Tag Archives: family engagement

3 Ways to Make the Most of Picnic Time!

22 Jul

 

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July is National Picnic Month! Take advantage of the good weather and get outside for some quality family time. Picnicking has many benefits, ranging from cutting back on screen time and encouraging closer family interactions to taking time to explore new healthy snacking recipes. If you have a garden at home, it’s also a time to take pride in what you’ve grown as you reap the benefits of going green! We have a few suggestions for making the most out of your picnic time:

 1. Snacking Healthy

Picnic time is a great opportunity to instill healthy snacking habits in children as you enjoy the nice weather. Believe it or not, children adapt the behavior of parents and grandparents, so when they see you snacking healthy, they will want to do the same. A few ways to get little ones excited about healthy snacking include starting your own garden, making food preparation a work of art, and reading child-friendly books that encourage proper nutrition.

-An EarthBox is a great way to start your own garden, indoors or out! Teach children about responsibility through gardening and reap the benefits at the picnic table.

-Cooking Art is another great resource that will allow you to turn your kitchen into an art studio and enjoy snacking on creative snacks outside with the family.

-Finally, for a fun recipe to share with your family around the picnic table, find out how to make Yogurt Dipping Sauce and play the Veggie Game!

2. Encouraging Movement

Being outside for a picnic is also a great way to get kids moving before and after they snack. With so much energy to burn, children will love engaging in games of tag or exploring the terrain and insects around them! When preparing for your picnic, be sure to bring active options for children. Whether it’s a Frisbee, soccer ball, or kite, children love to get involved.

-One great option to set up beside your picnic is a Slackline! Challenge the whole family to see who can keep balance the longest!

3. Taking Time for Family.

Finally, picnics are the perfect time for focusing on the important things: each other. Take the time to set aside the smart phones, tablets, and Nintendos to talk about what happened during your day or how children feel about the approaching school year. Whether you are working on your child’s vocabulary by sharing stories or encouraging creativity by making shapes out of clouds, picnics will bring your family closer together and prove to be a valuable way to spend time.

For even more great ideas for outdoor time, check out our Pinterest board.

Party in the Pool with Your Kids!

18 Jun

shutterstock_160577036 Is it just us, or is it hot outside? There’s nothing like breaking in the summer with your children by engaging in water play. Pools are great places to not only cool off but also allow children to learn! Here are few ideas to make your party in the pool an educational one:

1. Water Fun Set

141728a Work on kids’ hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as they toss a foam ball back and forth with two springy paddles! See how many times they can hit it back and forth before it hits the water.

2. Scoop and Pour Tug Boats

30135 Engage young children in learning how to fill tug boats and pour out water. They’ll have a blast steering floating boats around the pool. Encourage children to swim in the same direction around the pool to create a current their boats can float on!

3. Waterworks Play Kit

16378 Boats and corks for floating, sea animals for swimming, cups for measuring, and sponge numbers for counting—all included in the Waterworks Play Kit for endless water fun!

4. WaterBlocks Super Set (35 Pieces)

62364 Bring classic block play to the pool! Encourage building in young kids with water runs, ball runs, waterfalls and more with our floating WaterBlocks Super Set. Children can explore math concepts, structure and balance with sticky blocks that are bound to make for interesting structures straight from your child’s imagination!

Don’t have access to a pool?

91111 Check out our Grub Scouts’ Sprinkler! It’s perfect for engaging young children in active play as they jump over friendly grubs! Sprinklers are always a fun alternative to pools when looking for ways to cool off for the summer.

-Finally, you can’t have a perfect pool day without ending it with a Cool Summer Smoothie! Check out the recipe below for a refreshing snack your kids will love!

Cool Summer Smoothie

Ingredients

  • Milk
  • Vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • Crushed ice
  • Fresh fruit or fruit juice
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Blender

What to do:

  1. Blend 2 cups ice cream or yogurt, 1 cup crushed ice, 1 cup orange juice and milk as needed to thin the drink out.
  2. Add food coloring, if desired.
  3. Enjoy a cool orange smoothie.
  4. Substitute various fruits or fruit juices to make different smoothie flavors. Enjoy!

For even more great ideas like the smoothie above, check out “The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities.” 

Healthy Grilling for Kids

20 May

Looking for ways to keep your kids engaged outdoors this summer? Memorial Day weekend is a great time to break out the grill! May is National Barbecuing Month and while there are plenty of delicious bacon-wrapped recipes, we want to provide you with a few healthy options your children will love not only eating but helping you prepare. Get ready for Five Healthy Treats for the Grill:

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1. Put it on a stick

Grilling instantly becomes more fun when children can put skewers in food and let it cook over the flames. Grilled Chicken Fingers with Manchurian Sauce provides a healthier (and more tasty) version of chicken nuggets. Bread the chicken with an oil and water mix so that the coating sticks to the chicken. Manchurian dipping sauce can be made with soy sauce and garlic, expanding children’s horizons from the traditional condiments of ketchup or ranch. Feel free to put anything your child desires on a skewer, from cheese-filled meatballs to tasty veggies! It’s a great dip and go food!

