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!

Valentine’s Day Gifts and Activities for Kids

10 Feb

shutterstock_170959730Valentine’s Day is almost here! Do you know what you’re doing to make the day extra special for your kids? If you haven’t made any plans yet, we’ve come up with a great list of activities and gift ideas to help your family celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14.

Valentine’s Day Activities

Valentine’s Day is a great way for children and adults to celebrate the people they care about and love, so be sure you take the time to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a family with these four fun activities:

1. Celebrate the Color Red

shutterstock_63459514People associate Valentine’s Day and love with the color red, so make it an emphasis in your household on Valentine’s Day. Encourage everyone to wear something red and decorate your house with red-themed decorations. You can even eat red foods, such as strawberries, cherries, cranberries, tomatoes, watermelon, strawberry jelly (on a PB&J), marinara sauce, or red velvet cake, that day to complete the theme.

2. Focus on Three Important Words: I Love You

shutterstock_169747577Come up with a creative way to tell your kids you love them. Stick a handwritten note or special card in their book bags or somewhere in their room, for example, or schedule time during the day to spend time together doing their favorite activity. You could also make a special message for them in your backyard with rocks, sea shells, or other materials. To make Valentine’s Day even more fun, come up with a scavenger hunt for children to do in order for them to find their special Valentine’s message or surprise.

3. Create Unique Valentine’s Day Cards

shutterstock_172021634Creating handmade DIY Valentine’s Day cards is a great way for families to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re making them for family, friends, or each other, putting your family’s own special twist on Valentine’s Day cards will make them unique and memorable for both the sender and recipient. Visit Pinterest for a great selection of fun ideas for Valentine’s Day cards for kids.

4. Make Heart-Themed Crafts and Baked Goods

shutterstock_8355568Valentine’s Day is all about matters of the heart, so make sure your family celebrates the holiday by making fun heart-themed crafts and baked goods. Junior bake sets are a great way for your kids to help you make and enjoy heart-shaped cookies, for example, and your family can also make heart-themed crafts with stamps, sand, and play dough. Be sure to check out Pinterest for other fun Valentine-themed craft ideas and Valentine’s Day activities for kids.

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Kids

1. Baby Love – Cloth BookBabies will love touching this soft cloth book, and it can even be hung on a crib for them to enjoy.

Baby Love Cloth Book
2. Sweet Baby BlocksThese soft baby blocks squeak when they are squeezed and feature colorful raised pictures for babies to touch and explore.

Sweet Baby Blocks
3. Heart of Mine Dolls (set of 4) - These soft and loveable baby dolls are great cuddle buddies for kids.

Heart of Mine Dolls
4. I Love You Ritual Bib Set (Set of 3) - You can connect with your kids and help them increase their attention skills and brain development by telling them the different rhymes embroidered on each bib.

I Love You Ritual Bib Set
5. I Love You Rituals - This book features 79 activities you can do with your kids to teach them how to be kind and help build self-esteem.

I Love You Rituals Book
6. Guess How Much I Love You - Kids will enjoy reading this board book about the love between a parent and child.

Guess How Much I Love You
7. A Sweetheart for Valentine - The story of Valentine and how she discovers love will enchant children as they read this fun book.

A Sweetheart for Valentine
8. Winter Beauty Dress & Matching Doll Dress - Children can play dress up with this beautiful winter dress, and they can also dress their favorite doll in a matching doll dress.

Winter Beauty Dress and Matching Doll Dress
9. Road Construction Vehicles (Set of 3) - Kids will love using their imagination as they play with these three road construction vehicles.

Road Construction Vehicles
10. Hugga Pet Giraffe - Children can snuggle with this adorable giraffe or use it as a pillow for relaxing and taking a nap.

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5 Toys to Encourage Healthy Competition

3 Feb

Did you sit down with your family and watch the Big Game? Getting involved with sporting events are a great way to enjoy some quality time with your kids and teach them about the healthy benefits of competition. Even if you’re pulling for opposing sides, you can show your children how to properly behave once the game is over, that though competition is good for fueling progress, it should not affect self-esteem or be the cause of jeering.

