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Benefits of Shopping Early for the Holidays

22 Sep

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When you still have sand in your car from your summer vacation, it is hard to start thinking about your holiday shopping. However, starting your shopping early does have several benefits over waiting until the traditional holiday shopping season. See for yourself why you should go ahead and start checking people off of your shopping list.

Full Selection

It’s true what they say; the early bird does get the worm. When you shop before the rush, you will have full shelves and stock to pick from. No worries about having to settle on your gift choice due to selection. You also avoid participating in the toy craze. When other parents are desperately searching for their child’s top wish, you will have already picked up and wrapped the hottest toy of the season.

Save Money

When you have more time to shop, you have more opportunities to save. Companies often host presales long before Black Friday and Thanksgiving sales, including us! Be sure to check often for sales and shipping offers. Because you are shopping months early, you also avoid higher shipping fees and the need for rush shipping. Shopping early also helps with your budgeting. You can take advantage of credit offers, payment plans, and spread your spending across several months verses only weeks or days.

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Time for DIY

Having extra time gives you more freedom for creativity. You and your child can create gifts verses buying ones for some of the people on your list. Using DIY kits such as the String Art Star Light and Perfect Craft Casting Kits make for great, personalized holiday gifts. Since you started early, there is plenty of time to let the paint dry and glue fully set before wrapping!

Avoid the Stress

With your holiday head start, you save yourself from several stressors and headaches. You avoid shopping in potentially bad, winter weather. You also avoid the crowds of determined holiday shoppers. Eliminate the stress of shipping gifts to far away friends and family with the fear of will they arrive on time. With the relief of shopping early, you can focus on what matters most-family, holiday traditions, and the actual gift gifting.

You can save your sanity by planning and shopping early for the holidays. Then sit back, relax and enjoy the joyful festivities of the season.

25 Fun Family Activities for Fall

15 Sep

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With the start of a new school year and the anticipation of many holidays on the horizon, autumn is an exciting time for little ones. It is also a wonderful opportunity to create some family memories. Explore our list of 25 ideas to kick off some fall family fun!

  1. Visit a pumpkin patch or corn maze. Snacking on classic fall treats like caramel apples or kettle corn while you are there is a bonus!
  2. Time for fall chores. After you have raked up all the leaves in your yard, help your child un-rake them by jumping in! An experience worth the work.
  3. Colder, shorter days means more quality time indoors. We suggest snuggling up with a good fall-themed book such as Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf, Pumpkin Soup, and Leaf Man.
  4. Carve a pumpkin for National Pumpkin Day on October 26th.
  5. Host a hot chocolate night! Create a hot cocoa bar with whip cream, chocolate drizzle, sprinkles, marshmallows, and more. Don’t forget apple cider for the non-cocoa lovers.
  6. Get crafty using nature! Use leaves, pinecones, acorns, and rocks as your paintbrush.
  7. Attend a fall festival or local fair. Look for new festivals in neighboring towns so you are sure not to miss out on the fall festivities!
  8. Check the weather for a nice clear, chilly night. Build a backyard bonfire and warm up together. Grab some homemade quilts and roast some s’mores. Don’t forget to be prepared with some ghost stories!
  9. Cold weather got you down? Have an indoor family game night! We suggest the Exit Games and the Jungle Party Memory Game or go old school and play Connect 4, Twister, Sorry!, and Trouble.
  10. Celebrate National Johnny Appleseed Day on September 26th by visiting an apple orchard.
  11. Make some DIY fall décor such as a leave garland and an autumnal wreath.
  12. Nothing beats the smells and sights of going on a classic hayride.
  13. Celebrate the autumnal season by baking some pie! With apple, cherry, peach, blueberry, pumpkin, sweet potato, and more, you are sure to find something to excite everyone’s taste buds.
  14. Take your child to a family-friendly tailgate. There is something special about the camaraderie and excitement of eating food and playing yard games outside on game day.shutterstock_375843820.jpg
  15. Create an autumn looking jar. Take a clear mason jar or vase and fill to the top with little items that are the sights and smells of fall. You can use leaves, acorns, cinnamon sticks, pinecones, and even mini pumpkins and squish to fill the jar.. Makes for a gorgeous dinner table centerpiece!
  16. Make Fall Slime (see instructions here) or apple slime (see instructions here).
  17. Cook up some homemade soup or chili to warm up a cold night.
  18. Clean out your closets! The change of the season gives the perfect excuse to go out with the old and in with the new!
  19. Visit a museum. Be sure to check for special fall festivities.
  20. Celebrate National Taco Day on October 4th.
  21. Create beautiful décor that will last the season by painting a pumpkin instead of carving one. You can even add glitter!
  22. Go leaf looking. Be sure to check to see when the peak leaf color time is in your area and then go take a nature walk.
  23. Get outside. Although the weather may be chillier, fall is a great time to fight off the soon-to-be winter cabin fever. Have some glowy fun with the NightZone™ Sports Pack or play catch with the unique Djubi® Game.
  24. Make gorgeous leaf lanterns (see instructions here).
  25. Relax and prioritize. The upcoming holidays can be a stressful time. Remember who and what is important to you and simply cherish the autumn moments.

