Tag Archives: parenting

Small Ways to Teach Math Every Day!

5 May

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Trying to fit math learning into a busy schedule can be hard! That’s why it’s important to begin seeing every day situations as potential learning opportunities, so that children can enjoy math lessons on the go. Here are a few simple ways you can have fun with your children throughout the day as you reveal that math is all around!

1. A Trip to the Bank

Going to the bank is a necessity, but using it as a time to teach children about the value of money can many times go overlooked. Next time you’re preparing to take a trip to the bank, set aside a little extra time to go inside and teach your children the following:

 What To Do:

  1. Ask your children to save up 100 pennies. Once they’ve reached their goal, ask them to count the coins into stacks of five and ten. Put the pennies into a coin sleeve and put your child’s name on it.
  2. Visit the bank to exchange the pennies for a dollar bill.
  3. Talk to your children about the value of 100 pennies and the dollar bill. Discuss similarities and differences of the two forms of currency.

Assessment: At the end of the day, children should be able to count to 100 and sort objects into groups of five or ten.

2. Nibbled Pretzel Numbers

Pretzels are a common snack, whether it’s on an airplane, at a ball game, or at a park. This salty snack is also a great opportunity for number recognition!

 What To Do:

  1. Give children napkins and about three pretzels each and take some for yourself. Nibble tiny bites out of a pretzel so that the remainder is in the shape of a number.
  2. Place the nibbled pretzel on your napkin so the outline of the number is seen clearly.
  3. Let the children tell you what number they recognize. Nibble another pretzel into a different number so children can see the possibilities.
  4. Enjoy the laughter with children as they nibble their pretzels into numbers and display their creations on napkins.
  5. You can make this activity a bit more challenging by using straight pretzel sticks. The sticks will need to be broken or bitten into shorter lengths in order to make rounded edges. Napkins help keep snack time neat.

The Pretzel Song by Kay Flowers

One salty, two salty, three salty pretzels.

Four salty, five salty, six salty pretzels.

Seven salty, eight salty, nine salty pretzels.

Ten salty pretzels I see!

3. Buried Treasure at the Beach

Planning a trip to the beach for the summer? Learn on the go with the addition of plastic numbers!

What To Do:

  1. Tape a number card on five of your child’s sand toys and set the toys up on the sand. Make sure the five plastic numbers are buried beneath the toys.
  2. Ask children to identify the numbers on the sand toys.
  3. Explain that there are matching numbers buried in the sand. Challenge children to dig through the sand to find the plastic numbers.
  4. Encourage children to feel the numbers they find and try to identify them before they lift them from the sand.
  5. Have the children display each number they find beside the sand toy with the matching number. Congratulate the children as they locate numbers and match them!

4. Snack Time: How Many Spoonfuls?

Snack time is most likely already included in your child’s daily schedule. If that’s the case, young children can begin learning numbers with something as simple as a spoon!

What To Do:

  1. Give children cereals, puddings, applesauce, or any food that requires a spoon to eat.
  2. Tell the children they will be counting how many spoonfuls it will take to eat their snack.
  3. Have visuals to keep track of how many bites are taken. Anything from blocks to tally marks can work.
  4. Older children can make a hypothesis to predict how many spoonfuls it will take to eat their food.

All activities inspired by Learn Every Day About Numbers by Kathy Charner.

Don’t miss out on our featured math products for easy ways to teach math at home!

 Featured Math Toys:

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Sand and Water Inspiration for Spring

21 Apr

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It’s spring and with the sunny season comes plenty of opportunities for sand and water play. Whether you have a sand and water table or a sandbox outside, we have a few learning activities you can engage your children in to embrace spring time.

Sand and water tables provide added benefits, including the ability to bring outdoor elements inside when the weather isn’t cooperating! If you don’t have one yet and are considering what table would be best for your child, we have a few options we think you’ll enjoy:

4 Hands-on Activities for Spring!

1. Water Play! Bring it Onboard

What happens when objects are added to a floating jar boat? Children can compare the objects that sink their boats to objects that leave boats afloat.