To promote the educational benefits of competition, seen as a motivator to your child’s  progress as opposed to a person who needs to be defeated, we gathered some resources for you to use. Check out our list of 5  Toys to Encourage Healthy Competition:

5 Toys to Encourage Healthy Competition

1. Junior Football

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Get your children in the spirit of American football and active in the backyard as they work on their spirals and teamwork. Hours of fun tossing back and forth or playing a game of flag football!

2. 3-in1 Sports Arcade

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-Challenge your kids to healthy competitions with their friends seeing if they can improve their score as they shoot hoops, perfect their pitching, or roll high scores!

3. NHL Folding Insta-Set Goal, Stick, and Ball Set

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-Up to four players can get involved with our durable, easily-assembled goal, keeping score and working on their hockey skills! Can be used indoors or outdoors.

4. Competition Plastic Disc

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-Let your kids grab our array of colored disks and play tag, see how many passes they can complete or work on accuracy with these lightweight plastic disks. Great for a competitive or a recreational game of frisbee

5.Discovery Sounds Sports Center

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-Even infants can learn through challenging themselves! Lights, songs, shapes and sounds reward infants as they build fine-motor skills and begin to understand actions and results!

Looking to get your younger children involved in a sport we didn’t cover in the list above? Check out the sports section on our website for an even greater selection.

10 Fun and Educational Science Toys for Kids

27 Jan

Children like to ask questions because they are naturally curious, but the questions they ask aren’t always easy to answer. This is especially true for questions kids ask about science-related topics, such as why the sky is blue or how birds can fly. You may or may not know the answers to your kids’ questions, but there are plenty of resources and tools you can use to find the answers. We’ve come up with a list of educational science toys that can help you answer their most challenging questions while also helping them learn about the world around them:

Where does my shadow sleep

1. Where Does My Shadow Sleep?

This parent’s guide will help you explore science with your kids. The book features a variety of stories and activities that cover multiple science themes and reading concepts. Children can learn about animals and plants and investigate why their shadow gets bigger and smaller during the day.

Weather Bear Set2. Weather Bear Set

This is the perfect way to introduce younger kids to early weather concepts. The set includes a cuddly bear and four seasonal outfits to help your children learn about the weather and how to dress for different seasons. This is also a great way to encourage children to pick out their own outfits and dress themselves.

Geosafari3. GeoSafari® Jr. Talking Bug Net™

Do your kids ask a lot of questions about insects? If so, kids can learn interesting bug facts with this educational toy by choosing one of the included toy bugs and dropping it into the net. The Talking Bug Net also asks kids quiz questions about the facts they have learned.

Backyard Birds4. Backyard Birds

If your children are fascinated with the birds they see in your backyard or enjoy watching them from the window, Backyard Birds is a great way for kids to learn what blue jays, robins, and cardinals look like and the sounds they make. Each Backyard Bird sings authentic sounds and songs when you press their back.

Creature Peeper5. Creature Peeper

If your kids would rather study real bugs to learn about insect characteristics, then the Creature Peeper is a great choice. Children can keep insects in the bug viewer for a short time as they study its characteristics or take it for show and tell. The escape proof, watertight viewer also allows kids to study tadpoles or small fish.

Rocks and Fossils6. Rocks and Fossils

Are your kids interested in rocks or other archaeological items? Kids can learn about a variety of gemstones, rocks, fossils, marine life, and sea shells with this set of Rocks and Fossils. This is a great discovery tool for kids and will help them learn and identify objects found in water or on land.

Walking Tightrope7. Koontz™ Walking Tightrope

Children who are curious about balance, gravity, and mass would enjoy learning how acrobats stay balanced with the Koontz™ Walking Tightrope. This educational toy will help children understand that acrobats must position their center of mass over the center of their body in order to stay balanced as they are performing.

Enviro Battery8. Enviro Battery

If your kids are interested in learning how to make things run, Enviro Battery is a good choice because it helps children learn about power sources and alternative energy. Kids learn to create unique batteries that can light bulbs and power watches with everyday household items.

Nancy B's Science Club9. Nancy B’s Science Club Crime Solver Scope & Forensic Activity Journal

Kids will enjoy learning how to solve mysteries with forensic techniques, such as fingerprinting, hair identification, counterfeit money detection, and surveillance. The Crime Solver Scope can help kids examine evidence or serve as a telescope.

Very First Magnet Kit10. Very First Magnet Kit

Kids who are interested in learning about magnetism and how magnets work will enjoy the Very First Magnet Kit. Children can use the magnetic wand or horseshoe magnet to pick up magnetic marbles, paper clips, and other objects.

