Outdoor Games the Whole Family Can Play!

30 Jun


Summer is the perfect season to get outside with the kids for fun family engagement! Active play is an important part of early childhood and becomes more engaging when parents are involved. We have a few games you can play with your kids that will leave you both learning and laughing together!

1. Four Square Madness

Have a driveway or empty pavement outside? Turn a hot, boring day into active play that will build fine motor skills in children by playing Four Square! Break out the chalk and playground balls for hours of fun as you teach children important lessons like boundaries, control, and patience while others players finish the game once a child is “out.” Find official Four Square rules here: http://www.squarefour.org/rules. Don’t have chalk? No worries! Find yours here; don’t forget to check out our selection playground balls below:

13427a 87284

2. Getting the Garden in Shape! 

Gardening is a great way to spend time together with your children as you teach them the importance of nutrition and sustainability. It can be hard to know how little ones can help when it comes to heavy gardening tools; that’s why we have just the thing! Find child-sized gardening tools below along with a tote they can carry to hold any yard tools you may need:

62571  84497a

3. Learning with Bean Bags!

Bean bags are always a fantastic way to get the whole family involved, however, with the addition of letters or numbers, they can also be used to bring classroom lessons outside. From spelling to counting, make up your own learning games with these easy-to-pack learning bean bags:


4. Building Sand Castles with Molds!

Whether you’re taking a vacation to the beach or simply have a sand box in the backyard, sand encourages sensory play and is a great way to encourage building in children. See how big of a city your child can build or encourage creativity with the creation of canals or nature decorations like leafs for flags. The possibilities are endless when it comes to a child’s creativity!


What are your child’s favorite ways to learn outside? Let us know by commenting below! Don’t forget to check out our Pinterest board: Outdoor Learning with Kids! 

10 Toys to Avoid Car Ride Boredom!

23 Jun


Traveling for the 4th of July weekend? Have a family vacation coming up? We all know how bored and restless children can get during long car rides. Here are some toy and activity ideas that will keep kids entertained and learning throughout your summer trips. These toys are easy to travel with and they’re also educational, so you’ll get the best of both worlds!

1. Plastic Coated Playing Cards

Play classic games or learn new ones, either way these small playing cards will be the perfect addition to any car ride. They are small and compact, making them an easy add-on to your luggage!

Plastic Coated Playing Cards

2. Addition Wrap Ups

Keep math skills sharp with this easy-to-carry Addition Wrap Up. Wrap the string from the problem on the left to the answer on the right, and then flip it over to see if children’s answers are correct!

Addition Wrap Ups

3. Regal Games Classic Travel Bingo

Turn traffic into a learning opportunity with these classic games! Interstate Bingo, Traffic Safety Bingo, and License Plate Bingo will keep kids entertained and teach them about geography and travel at the same time! Whoever completes a row first wins.

Regal Games Classic Travel Bingo (Set of 3)

4. Crayola® Dry Erase Activity Center

Kids can use the included activity sheets or slip in a blank one and just doodle! This dry erase surface is versatile, and children can simply wipe away the marks and start over. Integrate technology by encouraging your kids to create their own activity pages online!

Crayola® Dry Erase Activity Center

5. Classic Doodle Sketch

The Doodle Sketch will provide no-mess drawing in the car, and it’s easy to carry! It is the perfect size for children’s laps and sparks creativity. Practice math, art, or vocabulary for extra summer learning!

Classic Doodle Sketch

6. KidsSongs 2 CD Classic

Two discs full of sing-a-longs to pop in the CD player during your car ride and an included book of lyrics. Practice reading, listening, and encourage musical literacy in your kids, all while having tons of fun!

Kidsongs 2 CD Classic

7. Amazing™ Baby Sound Balls

Your infant will love these sound balls to play with while riding down the highway. Each of the three balls has a different texture and sound, which will help your child explore and develop! When you get to your destination, just pack them up in the reusable vinyl carrying case that’s included.

Amazing Baby™ Sound Balls

8. First Atlas

Let your child explore the wonders of geography while traveling! First Atlas is a great learning tool with pictures and concepts that children will love! They will see the countries of the world and bright images of what they have to offer.

First Atlas

9. Crayola® Large 8 Count Washable Crayons

Don’t worry about stains with Crayola’s Washable Crayons. These large crayons are perfect for little hands to develop their motor skills and explore their imagination. A piece of paper and these eight crayons are all your child will need to create a car ride masterpiece!

Crayola® Large 8 Count Washable Crayons

10. Highlights™ 2015 Hidden Pictures Puzzle Books

Help your children develop their problem-solving skills by searching for the hidden objects within these puzzles! It has clues and answer pages for the more than 350 hidden objects in each book.

