Tag Archives: kaplan toys

Fight Childhood Obesity Through Active Play

24 Mar

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Various initiatives have been started in recent years to combat childhood obesity, but the number of overweight and obese children is still staggering. The CDC recently reported that more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese in 2012. The high number of overweight and obese children indicates that more needs to be done at home and in the classroom to help children learn to eat healthier and be more active.

Infrequent exercising is a major cause of childhood obesity, so you can help your kids keep a healthy weight and fight childhood obesity by encouraging active play. Participating in active play activities with your children will give you a chance to show your kids that you value physical activity and will help you spend quality time together as a family. Here are five active play activities you and your children can enjoy during the spring and summer months:

Five Active Play Activities for Spring and Summer

1. Create Sidewalk Art

Children can get creative as they use paint and chalk to make works of art on sidewalks and driveways. This is a great activity for kids of all ages and can help them stay active as they mix colors and draw and paint various designs. Work with your kids to see how big of an art piece you can create, and be sure to snap pictures of your kids’ designs before the rain washes them away.

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2. Learn a New Skill

Spring and summer are great times of the year to learn new skills. Kids will enjoy learning how to ride a bike or scooter, and teaching them how provides wonderful bonding moments for parents and children. Learning to juggle, speed stack, and balance on stilts are also fun new skills your kids will enjoy learning. All of these activities will help your kids stay active as they learn about balance and motion.

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3. Explore Sand and Water

Kids love digging in sand and playing in water, and the spring and summer months provide great opportunities for fun, motion-filled sand and water activities. Sand molds, buckets, sprinklers, and other sand and water tools all facilitate active play as children explore sand and water. For more ideas on how kids can stay active with sand and water activities, check out Sand and Water Play: Simple, Creative Activities for Young Children.

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4. Help with Outdoor Chores

There are plenty of opportunities in spring and summer for children to help you do outdoor chores. Let them help you plant or water the garden, pick up sticks from the yard, or practice mowing with their pretend mower. You can even turn these activities into competitions to see whose plant grows best or who picks up the most sticks. Activities like these will help children stay active while they learn important life skills. Read The Budding Gardener for other ideas on fun-filled gardening activities you can do with your children.

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5. Play Outdoor Games

Establishing a family routine that includes physical fitness can help you and your children keep a healthy weight. Make time to play an outdoor game with your kids a few times a week, especially in spring and summer. Play a game of basketball or volleyball as a family after dinner or teach kids how to play badminton or tennis. Even a quick game of tag or a simple 30 minute family walk will help keep you and your kids healthy.

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Be sure to browse our Active and Outdoor Play section for additional ideas on how you can help your kids be more active.

Help Kids Become Future Innovators with Fun and Educational Toys

10 Mar

Innovators like to ask questions about the world around them and use their creativity to solve problems, so being creative and inquisitive are important traits kids should practice and develop. Here are five educational toys that can help children become future innovators by introducing them to engineering concepts and helping them increase their problem-solving skills:

1. GoldieBlox & the Spinning Machine (4-9 years)

goldibloxIf you’re looking for a construction toy for girls, look no further! A 2014 Educational and People’s Choice Toy of the Year Award Winner, GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine uses storytelling and construction materials to introduce engineering principles and help girls build spatial and problem-solving skills. Girls can help Goldie, the main character, build a belt drive machine and experiment with a variety of design ideas. Girls can also learn about wheels and axles with Goldie and her friends in GoldieBlox and the Parade Float.

2. Magna-Tiles® (3 years & up)

46315Kids of all ages love playing with Magna-Tiles because they can build castles, houses, and a variety of other 3-D objects. The colorful magnetic tiles are a great way to introduce kids to basic engineering concepts and can also help kids expand their building and critical thinking skills. Be sure to browse our Ideas for Your Magna-Tiles® Creations blog post to help kids further expand their creativity and understanding of building concepts.

3. Candy Construction Building Kit (4 years & up)

141407aAn alternative to traditional building blocks and marble runs, the Candy Construction Building Kit gives kids a sweet way to build eye-catching structures while helping them develop their fine motor skills. Kids will love using their creativity and critical thinking skills to make structures that look like edible works of art. The colorful set includes 92 pieces and an activity guide with building directions and structure ideas for kids to make.

4. Monkey Business Gear Set (4-7 years)

22019Kids get to build their own “gears jungle” with the Monkey Business Gear Set. The jungle-themed set includes plastic gears, connectors, base plates, and a crank to help monkeys swing and turn through palm trees. This fun set includes 136 pieces with instructions and building ideas for kids to use. If your kids love visiting the ocean or talking about ocean animals, an Under the Sea Building Set is also available.

