Establishing a Summer Learning Plan!

19 May


It’s almost time for summer! As your kids prepare for freedom, they may not be aware that without use, a lot of the lessons they worked so hard to learn will begin to fade. Since you’ll be spending more time with your little ones, it’s important that a summer learning plan is introduced to prevent summer learning loss. Here are a few easy steps you can take to ensure your children continue to learn outside of the classroom:

 1. Ask your child’s teacher about a summer learning program.

Many times, teachers have already created summer learning activities, programs, or websites for children to engage with during the summer. Check with your child’s teacher to see what options are available. If nothing is in place or you want to delve a little deeper, we also have the following options:

 2. Break out the reading games to encourage early literacy.

Promoting early literacy over the summer is a necessity as reading is one of the biggest indicators of eventual academic success. We have plenty of fun literacy activities you can engage your children in for summer:

3. Take advantage of free community learning resources.

Many times, your community offers free learning opportunities for children that are just waiting to be taken advantage of! A couple of ideas could include:

  • signing your child up for a public library card
  • browsing local parks for nature centers
  • strolling through a nearby university campus
  • checking online to see when music festivals are coming near you or when museums and zoos are running specials for families

The learning possibilities are endless when you see the world through your child’s eyes!

4. Introduce math in everyday learning.

Math learning is all around us! Take time to be intentional in your day-to-day routine by finding opportunities for your children to practice counting, number recognition, and time telling. Some ideas could include adding up prices at the grocery store, counting time while waiting in line, or measuring ingredients while cooking. For even more ideas on how to incorporate financial literacy into everyday learning, check out our post: Small Ways to Teach Math Every Day!

5. Keeping active through imaginative play.

Putting precedence on active play is so important throughout the summer as many children’s natural inclination may be to become a couch potato! The outdoors just awaits adventure and children’s natural curiosity is just the beginning for science investigation. Whether it’s establishing a designated outdoor play time or gathering the family together for a fun game of basketball in the evenings, make sure active play is a part of your child’s summer schedule. Sports teams, trips to the park, and swimming pools are also great ways to keep little feet moving! Find a selection of cool outdoor summer toys here:

6. Stress the importance of nutrition through starting a garden.

There’s no better way to get children excited about the healthier aspects of snack time than by starting a family garden! When children invest their time (and love) into growing plants, they are more appreciative when the vegetables and fruits spring up to provide a healthy snack. It’s also a great way to teach responsibility and provide an activity you can do together. For creative garden lessons you can teach preschoolers, check out Gardening: A Growing Process for Children.

We hope your summer kicks off to a great start! If you have any creative ways to keep children’s minds engaged while out of school, feel free to share by commenting below.

Fun Places to Get Caught Reading!

12 May


May is Get Caught Reading Month! To promote early literacy in the household, especially as students gear up for summer, challenge your children to read in different places around the home. Make a game of seeing how many different places you can “catch” your child reading and take a picture each time. At the end of the month, you can see a collection of spots your children love to read, inspire a love of reading along the way, and encourage children to understand how different spaces can complement their overall reading experience! Get inspired with some of our favorite places to find children reading:

 1. A Space with a View

Whether it’s hanging out in a tree, sitting by a window, or lounging on the balcony, spaces that give children a view while they read can be all the more inspiring! There’s nothing like being reminded by the worlds within books that the world outside waits at children’s feet!

 KT Book Suggestions:

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 2. Spaces Filled with Friends

Many times, children find books more engaging when reading to an audience, whether it’s to friends or to teddy bears. Being comfortably surrounded by a familiar audience turns reading into a community experience and is a great way for children to take on a teaching role as they read aloud.

 KT Book Suggestions:

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 3. Outdoor Spaces

One exciting thing about reading outside is that children can find examples of what they’re reading about right in front of their eyes! Tree houses, jungle gyms, or picnic blankets are all great places children can sprawl to be inspired as they read!

 KT Book Suggestions:

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 4. Sensory Spaces

Reading in areas that give children an opportunity to use their other senses is a great way to complement the reading experience! Whether it’s reading near flowerbeds about spring, reading beside you in the kitchen as you cook, or dipping their feet in water as they learn about frog life cycles, sensory interactions will bring children’s stories to life!

 KT Book Suggestions:

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 5. Spaces Surrounded by Books

Many times, books are more like companions than simple pages. Young children can find comfort in being surrounded by walls lined with books, either in your home or at a library. It is also a great way for children to get excited about what they will read next!