Highlights™ 2015 Hidden Pictures Puzzle Books - Set of 4

What strategies do you use to keep your children busy during car rides? Let us know by commenting below or sharing your ideas on our Facebook page!

Putting on a Proper Puppet Show!

23 Jun


Staging a puppet show is a great way to get children excited about reading, aid in the development of storytelling skills, and bring the family together to celebrate a child’s creativity! Not sure where to start? We have seven simple steps to aid your child in putting on a proper puppet show!

1. Choose your book.

It’s important to choose a story that lends itself to being acted out. Multiple strong characters, an exciting backdrop, and adventure are always great elements to include in a puppet show! Browse our selection of children’s books to get started: https://www.kaplantoys.com/shop/childrens-books.

2. Pick out the puppets.

Knowing which puppets to use as the show’s actors/actresses is the most important part! Allow children to express creativity by choosing their own character to act out whatever role they’ve chosen from the story. We have a range of puppets to choose from, from farm animals to Sesame Street characters! Below are some of our favorites:

Farm Puppets (Set of 8)28711

Happy Puppets (Set Of 6)Fox Hand Puppet by Folkmanis

3. Write the scripts.

Your children will have to decide which characters will be acted out as well as what they will say. Writing scripts is a great way to delve deeper into a book to pick out the most important lines of dialogue. It can also be a great opportunity to teach concepts like summarizing, themes, and the moral of the story. Children can depict with puppets what they learned from the story and practice early writing skills along the way!

4. Set the stage.

Tabletop Puppet TheaterWhat is a puppet show without a stage? Help your children pick out the perfect place to act out their stories. You’ll want to make sure the location is somewhere big enough for an audience of avid supporters.

On a budget? Use an ironing board! Simply hang a tablecloth over it and the height can be adjusted to the appropriate level. Children can add   whatever props they like!

5. Practice, practice, practice!

Encourage children to practice their scripts so they don’t get stage fright or forget who is supposed to speak when. This is a great way to teach dedication and may lead to some comical improvisation as well!

6. Stage the lights.

Lighting can go a long way in setting the mood for a play! Adding some dramatic flair to the performance is always fun and will make children even more excited about acting out the show. If you can, find a way to dim the lights and have the stage lit with a “spot light.” You can point a lamp in their direction, use a projector, or get fancy by having the stage lit from underneath! Use whatever works best for you!

7. Gather the family together.

Having a support system is always important. Children will not only work on public speaking in front of an audience, but laughter and applause will go a long way in building confidence. Make sure to catch the performance on video so children can laugh along later!

Ladybug Book Set

Using Finger Puppets to Encourage Early Literacy

Outside of giving a performance, finger puppets are a great alternative for encouraging children who are struggling with reading. Here are some great options for engaging children in early literacy by using their hands to act out the story:

We hope you enjoy a puppet performance in your home! What are some of your child’s favorite books to act out? Be sure to share with us by commenting below.

Showing Dad How Much He Matters!

16 Jun

shutterstock_132978608Father’s Day is right around the corner! Fathers are an integral part of a child’s early education in the home as they provide stable male role models and play unique roles in children’s development. According to research, fathers are more likely to

  • promote children’s intellectual and social development through physical play;
  • emphasize independence and allow children more freedom to explore their surroundings, take risks, and challenge themselves; and
  • push their sons to higher levels of achievement.

To celebrate the special role father’s play in the lives of their children, we have a few fun crafts and books your kids can share with dad!

1. A Gift for the Car! Car Visor Clip

Help dad keep his car organized with this special gift!


  • clothespin, spring type
  • library pocket or small sturdy mailing envelope
  • paint
  • cotton swabs or thin paintbrushes
  • glue
  • nontoxic permanent marker

Make Your Great Gift

  1. Paint the clothespin and library pocket using the cotton swabs or thin paintbrushes.
  2. After the paint dries, glue the library pocket to one side of the clothespin.
  3. Use the permanent marker to personalize the clip by writing a title on the library pocket such as “Dad’s Car Clip.”
  4. Include a note with the gift suggesting that the recipient clip it to the car visor and use the pocket for parking stubs or other receipts.

Helpful Hint

  • The library pocket will last longer if it is laminated or covered with clear contact paper before attaching it to the clothespin. Glue does not adhere to laminate well, so use self-adhesive Velcro to attach the pocket to the clothespin.


  • Add magnetic tape to the back of the clothespin to create a refrigerator clip that can hold papers. Use the library pocket for storing pens and pencils.
  • Use a cut off denim jeans back pocket instead of a library pocket.

2. A Gift for the Office! Made-It-Myself Mouse Pad

Impress Dad with a unique mouse pad for the office!


