Healthy Family Living in the New Year!

19 Jan

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With the start of the new year, come the traditional New Year’s resolutions and promises. Eating fewer sweets, drinking more water, traveling more—the list seems to continually grow in both length and intimidation as the months briskly pass. Improving your own personal health, as well as your family’s, can seem like a daunting, never-ending task. We discovered some simple ideas that can help serve as a guide map to achieving your healthy family goals for the new year.

Mental Health

Arguably most important, mental health is often overlooked when thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Your child’s mood is easily influenced by your mental state. For example, if you are under a lot of stress at work, those stressful emotions can follow you when you come home. This often leads to you acting tired and having a short temper, which in turn makes your little one’s emotions run wild in response to what they cannot fully comprehend. Focusing on being less stressed at home, resting more, and identifying when your child is being influenced by you and your family’s mental attitude are key ways for family mental improvement. When you enhance your mental attitude, you are not only helping yourself, but also providing a flourishing environment for your child’s mental health.

Healthy Habits

Exercising and eating healthy are the no brainier aspects of the New Year’s resolution premise. It is quite easy to include little healthy habits, such as drinking plenty of water and taking the stairs, into your busy schedule without thinking about explaining it to your child. To improve your child’s health, you must also incorporate these concepts into their daily lives. Explain to them why you are parking farther away from the store and why carrots are a better snack choice versus cookies. It may seem like a cumbersome task, but to curious young minds, it is critical in developing good habits early on in life. Beyond explaining the “whys” of health, be sure to include your child in your healthy activities. Children learn with their hands and their eyes, so next time, let them help you wash the veggies for your stir-fry dinner and let them join you on your afternoon walk. You can encourage healthy habits in their play as well by providing healthy food sets for pretend cooking and allotting time for active play, such as dancing and running.

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Product spotlight: New Sprouts® Healthy Snack Set

It’s snack time! Nourishing snacks encourage children to make healthy choices! The freshly designed play foods in this set are soft and durable—perfect for small hands and big appetites! Snack on fresh fruit and yogurt, a granola bar, cheese and crackers, or veggies and pretzels!

Have a unique New Year’s resolution for your family? Share your ideas with others by commenting below.

5 Ways to Make Warm Winter Memories with Your Kids

17 Jan

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It is incredibly easy to get the cold, winter blues when the excitement of the holidays has past. Exchanging warm nights filled with family traditions, cheer, and enthusiasm for nights of snow and cabin fever can be tough on little ones. Here are some ideas that you can implement to help combat the melancholy of winter while building precious memories.

Family Photo Sharing Time

Whether you store them in a dusty crate in the attic or in carefully designed and organized scrapbooks on the shelf, looking at family photos can provide an excellent night of indoor entertainment. Your children would love to see the adventures of your youth, important events such as their favorite uncle’s wedding, and even their baby pictures from the not so distant past. If you have fully adapted to the technology age and prefer your photos digital, have no fear! This gives you a fantastic opportunity to invite the grandparents over who are sure to have a few photo books sitting around. Plus, there is nothing like reminiscing past summer vacations to warm up a cold winter’s night.

Reinvent Family Movie Night

Often the go-to staple of family time, especially during the winter, movie night can easily become predictable. Why not reinvent it? Instead of watching that cartoon adventure that you can quote word for word, watch old family films that are sure to be crammed full of memories and stories. If you do not have access to home movies, why not start a collection now? Whip out your cell phone and record your little ones answering questions. You can even host a mini family “talent show” then relive the memories by watching your new film at your next family movie night.

Favorite Food Night

Nothing can lift a mood like giving your child their favorite food. Next time you plan your family dinners consider hosting a family favorite food night. Simply create a meal including at least one favorite food item from each family member. For example, if your favorite food is Italian and another member of the family favorite food is Mexican, perhaps you can enjoy a dinner of spaghetti tacos or something less intimidating such as pasta top with taco meat and queso cheese. Yum!

Family Game Night- Winter Edition!

