are listed on the back of the puzzle piece. Comes with a fun facts Activity Guide.

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4. Inflatable Labeling Globe

-Teach your kids where America is located on the globe! The globe works best with wet-erase markers and comes with an activity guide, hanging display and repair kit. A fun, interactive way to study geography, trade routes, climate and more!

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We hope everyone  has a great President’s Day!

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