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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4 Indoor Activities for the Winter Months

13 Jan

Have you been feeling the effects of the winter weather recently? Being cooped up inside because it’s too cold outside can leave kids restless and parents at a loss for activities to do to keep their children entertained. But don’t worry, we have a few tips and toys to help you out and give kids options that will have them both learning and expending all of that restless energy!

1. Teach Your Kids How to Dress for Winter Weather

Winter weather can be a great time to teach your little ones how to dress properly for the different seasons. Keeping warm is important and you can show them how to with our cute felt sets! Let Freddy the Frog and Wally the Weather Dog help teach your kids about the world of weather and how to dress for it:

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The felt sets are great for visual learners and can be used along with our book “Froggy Gets Dressed” and our seasonal felt backdrops.

2. Learn About Seasons with Puzzles

The change in weather can be the perfect time to teach your child about the seasons and what to expect with each one. While they’re at it, they can develop motor skills through putting together our Seasons Puzzle Set. The puzzle pictures are easy matching and can be used as a storytelling board for discussions on how seasons might be different depending on where you live.

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3. Read Books About Weather and Seasonal Changes

Of course, a great go-to for indoor activities with your children is reading, but why not take that time to learn about the natural processes at work that are keeping you indoors? Sit down with your child and learn about the magic of the season through observations and playful rhymes in the “I See Book Set,” or introduce your kids to the basics of weather with cool facts and awesome nature photos in the “Weather Basics Book Set.” Learning about the changing world outside is a great substitute for not being able to go out in it!

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4. Make Your Own Winter Crafts with Signs of the Seasons

Being indoors is a great time for you and your kids to engage in art projects. Your child can paint a winter wonderland, cut out a paper snowflake, or even transition their creativity into the kitchen by making homemade ice cream! We have signs of the season that you can use to print for a variety of artistic outlets, including decorating, art projects, book covers, games and more. Whatever you end up doing, make sure to encourage your child’s creative side.

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For even more winter activities that you can do indoors, you can check out this Pinterest board.

Reaching New Heights in the New Year

6 Jan

ImageThe start of a new year is a great time to come up with things you want to have accomplished by the end of it. Do you have dreams you’ve always held close but never pursued? Did you not chase after it because you thought it was too big? Well, this amazing story of one girl is enough to inspire just about anyone that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.

Did you know Amelia Mary Earhart saw her first plane when she was only 10 years old? She was not impressed. It was not until she went to a stunt-flying exhibit a decade later that a dream began to take up full residence in her mind. On December 28, 1920, pilot Frank Hawks gave young Amelia a ride that would forever change her life. “By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground,” she said, “I knew I had to fly.”

Though she faced financial and prejudicial obstacles, Amelia Earhart would go on to buy her own plane, the Canary, by 1921 and eventually become the world’s first woman to fly the Atlantic. She also placed third at the Cleveland Women’s Air Derby, later nicknamed the “Powder Puff Derby” by Will Rogers, was presented a gold medal from the National Geographic Society by President Herbert Hoover, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by Congress–the first ever given to a woman.   Vice President Charles Curtis praised Earhart’s courage, saying she displayed “heroic courage and skill as a navigator at the risk of her life.”

It is so important to foster children’s dreams and let them know that anything is possible. With a little support and encouragement they can do or become whatever they want. It’s also important for adults to know that it’s not to late to make new dreams! C.S. Lewis once said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” So true! Don’t let your doubts get the best of you this year. Support your little ones and yourself and go out there to see what you can achieve.

Want to learn more about Amelia Earhart? Gear up for Amelia Earhart Day on Saturday by reading these books to your kids about her great journey:

You can also find her official website here: http://www.ameliaearhart.com/about/bio.html and find more resources on the holiday here: http://www.holidaysmart.com/1ameliaearhart.htm.

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