Tag Archives: family

Showing Dad How Much He Matters!

16 Jun

shutterstock_132978608Father’s Day is right around the corner! Fathers are an integral part of a child’s early education in the home as they provide stable male role models and play unique roles in children’s development. According to research, fathers are more likely to

  • promote children’s intellectual and social development through physical play;
  • emphasize independence and allow children more freedom to explore their surroundings, take risks, and challenge themselves; and
  • push their sons to higher levels of achievement.

To celebrate the special role father’s play in the lives of their children, we have a few fun crafts and books your kids can share with dad!

1. A Gift for the Car! Car Visor Clip

Help dad keep his car organized with this special gift!

Materials

  • clothespin, spring type
  • library pocket or small sturdy mailing envelope
  • paint
  • cotton swabs or thin paintbrushes
  • glue
  • nontoxic permanent marker

Make Your Great Gift

  1. Paint the clothespin and library pocket using the cotton swabs or thin paintbrushes.
  2. After the paint dries, glue the library pocket to one side of the clothespin.
  3. Use the permanent marker to personalize the clip by writing a title on the library pocket such as “Dad’s Car Clip.”
  4. Include a note with the gift suggesting that the recipient clip it to the car visor and use the pocket for parking stubs or other receipts.

Helpful Hint

  • The library pocket will last longer if it is laminated or covered with clear contact paper before attaching it to the clothespin. Glue does not adhere to laminate well, so use self-adhesive Velcro to attach the pocket to the clothespin.

Variation

  • Add magnetic tape to the back of the clothespin to create a refrigerator clip that can hold papers. Use the library pocket for storing pens and pencils.
  • Use a cut off denim jeans back pocket instead of a library pocket.

2. A Gift for the Office! Made-It-Myself Mouse Pad

Impress Dad with a unique mouse pad for the office!

Materials:

  • White or light-colored craft foam, cut into approximately 8” x 9” pieces
  • Nontoxic permanent colored markers
  • Clear vinyl, cut the same size and shape as craft foam
  • Clear 2” wide book or packing tape, cut to 9” length

Make Your Great Gift

  1. Brainstorm ideas to draw on the mouse pad. The following are possible ideas:
  • Draw a scene for the mouse to travel through
  • Trace simple shapes
  • Draw a self-portrait
  1. Draw the design on one side of the craft foam with the permanent markers.
  2. Place a piece of tape approximately 9” long to adhere clear vinyl to craft foam along the top long edge. Then you can slide notes, memos, or photos between the vinyl and the foam.
  3. Trim as needed.

Helpful Hints

  • Add notes and photos under the clear vinyl.
  • Clear vinyl, sold by the yard, may be found at stores that sell fabric. Or use leftover laminating film, clear page protectors, or clear report covers for the top of the mouse pad.

Source: 101 Great Gifts Kids Can Make

3. A Recipe to Make with Dad! 

Ingredients

  • 2” pieces of celery
  • 1/4 “ slices of carrots
  • peanut butte

Celery Race Cars

An easy and fun snack that will keep your child’s motor running!

What to Do

  1. Encourage your child to spread peanut butter into his celery “cars.”
  2. Spread peanut butter on the carrot slices and attach them to the celery to create “wheels.”
  3. Enjoy talking with Dad about your child’s favorite cars!

Source: The Budding Chef

4. Books to Celebrate Dad!

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Finally, there’s no better way to spend quality time with dad than by reading books together! We have a few selections that are sure to inspire bonding between little ones and their real-life heroes:

Have fun this weekend and a special Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there!

Starting New Family Traditions for the Holidays

16 Dec

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Happy holidays! Many families are already celebrating Kwanza and Hanukkah while Christmas is right around the corner. The holidays are a great time to start new traditions that families can look forward to for years to come. If you don’t have certain routines to fall into to engage the whole family, we have a few suggestions you can try out with your kids to make the holidays a little more magical!

Gather Round the Table!

Taking time to sit down as a family over a special meal for the holidays is the perfect time to connect with your loved ones. One thing you can do before the whole family gets together is prepare questions beforehand for every family member to answer. This proves to be a useful insight in getting to know loved ones better and can always lead to some interesting stories! Here are a few example questions from Around the Family Table:

  • “Are you a secret keeper or a secret teller? Which is best?”
  • “What is something you had in your childhood that no longer exists and you wish you had back?”
  • “If you could give the children of this world one thing, what would it be?”

 Little Hands in the Kitchen

There’s nothing like planning to cook with your little ones each year for the holidays. Talk about your favorite recipes and find something fun to make that can be enjoyed by the whole family. The more creative the recipe the more fun it is to make together! Here is an example of a fun winter recipe you can make with your kids:

Marshmallow Snowmen

Turn your kitchen into a winter wonderland any time of the year.

Ingredients:

  • Marshmallows
  • Miniature peanut butter cups
  • Red shoestring licorice
  • Small tubes of black gel icing (or any color your child prefers)

What to Do:

  • Help your child put three marshmallows on toothpicks to resemble a snowman. Make sure to leave some room at the top of the toothpick above the snowman’s head.
  • Show how to attach a peanut butter cup (wide-side down) to the top of the toothpick to resemble a hat.
  • Help your child tie a piece of licorice around the snowman’s neck to make a scarf.
  • Encourage children to use the black gel icing to make eyes, mouth, and buttons on the snowmen.