No matter what you choose to do, be sure to take advantage of this exciting season and spend some quality time making precious memories with

Memorial Day Fun with Your Little One

19 May

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Memorial Day is quickly approaching! What better way to spend the long weekend than quality time with your little one? Explore the outdoors during Memorial Day weekend and show respect to those who have lost their lives while serving our country with the following Memorial Day activities for children.

Outdoor Adventures

Pool

It’s the end of May, the sun is shining, and a day at the pool has never sounded better! Your child will love relaxing in the pool with you on Memorial Day, but what’s a pool day without toys and floats? Your little one can float the weekend away in the pool on the Star Wars™ Millennium Falcon Inflatable Ride-On Float or Jumbo Flip Flop Pool Float. Your family can also enjoy some fun in the sun with the Big Kahuna and Lil’ Kahuna Ball Set.

Games

Spend some quality time with your child on Memorial Day by playing games together. Do you have a favorite game to play with your little one? It can be as simple as game of tag or hide-and-go-seek. You could even make a dodgeball tournament a family affair with the Coop Scatter Dodgeball Game. Making time to play games with your child during Memorial Day weekend is a great way to get the quality time in you both desire.

Grilling Out

After so many activities, bellies will be rumbling! Though there isn’t much for little ones to do while you cook on a hot grill, New Sprouts® Grill It! will allow your child to participate by working alongside you and making pretend burgers for the crowd. As you know, every moment counts, so embrace your youngster’s desire to be just like you.

Showing Respect

The purpose of Memorial Day is to show respect to those who have lost their lives while fighting for our country. It’s important to teach your child the value of showing respect for those who have died while serving the U.S. Armed Forces. By participating in the following activity together, you and your child can show respect to those who have sacrificed their lives for our country.

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Wave the Flag

Materials:

  • Small American flag

What to Do:

  1. Recite the following rhymes, modeling each line’s appropriate action.
  2. Have your child practice the rhymes several times.

Wave the Flag

Wave the flag high, (wave a small flag or hands in the air)

Up to the sky, (point to the sky)

Red, white and blue, (show one finger for red, two for white, three for blue)

We salute you. (put right hand over the heart)

See Our Flag (Tune: “Farmer in the Dell”)

See our flag wave

In the land of the brave,

Red, white and blue,

To our country we are true.

More to Do:

  • Art: Have your child make copies of the original American flag. Give each child a 4” x 6” piece of white paper with a square in the upper left-hand corner and 13 uncolored stripes. Starting at the top, have the children color every other stripe red and the square blue. Give them 13 silver adhesive stars to place on the blue square. Help the children tape a craft stick to the backs of the flags for a flagpole.
  • More Art: Have your child cut out pictures of red, white, and blue food from old magazines and use them to make collages.

Source: The Giant Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities

 How do you plan to celebrate Memorial Day? Share your plans by commenting below!

Get Green: St. Patrick’s Day Fun at Home!

9 Mar

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It’s mid-March: that time of year when kids start looking for little leprechauns under the couch and pinching each other for not wearing green. Be sure to bring some of the St. Patty’s day fun home with these creative and exciting activities!

Gifts for the Leprechauns – Kids love the stories of leprechauns: little Irish magicians who like to steal things and leave gold in their wake. Encourage children to make these green troublemakers small gifts, like figurines made from craft dough or cookies. When they leave the gifts out for the leprechauns, swap them for a sprinkle of green or gold glitter and watch the wonder in your little one’s eyes as they discover the change.

Go GREEN – Get environmental by planting some greenery or flowers in a mini greenhouse. Or set up a hanging bird feeder and attract the birds to the yard, just like gifts attract leprechauns. These will both decorate the yard for St. Patty’s Day and help kids learn a bit more about the environment. For songs and more activities, try reading a Going Green book. Get kids both excited about engaging with the environment around them and protecting the blue and green planet they live on! Be sure to check out the Kaplan Toys Blog for more environmentally friendly activities.

Green Eggs and Ham – It doesn’t have to be eggs and ham, but adding some food coloring to the milk in morning cereal, pudding in kids’ lunchboxes, or in the mashed potatoes at dinner can add an extra level of fun to a seemingly average afternoon. Read the classic Dr. Seuss tale for an added bonus!

