5 Things to Pack for the First Day of Preschool

25 Aug shutterstock_151905908

Gearing your preschooler up for back to school? It can be hard to know what to send with your child when they are entering a new learning environment. There are, however, a few staples that will always come in handy. Here are 5 essentials for parents to pack for the first day of preschool:

Best Practice: be sure you check with the school administration before the first day of school for a list of supplies to pack with your child.

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1. Snacks

 Whether it’s a half-day or a whole day of preschool, packing your child’s favorite snacks that can be eaten quickly and opened independently is a great way to prepare for the first day of school. Most programs include a snack time, so having a treat your child can dig into gives them a taste of home. It’s also the perfect opportunity to sneak in a simple note of encouragement for your brave little learner!

For tips on How to Pack the Perfect Lunch, check out this related article: https://blog.kaplantoys.com/2014/09/23/how-to-pack-the-perfect-lunch/

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2. Water Bottle

 Water bottles are fun to personalize and are a great way to keep kids hydrated. Pick out the bottle with your tot to ensure they can open it independently, are attached to it, and that it is spill proof. The last thing you want is your child’s new backpack coming back soaked with juice!

Check out our new Backpack Sets, complete with a matching backpack, lunchbox, and water bottle: https://blog.kaplantoys.com/2016/08/10/backpack-sets-for-back-to-school/

 3. Extra Set of Clothes

Accidents happen when there’s a room full of toddlers! Even if your child is potty trained, early learning classrooms contain paint, water tables, and a handful of other messy opportunities. Prepare your child by packing an extra set of clothes in a zip lock bag with their name on the outside. You will be helping out the teacher tremendously!

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4. Comfort Buddy

 Many toddlers deal with anxiety or first-day jitters. One way to counteract those fears is by sending something familiar from home that they can latch onto when feeling lonely. Whether it’s a picture of the family or a teddy bear, letting your child pack their prized possession is a great way to keep them connected to home throughout the school day. Find more resources on how to calm first day jitters here: https://blog.kaplantoys.com/2015/08/18/5-ways-to-calm-first-day-jitters/

5. Emergency Card

 Don’t forget to send an emergency card with your child that details your home address, phone number, and if your child has any allergies. This is always a great back up for any situation your toddler may stumble into. Be sure to seal in a plastic bag as well or laminate to keep waterproof!


Back-to-School Resources:

Summer Splash Down! 10 Water Toys for Kids

18 Aug

This summer has been a scorcher! But who says that means children need to stay indoors? We have 10 water toys that will not only keep your kids cool as they play, but they will also inspire learning outdoors. Here are our top 10 water toys to splash into this summer:

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1. Active Edge Splash & Blast Aqua Hockey

Love air hockey? Then you’ll love aqua hockey! This fast-paced water game is the perfect solution to sunny summer days. Keep cool by competing in aqua hockey tournaments by attaching a water hose to the outdoors mat and watching kids have a blast!

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2. Spray, Sprinkle, and Squeeze Water Set (12 Pieces) 

Encourage children to explore how water flows, create their own currents, and learn more about water diffusion with the Spray, Sprinkle, and Squeeze Water Set! This is a fun starter set for kids to take outside to the creek, play with in the pool, or even help you water plants in the garden! 

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3. Active Edge Sprinkle ‘N Splash Play Mat 

This play mat is the perfect shallowness for little swimmers looking for a mini water park experience! Simply inflate and attach to a hose to watch little learners engage in water play.

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4. Waterfall Discovery Wall

Teach toddlers about water flow with the double-sided Waterfall Discovery Wall! This is a great toy that allows for problem solving and cause-and-effect learning as tots plug in different accessories to change water flow patterns. Includes wall buckets, bamboo water tracks, funnels, a water dumper, and more!

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5. Splash Patrol Sprinkler

This whimsical sprinkler makes water play creative and fun! Simply plug up these twelve grubs to a hose to spray water in all directions. Not only does the sprinkler keep children cool, but it will also keep them moving as they engage in active water play!

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6. Letter Link Crabs

Teach literacy in the pool! These colorful Letter Link Crabs are perfect for teaching spelling, letter recognition, and more. Squeeze these adorable little crabs to fill with water and build fine motor skills in young children.

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7. Number Ducks

Teach addition, subtraction, counting, and numbers 1-10 with Number Ducks! Perfect for the pool, these counting ducks have dots on their backs that match numbers on the bottom.

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8. Shape Shell Turtles

Teach little learners shape recognition as they match shapes onto the backs of these adorable turtles! Removable shells feature colored shapes including a moon, cross, circle, square, rectangle, triangle, and oval.

