Tag Archives: family engagement

Preschool Pumpkin Designs for Halloween

28 Oct

Halloween is Friday! Get your children excited by pulling together some pumpkin crafts to keep little hands and minds busy! Seasonal crafts can encourage cooperative play as children work together with parents or siblings to create something inspiring. Drawing, cutting, and gluing will also build fine and gross motor skills. Here are five fun ways you can make pumpkins at home with your children to celebrate Halloween:

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 1. Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater!

Avoid all of the dangerous knives involved with jack o’ lanterns and have children cut out a pumpkin instead! This activity is easy and adorable. Simply take a picture of each child with their arms raised and print out the pumpkins with the “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater!” poem attached here. Have children cut out the pumpkins and color as creatively as they want! Cut out all of the pumpkin pieces and glue together for a super cute craft! It also makes for a great Halloween decoration to put on the fridge.

94e5e648b654f65961d3903263535222 2. Sparkly Pumpkins

Who says you have to cut a pumpkin to make it beautiful? Get preschoolers excited about making sparkly pumpkins! Break out the autumn colors, add some golden glitter paint, and have preschoolers use their hands to place sequins on the pumpkins with glue. Children will love getting their hands messy and seeing the sparkly results once pumpkins dry.

Source: http://theimaginationtree.com/2010/10/sparkly-pumpkins.html

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3. Pumpkin Seed Fall Craft!

Though pumpkins don’t last forever, pumpkin seeds can last much longer! Simply save the pumpkin seeds from whatever pumpkin goody you’re making, engage your child in painting the seeds orange, brown, and green, and draw a pumpkin outline to be filled with colored seeds! Once glue is applied, children can simply place the seeds on their pumpkin for decoration. Results will leave kids with something to proudly hang on the wall for a little pumpkin decoration.

Source: http://blogs.babycenter.com/life_and_home/9-simple-pumpkin-seed-projects-for-fall/

4. Mini Pumpkin Quesadillas! 1e11c74c1802dcc2bbb29683c59eacd5

After you finish pumpkin crafting, you have to have a healthy pumpkin snack! Mini quesadillas are the perfect option as they’re easy to make and allow room for as much creativity as you’re willing to put in. Have your child draw the faces they want cut into their quesadilla on a piece of paper and replicate by cutting the faces out of the tortillas. Fill with cheese and cook to create festive pumpkin quesadillas!

Source: http://www.craftymorning.com/mini-pumpkin-quesadillas-kids-halloween-lunch/

5. Pumpkin Slime

Finally, if your family did go through with carving a pumpkin for the holiday season, there is a simple craft your child will love to dig his or her hands into! Get ready for pumpkin slime! This is a great option for sensory play and a creative way to recycle the insides of your pumpkin. Learn how to make pumpkin slime with liquid starch here: http://www.learnplayimagine.com/2013/10/pumpkin-slime-recipe-fall-sensory-play.html?m=1

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Books to Read with Your Pumpkin Craft:

-Pumpkin Soup

-Andy Shane and the Pumpkin Trick

-Piggies in the Pumpkin Patch

We hope you enjoy making pumpkin crafts with your children! Do you have something creative in mind for Halloween? Share with us by posting your pumpkin creations on our Facebook page.

Things to Consider When Planning a Play Date

26 Aug

 

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It’s the first week of school for many students and parents! As students adapt to the changes of a new teacher and peers, it’s important to support the friendships being fostered in the classroom right from the start. Friendship is not only an essential part of developing a child’s social skills, but it also makes the transition back to school much easier. Interacting and planning play dates with other parents is a great way to support the friendships being made and ensure they will not dwindle away as the school year progresses. Here are six things you’ll want to keep in mind when planning your child’s next play date!

 

  1. Be Prepared —It’s important that your child is ready for the play date regardless of whether they are going or hosting. Make sure he or she is well rested and fed before the allotted time. Not only do you want your child prepared, but you’ll also want to prep the space that you intend to use for play. Choose a space that will allow children to be active as they interact and childproof it for any potential risks. If the play date is happening at your house, your schedule should be cleared for the devoted hour of social time, as children will need consistent supervision.
  1. Know What to Expect—You’ll want to establish who’s picking up who, arrival and departure times, if parents are staying throughout the play date, and how many children will be involved before getting children together. It’s also a good practice to ask about any allergies or medical needs of the children in your care. Once you have all of the details, be sure to talk it over with your child, so they also know when to expect friend-time and how to prepare. (We all know they have that one special toy or outfit they’ll have to find and show off!)
  1. Teach Children How to Play the Perfect Host(ess)—Social skills are one of the many benefits children will gain from interacting with peers and building lasting relationships. One of those skills is courtesy. Explain what it means to be a ‘’good host(ess)” with examples like taking their guest’s jacket and hanging it up, showing their guest the space they’ll be exploring, or even offering a pre-prepared snack or drink! Seeing the guest as someone to be valued will help children better appreciate the ideas of their peers both in and outside of the classroom.
  1. Avoid Threes—There is truth to the concept of “third wheels” and having someone feel “left out” is never ideal. If you can, plan in pairs or keep younger siblings distracted with separate activities so children can interact with their guest.
  1. Know When to Step In—Squabbles are going to happen; it’s natural as kids are unlikely to agree on everything that arises within an hour. There are a couple of ways you can handle play date skirmishes. If there is hitting (or biting) involved, it’s time to step in and change the activity, giving attention to a new subject. If the problem is one that does not involve children being emotionally or physically hurt, it can be just as beneficial to step back and let children work out their own problems. Using communication and understanding differences is a key learning process, and if children can come to joint solutions, problem-solving skills are already underway.
  1. Reflect When Finished—It’s important to know what worked and what didn’t when the play date has come to an end. This will help you with the planning process for the next date and how your child best operates with their peers. Plan your own meeting with the parents of the visiting children so you can both be better prepared for round two!