Materials:

  • different weighted materials such as plastic or wooden spoons, rocks, fishing weights, corks and metal washers
  • plastic containers with lids, small plastic jars with lids
  • sand and water table or a large container filled with water

What to Do:

  1. Float a closed plastic jar on the water in front of your children. Talk about floating. Ask, “Do you have toys that float in the bathtub? What happens when you push them down to the bottom? Let’s pretend this is a boat and see what it can carry without sinking.”
  2. Remove the lid and place a large, heavy object in the jar. Say, “Let’s see what happens when we bring this onboard our boat.” The object should not be heavy enough to sink the jar, though it should make it noticeably lower in the water. Talk to your children about why.
  3. Select a heavier object that will sink the jar. Repeat the process of placing the jar in the water and discussing what happens when the boat sinks.
  4. Allow children to explore with several more objects and containers. Ask, “Which objects let the jar boat float and what sinks the boat?” Have children group the objects in these two categories and discuss size, weight, and material characteristics of the objects in the groups.

Challenge: Do the activity using only sand or water as a weight. Add varying amounts to identical jars. How much does it take to sink the jar? Challenge your children to keep track of how many scoops of sand they put in the jars.

Source: The Preschool Scientist 

 2. Water Play! Aluminum Foil Boats

Make boats from aluminum foil, and experiment with how to make them float and carry objects!

Related Books:

  • Boats by Anne Rockwell
  • Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham
  • Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen

Materials:

  • objects used as “passengers” or cargo in the boats, such as small plastic blocks, washers, or pennies
  • pieces of aluminum foil: 6” x 6” squares work well, but any size and shape can be used
  • sand and water table or a tub of water

What to Do:

  1. Talk with your child about what the word sink means. What might make a boat sink?
  2. Show your child a flat sheet of foil and a small toy. Talk about how you might make the foil into a boat so that the toy can ride in it.
  3. Create several boats, experimenting with different designs and testing each boat in the tub of water. Add animals or other toys to see what happens.
  4. Talk about your boats and what you noticed when you put “passengers” in each boat. Does it make a difference where you put the passengers? Can some boats carry more passengers than others? Does the shape or size of the boat make a difference?
  5. Test your ideas about boat designs by redesigning and floating many different boats.

Source: Where Does My Shadow Sleep: A Parent’s Guide to Exploring Science with Children’s Books 

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Kaplan Toys Suggestion: Looking for items to float in your boat? Try out My Buddies, the perfect companions for water play!

 3. Sand Play! Dinosaur Dig

Children will learn about colors and paleontologists as they dig for dinosaurs!

Materials:

  • laminating machine or clear contact paper in different colors
  • sand and water table or tub of sand
  • scissors

Preparation:

  • Cut dinosaur shapes out of different colored paper. Laminate or cover with clear contact paper.
  • Hide the paper dinosaurs in the sand.

What to Do:

Tell children that they are going to be a special kind of scientist called a paleontologist. Explain what they study and the history of life on Earth.

  1. If appropriate, ask each child to find a certain color dinosaur.
  2. Offer an additional challenge by cutting the dinosaur shapes into puzzle pieces that the children find and then put together, just as paleontologists put together the bones they find to re-create the bone structure of animals that once lived on our planet.

Source: Another Encyclopedia of Theme Activities for Young Children 

  1. Sand Play! Coloring and Mixing Sand

Have fun showing children how to paint sand, and then mix the sands to form new colors!

Materials:

  • containers for mixing sand and paint
  • pans for drying sand (one for each color)
  • resealable plastic bags, small
  • sand and water table full of sand
  • spoons
  • tempera paints
  • mixing spoons
  • permanent marker

Preparation:

Collect several containers of white sand, various tempera paints, and find a location where children can set the painted sand out to dry.

  1. Have each child make a color of sand using separate containers to mix each of the primary colors—red, yellow and blue.
  2. Help each child measure and pour 1-2 cups of sand into each container, and then pour 1/4 cup of wet or dry tempera paint into the containers. Explain to the children that they should add 1/2 cup of water for each cup of sand in their containers. Help children add water and paint as needed to help make a good rich color and a runny mixture. Mix well.
  3. Help children pour the colored sand onto the sand and water table to dry, and then place the table in a warm, sunny place. When the sand is dry, encourage the children to crumble the sand back into granular form. At this point, each child should have one container of red, yellow, and blue sand.
  4. Next, talk with children about the primary colors. Ask the children why they think we call them primary and explain that they help to make all other colors.
  5. Set out several mixing spoons and resealable plastic baggies. Invite the children to use the spoons to measure the colored sands carefully and combine spoonfuls of each in various plastic baggies. Tell children to use no more than three spoonfuls of each color of sand. Be sure children mix one or two spoonfuls of color with three spoonfuls of another color, so that they can see a variety of results.
  6. Help children record on the sides of the baggies the number of spoonfuls of each color of sand they add to each baggie, and then help the children seal the baggies.
  7. 18753groupInvite the children to shake the bags well to mix the colored sand and watch as a new, secondary color appears. Point out to the children how the grains of the primary colors are still visible in the secondary color.