 KT Book Suggestions:

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We hope you have fun looking forward to the many places you can find children reading. Wherever you may find them, knowing they are developing a love of reading is enough to make any parent smile!

Do you have creative ideas for spaces children can read? Share them with us on our Facebook page.

Small Ways to Teach Math Every Day!

5 May


Trying to fit math learning into a busy schedule can be hard! That’s why it’s important to begin seeing every day situations as potential learning opportunities, so that children can enjoy math lessons on the go. Here are a few simple ways you can have fun with your children throughout the day as you reveal that math is all around!

1. A Trip to the Bank

Going to the bank is a necessity, but using it as a time to teach children about the value of money can many times go overlooked. Next time you’re preparing to take a trip to the bank, set aside a little extra time to go inside and teach your children the following:

 What To Do:

  1. Ask your children to save up 100 pennies. Once they’ve reached their goal, ask them to count the coins into stacks of five and ten. Put the pennies into a coin sleeve and put your child’s name on it.
  2. Visit the bank to exchange the pennies for a dollar bill.
  3. Talk to your children about the value of 100 pennies and the dollar bill. Discuss similarities and differences of the two forms of currency.

Assessment: At the end of the day, children should be able to count to 100 and sort objects into groups of five or ten.

2. Nibbled Pretzel Numbers

Pretzels are a common snack, whether it’s on an airplane, at a ball game, or at a park. This salty snack is also a great opportunity for number recognition!

 What To Do:

  1. Give children napkins and about three pretzels each and take some for yourself. Nibble tiny bites out of a pretzel so that the remainder is in the shape of a number.
  2. Place the nibbled pretzel on your napkin so the outline of the number is seen clearly.
  3. Let the children tell you what number they recognize. Nibble another pretzel into a different number so children can see the possibilities.
  4. Enjoy the laughter with children as they nibble their pretzels into numbers and display their creations on napkins.
  5. You can make this activity a bit more challenging by using straight pretzel sticks. The sticks will need to be broken or bitten into shorter lengths in order to make rounded edges. Napkins help keep snack time neat.

The Pretzel Song by Kay Flowers

One salty, two salty, three salty pretzels.

Four salty, five salty, six salty pretzels.

Seven salty, eight salty, nine salty pretzels.

Ten salty pretzels I see!

3. Buried Treasure at the Beach

Planning a trip to the beach for the summer? Learn on the go with the addition of plastic numbers!

What To Do:

  1. Tape a number card on five of your child’s sand toys and set the toys up on the sand. Make sure the five plastic numbers are buried beneath the toys.
  2. Ask children to identify the numbers on the sand toys.
  3. Explain that there are matching numbers buried in the sand. Challenge children to dig through the sand to find the plastic numbers.
  4. Encourage children to feel the numbers they find and try to identify them before they lift them from the sand.
  5. Have the children display each number they find beside the sand toy with the matching number. Congratulate the children as they locate numbers and match them!

4. Snack Time: How Many Spoonfuls?

Snack time is most likely already included in your child’s daily schedule. If that’s the case, young children can begin learning numbers with something as simple as a spoon!

What To Do:

  1. Give children cereals, puddings, applesauce, or any food that requires a spoon to eat.
  2. Tell the children they will be counting how many spoonfuls it will take to eat their snack.
  3. Have visuals to keep track of how many bites are taken. Anything from blocks to tally marks can work.
  4. Older children can make a hypothesis to predict how many spoonfuls it will take to eat their food.

All activities inspired by Learn Every Day About Numbers by Kathy Charner.

Don’t miss out on our featured math products for easy ways to teach math at home!

 Featured Math Toys:



10 Toys to Keep Kids Moving!

28 Apr


Keeping kids active is a necessity when it comes to raising healthy and happy kids. Along with proper nutrition, teaching children to properly exercise, whether it be through outdoor play or organized sports, is an important role of parents. Though health classes can be taught at school, lifelong habits are born in the home. Here are some toys we recommend that will ensure children keeping active at home:

1. 4″ Play Balls (Robot, Fire Truck & T-Rex)


Kids will love playing outside with 4″ play balls featuring fun designs! Lightweight and durable, play balls can be used both indoors and out for games varying from four-square to kick ball!

2. Kidoozie Hop & Squeak Unicorn Foam Pogo Jumper


Children will get their excursive bouncing up and down on their very own unicorns! Adding to the magic, each hop on the Hop & Squeak Unicorn Foam Pogo Jumper makes a magical sound.