Playing in the snow is a must do in wintertime. Time to make it a family affair! You can, of course, stick to the “snow day staple” such as snowman building, snowball fighting, and sledding. If you are interested in changing up your snow play, try building snow animals instead of snowmen. You can even play traditional games such as “Tic Tac Toe” and “Hot Potato” but instead with and in the snow. If your house is lacking the white, fluffy, wet stuff; consider artificial snow, all the same fun with less hassle and no need to shovel the driveway!

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Product Spotlight: Super Snow Bucket (1.5 lb.)

Create snow at anytime, in any climate! Simply add a tablespoon of Super Snow powder to a quart of water and stir. The more it’s stirred, the more it shines and sparkles. Super Snow expands to more than 100 times its size and lasts for weeks without rewetting. Makes over 15 gallons of snow.

Family Fitness

Cabin fever is hard to defeat when the temperatures outside make playtime a challenge. Family fitness is a great way to combat both post-holiday calories and winter restlessness. It can be as simple as pushing the couches aside and stretching as a group or as planned out as a group exercise session. You can even choose to involve your little ones into your already existent home fitness routine, such as having them count your push-ups and “hold down” your feet during sit-ups. Use classic games like “Simon Says” to creatively morph simple exercises like jumpin’ jacks into family fun!

Have other family activities that you use to form special memories and chase away the winter blues? Share your ideas with others and us by commenting below.

Ways to De-stress as a Family

4 Jan

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Between all the parties, shopping, wrapping and end-of-the-year deadlines, the holiday season can get pretty crazy for everyone. So after the holidays it is important to take some time as a family to have fun, de-stress and enjoy each other’s company. It can lift the spirits and reinvigorate your energy. We came up with some truly entertaining activities that are engaging for everyone! Keep reading and find something you and your family might like.

Family Cooking Night

Let the kids pick their favorite meal or dessert and work as a team to make it. Not only is it fun for the kids, but also parents get a little extra help with the daily chores. Something like homemade pizza is super fun, simple and easy to clean. Have a contest to see who can make the biggest or funniest looking one and the winner gets to pick a movie to watch after dinner!

Family Nature Walk

Getting out in the fresh air and getting a little exercise is never a bad idea! Find a local park or beginner level-hiking trail to stroll in with the family. Collect interesting leaves, flowers and rocks or play I-Spy as you walk. You could also make crafts, such as ornaments, by decorating pinecones that you find or press flowers for safekeeping. The cold never bothered us anyway!

Family Game Night

A staple in many households; family game nights allow for quality family time, bonding, relaxation and a little friendly competition in the midst of a busy schedule. Consider playing a fun and wacky word game such as Word Family Phonics Cubes or a marathon of different games with the Cooperative Board Game Set . Get silly and have some laughs while trying to read pictures and answer riddles with the I Spy Preschool Game.

Try out these stress relieving remedies with your family and comment below to let us know what you think! For more games that the whole family would enjoy, visit www.kaplantoys.com.

5 Ways to Bring Nature Learning Inside

1 Dec shutterstock_119480995

Wondering how to study nature with your kids when temperatures continue to drop? Skip the cold weather by bringing nature indoors! There are plenty of ways to encourage science learning by creating contained environments. Here are some of our favorite ways to study nature inside the comforts of home:

62072b.jpg1. Critter Cabin

Bring creepy crawlies indoors by bundling up, finding insects to study, and then bringing them back inside to study. This critter house will keep specimen contained for your little scientist as they study how insects move and what sounds they make. When finished, simply take outside and release your critters back into the wild!

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Don’t want to find your own ants to study? Order them by mail! Teach children how ants burrow and watch them at work with this entrancing ant factory. Teaches lessons in responsibility, biology, and basic ecology. Includes a 24-page guidebook to get your little learner started.

145544c.jpg3. Insect Lore Original Butterfly Pavilion 

Ever wondered how caterpillars turn into butterflies? Let your child watch the whole process with our Original Butterfly Pavilion. Children can watch metamorphosis as they care for caterpillars until they mature into fully-grown butterflies! The habitat’s see-through mesh gives a clear view of the transformation. Caterpillar larvae included.