Source: http://www.ivillage.com/5-fun-grilled-treats-kids/3-b-189251#18929

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2. Fruit Kabobs

Fruit is always a rare treat when grilled lightly in honey syrup mixed with cinnamon. The mixture makes the fruit even sweeter and gives kids a chance to make their own shish kabob. Put any combination of your child’s favorite fruit on a skewer, dip it into the syrup and let it grill for a few minutes before enjoying. Strawberries, pineapple, banana, and apple are always good choices!

Source: http://www.ivillage.com/5-fun-grilled-treats-kids/3-b-189251#18929

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3. Three-Cheese Pizza

What kid doesn’t like pizza? Grill sliced dough on an oiled cookie sheet before adding a combination of mozzarella, ricotta, and Pecornio Romano cheese on top. Cook for a few minutes before adding parsley, cutting into four slices, and serving as a healthy finger food!

Source: http://www.delish.com/recipefinder/three-cheese-pizza-ghk

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4. Grilled Corn with Poblano Lime Crema

Corn on the cob is always a favorite and is easy to hold for little hands. Grill your corn and add a little spice with the Poblano Lime Crema. Find the recipe here, drizzle the crème on top of your corn, add a touch of cilantro, and enjoy!

Source: http://www.pbs.org/food/recipes/grilled-corn-with-poblano-lime-crema/

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5. Chocolate Marshmallow Banana Boats

We couldn’t leave you without a grilled dessert! With a piece of tin foil, a banana, and chocolate chips and marshmallows to go inside, kids will love the final messy product of a banana boat. You can always use vegan alternatives for the chocolate chips and marshmallows to make this a healthy treat for your children to enjoy.

Source: http://www.ivillage.com/5-fun-grilled-treats-kids/3-b-189251#18929

Grilling Tips & Safety

  • Portion Control: Make sure any meats you plan on grilling are cut into 3-5 ounce pieces. If your kids are really hungry, they can always come back for seconds!
  • Don’t wear loose clothing while grilling.
  • Don’t add lighter fluid to an already lit fire.
  • Always supervise children around grills.
  • Use long-handled grilling tools so that hands are kept away from the hot grill and flames.
  • When cooking hamburger or turkey ground meats, make sure it says “extra lean” on the package.

26827aFinally, if your kids are feeling adventurous and you want to encourage dramatic play, check out our Grill and Go Campstove, perfect for making play food as you grill out side by side!

We hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend!

 

Resources:

http://www.nourishinteractive.com/healthy-living/free-nutrition-articles/22-healthy-family-bbq-kids-grilling-lean-meat

http://www.safekids.org/blog-post/grilling-summer-safety

 

Benefits of Biking for Kids!

13 May

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Do you remember the first time you rode a bike? Learning to bike as a child is a bonding experience that many people keep with them, even as they grow. It provides educational merit and allows for learning something new at home. Biking encourages independence in kids while they gain just the right amount of support from whoever is teaching them. Besides providing a healthy pastime, check out all of the benefits of biking and learn what kind of bike would be good to help your child get started.

Motor Skills

Biking provides a learning opportunity for children since they have to coordinate their hands and feet while keeping their balance. Managing to stay upright by themselves is a great way for kids to build fine and gross motor skills, leading to growth through fostered independence.

Physical Fitness

Strengthening the heart, lungs and exercising the lower-body muscles are all great benefits of biking for your little one. Biking provides a healthy option for outdoor time as they burn calories and fulfill their exercise quota for the day. (Odds are, you will too, as biking with toddlers will have you chasing them left and right!)

Social Development

Biking has always been a community pastime. So once your child is off and pedaling, it will provide them with a chance to interact with their community and other children who are biking. It will foster independence as they learn from their mistakes and gain confidence with each success. A little healthy exploration of the neighborhood is a great way to develop children’s social skills.

Types of Bicycles

So you want to start your child off biking? Just like learning to walk, biking has to be done in stages. Here is a guide for which bike will best suit the needs of your child:

Tricycles:

These bikes usually come in the form of plastic three-wheelers for children ages 2 to 5. Children should be supervised by adults as they learn to bike, and tricycles should only be ridden on a playground or within a fenced yard away from roads. We have a few selection to get you started. Find even more trike options here.

 

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Training Wheels:

For children ages 5 to 6, training wheels can be used when you feel your child is ready for the required coordination. You can gradually elevate training wheels as your child become more confident in their own fine motor skills, until eventually the wheels can be removed altogether.