3. OgoDisk RAQ


These hand trampolines for balls are a great way to get kids outside and running as they work on fine motor skills to keep the ball bouncing between players. For added fun, use water balloons to cool off during the summer!



Imaginations will soar with this awesome building kit! Children can create fun shapes to crawl through as they put their creativity to the test! This pod kit creates large, light-weight structures that can be kicked, spun, and thrown!

5. Playhut Mega Fun Playhouse


The Mega Fun Playhouse includes a basketball, miniature basketball hoop, ball pit, and tunnels for children to crawl through! It makes for hours of street-free play as children burn off some of that energy while stuck indoors.

6. Diggin GoGo Pogo


With a stable base and bright colors, the Electronic Multi-Game Pogo Bouncer helps children with counting, memory, sound recognition, music and more as they use their muscles to bounce up and down! It’s a great way to keep active while learning with five electronic games.

7. Red Bullet Balance Bike


Put little feet to the ground and take off on the Red Bullet Balance Bike! This two-wheeler provides hours of fun as children build the necessary balance to ride.

8. Yoga CD


Relax and flex those muscles by teaching your child yoga poses for daily life. Music will encourage exercise while building flexibility in children as they learn to slow down.

9. Little Tikes Push & Ride Racer


Little ones will get a workout using this combination ride-on/push toy that encourages coordination and balance. A seat for teddy is even included on the back to take favorite toys on a ride!

10. Waboba® Lacrosse Set


Start kids learning lacrosse early as they fall in love with a sport requiring hand-eye coordination, team work, and plenty of physical fitness! Lacrosse is a great way to have fun in the back yard and hone skills for team play later on.

We hope you enjoyed our toy selection and have fun with your children as you take in the sunny vibes of spring! Don’t miss our outdoor activities Pinterest board for even more ideas.

Sand and Water Inspiration for Spring

21 Apr


It’s spring and with the sunny season comes plenty of opportunities for sand and water play. Whether you have a sand and water table or a sandbox outside, we have a few learning activities you can engage your children in to embrace spring time.

Sand and water tables provide added benefits, including the ability to bring outdoor elements inside when the weather isn’t cooperating! If you don’t have one yet and are considering what table would be best for your child, we have a few options we think you’ll enjoy:

4 Hands-on Activities for Spring!

1. Water Play! Bring it Onboard

What happens when objects are added to a floating jar boat? Children can compare the objects that sink their boats to objects that leave boats afloat.


  • different weighted materials such as plastic or wooden spoons, rocks, fishing weights, corks and metal washers
  • plastic containers with lids, small plastic jars with lids
  • sand and water table or a large container filled with water

What to Do:

  1. Float a closed plastic jar on the water in front of your children. Talk about floating. Ask, “Do you have toys that float in the bathtub? What happens when you push them down to the bottom? Let’s pretend this is a boat and see what it can carry without sinking.”
  2. Remove the lid and place a large, heavy object in the jar. Say, “Let’s see what happens when we bring this onboard our boat.” The object should not be heavy enough to sink the jar, though it should make it noticeably lower in the water. Talk to your children about why.
  3. Select a heavier object that will sink the jar. Repeat the process of placing the jar in the water and discussing what happens when the boat sinks.
  4. Allow children to explore with several more objects and containers. Ask, “Which objects let the jar boat float and what sinks the boat?” Have children group the objects in these two categories and discuss size, weight, and material characteristics of the objects in the groups.

Challenge: Do the activity using only sand or water as a weight. Add varying amounts to identical jars. How much does it take to sink the jar? Challenge your children to keep track of how many scoops of sand they put in the jars.

Source: The Preschool Scientist 

 2. Water Play! Aluminum Foil Boats

Make boats from aluminum foil, and experiment with how to make them float and carry objects!

Related Books:

  • Boats by Anne Rockwell
  • Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham
  • Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen


  • objects used as “passengers” or cargo in the boats, such as small plastic blocks, washers, or pennies
  • pieces of aluminum foil: 6” x 6” squares work well, but any size and shape can be used
  • sand and water table or a tub of water

What to Do:

  1. Talk with your child about what the word sink means. What might make a boat sink?
  2. Show your child a flat sheet of foil and a small toy. Talk about how you might make the foil into a boat so that the toy can ride in it.
  3. Create several boats, experimenting with different designs and testing each boat in the tub of water. Add animals or other toys to see what happens.
  4. Talk about your boats and what you noticed when you put “passengers” in each boat. Does it make a difference where you put the passengers? Can some boats carry more passengers than others? Does the shape or size of the boat make a difference?
  5. Test your ideas about boat designs by redesigning and floating many different boats.

