Tag Archives: family time

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!

Indoor Winter Play for Restless Kiddos

23 Dec


Are your kids getting the fidgets, brimming with restless energy? Waiting for Christmas break can be quite the undertaking for young children, especially if cold weather is keeping them indoors. That’s why we want to make sure you have options when it comes to keeping children learning, moving, and having fun! Here are a few indoor ideas for encouraging movement in children during winter months:

Parachute Play!

This activity should inspire cooperative play, build gross motor skills, and work on children’s ability to follow directions to make snowflakes dance.

Having a parachute ready for children to play with is always a great option to encouragement movement, inspire giggles, and create fun from whatever theme you’re teaching. Cut out a couple of snowflakes and bring in winter properly—with lots of laughter and indoor snowfall! Here’s how:

Related Books:

What to Do:

  1. Talk to the children about snowflakes and how they fall.
  2. Show the children the parachute, and ask them to help lay it out flat on the ground.
  3. Ask the children to stand around the outside of the parachute, hold it with both hands, and lift it into the air.
  4. Take out the snowflakes and toss them into the parachute. Invite the children to shake the parachute to make the snowflakes dance.
  5. Challenge the children by having them move to the left or right while making the snowflakes fall. Or have the children make the snowflakes jump slightly or jump very high.
  6. Talk with the children about how all of this requires them to work together.

Pro Tip:

  • Have children practice the moves with an empty parachute first. Direct them to move the parachute up, down, fast, slow, high, low, and so on.

Don’t have a parachute? Never fear! Find your own parachute along with related resources here:




Source: Learn Every Day About Seasons 

Masking Tape Fun

Tape your floors to create racecar tracks and more for children to play indoors!

The possibilities are endless when it comes to masking tape! Whether it’s taping tic-tac-toe to the floor, taping a track for cars to follow around the house, or creating a hopscotch course, tape is a great way to encourage gross motor skills. Best of all, it doesn’t leave a mess!

Extra: Do your children love cars? Tape three circles to the floor to form a bull’s-eye. Encourage your children to sit the proper distance away and try to roll their cars into the smallest circle. Who can get the closest?

Pro Tip:

  • Blue painter’s tape works best for hardwood floors while masking tape is best for carpets.





Source: http://www.savvysassymoms.com/blog/wintertime-indoor-activities-for-kids/

Spider Web Obstacle Course

Children will feel like superheroes as they practice balance and dexterity moving through spider webs! 

String yarn in different directions to zigzag across your hallway and create the perfect obstacle course for children! Kids will have to get creative as they weave their way through the course trying not to touch the strings. For more resources to build your indoor obstacle course, check out the products below:

Source: http://www.savvysassymoms.com/blog/wintertime-indoor-activities-for-kids/

4 Ways to Focus on the Family

4 Nov


Celebrate the start of November by spending quality time with your family! Toys not only provide entertainment for children, but they can also encourage engagement in the home by bringing families together as they support learning in children. Here are four educational ways to spend your family time plus the toys you can use to carry them out:

1. Keep Table Talk Interesting!

Some of the most stimulating conversations can be had at the dinner table when everyone slows down from busy schedules to spend time together over a meal. To make these conversations more productive, Around the Family Table offers pages full of conversation starters that can lead to a child’s deeper understanding of the world around them. From social norms to goal setting, children can be inspired by thought-provoking questions for the family.

2. Build Something Wonderful

Whether it’s understanding how Lincoln Logs fit together, learning how to balance one block on top of another, or learning color coordination with LEGOs, block play is a great way for children to strengthen fine and gross motor skills. Building and construction also stretches kids’ imaginations as they realize creations are only limited by how ambitious their building goals are. Here are two tips to keep in mind as you build:

  1. Build together, not separately. Teaching your child to adapt their building style to meet yours will help them understand cooperate play. It will also encourage sharing and communication as you talk through the structure you’re going to create!
  2. Build with purpose. What function is the tower going to serve? Will the bridge be used to get toy cars from point A to point B? You can challenge your children to even greater depths of thought by setting a goal to go along with their architecture. One great idea is trying to build a home for one of your child’s toys. Space perception is needed when setting building parameters, presenting a great learning opportunity for kids.

3. Encourage Engineering

Have you heard of the STEM movement? Encouraging science, technology, engineering and math in the home is just as important as pushing them in the classroom. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to explain real-world applications around the house as children test out small versions of real-world concepts. To explain how things work and why, here are some engineering toys you can’t miss out on as you teach your child about the world around them:

4. Start a New Tradition

Finally, simply starting something new in the home can rekindle everyone’s excitement over spending time together. Starting a new tradition, whether for the holidays or simply in the home, can be a great way to bring fun back to family ritual. Whether it’s strategies to keep chores engaging or acting out bedtime stories, the Book of New Family Traditions has some great ideas on how you can change things up for a more refreshing family time.

Our Suggestion: Family Game Night!

