Tag Archives: holidays

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!


  • 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.


  • 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!


  • 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! 


  • 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!


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!

Valuing Diversity on MLK Day

13 Jan


As 2015 is underway, that means Martin Luther King Jr. Day is right around the corner! Celebrated the third Monday of every January, the holiday commemorates an American hero who fought for equality for all. MLK provides a great example for children to not only read about but also learn from. Here are a few ways you can teach your children to value diversity just as MLK did.

Fun Facts About MLK

  • Martin Luther King Jr. attended Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, GA and was so smart that he skipped two grades in high school! He started his college education at 15.
  • King was the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
  • One of his main influences was Mahatma Gandhi who taught protesting in a non-violent manner.
  • There are over 730 streets in the United States named after Martin Luther King Jr.
  • In his efforts to fight segregation and inequality, King traveled more than six million miles and spoke more than 2,500 times.

Ways to Teach Diversity to Your Kids

1. Read Inclusive Books

It’s important that the children’s books you choose are inclusive and represent a variety of cultures and races. Children can use these books as examples of the diversity America is proud to represent every day. Be sure to encourage acceptance of those small differences by choosing diverse reading materials like the ones below:

2. Schedule Multicultural Play Dates

Know a family in the classroom or neighborhood of a different race or culture? Suggest scheduling a play date so your children can come to appreciate and accept differences in others and themselves. Introduce children to different cuisines during snack time, different languages spoken in the home, and even different greetings, clothing, and mannerisms from their fellow peers. Sometimes, children’s differences can even lead to closer friendships.

3. Make Diversity an Open Discussion

Whether you’re walking in the park, in the grocery store, or simply riding home from picking your child up at school, be sure you encourage them to discuss the differences they see in the people around them. Opening up children’s discussion on those differences and pointing out how positive they are will lead to a broader perspective and overall acceptance in children. You can also take it one step further by getting children to see instances where their peers may be struggling, whether because of language barriers or physical handicaps, as opportunities to reach out and help.

Activity: A Song for MLK Day

Sing the following to the tune “Have You Ever Seen a Lassie?” for MLK Day!

We are all different,

All different,

All different,

We are all different,

Each in our own way.

Whether dark skin or light,

We should get along not fight,

We are all different,

Each in our own way!

(Source: The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities For Children 3 to 6)


Giving Children Goals for the New Year

30 Dec


The New Year is finally upon us! As children prepare to finish the latter part of the school year, it’s important to encourage kids to make educational goals for the new calendar year. Children can change their whole attitude toward the classroom, their peers, and even homework if learning is approached with intentionality. Here are some positive ways you can encourage your child to not only become passionate about learning, but also intentional.

The Importance of Planning

You can never stress the importance of having a plan enough when it comes to encouraging children to be prepared. There are several ways you can point out the planning that occurs every day to help children apply those same lessons to their own decisions:

  1. Talk about your plans.
    1. You make decisions every day. Discuss those decisions aloud with your child to allow him or her to understand your thought process. This will teach your child that your thoughts and actions are intentional.
  1. Make both long- and short-term goals.
    1. When you make goals, be sure you share them with your children. Whether it’s saving up for new furniture in the house, or even something as simple as making a list before shopping at the grocery store so that unnecessary items aren’t bought, include children in the planning process and allow them to see you accomplish goals both within your day and in the future. Encourage them to make their own goals when it comes to classroom accomplishments, pursuing subjects they are passionate about, or even improving behavior problems.

Leaving Time for Reflection

Though you can plan to the best of your ability, it’s natural that not every plan is going to work the way you imagined it. Some plans fall through no matter how much you wanted them to succeed. Unsuccessful goals can provide the perfect opportunity for reflection and making adjustments to try something new in the future. Here are a few ways to include children in the process:

  1. Ask the right questions.
    1. It’s important to ask questions that will require children to reflect on the topics being learned. If a child is not grasping a certain concept, try asking questions differently. For example, if your child is learning about safari animals, try something like, “Giraffes have long necks and long legs. What might be good about having long legs and a long neck? What other animals have long necks and long legs?” Great questions will help children make sense of new information by offering comparison. It will also give them a new approach to learning that may offer greater success in the future.
  1. Discuss the results of intentional planning.
    1. This is a great time to allow children to focus on the goals they’ve made and the results of trying to achieve them. If they’ve come up short, redirect their focus on ways to make goals more attainable and not on the disappointment of failure. Knowing what went wrong and how to fix it is all a part of the learning process!