For more creative recipes for any occasion, check out The Budding Chef. 

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Magic and Mischief with Elf on the Shelf

If you have small children and haven’t joined the Elf on the Shelf movement, you may want to reconsider! This chipper little elf brings magic back to the holidays as children find the elf in different positions every morning. You can get as creative as you want and watch as children’s eyes glow with wonder upon finding what mischief the elf has been up to during the night. Your elf can help children count down the days to the holiday, leave encouraging messages for children to find, and even instill good habits (like brushing teeth in the morning!) To get your own elf or find mischief inspiration, check out our Mischief for Your Elf on the Shelf Pinterest board.

Create a Holiday Playlist

It’s always fun to listen to your favorite holiday songs! Whether it’s funny selections like ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer’ or more classic choices like ‘White Christmas’, ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas,’ or ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’, sharing your musical taste for the holidays is a great way to share something you love with your kids. Hopefully, your selections will turn into songs played for holidays to come and lead to a few fun dances in the living room along the way!

Whether it’s building something together for a DIY project, leaving cookies out for Santa, or making a gingerbread house, traditions are an important part of keeping loved ones close and families engaged. What do you do every year for the holidays? Share your fun suggestions with us by commenting below!

Need to do a little last-minute holiday shopping? Don’t miss our top picks for holiday gifts here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/shop/great-gift-ideas

10 Favorite Educational Toys for the Holidays!

25 Nov

The holidays are upon us! Are you excited to see family, eat home-cooked goodies, take road trips to have new adventures? Holidays are a great time to stop and be thankful for the people around us, but they can also become stressful to parents and grandparents when children give the “deer in the headlights” look when asked what they want for the holidays! Maybe a surprise is exactly what’s in store this holiday season! We have a list of our top 10 educational toys that will not only leave children excited, but also keep them learning as they play!

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1. Frieda’s Fruit Fiesta Preschool Game!

  • Age: 4 years & Up
  • Price: $21.95
  • Description: Prepare for an alphabet board game up to four players can enjoy! Kids will love matching letters as they try to gain fruit bowls and win the game.

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2. Pretend Pay Wooden Tea Party Set

  • Age: 3 years & up
  • Price: $29.95
  • Description: The perfect play tea set to give your child the opportunity to host elegant tea parties for friends! Encourages creativity and dramatic play.

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3. Techno Kids Marble Trax Undersea Adventure

  • Age: 4 years & up
  • Price: $47.95
  • Description: Dive into this ocean-themed marble run that will test kids’ problem solving skills as they construct and then compete on this colorful marble trax adventure!

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4. Twist & Turn Activity House

  • Age: 12 months & up
  • Price: $39.95
  • Description: Teaching shapes and building problem solving skills, the Twist & Turn Activity House is a bundle of fun for babies!

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5. OGOBUILD Pod Kit

  • Age: 6 years & up
  • Price: $44.95
  • Description: Your kids will love this pod kit that encourages imaginative play as they build forts and kick, spin, and throw this flexible, lightweight structure!

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6. Aztec Large Size Blocks Primary 30

  • Age: 18 months & up
  • Price: $29.95
  • Description: Teaches basic mathematic skills from an early age. Blocks can be connected horizontally, vertically, diagonally, inward, or outward! Great for encouraging budding fine motor skills.

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7. Nightzone Light Up Hoops

  • Age: 6 years & up
  • Price: $19.95
  • Description: Bring the added thrill of glow in the dark to basketball play!  Great for encouraging movement in kids as they practice their ball skills.

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8. Favorite Friends Let It Snow! 18″ Doll

  • Age: 3 years & up
  • Price: $59.95
  • Description: This beautiful doll is great for encouraging dramatic play as children celebrate the change in seasons!

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9. Litte Tikes Handle Haulers Deluxe – Big Top Charlie

  • Age: 12 months & up
  • Price: $33.95
  • Description: Hours of fun for babies and toddlers as they listen to music and play with  locomotive trains!

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10. Remote Control Mario Kart 7 – Yoshi

  • Age: 6 years & up
  • Price: $110.95
  • Description: Reaching top speeds of 20 kn/h, the Mario Kart 7 Cars will provide hours of racing fun for your kids inspired by their favorite Mario Kart characters!

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We hope you found a little inspiration for your holiday list this season! Don’t forget to check our Facebook page every day this week at 11 for a chance to win a featured toy in our What Toy Am I? Contest. Find the contest rules here.

12 Days of Learning | Day 5: Give Back & Help Others

5 Dec

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The holiday season is a great time for your family to give back and help others. Family activities focused on helping others provide a positive example for your children and will help teach them about gratitude and charity. As we shared in our recent charity blog post, giving to others benefits people’s health and overall life satisfaction.

