Tag Archives: art

Spring Art for Little Hands

31 Mar


Keeping your little ones entertained for spring can be a challenge, but with such great weather, so many inspiring colors, and the opportunity to play outside, there are plenty of fun art projects you can do together to celebrate the season! Here are some of our favorite activities that will not only encourage color exploration but also give you adorable pieces to put on display in your house:

 1. “Say Cheese” Flowers

Make someone smile with these card stock flowers featuring your child’s photos.

Before Beginning:

-Cut card stock into 4” by 4” flower shapes.


  • Various colors of card stock or recycled cardboard scraps (e.g., cereal or cracker boxes), cut into flower shapes
  • Crayons or markers
  • Small photo of child
  • Green pipe cleaners
  • Clear tape
  • Glue
  • Card stock, 1 full sheet

What to Do:

  1. Decorate at least three or four flower shapes with crayons or markers.
  2. Choose one of the flowers, and glue the photo in the center of it.
  3. Tape green pipe cleaners to the backs of the flowers to create stems.
  4. Decorate a whole sheet of card stock with crayons or markers.
  5. Roll the piece of card stock into a funnel shape, and secure with clear tape.
  6. Place the flowers inside the card stock funnel to create a beautiful bouquet. Be sure the photo is clearly visible.

Helpful Hints:

  • Use a large flower-shaped cookie cutter as a pattern for creating the flower shapes.
  • Instead of card stock, use index cards, poster board, and cardboard scraps for flowers.


  • To create a personalized bouquet, decorate four flowers, place the photo on one of the flowers and, in the middle of the other three, write a letter of the recipient’s name or his or her initials.

Find even more great gift ideas like the one above in 101 Great Gifts Kids Can Make.

 2. Watering Can

Gardeners will love this watering can made from a liquid laundry soap jug and markers.

Before Beginning

-Cut off the top portion of the jug, along the top ridge and just above the handle. Soak bottle in water to remove labels.


  • Liquid laundry detergent jug
  • Sharp scissors or utility knife (adult only)
  • Nontoxic permanent markers
  • Hole punch

What to Do:

  1. Decorate the outside of the watering can with nontoxic permanent markers. Create a colorful picture or design.
  2. Fill the watering can with homemade flowers, or fill the container with dirt, and plant flowers or flower seeds inside.


  • Roll up pieces of tape, and use them to attach flat plastic stencil shapes to the outside of the watering can. Apply nontoxic permanent marker in a zigzag motion around the edge of the stencils. Remove the stencils, and add detail to the shape outlines.

Helpful Hints:

  • Save cut-off tops for funnels to use in sand and water play.
  • A utility knife works well for cutting off bottle tops, but be careful! (Utility knives are for adult use only.)
  • Use Teflon scrapers or scrub brushes to remove residue from labels. This is fun to do outside in a tub of water.
  • Use scraps of wallpaper, tissue paper, construction paper, and pipe cleaners to create a unique bouquet of flowers to place in the watering can.

Find even more great gift ideas like the one above in 101 Great Gifts Kids Can Make. 

 3. Butterfly Blots Art

With a little paint and folded paper, toddlers can make beautiful decorated butterflies!


  • Manila paper
  • Paint
  • Markers

What to Do:

  1. Have the children put two dabs of paint on one side of their paper.
  2. Help them fold their paper over in half. Show them how to smooth the paper, and rub gently.
  3. Open to see a butterfly shape.
  4. After the butterflies dry, encourage them to decorate their shapes using paint or markers.

Love the activity? Find activities for each month in The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities ().

4. Spring Nature Mobile

Go outside on a nature walk and collect items to create a Spring Nature Mobile to hang in a science learning center!