86390.jpg4. Insect Lore Ladybug Land

Fascinated by ladybugs? This metamorphosis kit for ladybugs allows children to see nature at work as ladybugs magically change from cute larvae into adult beetles. Includes see-through habitat, certificate for ladybugs and food, built-in magnifier lenses, and a fun-filled instruction guide.

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5. Root Vue Farm Set

Sustainability has never been so fun! Teach plant life cycles while growing vegetables for snack time with this kid-friendly farm set! Built with an acrylic viewing window, built-in water basin, and drainage reservoir, this is the perfect learning tool for children who are interested in agriculture.


Do you love teaching science to your kids? How do you encourage science learning indoors? Share your ideas by commenting below.

Top 10 Toys for the Holidays (2016 Edition)

18 Nov shutterstock_481436875

It’s that time again! Get a jump on the holidays with discounts and toy suggestions for gifts for your kids. Don’t just buy what’s pretty; consider toys that teach and challenge children as they grow. Foster hands-on early learning with our Top 10 Toys for the Holidays:

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1. Door ‘n’ Floor Rebound Basketball Set

Play indoor basketball with this amazing basketball set that rebounds for your little athlete! It’s the perfect gift for children looking to work on their coordination and basketball skills. Better still, the hoop grows with your child. As they get taller, the goal can be straightened to adjust to their height or even hang on the back of a door for continued fun.

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2. Bloxels® Build Your Own Video Games

We’ve all weighed the pros and cons of video games, but what if kids were building them before playing? Bloxels offers a game board for children to create free form characters and landscapes to import into the app and straight onto their tablet! Learn more.

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3. EZ Fort

Build a playhouse, reading nook, or special hide away with this easy-to-build EZ-Fort! Engage children in hands-on building as they practice engineering skills while following directions to create their own fort. Add a blanket over their design for the perfect getaway.

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4. Crayola Tracing Mania

Does your child struggle with anxiety? Promote relaxed learning by introducing beautiful, intricate designs, tracing paper, and brightly colored Twinstables pencils! Tracing Mania makes detailed art for kids easy as they explore creative design and patterns.

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5. Mega Bloks® American Girl® Grace’s 2-in-1 Buildable Home Set

Love Mega Blocks? This American Girl set is perfect for hours of play as children build a home for imaginary slumber parties, cooking in the bakery, or even walking the French bulldog! Encourage children to create their own scenarios to navigate as they build and play with this adorable play set.

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6. Playzone-Fit™ Jumbo Jumper

Soar into jumping fun with this Jumbo Jumper! This tire-shaped toy provides bars to keep children safe as they engage in high bounce fun. Sends kids bouncing towards the sky for hours of active play. It’s an engaging way to work on balancing and coordination with friends.

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7. Quads of fun Junction Tunnel and Tent set

Prepare for hours of pretend play as children navigate the tunnels of the Quads of Fun Junction Tunnel and Tent Set! This set provides multiple entries to a tent offering children a way to get out of the heat, play hide-and-seek, or even camp out for excellent outdoor adventures.

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8. Missy Kissy Doll

This electronic doll is perfect for encouraging nurturing fun in older siblings. Snuggle her close, shower her with kisses, and enjoy hours of interactive play time as she asks you to find her ticklish spots, feed her, sing her to sleep, and more!

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9. Rainbow Rocket STEM Building Block Set

Teach colors, shapes, early engineering, and more in toddlers as they build with these durable blocks. Children will develop geometric awareness and fine motor skills as they try to build this colorful Rainbow Rocket and keep it from falling over.

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10. Forest Railway Set

Does your child love trains? The Forest Railway Set is a fun way to encourage your child’s building skills as they put together the wooden tracks and chug the magnetic train through the landscape. Includes green arches, bridges, and a forest wonderland for trains to wander through.