Source: Science Adventures: Nature Activities for Young Children 

Kaplan Toys Suggestion: Find non-toxic tempera paint for coloring your sand here.

Want to show off your child’s sand and water creations? Share pictures with us on our Facebook page!

Stocking Your Home Library

10 Mar

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Having access to books at home is one of the most important steps in encouraging early literacy outside of school. Libraries create a sense of wonder in children as they run their fingers over a collection of titles just waiting to be read! If you’re considering how best to stock your home library, we have a few helpful tips for getting started:

 Getting Organized:

  1. Pick out a space in your home that encourages quiet time and inspires imagination!Including comfy seating, a window for proper lighting, and of course, titles to engage the whole family’s interests are a great start!
  2. Don’t focus on how many books you have to start with because your collection is sure to grow! Start by asking your children what they like to read and stocking up on their favorite subjects and authors—a few thoughtfully arranged books will be much more beneficial to early readers than a large collection of titles that will go unread.
  3. Ensure your home library is varied.  Be sure you include picture books, bilingual books, read aloud books, board books, and even books that incorporate the use of puppets for dramatic play! By trying new books, children will discover what style they prefer and you’ll know how to further stock your library with their favorites. Here are some of our favorite selections to get started:

Where to Find Books:

Finally, we know it can get expensive when you consider shelves that need to be bought, books that need to be collected, and even the time you have to put into organizing your library. That’s why we want to make it as easy as possible. Here are some crafty options for easily finding books your children will love at cheap prices:

  1. Free eBooks – Do you have e-readers at your house? eBooks are another great option for free resources your children can indulge in while surrounded by their favorite books. Home libraries are not only for collecting books but they can also provide a safe reading environment for children to feel secure in. Here a few helpful sites for finding free ebooks:
    1. Digital Book Index (This is a catalogue of all the major eBook sites, university collections and other smaller publishers.)
    2. International Children’s Digital Library (The world’s largest digital collection of children’s books!)
  2. Library Sales – Every public library receives donations and not all of those books make it onto the shelf. A lot of the donations are saved for book sales where you can find books priced from $0.25 to $1 in a wide range of subjects and genres. Not only will you find some exciting books for your own library but you will also be giving back to the public library system, an all in all win/win situation! Check the Book Sale Finder to find sales in your state.

We wish you the best of luck in getting started! Have tips? Comment below or let us know on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KaplanToys

Resources:

Conflict Resolution Through Dramatic Play 

17 Feb

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If you have children then you know they are bound to need a little help when it comes to navigating conflicts with their peers. As children grow, they begin to work on their communication skills as well as learn how to cooperate with others. There are a few ways you can step in as a parent when play is interrupted by conflict to help your kids come to a happy solution. Try out these suggested strategies to guide your children through conflict resolution:

Acknowledge Each Child:

Children always like to point out that you’re playing favorites, especially siblings. That’s why it’s so important to validate each child engaged in the conflict. Be sure to address both parties by repeating each side of the story without judgment or interruptions from the other child. Equal attention will go a long way in bolstering children’s belief that they are being treated fairly.

 Refrain From Giving Solutions:

It can be hard not to march up and tell children exactly how to solve a problem. After all, it makes perfect sense to you how to reason out what’s causing the problem and then how to resolve it as you are an objective third party. However, by giving children solutions instead of allowing them to reach them on their own, you are depriving them of a learning opportunity where they can grow both in communication skills and in social emotional development. Suggesting that children should come to a solution is always a great place to start, as you are showing your confidence in them to reach a solution. By repeating the point that each child comes to, children will take your reaffirmation as a means to change what is being stated. Also, it helps when your tone is devoid of pesky emotions children are sure to employ, such as anger, jealousy, and pride.