  • Stick
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Collection of natural objects

What to Do:

  1. Take the children on a walk outdoors.
  2. Ask each child to select one natural object, such as a rock , pinecone, acorn, or feather.
  3. Back in the classroom, look at the collection of objects as a group.
  4. Turn the collection into a classroom mobile by connecting the objects together with string, and suspending them from a long stick.
  5. Finish by hanging the mobile where everyone can enjoy it.

Find more activities for each month in The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities.

Have pictures of the spring art you and your child made together? Share with us by tweeting @KaplanToys or posting on our Facebook page with the hashtag #SpringArt.

12 Days of Learning | Day 7: It’s the Thought That Counts

9 Dec

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Are you working with a budget this holiday season? Or are you searching for gifts that your kids and family will find meaningful? Handmade and homemade items are the perfect way for you to provide meaningful and budget-friendly gifts for all of the people on your holiday list. Making items at home and purchasing handmade items will also help teach your children that it’s the thought that counts.

You don’t have to give expensive presents for people to know that you care about and value them. Small, inexpensive gifts that show you put some thought into what to buy or make someone can have just as much or more value than extravagant gifts. This is a great lesson for kids to learn because it gives them experiences and ideas they can compare to the materialistic world they encounter every day.

If you decide to make your own homemade gifts or purchase affordable handmade gifts this year, make an effort to include your kids as much as possible because experiences like these will help children understand the value of budgeting and being thoughtful. Children will enjoy the opportunity to be creative as they practice and develop new skills while helping you get ready for the holidays. Be sure to browse our art section for any art and craft supplies you may need. Here are a few budget-and-kid-friendly tips to keep in mind as you plan your holiday gift list:

1. Have your kids make holiday cards instead of buying them this year. This is a great creative project for kids because it will keep them engaged and make them feel like they are contributing something to your family’s holiday planning. It will also save you money because greeting cards can be expensive.


2. Come up with DIY presents you or your kids can make for the people on your holiday gift list. The popular book 101 Great Gifts Kids Can Make provides unique gift ideas that children ages three to eight can make for family members, teachers, and other special people in their lives. The book is available in paperback and eBook formats. You can also browse Pinterest to find other ideas for gifts your kids can make and homemade gifts you can make for your kids.

3. Visit holiday festivals and fairs to find affordable handmade items. Some handmade items can be expensive, but you should be able to find a number of local artists and companies that sell their work for reasonable prices. Holiday festivals are also a great place to take the kids!

4. Make cookies, cakes, and other treats to give as gifts. This is a fairly inexpensive and enjoyable way to give gifts. People who are extremely busy at this time of the year or can no longer bake their own cookies will enjoy receiving homemade treats. Baking is also a great way to teach your kids about nutrition, measuring, and counting as you spend time as a family.


5. If you don’t have time to make something homemade, look for budget-friendly items in stores and online. Kaplan Toys offers a variety of fun and educational items that can fit in any budget. Browse our Great Gifts for Under $10 and Great Gifts for Under $20 to find affordable gifts that your kids will love.

Check back tomorrow for Day 8 of our 12 Days of Learning!

Happy Holidays!

Five Fun Holiday Traditions for Kids & the Kids at Heart

31 Oct

There’s a chill in the air and the daylight hours are getting shorter, which means the holidays are fast approaching. Pretty soon you’ll drive by a house lit up with Christmas lights and see Christmas trees for sale in store parking lots. You’ll start planning holiday dinners, putting up Christmas decorations, and scouring advertisements for the best deals (pssst, don’t forget to check our website). You’ll even make lists of what activities and traditions you want to do as a family because, after all, the best holidays are filled with anticipation and fun. Whether you’re looking to create new holiday traditions or are looking forward to your favorites, we have some great ideas for ways to build excitement and anticipation for the holiday season!

