Tag Archives: early literacy

Preparing Preschoolers for Back-to-School

11 Aug

Role of Talk

Looking at the calendar and wondering how August snuck up on you? Back-to-school is here and there are a few things you can do to give your preschooler a proper send-off!

Summer Math Review: That’s a Wrap


Brush up your little one’s math skills before they head back to the classroom. Opportunities for math learning can be found in every day activities like counting down how many days are left until the first day of school to helping you measure ingredients for special recipes! One of the easiest ways to do a quick review and practice with your preschooler is by using the Addition and Subtraction Wrap Ups. These string problems are great for self-correction and repetition!

Alphabet Case Study! Learn Letters with Hot Dots Jr.


Letter recognition, both uppercase and lowercase, is a big part of preschool! Prepare your child for the classroom with Hot Dots Jr. Alphabet Cards! The double-sided cards are great for visual learners as they learn to match letters and practice sequencing. The Hot Dots Jr. Pen is also an interactive tool for giving guidance as the canine pal cheers for correct answers and redirects children when they answer incorrectly. Letter learning has never been so fun!

Encourage Pre-Writing Skills with Personalized Pencils


You would be amazed by how much of a difference it makes in how enthused a child is about writing if they have their favorite character on their pencils! Allowing children to pick out their writing utensils is a great way to get them excited for the new school year and all of the writing and coloring that is surely on the way! We have a few colorful suggestions if you’re looking for something creative:

Stress Social Skills by Practicing Kindness and Cooperation! 


Interestingly enough, a 20-year study recently revealed that young children who are taught social skills like kindness and cooperation early were more likely to obtain higher education and hold full-time jobs. That’s why it’s so important to practice those life skills at home. We have a few tools for doing just that, whether it’s following Shubert through the Shubert Series Value Pack, playing Social Skills or Blunders with the family, or learning about classroom etiquette with I’m Ready for School!

Best of luck as you drop off your little one for the first day of school! For even more back-to-school resources, check out the posts below:

Homeschooling Resources for Parents

4 Aug


Preparing to get your kids back on a schedule as the school year looms ahead? Whether you are an experienced homeschooling parent or you’re new to homeschooling, we have seven select resources to add to your homeschooling tool kit:

82147Dominoes Jar: 

Dominoes are honestly one of our favorite learning tools for young learners. Not only can you teach toddlers their colors and how to sort accordingly, but they also provide math learning that grows with your child. Teach anything from simple subtraction and addition to fractions depending on your child’s age!

29190Play Doh Rainbow

Teaching the smallest of learners? A starter Play Doh set is always a great tool to have on hand! Not only does it provide opportunities for color recognition and sensory play, but it can also be used in art projects. Just browse Pinterest for all the Play Doh inspiration you can ever need!


Early Learning Flash
Card Set: 

Early literacy is so important in young children, especially as it is proven to be one of the biggest indicators of future success. Flash cards are a great way for visual learners to practice the alphabet, rhyming, and sight words.



Not only is Bananagrams fun to play for a variety of ages, but it also provides vocabulary practice as well as words for young children to begin learning by sight. (Not to mention, it provides spelling practice without needing a pen and paper!)

Blunders Game: 91249b

Teaching children social-emotional skills is just as important as academics when it comes to young learners. Blunders is the perfect board game as it provides fun for the whole family while simultaneously teaching children the do’s and don’ts of social interactions.

Smart Lab Growing! Green House:143795a

Why not add a greenhouse to your science unit? The Smart Lab Growing! Green House provides the perfect contained ecosystem for children to grow flowers in as they learn about photosynthesis and the different parts of plants. Be sure to check the plant’s progress every day for interactive learning!

Hucklebee A Smart-as-can-Bee
Preschool Game:143808a

Hucklebee™ is always a favorite for little learners!. As children interact with clapped hands, laughing, and hugs for the adorable plush bee, this preschool game teaches shapes and colors, counting, and following directions.

We hope you find these learning tools helpful as you prepare your home for the school year! For even more sites to browse for homeschooling support, check out the resources below:

Even More Homeschooling Resources for Parents:

Guide to the Best Homeschooling and Unschooling Resources
10 Best Apps for Homeschooling Parents
4 Favorite Homeschooling Resources
• The Homeschooling Community 

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.

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:

60607        27776

 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:

71484           142652

 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:

143565         19277

 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:

71638               38910new

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.

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!

Source: http://www.reallifeathome.com/celebrating-national-poetry-month-with-hands-on-poetry-projects/

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.

Source: http://www.reallifeathome.com/brightening-winter-with-poetry-collages/

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!

Source: http://www.schooltimesnippets.com/2015/02/write-simple-color-poem.html

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 (https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/93770P/soft-seating)

-Toddler Comfy Seating Group (https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/71354P/toddler-comfy-seating-group)

-Back Jack Anywhere Chair (https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/85305/back-jack-anywhere-chair)

-Vinyl Bean Bag (https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/71119P/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!

Stocking Your Home Library

10 Mar


Having access to books at home is one of the most important steps in encouraging early literacy outside of school. Libraries create a sense of wonder in children as they run their fingers over a collection of titles just waiting to be read! If you’re considering how best to stock your home library, we have a few helpful tips for getting started:

 Getting Organized:

  1. Pick out a space in your home that encourages quiet time and inspires imagination!Including comfy seating, a window for proper lighting, and of course, titles to engage the whole family’s interests are a great start!
  2. Don’t focus on how many books you have to start with because your collection is sure to grow! Start by asking your children what they like to read and stocking up on their favorite subjects and authors—a few thoughtfully arranged books will be much more beneficial to early readers than a large collection of titles that will go unread.
  3. Ensure your home library is varied.  Be sure you include picture books, bilingual books, read aloud books, board books, and even books that incorporate the use of puppets for dramatic play! By trying new books, children will discover what style they prefer and you’ll know how to further stock your library with their favorites. Here are some of our favorite selections to get started:

Where to Find Books:

Finally, we know it can get expensive when you consider shelves that need to be bought, books that need to be collected, and even the time you have to put into organizing your library. That’s why we want to make it as easy as possible. Here are some crafty options for easily finding books your children will love at cheap prices:

  1. Free eBooks – Do you have e-readers at your house? eBooks are another great option for free resources your children can indulge in while surrounded by their favorite books. Home libraries are not only for collecting books but they can also provide a safe reading environment for children to feel secure in. Here a few helpful sites for finding free ebooks:
    1. Digital Book Index (This is a catalogue of all the major eBook sites, university collections and other smaller publishers.)
    2. International Children’s Digital Library (The world’s largest digital collection of children’s books!)
  2. Library Sales – Every public library receives donations and not all of those books make it onto the shelf. A lot of the donations are saved for book sales where you can find books priced from $0.25 to $1 in a wide range of subjects and genres. Not only will you find some exciting books for your own library but you will also be giving back to the public library system, an all in all win/win situation! Check the Book Sale Finder to find sales in your state.

We wish you the best of luck in getting started! Have tips? Comment below or let us know on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KaplanToys



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