Cooking with Imagination

21 Jan

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Cooking in the kitchen with your kids is always a great way for them to learn while being engaged. However, there are a lot of sharp objects and complicated tasks that they won’t be able to help out with. That’s when having their own kitchen set would really come in handy. Preschoolers who pretend cook with kitchen appliances are engaged in dramatic play, which is an important part of the developmental process as they learn skills like abstract thinking and natural manner. Let your kids engage with the kitchen as they learn role play, work on their communication, and develop social skills. Here are 5 different products we think will really get your children’s imaginations stirring as they make their own fantastic creations!

5 Must Haves for Your Little Chef

1. Tot Range

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You can’t have a kitchen without a stove! Get your child started out with our tot stove, which can be easily reached by children. Let them turn the movable knobs for even more realism!

2. My First Kitchen Set

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Your chef won’t be able to cook if they don’t have their kitchen utensils. This set is great because unlike real kitchen utensils, these are lightweight and perfect for tots to maneuver around as they make a meal for two. There’s even a steak for them to serve up for dinner!

3. The Budding Chef

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Every good cook has great recipes! The Budding  Chef is full of simple recipes your little one can try out either in the kitchen with you or pretend to cook in their own cooking station! This cookbook is full of great ways for parents and their budding chefs to have fun together.

4. Chef Vest and Hat

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Let your little one really get into their chef role with our chef’s vest and hat. Toddlers will love cooking up food for their friends as they role play as a chef. Features include easy pull over head design with velcro side closures, chef hat with back elastic band, two pockets, and printed buttons. The best part? Machine washable.

5. Fruits and Vegetables

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Finally, your little chef has to have something to cook! Get them started with our fruits and vegetable set. You can teach them about healthy eating while they whip up tasty creations.

*Application: Check out how this teacher took dramatic play in the kitchen area to a whole new level. Find out more about the Nature Kitchen.*
 

Want to discover even more items for dramatic play? Check out our variety of dramatic play resources.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Encouraging Equality and Acceptance

16 Jan

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Martin Luther King, Jr. is an iconic American hero and civil rights leader who helped bring social and political changes to America, which is one of the reasons we honor King and his legacy every year on the third Monday in January. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day provides parents and caregivers with an excellent opportunity to encourage children to accept and understand differences between people and cultures.

Facts to Share with Kids

We found a great article that discusses King’s life and accomplishments on The History Channel website. Here are a few facts from the article you can share with your kids on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day became a federal holiday in 1986.
  • King believed in peaceful protest and was an advocate of nonviolence.
  • He played a critical role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington, which were major events that influenced the eventual passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
  • King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is considered one of the most memorable and influential speeches of all time.
  • King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his efforts in the civil rights movement.

You can also talk with older children about how King was fatally shot in 1968 while standing on a motel balcony in Memphis. If younger children ask about what happened to King, keep your responses simple and relatively easy for young kids to understand.

Three Ways to Encourage Equality and Acceptance

Peace, nonviolence, equality, and acceptance were all important principles and concepts of the civil rights movement and King’s own legacy. All of these principles and concepts are still important for children to learn due to the diversity in people and culture they encounter every day. Here are three ways you can encourage your children to be open-minded, understanding, and accepting of people’s differences:

1. Teach children about diversity, the history of the civil rights movement, and Martin Luther King, Jr. by reading books about those topics and asking them their opinion about what they read. All the Colors We Are, for example, gives children a scientific explanation of how our skin color is determined by a variety of factors while also addressing the myths and stereotypes that people often associate with a person’s skin color. Children can learn about the history of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with the Holiday Book Series, and our At Home with Diversity Book Set can help children further their understanding of differences.

2. Reinforce what children learn by reading and discussing books with fun educational activities, such as puzzles, word searches, and crossword puzzles. The Our Friends Floor Puzzle and Comprehension-Boosting Crosswords: Famous Americans are both excellent examples of activities that can help children learn more about diversity and why we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

3. Encourage children to express and share the differences they see in the world with multicultural art activities. Children can draw and create posters and pictures, for example, of the diversity they see in their own homes and communities. These types of activities will help children further explore and understand biological and cultural differences, which will ultimately help further King’s vision of equality and acceptance.

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