5 Fun Holiday Traditions

1. Adopt an Elf on the Shelf

“You better watch out / you better not cry / you better not pout / I’m telling you why…”

–“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (Fred Coots & Haven Gillespie)

Ever wondered how Santa knows if children are naughty or nice? He has his own little helpers, of course! Santa lets families adopt special elves every year to help him know which children need to go on the naughty and nice lists. When an elf is adopted by a family and given a name, the elf gains special Christmas magic that helps it fly to the North Pole every night to give Santa a daily report on the kids’ behavior. The elf then returns to its family and moves to a different observation spot each morning.

There are a couple rules every family must know when they adopt an elf:

  1. They may only touch the elf when absolutely necessary because the elf may lose its magic if it is touched.
  2. The elf will not speak, leave, or move until everyone in the house is asleep.

Adopted elves usually appear in homes at the beginning of the holiday season and then return to the North Pole on Christmas Eve until the start of next year’s holiday season. A timeless holiday classic, the Elf on the Shelf and its crazy antics will help fill your household with delight and laughter this holiday season.

Since we’re also one of Santa’s helpers, you can adopt an elf from us! Visit elfontheshelf.com for more information about the Elf on the Shelf tradition or to register your elf.

2. Count Down to the Holidays!

Build excitement for the holidays and help your children learn and develop skills with LEGO® Advent Calendars. Each 2013 holiday advent calendar comes with 24 gifts and objects in individual compartments, which allows children to open and build a new item each day until Christmas. LEGO® Advent Calendars help children learn about the holidays and increase their manual dexterity, creativity, and problem solving skills. These calendars are also fun ways to spend time as a family during the holidays.


LEGO® City Advent Calendar

Perfect for children ages 5 years & up, LEGO® City Advent Calendar features opening windows that include 24 buildable gifts, such as a Christmas tree, sled, fireplace, snowman, and 8 minifigures.

LEGO® Star Wars™ Advent Calendar

Find your inner Jedi with the LEGO® Star Wars™ Advent Calendar. Perfect for Star Wars fans, it features 24 Star Wars™ themed gifts, such as Dooku’s Solar Sailer, Cloud car, Attack cruiser, 6 minifigures, 3 droids, and much more!

LEGO® Friends Advent Calendar

Build decorations and prepare for the holidays in Heartlake City with the LEGO® Friends Advent Calendar. This set includes Stephanie and Lily minifigures and a calendar with 24 buildable gifts, such as Stephanie’s snow scooter, a Christmas tree, snowman, ice skates, and sled.

Our popular LEGO® Building Plates can also help bring your advent calendar to life by allowing you to create, organize, and store your advent calendar gifts as you build them.

3. Have a Holiday Reading Tradition

Get your family in the holiday spirit by reading holiday books, which is also a great way to build children’s literacy skills and interest in reading. This is an activity that the whole family can enjoy due to the fond memories holiday stories invoke. If you have young children, try to read them a holiday story at bedtime each night. If the children in your family are older, however, have everyone pick out their favorite holiday stories and either take turns reading them or have a designated holiday story reader. We recommend The Polar Express and The Twelve Days of Christmas as two great books to include in your holiday reading.


The Family Reading Partnership also has some fun ideas for holiday reading traditions:

  • Plan a family trip to the library to check out books to read at Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas.
  • If you don’t have a collection of holiday and winter books, start a collection of them for all ages. Enjoy them during the holiday season, but then put them away in a special container until next year.
  • Listen to a holiday audio book while you are baking cookies or decorating the tree.

For more holiday reading traditions and book suggestions, check out the Family Reading Partnership’s e-brochure on holiday reading.  Another great resource is readkiddoread.com, which is author James Patterson’s non-profit website that promotes literacy and helps parents find ways to encourage their children to read.

4. Make Creative, Delicious Treats

Many holiday traditions are tied to food or the preparation of food. Perhaps your family serves a particular meal or side dish every year at Thanksgiving or Christmas, for example, or your whole family congregates at one person’s house to fix Christmas Eve dinner. Whatever your holiday food traditions are, be sure that your traditions include foods and recipes that children can appreciate and help prepare. You can even incorporate a math lesson into the festivities by having kids count candies or measure ingredients!