Suggest Dramatic Play to Handle Conflict:

Sometimes, children need help reaching a solution. Though you don’t want to tell them exactly how to solve their problems, you can provide resources for them to figure it out themselves. Toys serve as a great visual representation of the problems children find themselves engaged in. Having a way to act out what they are feeling through dramatic play not only forces the child to stop and think about their actions but to also express what they are feeling through a doll, puppet, or action figure. Here are a few toys options to use for dramatic play:

Finally here are suggested steps on how to use toys to handle conflict:

  1. Have children list out their problems first.
  2. Discuss why these situations bother each child.
  3. Have your children pick a toy for role play.
  4. Act out solutions to problems mentioned above.
  5. Pro Tip: Emphasize that children should use words to express how they feel as opposed to issuing blame. Blame leads to conflict.

We hope you found these tips helpful! Have parenting tips for calming your children’s conflicts? Share them with us on our Facebook page.

Resources:

4 Books to Foster a Love of Reading in Young Children

3 Feb

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Reading skill at an early age is not only one of the strongest predictors of overall school success, but it is also correlated with adult health! When a skill is so crucial to supporting a lifetime of learning, it’s important children become comfortable with it from an early age. Getting children to fall in love with reading will introduce new vocabulary, build comprehension skills, and expand children’s experiences beyond what’s immediate. Sometimes encouraging struggling readers can be as simple as promoting the reading material that they are invested in. We have four book suggestions that we hope will encourage your children to think of reading as less of an obligation and more of an enjoyment.

1. I Love Animals—Big Book

You will be hard pressed to find a child who doesn’t love animals! Encourage children to love reading about them too with I Love Animals, a journey full of colorful hand illustrations and enough animals for your reader to find their favorite!

2. DC Super Heroes

Some children think reading is boring—until you add a super hero! Comic chapter books are a great middle ground that uses colorful illustrations of children’s favorite heroes while also encouraging reading skills as children learn about bravery, loyalty and heroism.

3. Feels Real Board Book Set (Set of 8)

Bringing multiple senses to the reading experience can go a long way in developing a child’s love of reading. The Feels Real board books are a great way for tactile children to use touch as they try out simple words and test five different touch and feel textures.

4. Henry Helps Book Set (Set of 7)

Another way to get children to become invested in the reading experience is by giving them a chance to attach to characters. Henry is a great character to follow through this captivating series as he teaches children responsibility, teamwork, and how to build self-esteem. After reading the series, children will not only be more open to new reading experiences, but they will have also picked up social emotional skills along the way!

Want to learn more about the benefits of early literacy? Here are some great parenting resources:

2015 Resources Roundup for Parent

21 Jan

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As you start the new year, it’s best to have learning resources in mind for your children. This will not only help continue learning opportunities that start in the classroom at home, but also give you options when it comes to filling weekends, indoor play days, and the special holidays you get to spend together! Without further adieu, here is a list of 2015 parent resources we hope you’ll find useful:

Early Education Blogs

Blogs go a long way in providing inspiration and a way to get connected with other parents and teachers. Here are a few of our favorites:

Pre-K Blogs

 Kindergarten Blogs

Educational Toy Suggestions

Keep up with our latest toys for the new year! Whether it’s incorporating new technology, discovering our latest dramatic play options, or finding classics on sale, here are our top toys for the new year:

  1. Stephen Joseph Wall Growth Chart
    • Keep up with how much your child is growing each day! Add inches and dates for memories to revisit years down the road.
  2. Lil Allie Gator
    • Start teaching proper brushing habits from the start with help from Lil Allie Gator! Because everyone knows if Alligators brush their teeth, then it must be important!
  3. Cottage Bed Pretend Play Tent
    • Encourage dramatic play and fanciful reading spaces with the new Cottage Bed Pretend Play Tent. Fits directly over a twin mattress!
  4. Geomag Gbaby Farm – 11 Pieces 
    • Magnetic rods allow budding builders to construct whatever shapes and structures they can imagine. Hours of building fun for babies!
  5. Laser Pegs® Combat Fighter – 6 Models in 1
    • Build 6 different models with the Laser Pegs® Combat Fighter! Vehicles can even light up while racing! Encourages creativity while providing hours of fun during play.
  6. Practice Lacing Shoes (set of 2)
    • Let your little ones practice tying their shoes without it inhibiting their progress. Great for 3 years and up.

We hope you find these suggestions useful as you launch into the new year with your children!

Valuing Diversity on MLK Day

13 Jan

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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)

Resources:

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