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 9.10.18 AM

Board games are the oldest trick in the book for getting families to gather around for a night of fun! Pick a night that works for all of your family members and set aside time for some friendly competition. Check out these new board game selections to add to your game night:

Have your own ideas for livening up family time? Feel free to share them with us by commenting below or on our Facebook page with the hashtag #familytime.

3 Tips for Finding Time to Volunteer as a Family

19 Aug


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.

3 Ways to Make the Most of Picnic Time!

22 Jul



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.

5 Tips for Your Little Girl on How to Become a Princess

24 Jun

shutterstock_169580216Is your child running around the house singing “Let It Go”? Tromping across wooden floors in heels several sizes too big? Rescuing her brother from a pretend tower? With all of the fun fairytale remakes and Disney adding new lovable princesses every year, it’s hard to not want to be a princess these days. But pretending to be a princess isn’t a bad thing! In fact, it encourages creativity and engages children in dramatic play. So without further adieu, here are five tips for your little girl on how to become a princess:

1. Look in the mirror!

All your child needs to do is see her own reflection to know that all that’s needed to become a beautiful princess is what’s on the inside; the rest is simply accessory. Make sure she knows that her cute smile, button nose and big heart are all she needs to make the world a better place. And never let her forget it!

2. Choose a color.

Every princess has a favorite color. Will hers be blue like Cinderella? Gold like Belle? Pink like Sleeping Beauty? Whatever color it is, allow her to make it her own! Encourage your child to be herself and wear her favorite color proudly. Princesses know how to keep up appearances, but only by wearing their favorite colors and clothes. Does your child want to be like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty? Check out these dresses, so she can dress up just like them:










3. Learn proper manners.


Princesses have to know how to behave properly. That’s why every child needs to remember her manners if she wants to be like a princess. Encourage her to say please and thank you when passing food at the table. Make sure she knows not to interrupt her teacher when he or she is talking, and instead, wait until she’s called upon to speak. It’s also important to stress that princesses know how to be patient and make what they have to say count. Follow along with Little Princess to learn the importance of manners:

4. Build a castle.

Every princess has to have a castle! Not only will your little princess show off those building skills, but she’ll also have a place to show off to her princess friends! At Kaplan Toys, we have ice castles like Elsa’s, wooden castles, LEGO® castles and more! What kind of castle does your child want to build?





5. Let it go!

Encourage your little princess to take after Elsa and let it go! Make sure she knows not to worry about what other people say when she wears different clothes or takes an interest in something that’s not popular. Tell her to do what she loves and channel her own inner-princess as the beautiful, independent young lady she is! And don’t forget, even princesses need help from mommy!


Want to deck out your child’s room in fairytale fashion? Check out our pink princess furniture set, a magical setup your child is sure to love!

Does your child love to dress up? Share who your child’s favorite princess is and why in the comment section below, and she will be entered to win a free Cinderella dress!

12 Days of Learning | Day 9: Wrapping & Choosing Gifts

11 Dec

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Are your family’s holiday gifts wrapped and under the tree yet? If you still have a few things left to wrap or pick up at the store, then turn up the holiday music and let your children help you finish up those last few things on your holiday to-do list. Asking your children to help you choose and wrap gifts for grandparents and other family members allows you to spend time together as a family, helps your kids feel more involved, and provides them with a variety of learning opportunities.


Infants & Toddlers

Infants and toddlers won’t be able to help you with much during the holidays, but you can engage them with tactile play while you and the rest of the family wrap gifts. Encourage infants and toddlers to feel the textures of different ribbons and bows, for example, or let them crinkle a piece of wrapping paper with their hands. This will increase their gross motor skills and help them learn about the world around them. As toddlers become more mobile, let them help you put the bows and pieces of tape on gifts. This gives toddlers the opportunity to practice and improve their coordination and balance.


Preschoolers can be a little more involved with choosing and wrapping gifts. Ask them what they would like to give people or what they know about someone’s hobbies and interests. Ask children to help you fold the wrapping paper over gifts and tape it in place. You can also teach preschoolers how to cut the wrapping paper with safety scissors. Making your own wrapping paper is another creative way to engage preschoolers because they can help you decorate it with holiday-themed drawings. Encourage preschoolers to talk about the patterns they see in the wrapping paper or ask them to count the number of bows in the bag to help them develop their math skills.

Older Children

Give older children the opportunity to pick out and wrap a few gifts by themselves. You can also let them keep track of what each person is getting and how much was spent on each person. This gives your older children a chance to practice keeping records and helps them learn how to budget. Another idea is to give your older kids a certain amount of money they can spend on gifts for their friends and then let them choose how they want to spend it, which will help them practice their math and decision-making skills during the holidays. Keep in mind that giving your older children more leeway in buying and wrapping gifts may help them feel more involved and excited for the holiday season.


Check back tomorrow for Day 10 of our 12 Days of Learning!

Happy Holidays!


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