Encourage Persistence and Commitment

  • Read stories like the Itsy Bitsy Spider or I Knew You Could! to instill values of persistence and determination in children even in the face of great obstacles.
  • Create a “Tomorrow Box” where children can store unfinished artwork to complete later.
  • Help children celebrate small successes by using charts or calendars to mark off daily accomplishments.
  • Model and encourage new ways to finish work children may be struggling to complete.

We hope you found these strategies useful for helping your child approach the New Year with intentionality. Find even more social and emotional strategies in the book Seven Skills for School Success. 

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/

Starting New Family Traditions for the Holidays

16 Dec


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.


  • 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. 

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 9.57.17 AM

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

Elf on the Shelf: How to Manage Holiday Mischief

2 Dec

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 9.57.17 AM

Toys catch on in big ways when it comes to the holidays, but none quite so much as the Elf on the Shelf. This magical little fellow has managed to wriggle its way into every child and parent’s heart by giving families a tradition to engage in together. Whether your elf is drawing with toothpaste or hanging from a Christmas tree, the Elf on the Shelf gives you a chance to challenge your creativity and bring some magic to the holidays for your children. We’ve come up with 10 of the top creative ideas to get you started with mischief inspiration for your Elf on the Shelf:


1. Blame the Dog!

Have pets? Bring them in on the fun by having your elf get into the dog or cat food to leave a fun message or picture for the kids. Get as creative as you want with what is left behind!

Source: http://www.frugalcouponliving.com/2012/12/03/elf-on-the-shelf-ornaments-dancing-elves-ideas-and-more/ 


Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 9.42.30 AM

2. Let the Holidays Sink in!

There’s nothing like a little indoor fishing. Throw in some gold fish for an added effect.

Source: http://www.skinnymom.com/2013/11/20/75-family-friendly-elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/


Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 9.42.49 AM

3. Take Elf on the Shelfies!

A photocopier makes everything more fun! Have your elf take selfies by photo copying him or herself. Be sure to leave evidence of the pictures your elf has already taken to make kids giggle.

Source: http://www.skinnymom.com/2013/11/20/75-family-friendly-elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/

elf-of-the-shelf-day-five-how-me-got-into-the-water-bottle-Elf-on-the-Shelf-Ideas-What-to-do-with-an-elf-on-a-Shelf-Easy-Elf-on-the-Shelf-Ideas4. Elf in a Bottle!

Let your kids answer the mystery of how your elf ended up in a water bottle! (Find out how the magic works here: http://athriftymom.com/elf-on-the-shelf-ideas-easy-ideas-for-elf-on-the-shelf-day-five/.



5. Take a Load off!

Teach kids how to be responsible by making your elf do a little laundry of his or her own!

Source: http://www.amittenfullofsavings.com/27-creative-best-elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/


6. Play Elf Games!

Simply add some marshmallows and draw on a Tic-Tac-Toe game for kids to find your elf playing.

Source: http://www.amittenfullofsavings.com/27-creative-best-elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/ 


Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 9.50.21 AM

7. Let the Fun Roll!

Wrap your elf in toilet paper and send him or her for rides down the stairs. This is always a fun surprise for kids to find in the morning!

Source: http://athriftymom.com/elf-on-the-shelf-ideas-day-15-enter-to-win-your-own-free-elf-on-the-shelf/


8. Bring on Breakfast!

Surprise your kids by letting them find your elf hiding in plain sight! Simply cut out a hole in the Rice Krispies box and your elf has successfully become a part of the most important meal of the day.

Source: http://melanielee86.blogspot.ca/2012/12/elf-on-shelf-day-7.html



9. Get Social!

Part of the magic of the elf is that he comes “alive” at night, sparking children’s imagination at the toys around them. Get social with your elf and create whatever fun “Toy Story” moment you want your child to discover in the morning!

Source: http://www.mymommystyle.com/2013/12/19/fun-elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/ 



10. Elf on a Boat!

Run some water in your sink, put your elf on a toy boat, and set him to sailing for a morning surprise your kids will love!

Source: http://www.mymommystyle.com/2013/12/19/fun-elf-on-the-shelf-ideas/ 


-Want your own Elf on the Shelf to get started? Find a selection of elf sets here along with new accessories! Keep an eye on our Pinterest board to see what our very own Elf on the Shelf is up to at the office for the holidays!

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!


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.


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.


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!


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!



  • 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!


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.


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.


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!


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!


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!


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.


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