Source: Where Does My Shadow Sleep: A Parent’s Guide to Exploring Science with Children’s Books 


Kaplan Toys Suggestion: Looking for items to float in your boat? Try out My Buddies, the perfect companions for water play!

 3. Sand Play! Dinosaur Dig

Children will learn about colors and paleontologists as they dig for dinosaurs!


  • laminating machine or clear contact paper in different colors
  • sand and water table or tub of sand
  • scissors


  • Cut dinosaur shapes out of different colored paper. Laminate or cover with clear contact paper.
  • Hide the paper dinosaurs in the sand.

What to Do:

Tell children that they are going to be a special kind of scientist called a paleontologist. Explain what they study and the history of life on Earth.

  1. If appropriate, ask each child to find a certain color dinosaur.
  2. Offer an additional challenge by cutting the dinosaur shapes into puzzle pieces that the children find and then put together, just as paleontologists put together the bones they find to re-create the bone structure of animals that once lived on our planet.

Source: Another Encyclopedia of Theme Activities for Young Children 

  1. Sand Play! Coloring and Mixing Sand

Have fun showing children how to paint sand, and then mix the sands to form new colors!


  • containers for mixing sand and paint
  • pans for drying sand (one for each color)
  • resealable plastic bags, small
  • sand and water table full of sand
  • spoons
  • tempera paints
  • mixing spoons
  • permanent marker


Collect several containers of white sand, various tempera paints, and find a location where children can set the painted sand out to dry.

  1. Have each child make a color of sand using separate containers to mix each of the primary colors—red, yellow and blue.
  2. Help each child measure and pour 1-2 cups of sand into each container, and then pour 1/4 cup of wet or dry tempera paint into the containers. Explain to the children that they should add 1/2 cup of water for each cup of sand in their containers. Help children add water and paint as needed to help make a good rich color and a runny mixture. Mix well.
  3. Help children pour the colored sand onto the sand and water table to dry, and then place the table in a warm, sunny place. When the sand is dry, encourage the children to crumble the sand back into granular form. At this point, each child should have one container of red, yellow, and blue sand.
  4. Next, talk with children about the primary colors. Ask the children why they think we call them primary and explain that they help to make all other colors.
  5. Set out several mixing spoons and resealable plastic baggies. Invite the children to use the spoons to measure the colored sands carefully and combine spoonfuls of each in various plastic baggies. Tell children to use no more than three spoonfuls of each color of sand. Be sure children mix one or two spoonfuls of color with three spoonfuls of another color, so that they can see a variety of results.
  6. Help children record on the sides of the baggies the number of spoonfuls of each color of sand they add to each baggie, and then help the children seal the baggies.
  7. 18753groupInvite the children to shake the bags well to mix the colored sand and watch as a new, secondary color appears. Point out to the children how the grains of the primary colors are still visible in the secondary color.

Source: Science Adventures: Nature Activities for Young Children 

Kaplan Toys Suggestion: Find non-toxic tempera paint for coloring your sand here.

Want to show off your child’s sand and water creations? Share pictures with us on our Facebook page!

4 Fun Ways to Teach Poetry

14 Apr


April is National Poetry Month! Teaching poetry to toddlers can be hard, especially when it’s not  your favorite writing style or particularly easy to understand! Rhyming schemes, however, can provide a fun introduction to early literacy skills and can get kids up and moving if paired with movement. Keep your kids engaged with four fun ways to teach poetry at home:

1. Flower Poetryflower+poem

Celebrate the season by teaching poetry with flowers! Simply draw an outline of different types of flowers with enough room on each petal for children to write words and an original poem in the center. Give different instructions for each flower and let kids’ creativity do the rest!

Ideas for flower petals: 

  • alliteration (“soft as blankets” or “sweet as candy”)
  • spring simile (“dancing daffodil” or “buzzing bees”)
  • adjectives (“fragrant flowers” or “beautiful blossoms”)

The results will leave you with inspiring flowers to hang on your walls at home!

Extra: Read Grandpa’s Garden for an adorable story to go along with your poetry activity!