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9. Submergency Dive Toy

This high-tech underwater toy takes diving to the next level! The Submergency Dive Toy emits an underwater ping that sounds until disarmed adding a whole new level of excitement to diving. Set the toy to sink or float according to your little divers’ skill level.

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10. Float & Play Bubbles (Set of 4)

Have a toddler who’s just breaking in the swimmies? These durable Float & Play Bubbles are unique water toys that present fascinating patterns as they twirl and spin in the water! Great for early water play and fine motor skill development.


Remember to use sunscreen, practice water play safety, and most of all, have fun this summer as you and your kids go out and explore!

 

Backpack Sets for Back to School!

10 Aug shutterstock_77073667

One fun way to see the first day of school is as a grand adventure for your little explorer. No adventure would be possible without the right gear. Strap into one of our four new backpacks and send your child back to school in style! Each set includes a matching backpack, lunchbox, and water bottle.

Puppy Backpack Set

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 Does your child have a puppy obsession? So do we! This colorful Puppy Backpack Set is perfect for providing a furry companion to accompany your little one to school.

Want to go a step further? Comfort buddies are a great coping method for first-day jitters. Pick out a furry companion for your child to take with them in their new backpack set!

Unicorn Backpack Set

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School is a magical place for learning, so your child’s backpack should be, too! Properly prepare for back to school by stepping into the classroom with this stylish fantasy-inspired backpack.

Does your child love unicorns? Get excited for a year full of learning with these magical, unicorn-themed toys:

Alien Backpack Set

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Explore the unknown with this Alien Backpack Set! Prepare your little explorer for the new school year with a bag ready to be filled with all of their new discoveries! This colorful, green alien is more than ready for the challenge.

Take a space odyssey before school starts with these fun space-themed toys!

T-Rex Backpack Set

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Love dinos? Bring in T-Rex to the classroom for a little pre-historic inspiration! This beloved dinosaur will give your child more than enough courage to face the classroom!

Find even more pre-historic toys for your tots here:

Six Science Investigations for Summer

4 Aug shutterstock_417289936

Curious how your children can get more involved in science learning this summer? Take advantage of the time off from school to tap into children’s natural curiosity with scientific investigations at home! Whether little ones want to catch up, get ahead, or just have fun, summer is the perfect time for creative, scientific play.

1. Kitchen Creations

Change things up by encouraging children to play with their food! Together, you can make something edible or make food discoveries just for fun. You may want to try the marshmallow challenge: make a marshmallow sink by compacting it so that it is more dense than the water in which it would normally float. Check out more science experiments for the kitchen here:

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Source: Makes and Takes

2. Grow Up

Use the summer sun to help practice planting and gardening! You can grow a whole garden outdoors, or keep a small potted plant on a windowsill inside to study with children. What do plants need to grow? Depending on what you plant, how high will it grow? Find out those answers and more with these gardening ideas here:

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Source: PBS Parents

3.Sponge Fun

Learn about absorption with a sponge! See how the sponge absorbs soap and water indoors, or take it outside to get messier! Compare the sponge to a block or other non-absorbent materials when it is both wet and dry. Why do you think it works like this? You can even turn chores, like washing dishes or a car, into a lesson about absorption. Check out the details of how absorption works and more fun facts about this activity here:

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Science Sparks

4. Tornado in a Jar

Jump into sensory play by creating your own tornado! All you need is a jar, water, and a little bit of dish soap. Now, just shake it up. For more detailed instructions, click on the jar!

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In Leiu of Preschool

5. Stargazing

If it’s a clear night, search for stars in the night sky! You can use a telescope or just look up above. Can you see planets? Any constellations? What are stars made up of? Here are the answers and some cool science facts for kids. Go even deeper into night sky exploration by checking out our related post: Planning a Family Stargazing Night.

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Easy Science for Kids

6. Fireflies

Can’t see the stars from where you are? Fireflies make a great summertime substitute! You can catch these little critters temporarily in acute bug jar (with a hole for airflow) to observe the bugs up close. Find out what makes fireflies glow and other cool facts about fireflies here:

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Smithsonian

For more summer science fun, visit our science section!

Creative Ways to Introduce Language and Literacy to Children

28 Jul shutterstock_383236630

Want to make learning language fun for you and your children? Introducing language and literacy to infants and young children can be a challenging process. Whether you are teaching little ones their first language or you are promoting dual language learning, here are some ways you can make learning language and literacy more fun:

Combine Learning Styles.

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Help children get a grasp on literacy by using headset devices that help them hear the words as they read along aloud without disturbing others. The WhisperPhone® Solo allows children to link the sounds they hear with words they see and read, combining auditory and visual learning.

Build up Vocabulary.