5. LEGO® and DUPLO® (18 months & up)

141628dThese classic building toys are a great way to introduce kids to engineering concepts, especially since a number of different themed building sets are available. Whether your kids are interested in Star Wars™ or Cinderella, you can find a LEGO® and DUPLO® building set that they will enjoy. The great thing about LEGO® and DUPLO® is that they offer building sets for a variety of ages, so your children can continue to play and learn with LEGO® and DUPLO® items as they grow older and gain more building and critical thinking skills.

Five Fun Birthday Traditions to Start With Your Kids

24 Feb

shutterstock_121428724How does your family celebrate birthdays? If you’re looking for a new birthday tradition to start in your family or if you’re looking for some ideas to make your kids’ birthdays extra special, you’ve come to the right blog post. We know there are many different birthday traditions you could start with your kids, but we’ve come up with five birthday traditions that are pretty easy and fairly inexpensive to start:

1. Start the Celebration Early

A child’s Birthday Eve is a great time to celebrate and reflect back on the year. It’s also a chance to spend quality time with your child before everyone gets caught up in the excitement (and stress) of the birthday party and other planned birthday celebrations. You can read a special birthday book with your child, for example, or make cupcakes together for their birthday party. Asking children what they want to remember from their current age and what they would like to accomplish in the next year will help kids reflect on and remember events in their life. You can also share pictures and memories from past birthdays to make it even more memorable.

2. Have a Special Birthday Decoration Tradition

shutterstock_161542913Decorations can make a child’s birthday feel extra special, so come up with a birthday decoration tradition to help celebrate birthdays in your household. One fun idea is to decorate your child’s bedroom floor or the hallway outside their room while they are asleep by covering the floor with birthday balloons. You could also hang streamers or crepe paper from a doorway to help kids make a grand entrance on their birthday morning. Remember that simple, inexpensive decorations can go a long way in building excitement and celebrating your child’s birthday.

3. Invite Your Family’s Adopted Elf to the Party

141432Learn how elves celebrate birthdays at the North Pole with The Elf on the Shelf®: A Birthday Tradition. Children will be delighted when their favorite holiday tradition becomes a part of their birthday festivities. Each Elf on the Shelf®: A Birthday Tradition comes with a children’s book about birthday celebrations at the North Pole, a cupcake outfit for your elf, and instructions on how your child can invite your family’s adopted elf to their birthday party. If your family has yet to adopt an elf, The Elf on the Shelf® Christmas and Birthday Gift Set is available.

4. Hunt for Treasure

A treasure hunt can make a child’s birthday even more exciting as they hunt for clues to find their gifts. You can choose to give them a small present with each clue or give them a big present once they figure out the last clue. Treasure hunts are also a great way to give out party favors at a birthday party. You can give children individual clues or have them work together to find their party favor bags. If both kids and adults are attending your child’s birthday party, a scavenger hunt is a fun way to include everyone.

5. Enjoy a Favorite Treat

shutterstock_131289236Blowing out candles and eating cake is a popular birthday tradition in the United States, but not everyone likes to eat cake. If that’s the case in your household, celebrate your child’s birthday with their favorite main dish or favorite dessert. You could make a lasagna or chocolate pie, for example, or have a special birthday breakfast each year. If your child has a lot of food allergies or can’t eat sweets due to health reasons, take the focus off of food as treats by treating them to one of their favorite activities. This could be anything from going to a bookstore or bowling alley to going on a short day trip somewhere they enjoy or have always wanted to visit.

Taking the time to do something special for your kids on their birthday will create wonderful memories for both you and your children, so we hope this list will help your family start a new birthday tradition. If you need birthday gift ideas, be sure to browse our Great Gift Ideas section. We also welcome you to share your family’s birthday traditions in the comment section below or on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Valentine’s Day Gifts and Activities for Kids

10 Feb

shutterstock_170959730Valentine’s Day is almost here! Do you know what you’re doing to make the day extra special for your kids? If you haven’t made any plans yet, we’ve come up with a great list of activities and gift ideas to help your family celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14.

Valentine’s Day Activities

Valentine’s Day is a great way for children and adults to celebrate the people they care about and love, so be sure you take the time to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a family with these four fun activities:

1. Celebrate the Color Red

shutterstock_63459514People associate Valentine’s Day and love with the color red, so make it an emphasis in your household on Valentine’s Day. Encourage everyone to wear something red and decorate your house with red-themed decorations. You can even eat red foods, such as strawberries, cherries, cranberries, tomatoes, watermelon, strawberry jelly (on a PB&J), marinara sauce, or red velvet cake, that day to complete the theme.