For the perfect play date toys, you won’t want to miss out on these selections:

Play Date Resources:

 

3 Tips for Finding Time to Volunteer as a Family

19 Aug

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Volunteering doesn’t have to be as hard as pulling teeth. In fact, it doesn’t even have to take much of your time. But the time you do give as a family will be time well spent as you are not only working toward bettering the classroom, but also spending valuable time with your children as you get involved in the community. Here are a few tips on how you can make time to show your little ones the importance of volunteering:

1. Choose what best suits your schedule.

There are two types of volunteering: informal and structured. If you want to establish a routine volunteering routine that will be less likely to be pushed aside when other responsibilities arise, then structured volunteering is probably the option for you! These are volunteer opportunities you sign up for with your children at the beginning of the school year, scheduling a monthly date to perform services like visiting the classroom to help with reading time, preparing learning center materials to bring in at home, or even helping in the school garden. Informal volunteering, on the other hand, is a good way to find opportunities that best fit your schedule. Tasks can be as simple as scheduling a fundraiser or taking your child to clean up the park. Whatever type of service you choose to perform, know you are putting core values (empathy, responsibility, stewardship) on display for your children through taking action. Hopefully, they will learn to follow suit.

2. Follow your passion.

It’s always easier to launch head first into something you are passionate about. Notice a large number of stray cats in your neighborhood and want to do something about it? Start a fundraiser or campaign for either bringing awareness to the importance of spaying and neutering pets or ways for the community to more easily get involved in the adoption process. Notice a school system is in need of new reading material? Start gathering donations to fuel children’s love of reading. Whatever it is you are passionate about, there is always a way to make a difference, even if it’s through starting a grassroots organization. If you do decide to start an organization, here are a few tips:

  1. Ask yourself if launching a new organization is necessary.
  2. Create a mission statement.
  3. Decide on specific goals and projects.
  4. Attract members.
  5. Arrange a meeting space and time.
  6. Establish organizational hierarchy and a decision-making process.
  7. Decide on a budget and funding sources.
  8. Generate publicity for your organization and its goals.
  9. Have fun!

Keep those steps in mind and you and your children will be well on your way to creating a successful grassroots organization!

3. Prepare your kids.

It’s important for children to understand the implications of volunteering. You can prepare them for what you’ve signed up for by:

  1. Describing what will happen.
  2. Showing enthusiasm for what you’re about to do.
  3. Becoming educated about your position. (Find out the required time, behavior expectations and the importance of the job so you can share it with your children.)
  4. Explain the benefits of the position.

The more excited you are and the more details you have about the volunteering position will make the idea even more appealing to children.

-For even more great ways to get your family involved with volunteering while operating on a tight schedule, check out The Busy Family’s Guide to Volunteering.

-If you have any ideas for time management and how to make room for volunteering with the family, feel free to share with us by commenting below or tweeting us @KaplanToys with the hashtag #volunteering.

How to Inspire Laughter and Learning (at the Same Time!)

12 Aug

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Did you know that August 16th is National Tell a Joke Day? If not, now you do! Laughter is not only a great form of expression, but it can also lead to stress relief along the way. We have a few jokes and toys that will leave kids rolling as they learn!

Here are a few jokes you can share with your children to pass along throughout the day. After all, National Tell a Joke Day can’t be celebrated if they don’t have any jokes to tell!

  • Q: What does a nosy pepper do?
  • A: Gets jalapeño business!
  • Q: What do you call a fake noodle?
  • A: An impasta.
  • Q: What do you call an alligator in a vest?
  • A: An investigator.
  • Q: What happens if you eat yeast and shoe polish?
  • A: Every morning you’ll rise and shine!
  • Q: What’s the difference between a guitar and a fish?
  • A: You can’t tuna fish.
  • Q: Did you hear about the race between the lettuce and the tomato?
  • A: The lettuce was a “head” and the tomato was trying to “ketchup!”
  • Q: What do you get from a pampered cow?
  • A: Spoiled milk.
  • Q: What do lawyers wear to court?
  • A: Lawsuits!
  • Q: What gets wetter the more it dries?
  • A: A towel.
  • Q: What did the pencil say to the other pencil?
  • A: You’re looking sharp.

-For even more funny jokes for kids to tell, check out Jokes4us.com. 

Are your kids looking for a few pranks to pull? Do they need to get out the giggles before quiet time? Then they will love these toys sure to leave everyone laughing:

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Laugh-Out-Loud Books

There’s nothing like reading a book so funny it’s hard to finish the next sentence! For a few laughable options that will also teach kids early literacy, you’ll want to check out the laugh-out-loud selections How Are You Peeling?, Piggies in the Pumpkin Patch, and the Ready Freddy Book Sets. Prepare for giggles!

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The Funny Faces Game

There’s nothing that will crack kids up more than making funny faces! With the Funny Faces board game, players have to mimic the ridiculous faces shown on each card. It is sure to create lots of smiles and giggles with the best face winning the game!

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Play the Prankster

Harmless pranks are a great way to create surprise and result in laughter! While learning the principles of electronic circuitry, kids can use Klutz® Gotcha Gadgets to pull off their most daring booby-traps for family and friends! Whether kids are rewiring the door alarm or light monitor, be encouraged that they’re learning along the way; even if the end result is to say, “Gotcha!”

-Does your child have a joke that will make everyone laugh? Share it with us by commenting below or tweeting it to us @Kaplantoys with the hashtag #loljokes.

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

 

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