  • White or light-colored craft foam, cut into approximately 8” x 9” pieces
  • Nontoxic permanent colored markers
  • Clear vinyl, cut the same size and shape as craft foam
  • Clear 2” wide book or packing tape, cut to 9” length

Make Your Great Gift

  1. Brainstorm ideas to draw on the mouse pad. The following are possible ideas:
  • Draw a scene for the mouse to travel through
  • Trace simple shapes
  • Draw a self-portrait
  1. Draw the design on one side of the craft foam with the permanent markers.
  2. Place a piece of tape approximately 9” long to adhere clear vinyl to craft foam along the top long edge. Then you can slide notes, memos, or photos between the vinyl and the foam.
  3. Trim as needed.

Helpful Hints

  • Add notes and photos under the clear vinyl.
  • Clear vinyl, sold by the yard, may be found at stores that sell fabric. Or use leftover laminating film, clear page protectors, or clear report covers for the top of the mouse pad.

Source: 101 Great Gifts Kids Can Make

3. A Recipe to Make with Dad! 


  • 2” pieces of celery
  • 1/4 “ slices of carrots
  • peanut butte

Celery Race Cars

An easy and fun snack that will keep your child’s motor running!

What to Do

  1. Encourage your child to spread peanut butter into his celery “cars.”
  2. Spread peanut butter on the carrot slices and attach them to the celery to create “wheels.”
  3. Enjoy talking with Dad about your child’s favorite cars!

Source: The Budding Chef

4. Books to Celebrate Dad!


Finally, there’s no better way to spend quality time with dad than by reading books together! We have a few selections that are sure to inspire bonding between little ones and their real-life heroes:

Have fun this weekend and a special Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there!

Summer Fun with Santurian Balls!

9 Jun


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

Step 1: Pick out your Santurian ball!



Step 2: Get outside and play!

1. Bottle Bowling

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


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


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

What to Do

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

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

2. Hoop Play

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


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


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

What to Do:

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

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

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

Making the Most of Bath Time

2 Jun


Do your kiddos like taking baths? For many parents, it can be a struggle trying to convince children baths are a good thing. Whether it’s a fear of water or simply not wanting to stay still long enough, children can make taking baths difficult and leave parents soaked by the end of bath time. We have a few toy suggestions that will not only leave children seeing the tub as a new play space, but also teach a few educational lessons along the way!

1. SoapSox Bath Scrub Terry Cloth Bath Sponges – Harper The Hippo & Ava The Dolphin 143909

These soft washcloths just happen to be absolutely adorable and in the shape of loveable sea creatures! Pour soap into the SoapSox pocket and add water to work up a lather. Place your fingers in the side pockets and scrub as your baby giggles in delight at their newfound bath time friend!

2. 5 Large Dino Bath Buddies 


Who doesn’t like dinosaurs? These five colored dinos are soft and squeezable for small hands. Encourage dramatic play and practice color recognition as you wash your baby!

3. Freddy Finz Bath Spout Guard 


What can make bath time more entertaining than turning the faucet into a funny fish? Freddy Finz Bath Spout Guard is a great way to keep young children safe from hitting their head during bath time and can be rotated so that water sprays out, providing tons of fun and laughter!

4. Number Ducks 


Nothing is more fun than sharing the tub with a family of counting ducks! Number Ducks are great for number recognition and simple counting as children begin to learn their numbers.

5. Make a Splash™ Vinyl Book Set (Set of 4) 


There’s nothing like story time in the bathtub! Stories are a great way to get children to look forward to your time spent together. These adorable waterproof and baby-safe books are a great way to keep babies entertained.

6. Bubble® Twin Pack


Add more fun in the tub by pouring in scented bubbles! Toddlers can create shapes or make funny hair with the floating foam while enjoying bath time.

7. Water Twinklers 

83681Babies will love watching these three twinklers float in the tub! The viewing dome adds extra visual stimulation by allowing children to see the objects moving inside.

8. Splish, Splash Water Play 


Try to catch colorful insects as they glide across the water or scoop and pour water from fun creatures! The Splish, Splash Water Play Set offers endless bath time fun as toddlers squirt from textured Scrubbles! The different textured tops provide added sensory play.

9.Tug Boats Set (Set of 6) 


These brightly colored boats are fun for racing, easy to chew on, and teach little ones to stack as they nest the little tug boats inside each other! The Tug Boats Set is also a great way to introduce sequencing.

10. Eco-Friendly Stacker Cups 


With six graduated, numbered cups, young children can sort and stack as they learn basic counting and math concepts. Pour from cups one and two and watch as they fill the volume of cup three! A great way to keep kids learning while bathing.

Do you have strategies for keeping young children calm during bath time? Comment below or tell us on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KaplanToys

5 Water Toys to Take on Summer Vacation

27 May

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


 1. Color Play Penguins 

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


2. Number Ducks 

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


 3. Letter Link Crabs 

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


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

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


 5. Underwater Explorer Boat 

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

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



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 75 other followers