2. Focus on Three Important Words: I Love You

shutterstock_169747577Come up with a creative way to tell your kids you love them. Stick a handwritten note or special card in their book bags or somewhere in their room, for example, or schedule time during the day to spend time together doing their favorite activity. You could also make a special message for them in your backyard with rocks, sea shells, or other materials. To make Valentine’s Day even more fun, come up with a scavenger hunt for children to do in order for them to find their special Valentine’s message or surprise.

3. Create Unique Valentine’s Day Cards

shutterstock_172021634Creating handmade DIY Valentine’s Day cards is a great way for families to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re making them for family, friends, or each other, putting your family’s own special twist on Valentine’s Day cards will make them unique and memorable for both the sender and recipient. Visit Pinterest for a great selection of fun ideas for Valentine’s Day cards for kids.

4. Make Heart-Themed Crafts and Baked Goods

shutterstock_8355568Valentine’s Day is all about matters of the heart, so make sure your family celebrates the holiday by making fun heart-themed crafts and baked goods. Junior bake sets are a great way for your kids to help you make and enjoy heart-shaped cookies, for example, and your family can also make heart-themed crafts with stamps, sand, and play dough. Be sure to check out Pinterest for other fun Valentine-themed craft ideas and Valentine’s Day activities for kids.

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Kids

1. Baby Love – Cloth BookBabies will love touching this soft cloth book, and it can even be hung on a crib for them to enjoy.

Baby Love Cloth Book
2. Sweet Baby BlocksThese soft baby blocks squeak when they are squeezed and feature colorful raised pictures for babies to touch and explore.

Sweet Baby Blocks
3. Heart of Mine Dolls (set of 4) - These soft and loveable baby dolls are great cuddle buddies for kids.

Heart of Mine Dolls
4. I Love You Ritual Bib Set (Set of 3) - You can connect with your kids and help them increase their attention skills and brain development by telling them the different rhymes embroidered on each bib.

I Love You Ritual Bib Set
5. I Love You Rituals - This book features 79 activities you can do with your kids to teach them how to be kind and help build self-esteem.

I Love You Rituals Book
6. Guess How Much I Love You - Kids will enjoy reading this board book about the love between a parent and child.

Guess How Much I Love You
7. A Sweetheart for Valentine - The story of Valentine and how she discovers love will enchant children as they read this fun book.

A Sweetheart for Valentine
8. Winter Beauty Dress & Matching Doll Dress - Children can play dress up with this beautiful winter dress, and they can also dress their favorite doll in a matching doll dress.

Winter Beauty Dress and Matching Doll Dress
9. Road Construction Vehicles (Set of 3) - Kids will love using their imagination as they play with these three road construction vehicles.

Road Construction Vehicles
10. Hugga Pet Giraffe - Children can snuggle with this adorable giraffe or use it as a pillow for relaxing and taking a nap.

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10 Fun and Educational Science Toys for Kids

27 Jan

Children like to ask questions because they are naturally curious, but the questions they ask aren’t always easy to answer. This is especially true for questions kids ask about science-related topics, such as why the sky is blue or how birds can fly. You may or may not know the answers to your kids’ questions, but there are plenty of resources and tools you can use to find the answers. We’ve come up with a list of educational science toys that can help you answer their most challenging questions while also helping them learn about the world around them:

Where does my shadow sleep

1. Where Does My Shadow Sleep?

This parent’s guide will help you explore science with your kids. The book features a variety of stories and activities that cover multiple science themes and reading concepts. Children can learn about animals and plants and investigate why their shadow gets bigger and smaller during the day.

Weather Bear Set2. Weather Bear Set

This is the perfect way to introduce younger kids to early weather concepts. The set includes a cuddly bear and four seasonal outfits to help your children learn about the weather and how to dress for different seasons. This is also a great way to encourage children to pick out their own outfits and dress themselves.

Geosafari3. GeoSafari® Jr. Talking Bug Net™

Do your kids ask a lot of questions about insects? If so, kids can learn interesting bug facts with this educational toy by choosing one of the included toy bugs and dropping it into the net. The Talking Bug Net also asks kids quiz questions about the facts they have learned.

Backyard Birds4. Backyard Birds

If your children are fascinated with the birds they see in your backyard or enjoy watching them from the window, Backyard Birds is a great way for kids to learn what blue jays, robins, and cardinals look like and the sounds they make. Each Backyard Bird sings authentic sounds and songs when you press their back.

Creature Peeper5. Creature Peeper

If your kids would rather study real bugs to learn about insect characteristics, then the Creature Peeper is a great choice. Children can keep insects in the bug viewer for a short time as they study its characteristics or take it for show and tell. The escape proof, watertight viewer also allows kids to study tadpoles or small fish.

Rocks and Fossils6. Rocks and Fossils

Are your kids interested in rocks or other archaeological items? Kids can learn about a variety of gemstones, rocks, fossils, marine life, and sea shells with this set of Rocks and Fossils. This is a great discovery tool for kids and will help them learn and identify objects found in water or on land.