2. Seasonal Poetry71808a-1

Kids already love to write poetry, even if they don’t know it yet! The best way to get them more involved is by including artwork as part of their poetry project. This allows a visual representation of language exploration. Spring is one of the most inspiring seasons as it offers bright colors, lovely weather, and the appearance of all types of flowers and animals. Sit your children down and brainstorm a list of words they associate with spring. Place the list somewhere visible in the room so children can refer to it as they write. Here are three poetry forms that are easy to teach and fun to personalize:


Sunny weather to play in

Purple flowers galore

Raindrops watering the flowers

I get to play outside

Nests of baby birds

Gardens feed my tummy

Ode (A poem to honor someone or something):

“Oh, spring!

We have missed you.

The rainbow of colors

you sprout from the ground.

The sprinkle of showers

giving us puddles for splashing.

Planting our gardens,

we can’t wait for vegetables to come!”

Haiku (five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables):

“Beautiful flowers

Growing up for us to see

Rainbow spattering”

For even more inspiration for sounds of the seasons to incorporate in children’s poetry, check out the board book Listen, Listen.


3. Color Poetry

Do you have the Dr. Seuss book My Many Colored Days? It is a great book for inspiring color poetry! The master of rhymes, Dr. Seuss, already sets the stage for falling in love with poetry with words like:

“Oh bright red days,

how good it feels

to be a horse

and kick my heels!”

Start by asking your child about things that are color specific before they start writing. Use questions like:

  1. What is Orange?
  2. What does Red remind you of?
  3. How do you feel when you see yellow?

Then list each color with the following format:

Orange is…

Yellow is…

Green is…

Children can then complete each sentence with a phrase they associate with the color. The result will be quite the colorful poem!


4. Reading Poetry to Promote Early Literacy

Just by listening as you read different poems, children develop word recognition. This is a fun way for children to appreciate poetry as a storytelling form and learn the sounds of letters as they listen to rhymes and word play. It will also provide plenty of examples should they venture into writing their own!

Here are a few places you can find free poetry to read to your toddlers:

If you’re looking for poetry books to buy that also provide beautiful illustrations to accompany each poem, then you may want to check out the following titles:

How do you teach poetry at home? Share with us by commenting below!

Putting the Final Touches on Your Home Library

8 Apr


Have you already started building your home library to celebrate Library Week? If not, we have some great tips for getting started in this previous blog post. Once you have decided what books will go where and what topics your children are most interested in, the next consideration should be environment. We have a couple of suggestions that are sure to leave your kids excited for reading time. Here are a few things to consider as a parent building your child’s home library:

Solid Seating

Children have to have somewhere comfortable to sit if you’re going to convince them to sit for extended periods of time. No matter how interesting the book is, if a child’s environment is not engaging enough, he or she will most likely end up carrying the book to an environment in which they are more accustomed, such as a bedroom. We have a few seating options we think will put your children at ease while surrounded by their favorite books:

-Soft Seating (

-Toddler Comfy Seating Group (

-Back Jack Anywhere Chair (

-Vinyl Bean Bag (

Organization Station

If your library is going to feel like home, then there has to be a system of organization in place! Be sure to explain on the first day you introduce your children to the library how the books are organized—are they sorted by color, size, author, or genre? Use whatever system makes most sense for your family and be sure to hold each “borrower” accountable for replacing books where they found them. Finally, if your children are taking books outside of the home for road trips or across the street to a friends’ house, make sure you keep track of which books are “checked-out.” We have some handy Library Cards, Colored Library Pockets, and Home Reading Logs that will allow you to do just that:

Vamp up Variety

Books aren’t the only things libraries have to offer to eager learners. Give your children options when they choose how they want to learn. Reading books can many times be supplemented by sensory experiences for little hands, puppets for dramatic play, and even art expression for drawing pictures of the characters children fall in love with. Here are a few options for including a little variety in your library:

Sensory Play

Puppet Play

Art Expression

Practice Communication

Finally, communication is an important life skill to foster in little ones and there’s no better place to begin than in the library! Make sure you keep a daily message board where children can check for home news. Do you want help with the evening’s dinner? Have your children find their favorites recipes in the library! Want to do a scavenger hunt? Leave a message asking children to find a specific book to add a little fun to their reading time while also making sure they understand how the books are organized. The possibilities are endless! Here are some effective ways to communicate in your library:

Share your pictures of your home library with us on our Facebook page!


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