When children first start out, make sure proper precatuions are taken to make sure they’re safe. They should always wear a helmet!99074new

Single-Speed Bikes:

If your child is ready to take the training wheels off, make sure their first bike is a single-speed with foot brakes to ensure their safety. For ages 6 to 9, children shouldn’t start street riding until they are at least eight. Until then, children should ride in driveways or along paths with adults in tow.

Featured:

Kazam Balance Bike

142185coRiding without training wheels is even easier with our new Kazam Balance Bikes! With a foot rest included, the bike is specially designed to help children maintain their center of gravity.

 

Multiple-Speed Bikes:

These bikes are for ages 9 and up. Multiple-speed bikes usually include hand brakes and allow for children to begin exploring streets around the neighborhood. In some situations, children can even begin to ride to school along safe routes.

-We hope you enjoyed this post on biking! To find even more resources for family engagement and biking tips, check out the websites below!

Resources:

Spring Break for the Kids: Entertainment that Educates

8 Apr

Spring Break is fast approaching, but time off can bring more questions than solutions! Whether you’re traveling or spending some well-deserved time at home, there’s always the question of how to keep children not only entertained but learning during their time off. Children naturally have a lot of energy and with 12 hours of every day to fill, it can sometimes be overwhelming to keep them continually learning. We’ve compiled a list of activities for you and your children to do together that we think you will both enjoy; best of all, they will come away having learned something new.

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A Spring Break Education:

 

1. Active Learning

-The great thing about Spring Break is that it allows children to spend a greater amount of their time outside; something the classroom cannot always allow. There are so many outdoor opportunities children are suddenly allowed to engage in that will allow them to move as they learn! We have a variety of great ideas for outdoor play, whether it’s in the backyard at home or wherever your travel destination happens to be.

Take a hike:

-Get together with your little one and explore what the world around you has to offer by hiking the great outdoors! You can find parks in the area or woods trails to walk, whatever adventures you find, your children are sure to be engaged.

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Street Exploration:

-Cities always have a lot to offer, especially when you’re traveling to new places for the first time! Explore shops, music and art by walking hand-in-hand with your children around downtown or in historical sites.

-Find even more ideas on active play during spring break here.

 

2. Family Productions

-Another bonus to Spring Break is that it gives you the rare moments of togetherness with the family! This can be a great time to put on family productions. Here are a few ideas that will spark the creativity of your children and hopefully leave you enjoying yourself, as well!

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Have a dance party:

-No matter how old you are, dancing around with the people you love will always leave you with a smile on your face! Crank up the music indoors and have a fabulous dance party to a playlist suited to your music taste and theirs.  Want to get even crazier? Invite your children’s friends over and lay out a few snacks to get your party in full swing. Your kids will be exercising and they won’t even know it!

Put on an art show:

-If your kids are budding artists, this is a great way to put their drawings and paintings on display. Give them all the supplies they needs to make their masterpieces before arranging a time to invite friends and family over to “ooh and ahh” over their active imaginations. This is a great way to bolster creativity and self esteem; it will also teach children to be proud of their work.

-For even more ways to put on family productions, here are some great options.

 

3. Volunteering

-It’s always great to give back, but even more so when you’re teaching your little one to do so. Social Emotional Learning can never be undervalued as children learn the importance of community and helping people in need around them. Spring Break gives you an opportunity to check around your community and see where your donations can be put to good use, whether it is your time, your old toys, or a friendly visit to the local nursing home.

To read even more on how to get kids excited about giving to those around them, check out this related post. 

 

4. Redecorate a Room

-Are your kids looking for a change? Whether spaces are inspiring or not really does play a role in how conducive it is to learning. Maybe it’s time for a little redesign to get your kids inspired! Changing color patterns, how furniture is laid out and whether or not your children’s own work is proudly displayed in their room goes a long way in creating an inspiring space. To learn all the ins and outs of creating a space at home that’s right for your little learner, check out this post on inspiring spaces.

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5. Sprinkle in a Little Culture

Know families in the neighborhood from another culture and feel like opening your children up to new experiences? Get together and plan on doing a recipe swap or exchanging stories about your respective cultures. This is a great way to expand your child’s horizon by teaching them different cultural perspectives. Not to mention a great way to build community!

For even more ways to get involved with the community, check out this blog. world

6. Start a Community Garden

-This is a great way to not only teach sustainability but community outreach! Children can learn together about nutritious veggies and help in the process of growing them. And you never know, after putting such precious time into the growing process, children may even find themselves not minding larger veggies portions at mealtime!

-To read even more about how to start your own community garden, check out how this mom is getting involved.

Share your ideas for keeping children learning over Spring Break by commenting on our Facebook page or tweeting your answers to @KaplanToys

 

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