Walking Tightrope7. Koontz™ Walking Tightrope

Children who are curious about balance, gravity, and mass would enjoy learning how acrobats stay balanced with the Koontz™ Walking Tightrope. This educational toy will help children understand that acrobats must position their center of mass over the center of their body in order to stay balanced as they are performing.

Enviro Battery8. Enviro Battery

If your kids are interested in learning how to make things run, Enviro Battery is a good choice because it helps children learn about power sources and alternative energy. Kids learn to create unique batteries that can light bulbs and power watches with everyday household items.

Nancy B's Science Club9. Nancy B’s Science Club Crime Solver Scope & Forensic Activity Journal

Kids will enjoy learning how to solve mysteries with forensic techniques, such as fingerprinting, hair identification, counterfeit money detection, and surveillance. The Crime Solver Scope can help kids examine evidence or serve as a telescope.

Very First Magnet Kit10. Very First Magnet Kit

Kids who are interested in learning about magnetism and how magnets work will enjoy the Very First Magnet Kit. Children can use the magnetic wand or horseshoe magnet to pick up magnetic marbles, paper clips, and other objects.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Encouraging Equality and Acceptance

16 Jan

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Martin Luther King, Jr. is an iconic American hero and civil rights leader who helped bring social and political changes to America, which is one of the reasons we honor King and his legacy every year on the third Monday in January. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day provides parents and caregivers with an excellent opportunity to encourage children to accept and understand differences between people and cultures.

Facts to Share with Kids

We found a great article that discusses King’s life and accomplishments on The History Channel website. Here are a few facts from the article you can share with your kids on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day became a federal holiday in 1986.
  • King believed in peaceful protest and was an advocate of nonviolence.
  • He played a critical role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington, which were major events that influenced the eventual passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
  • King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is considered one of the most memorable and influential speeches of all time.
  • King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his efforts in the civil rights movement.

You can also talk with older children about how King was fatally shot in 1968 while standing on a motel balcony in Memphis. If younger children ask about what happened to King, keep your responses simple and relatively easy for young kids to understand.

Three Ways to Encourage Equality and Acceptance

Peace, nonviolence, equality, and acceptance were all important principles and concepts of the civil rights movement and King’s own legacy. All of these principles and concepts are still important for children to learn due to the diversity in people and culture they encounter every day. Here are three ways you can encourage your children to be open-minded, understanding, and accepting of people’s differences:

1. Teach children about diversity, the history of the civil rights movement, and Martin Luther King, Jr. by reading books about those topics and asking them their opinion about what they read. All the Colors We Are, for example, gives children a scientific explanation of how our skin color is determined by a variety of factors while also addressing the myths and stereotypes that people often associate with a person’s skin color. Children can learn about the history of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with the Holiday Book Series, and our At Home with Diversity Book Set can help children further their understanding of differences.

2. Reinforce what children learn by reading and discussing books with fun educational activities, such as puzzles, word searches, and crossword puzzles. The Our Friends Floor Puzzle and Comprehension-Boosting Crosswords: Famous Americans are both excellent examples of activities that can help children learn more about diversity and why we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

3. Encourage children to express and share the differences they see in the world with multicultural art activities. Children can draw and create posters and pictures, for example, of the diversity they see in their own homes and communities. These types of activities will help children further explore and understand biological and cultural differences, which will ultimately help further King’s vision of equality and acceptance.

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Ideas for Your Magna-Tiles® Creations

20 Dec

Magna-Tiles Creations

If you have a set of Magna-Tiles® in your home, then you know kids love building creative 3-D objects with the colorful magnetic tiles. Magna-Tiles® are a great learning toy for children because kids have fun building different objects while also learning skills in math, logic, and problem solving. Children can also learn to recognize patterns, recognize different shapes and colors, and improve their fine motor skills by playing with Magna-Tiles®.

Magna-Tiles® provide hands-on learning for children while also encouraging creativity and imaginative play. Your kids probably know how to build castles, houses, and towers with Magna-Tiles®, but you can help them expand their building and creative thinking skills with these fun ideas for Magna-Tiles® creations:

1. Encourage kids to build letters and words with Magna-Tiles®. This helps kids learn the alphabet and increases their literacy skills.

2. Help kids think out of the box by suggesting they build a racetrack or marble run with Magna-Tiles®.

3. Find online video tutorials or instructions to help kids learn how to build more complex Magna-Tiles® designs, such as an elephant or spaceship.

Find more fun designs on the Magna-Tiles® YouTube page or search Pinterest for Magna-Tiles® ideas. Be sure to stock up on Magna-Tiles® today!

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