Children love making gingerbread houses and baking and decorating cookies at this time of the year, so try to schedule a weekend for the family to make some holiday treats. If you like the idea of making a gingerbread house but don’t want to go to the trouble of actually making the gingerbread, try our Candy Cottage Party Pack. It includes a 4-pack of re-usable plastic gingerbread houses that your family can decorate for Christmas, Halloween, or any another occasion. All you need is some icing, candy, and cereal to start decorating them with after you snap the pieces together.

Baking and decorating cookies is also a fun holiday tradition that you and your kids can do together. Your family could even participate in a cookie swap with other families in your neighborhood as another fun holiday activity. Remember that cookies don’t necessarily have to be homemade for kids to enjoy decorating them, especially if you have time constraints on the activities you can do as a family. Just be sure to make some cookies you can leave out for Santa!


If someone in your family is diabetic or allergic to an ingredient used to make cookies or gingerbread, you can still enjoy the favorite sweet treats of the holiday season. Our Counting Cookies™ Jar and Gingerbread Sort and Snap Cookies can help you spend time as a family and help kids learn to count, recognize colors and patterns, and develop fine motor skills.

5. Decorate Your Space for the Holidays

Decorating for the holidays is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the holiday season. Most people love decorating their Christmas tree or setting up a holiday display in their front yard, but many of those decorations aren’t very kid friendly. Be sure your kids are included in the decorating stage of the holidays by having them either pick out decorations or make their own homemade decorations.


One decorating idea is to buy or make a holiday ornament for each child to put on your Christmas tree every year. You can also have them trace their hand to create the outline of a turkey, which they can then color and decorate. Another easy craft for children is to draw or cut out a snowflake design and then color and decorate it with glitter. Crafts like these are great for children to do while on break from school or when they have to stay indoors due to bad weather. Be sure to check out our Art section for all of your art and craft needs!

5 Great Gifts for Girly Girls

2 Dec

Well, tickle me pink! The experts at Kaplan Toys are counting down their favorite toys for girls who love things like dolls and craft projects! Sound like someone you know? Trim down your shopping list in just a few clicks!

#5: Corolle Mealtime Set

Mealtime is a fun time with all these essential play props to feed your hungry doll. Set includes: bib, pacifier, magic milk bottle, feeding dish with spoon and sippy cup. Sized perfect for most 12″ dolls.

Ages: 18 months & up

Item Number: 30204

Price: $19.95

#4: Scratch Magic Scratchin’ Fashion Set

Draw decorations on fashion-sticker tops, pants, skirts, dresses and trendy accessories for a sparking, one-of-a-kind “wardrobe”! Dazzling holographic colors emerge as you etch in your designs with the wooden stylus. Then mix and match your new fashions to dress glamorous models as they travel from one exciting place to another.

Ages: 5 years & up

Item Number: 00991

Price: $14.95

#3: Nail Art Salon Set

This all-inclusive set has everything you need to create salon-style nails, right at home! Set includes real nail polish, nail art pens, match book emery boards, nail stickers, rhinestones, a hand rest and a storage bag! Don’t pay for a costly salon visit again!

Ages: 9 years & up

Item Number: 00325

Price: $19.95

#2: Corolle Calin Sorbet Doll

The perfect ‘my first baby doll’ for a child to cuddle. This adorable 12-inch baby doll has a bead-filled body that allows children to pose her just like a real baby! Dressed in pink fuzzy pants and a soft patterned top with headband, this doll has a beanie body and a soft vanilla scent for added delight.

Ages: 18 months & up

Item Number: 00819

Price: $34.95

#1: Stick ‘N Style™ Crystal Clutch 

Sparkle time! Create your own stylish crystal clutch. Includes over 550 sparkling jewel pieces to embellish your bag.

Ages: 5 years & up

Item Number: 00923

Price: $14.99


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