If you have young children, it’s important to first teach them the basic concepts of sharing, giving, and helping others. Once children understand these concepts, you can start explaining why some people and organizations need help. As your children age, encourage them to become more involved in family charity projects or to come up with their own charity project. You should also encourage older children to volunteer or find a way to include charity in their schoolwork. A 2010 survey found that parents are the biggest influence on a teenager’s charitable giving, so it is important to include charitable activities in your family’s holiday plans.

The holiday season provides numerous opportunities for your family to help others. The iconic Salvation Army bell ringers and red donation buckets, for example, are in front of most of the stores you will purchase groceries and gifts from this holiday season. Set a good example for your kids by donating any spare change or dollar bills you have and then encourage your children to do the same with their spare change. A number of families specifically give their young children a dollar bill or some spare change to place in the red buckets because it gives them an opportunity to practice charity. Here are some other ways your family can give back and help others this holiday season:

1. Donate new or gently-used items. Go through your family’s closets and donate any gently-used items you don’t wear anymore to homeless shelters, the Salvation Army, or Goodwill. Food banks also run low on food at this time of the year, so donate any extra items you have in your pantry or purchase canned food items at the grocery store to donate. Many schools have canned food drives this time of the year, which is a good way for your family to give back and get involved with your child’s school. Donating blood to the American Red Cross is another great way for parents and teens (17+ in most states) to give back. Keep in mind that many charities also accept monetary donations if your family wants to have a fundraiser for a specific charity or the charity your family wants to help is in another city or state.

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2. Volunteer your time. Volunteering is a simple and inexpensive way for your family to give back to the community. Find a charity to volunteer at as a family or encourage your older children to volunteer at a charity related to their interests throughout the year. Children who like animals, for example, may want to volunteer at an animal shelter, veterinarian’s office, or pet adoption fair. If your children like sports, encourage them to play a game for charity or volunteer to help coach a recreation sports team. Other places your family or children can volunteer include libraries, soup kitchens, nursing homes, hospitals, and senior centers.

3. Host a holiday charity party. Parties are a great way to include charity in your family’s holiday plans, and both children and adults can have a fun time at charity parties.  Ask guests to make a donation for your family’s favorite charity in lieu of a host or hostess gift, for example, or give the party a charity theme by asking guests to help you make packages to send to soldiers overseas. Making treat bags for the elderly, filling shoeboxes to send to children overseas, or purchasing and wrapping gifts for local families in need are other possible themes and activities for your family’s holiday charity party. This could even become an annual party your family hosts with a different theme and supported charity each year.

4. Make a special delivery. Allowing your children to see what their help means to people in need is a great way to reinforce the value of charity. Have your children deliver cookies and other holiday treats to the elderly or ask if your family can deliver the gifts you bought for a family in need. Asking children to read a holiday story to someone who is not able to read anymore is another way your children can experience the effect of charity. Other ideas include taking your children with you when you drop off any donations and letting them put any cards or packages intended for soldiers or people in need in the mail. Being a part of the delivery will make the experience more memorable for children and will help them increase their understanding of how charity works.

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Many families put a special focus on charity during the holidays, but remember that it’s important for your family to reinforce the value of charity throughout the year. Read our Five Ways to Encourage Charity blog post for even more ideas on how your family can give back and help others.

Check back tomorrow for Day 6 of our 12 Days of Learning!

Happy Holidays!

Great Games to Add to Family Game Night

16 Dec

Spice up game night with these family-friendly favorites! Join the experts at Kaplan Toys as they count down their favorite family games, that will have you saying, “Game on, Grandma!”

#5: Spot It™

This fast-paced party game will train your eyes to look for a match to your card and spot it! Race against your opponents as you try to find a match for every card. Be careful though, every card only has ONE match! A sharp eye and a bit of speed will aid you on your way to becoming a master matcher! For 2-8 players. 6 years & up.

Item Number: 00252

Price: $11.95

#4: Set Game

Improve pattern recognition, visual perception and critical thinking skills with this fast-paced game! Shout “SET!” and everyone checks to see if you have discovered the three cards that form a SET from the twelve laid face up on the table. The dealer lays out three more cards. The search starts again. There are no turns, which improves time on task. 6 years & up.

Item Number: 87675

Price: $12.95

#3: Bananagrams

In this unique word game, players use tiles to create words crossword-style. The first player to use all their tiles is the winner. With multiple ways to play, this game is perfect for beginning spellers, as well as more advanced players. No pencil, paper, or board required. 7 years & up.

Item Number: 18011

Price: $14.95

#2: Quirkle

Mix, match, score, and win! A strategy game based on color and shape rather than letters. Qwirkle is as simple as matching colors and shapes, but well planned strategy and tactical maneuvers will help you win the game. Earn points by building rows and columns of blocks that share a common shape or color. 108 wooden blocks. 2 to 4 players. 6 years & up.

Item Number: 00536

Price: $24.95

#1: Apples to Apples, Jr.

Apples to Apples, Jr brings the hilarious card and party game to younger players. Players will delight in all the crazy comparisons, while expanding their vocabulary and thinking skills at the same time. The game is as easy as comparing apples to apples. Just open the box, deal the RED APPLE cards to each player, and you’re ready to go! 9 years & up.

Item Number: 92213

Price: $21.95

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