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ABC Blocks are a classic toy. Children can learn to build words and sentences block by block with timeless educational blocks. This new Uncle Goose Classic ABC Blocks set features four complete alphabets as well as numbers, animals, and mathematical symbols.

Put the Pieces Together.

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Introduce another language to your child with an alphabet floor puzzle! Learn about different and same letters in other alphabets and look along with appealing visuals. This Spanish ABC Floor Puzzle introduces the Spanish alphabet as well as vocabulary of some animals, plants, and food!

Make Magnet Magic!

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Word magnets allows children to see, touch, and arrange their words. Magnetic words can help children learn to create sentences while encouraging creativity and imagination. Have a whale of a time with this new Magnetic Poetry® Really Big Words Set.

Crack the Case.

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Mysteries can make language more exciting for advanced learners who want to be challenged. Games like Language Detective helps students develop language and writing skills under the guise of solving a mystery. In this case, children find misused words as well as errors in punctuation, capitalization, and spelling.

 


For more ways to make language arts more engaging, visit our language arts section!

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Fresh Homeschool Ideas

14 Jul shutterstock_307807637

Looking for ways to make homeschooling more exciting for you and your students? Combining work with play can go a long way. Here are three fun ways to get inspired about learning at home:

1. Make STEM an interactive learning experience.

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Math and science can be a challenge for kids, but it can also be fun! With bright colors and hands-on educational activities, children will get excited for STEM. Check out these engaging gadgets that are perfect for homeschooling with math and science.

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Unifix® Cubes

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Fish’N Math

 

 

2. Include dramatic play.

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Whether it’s considered a break or part of your child’s curriculum, dramatic play is a great way for children to learn basic social and emotional skills while becoming comfortable with social situations. Here are some fun ideas for  dramatic play:

3. Sort with colors!

Use colors to learn about different things. Sorting colors supports organizational skills and engages the senses when learning about different categories.30281a.jpg

  • Example: Teach children about different foods and colors at the same time with play food and baskets.

For more inspiration for homeschooling activities, check out our Pinterest page!

Top 10 Toys for Summer Learning

7 Jul shutterstock_91277228

Want to beat the summer brain-drain? Keep your kids actively engaged in learning this summer. Whether children need to catch up or get ahead, these toys are perfect for fun summer learning:

1. The ThinkStretch Summer Learning Program™

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Designed for Common Core State Standards, this program is tailored specifically for grades ranging from PreK to Grade 5. Activities include writing activities, reading logs, mathematics worksheets, and even a bonus activity! The program includes a set of 10 weekly activities.

 

2. Owl Time Teaching Clock

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This fun owl teaches children to tell time! Whether you hang it on a wall or sit it on a desk, the clock features movable hands and colorful, removable numbers. The eyes also open and close to teach the difference between nighttime and daytime! The owl’s feet feature storage space for chalk and erasers.

 

 

3. Sight Word Flash Cards  21048

 

Quiz young children on their reading and testing skills with Sight Word Flash Cards! Made in the USA, sets feature words from Fry Instant Words and Dolch Words lists!

 

 

4. Reading Passages Main Idea & Details

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Help students advance their reading comprehension skills. Interesting fiction and non-fiction stories are included in this practice book! Features multiple choice and short answer assessments to help raise standardized test results. The book also provides example lessons, pre- and post-examinations, and an answer key.

 

5. Wonderfoam® Giant USA Puzzle Map

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Learn all of America’s states and their capitals with this giant, award-winning puzzle! States are listed on the fronts of puzzle pieces while capitals are labeled on the back.

 

 

 

 

6. Smart Play Smart Projector

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Refine motor skills and hand-eye coordination through the arts! Trace letters, numbers, and more with this fun projector. Features English and Spanish and includes a cool touch LED lightbulb.

 

 

 

7. Insect Lore Butterfly Pavilion School Kit

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Take learning outside with this fun, educational kit! Children will discover metamorphosis firsthand as they watch the process of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly right before their eyes.

 

 

 

8. Melissa & Doug® Pediatric Nurse Dress-Up Set

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Encourage dramatic play with this dress-up set that has everything required for little nurses to take care of newborn babies. The gender-neutral uniform provides pockets for pretend tools. Includes plush baby doll with a smiling face and removable diaper.

 

145518a9. Rock And Roll It! Flexible Roll-up Piano

Ideal for summer travel, this flexible piano rolls up quickly for storage. The battery powered core allows for more musical road trips. It also features a headphones port for solo musical play.

 

 

145540-bl10. LEGO® Journal – Blue

 

Children will be excited to write, draw, and even build with this journal! Includes 96 pages and a removable lego building plate band.

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