Still don’t see what you are looking for? Check out our complete selection of educational gifts for the holidays here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/shop/great-gift-ideas

 

Gratitude and More! Character Education for Kids

10 Nov shutterstock_34537897

Since Thanksgiving always falls in November, it’s a great month to focus on not only gratitude, but also overall character education. Social and emotional growth is an important part of learning for young children as it teaches them how to interact with others. Here are five virtues you can instill to teach character education in children from an early age:

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1). Gratitude

Give your child a chance to model gratitude as you call attention to moments in your day when you express thanks for things or people. Whether it’s thanking your toddler for helping clean their room, thanking whoever is cooking this Thanksgiving for their time and commitment to making the holiday special, or even bringing in a Teacher Appreciation gift to show your child’s teacher their efforts are not forgotten. Be sure to engage your child in dialogue about gratitude by reading books like Greta the Grateful Goldfish that deal with how to show gratitude to others.

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2). Kindness

Sunday is World Kindness Day: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org. Talk to your child about what it means to be kind to peers and family. One way to show kindness is by visiting a park and giving out a “care kit” to the homeless. Another way is to visit a nursing home and have a conversation with the elderly. Seeing curious little faces can go a long way to brighten up someone’s day. Whatever you decide, there are always moments throughout your day to exemplify what it means to show kindness to one another. Books like I Can Be Kind are great conversation openers.

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3) Service

Practice dramatic play by setting up a play date for a tea party or imaginary meal. Encourage your child to practice serving others first, asking how they are, and taking their coats or bags before pulling out a chair for them. Serving imaginary food is always a great way to put others first! For inspiring ideas on how to serve in your community, check out The Busy Family’s Guide to Volunteering.

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4) Courage

Encourage your child to try new things. It’s ok if they want your help at first, you can practice courage together and ask them if they think they can accomplish the new task at hand on their own next time. Try climbing a rock wall for kids or tasting food they’ve never had an interest in before. Taking a step into the unknown goes a long way in instilling lifelong character lessons. Have Courage encourages children to develop self-confidence and a sense of purpose as they play.

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5) Responsibility

Teach children that everyone has responsibilities by assigning them little tasks around the house. Completing assigned jobs increases self-confidence and gives your child insight into the home being seen as a community of people who work together for the common good. Be sure to commend your child on a job well done when the task is complete. Another way to teach responsibility is by giving your child a pet to take care of – without the messes, of course. This cuddly dog hand puppet is the perfect companion: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/32055/dog-hand-puppet?c=24%7CKTPP10


How do you teach character education in your children? Comment below or tweet your answers to @KaplanToys.

Hands-On Fun! Digging for Dinosaurs

4 Nov

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Sensory exploration is important for young children as they not only develop their senses but also learn new ways to explore the world around them. One way to engage the senses, teach science skills, and encourage hands-on play is by digging for dinosaur bones! Here are four simple steps for starting your very own mini-excavation with kids:

86665f.jpg1. Pick Out Sand.

The first thing you’ll need is a sand pit! Whether it’s a sand box, a sand and water table, or simply a sensory tray with sand in it, you’ll need something to cover up those dinosaur bones and fossils! If you’re looking for authenticity, add Jurassic Sand to give a rustic feel to your excavation.

Featured Resource: Naturally Playful Sand Table 

2. Find Fossils.

31828.jpgThe next thing you’ll need is believable finds for your budding archeologist! Finding fossils should be exciting as children take on the role of a scientist to assess their discoveries and ask questions about different dinosaurs. From fossils to prehistoric plants, here are some fun options below:

3. Use the Right Tools.

17447c.jpgIt can’t be a proper dinosaur dig without the right tools! Equip your explorer with shovels, sifters, and a magnifying glass to study their findings. It’s also important to ensure the tools fit their hands and are small enough to fit inside trays and sand tables without damaging the fossils. Here are some of our favorite tools for little hands:

30328d.jpg4. Go for the Kit.

Want to go even deeper into dinosaur discovery? Check out our archaeologist kits for little explorers. Kits include STEM materials, career exploration, and all of the materials needed to start an excavation for kids!

Featured Excavation Kits:


Have pictures of your dinosaur dig? Tweet them @KaplanToys by using the hashtag #littledinodigs.