Tag Archives: holidays

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

Elf on the Shelf: How to Manage Holiday Mischief

2 Dec

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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:

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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/ 

 

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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/

 

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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/

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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/.

 

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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/

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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/ 

 

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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/

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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

 

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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/ 

 

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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!

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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.

Wish It, Win It Pinterest Sweepstakes | Win a Toy Wish List for Your Child!

18 Nov

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It’s once again time for the holidays! We know; it sneaks up on you. That’s why we’re here to help. Enter our Wish It, Win It Pinterest Sweepstakes for a chance to win a wish list full of educational toys your kids are sure to love!

Kaplan Toys has curated eight Pinterest boards packed with sure-fire favorites across a variety of themes and age groups – including Brainy Baby, Traveling Toddler, Miniature Maven, Junior Genius, Marvelous Mademoiselle, Wonderful Whippersnapper, Creative Kid, and Brilliant Builder.

Choose your favorite board for the chance to win ALL of the items featured there. Simply repin the main graphic from the holiday board you want to win and you will be entered to win our Wish It, Win It Pinterest Sweepstakes! (Limit one entry per person.) One lucky winner’s wish will come true on Nov. 24th!

Click on the Wish List graphic you want to win to go to the board on Pinterest. Simply repin and you’ve entered!

Have questions? Feel free to ask them on our Facebook page and we would be happy to help you out!

View the official sweepstakes rules here.

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12 Days of Learning | Day 11: Celebrate Winter

13 Dec

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The winter solstice is coming up soon, and we have some great ideas to help your family celebrate the start of winter. Whether your winters are warm and dry or cold and snowy, you can use these indoor and outdoor activities to have fun as a family and help your kids learn about winter:

1. Encourage your kids to read. Reading is an excellent activity for keeping kids engaged during the winter months. In addition to encouraging your kids to read on their own, you can make reading a family time activity. Books are also an excellent way to help kids learn about winter. The Snowy Day, Winter Big Book, The Mitten, Snowballs, and Snow would all be great additions to your child’s book collection.

2. Have an outdoor (or indoor) family snowball fight! This is a fun way for your family to stay active and exercise during the winter months. If it doesn’t snow where you live or it’s too cold outside for the kids to play, we have the perfect solution for your family. Snowtime Anytime Snowballs feel like real snowballs and can be used indoors or outdoors, which means your family can have snowball fights anytime during the winter or all year long.

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3. Ask children what changes they are noticing in the weather. This gives you the opportunity to discuss weather words, weather instruments, how people forecast the weather, and other weather basics. Kids will be particularly interested in snow at this time of the year, so encourage them to play in the snow or make their own paper snowflakes. Books about snow, such as Snow is Falling, will also help them understand weather and how it changes. Older kids may enjoy having a weather station to help them monitor weather conditions and make their own forecasts.

4. Take your kids ice skating at an indoor or outdoor skating rink. Ice skating is a great way to get your kids out of the house during the winter months. It will also help improve their balance and coordination. After your family burns some calories on the ice, be sure to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or a bowl of soup. Remember that it’s best not to use a frozen pond in your neighborhood because the ice may not be thick enough or your kids may wander off to an area of the ice that isn’t safe. Sledding and skiing are two other wintertime activities your family may enjoy.

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5. Talk to kids about animals and plants that are commonly seen in winter. Point out or ask kids which animals and plants they see more of in winter. This is a good way to start a discussion about hibernation and migration. Books, such as Time to Sleep, can also help you explain why certain animals hibernate or migrate during the winter months. Encourage your kids to take pictures or keep a journal of changes they notice in nature during the winter months.

6. Come up with fun art and craft projects your kids can do indoors or outdoors. Kids can become bored pretty fast during the winter months, especially if the weather is bad and they can’t go outdoors. Fun art and craft projects will help engage your kids on gloomy winter days, but make sure you also have projects they can do outside when the weather is nice enough. It’s also a good idea to have a variety of art and craft supplies on hand to help engage your children during their breaks from school or on snow days.

Check back on Monday for Day 12 of our 12 Days of Learning!

Happy Holidays!

12 Days of Learning | Day 10: Holiday Food

12 Dec

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Many people look forward to enjoying their favorite holiday foods and sweet treats during the holiday season. Whether you make special treats or have the same meal every year, holiday food is undoubtedly a part of your family’s holiday traditions in some way.

The focus on food during the holidays provides several opportunities to teach children about nutrition and the history of different holiday foods. TLC’s Christmas Trivia Quiz provides some fun and interesting facts you can share with your kids while eating your favorite holiday meal or enjoying dessert:

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Did You Know?

  • The tradition of eating mincemeat pies on Christmas began in the 16th century. People believed that eating a small mincemeat pie on each of the 12 days leading up to Christmas would bring them good luck in the coming year.
  • Sugarplums are chocolate candies with sweet fillings, such as cream or fruit preserves, inside.
  • More than 1.76 billion candy canes are made each year.
  • The first candy canes were straight white sticks of sugar candy and were used as Christmas tree decorations. Candy canes got their bent ends when a choirmaster gave them to children during church services in 1670. They were meant to resemble a shepherd’s staff. Candy canes didn’t get their stripes until the early 1900s.

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Holiday food also provides some wonderful learning opportunities for children. Have your children help you count or measure out ingredients, for example, to help them improve and practice their math skills. It’s also a good idea to discuss the value of proper nutrition with them at some point during the holidays. Talk to them about portion sizes and make sure you have a variety of fruits and vegetables available in your home. Watching you cook and make a variety of food items will also give children a good foundation for positive life skills later in life.

Strive to make baking and cooking with your kids a family tradition during the holidays. Come up with a special recipe that your kids can help you make each year. Let older children pick a couple of new recipes they would like to try to make as well. This gives older kids the opportunity to be more independent and practice being an adult. The holiday season is also a good time to be more creative with your family’s food and encourage your kids to make edible food art. Make their food into a star or candy cane shape or have them decorate their food to look like a reindeer, snowman, or turkey. For more ideas on edible cooking activities, check out the book Cooking Art. You can also browse Pinterest for a variety of holiday recipes for kids.

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Check back tomorrow for Day 11 of our 12 Days of Learning!

Happy Holidays!

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.

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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

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.

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

Happy Holidays!

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