Gratitude Treasure – Have children cut their own pot of gold and coins out of construction paper but on each gold coin, have them write or draw something they think is a treasure. Is it their sibling? Favorite food? Playing ball? Encourage kids to find the real gold in life and hang the result on the wall or the refrigerator to remind them that whether they’ve got a little leprechaun in their pocket or not, they’re lucky all times of year!

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Go to www.kaplantoys.com for more ideas, crafts and materials.

3 Spooky Snacks for Halloween!

27 Oct

Picking out costumes and watching all of the classic Halloween movies? The time for trick or treating is upon us next weekend, but first, why not enjoy a little kitchen time with your children. Dive into festive creation with three recipes for spooky Halloween snacks!

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1. Peanut Butter Ball Monsters

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • flour
  • M&M’s, mini gumdrops, and shoestring licorice

Tools:

  • measuring cups
  • mixing bowl and spoon
  • tray
  • wax paper

What To Do:

  1. Help your child measure the peanut butter, honey, and sugar, and mix them together in a bowl.
  2. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  3. Put flour on your child’s hands and work with her to form small balls. Place the balls onto wax paper.
  4. Add mini M&M eyes, mini gumdrop noses, and licorice antennae to the monster heads.
  5. Put the balls on a tray and refrigerate until these monsters are ready to be eaten!

Source: The Budding Chef

2. Witch’s Brew

Ingredients:

  • grape juice
  • red grapes and blueberries
  • milk

Tools:

  • blender

What To Do:

  1. Put grape juice, grapes, blueberries, and milk into a blender.
  2. Add ice and  blend to make a “witch’s smoothie!”
  3. Sing songs to the Healthy All Over CD to talk about how little witches can stay healthy!

Source: The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities 

3. Be A Pumpkin Cook!

Ingredients:

  • whole pumpkin
  • water
  • butter
  • ingredients for pumpkin muffins or bread

Tools:

  • knife (adult only)
  • 9″ x 12″ baking pan
  • aluminum foil
  • blender or food processor
  • muffin tin or loaf pan
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • mixing spook and bowl

What To Do:

  1. Wash and cut open the pumpkin. Encourage children to smell it.
  2. Remove the seeds. Using your hands, remove and save the pulp.
  3. Encourage the children to describe the textures of the pumpkin.
  4. Cut off thin slices of pumpkin flesh and have the children taste it.
  5. Place the pumpkin, cut side down, in the baking pan. Add 1/2 cup of water.
  6. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Let cool.
  7. Remove the foil and encourage the children to observe the changes in the pumpkin. The pumpkin is darker and soft because heat changes the consistency of things.
  8. Scoop out some of the soft pumpkin pulp. Puree it in a blender or food processor. Add some of the liquid from the baking pan, if needed.
  9. Use the pureed pumpkin in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin. Let the children measure, pour, and mix.
  10. Eat the muffins. Compare the appearance of the batter to the finished product. Explain again how heat changes things.
  11. Bonus: Melt butter and coat the pumpkin seeds. Bake at 250 degrees until golden brown. Salt and enjoy!

Source: The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities 

Hands-On Crafts for Independence Day

29 Jun

Looking to add some extra sparkle to your Fourth of July festivities? Independence Day is a great time to get crafty. Here are five fun, hands-on crafts to help celebrate the red, white, and blue:

1. Roller Painting Red, White, and Blue

81865Materials:

  • Empty thread spools
  • Wire coat hangers
  • Wire cutters
  • Red, white, and blue paint

What to do:

  1. Cut the bottom wire of each clothes hanger at the ends, in the middle of the curves.
  2. Bend the center of the hanger in so that the ends almost touch.
  3. Attach thread spools to the ends of the wire hangers. This creates a handle on each empty spool and makes for easy rolling.
  4. Pour red, white, and blue paint into shallow containers.
  5. Let the children roller paint with their patriotic colors.

Find this and more festive crafts in the Giant Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities!

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 2. Uncle Sam Mask

With this fun, silly Uncle Sam craft, your little one will be transformed into the American icon, Uncle Sam. Encourage dramatic play with this fun, home-made costume. Directions can be found here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

sundial.jpg  3. Red, White, Blue Fruit Kabobs

Fruit kabobs are yummy and healthy! With just a few colorful fruits, you can make a delicious treat! Check out the recipe!

 

4. Pipe Cleaner Firework Ring

Keep the sparks flying all day with these fun, easy-to-make firework rings! Any pipe cleaners or leftover tinsel string from the holidays will do!

 

 5. Patriotic Wreath

Feeling like Christmas in July? Teach color coordination while crafting! Here’s how to make a fun, colorful wreath in red, white and blue:

 

 

 

 

 6. Q-Tip Fireworks

Recreate an Independence Day night sky with ease! Make these eye-popping 3D fireworks out of simple Q-tips & paint.

 

 

 


 

 For more patriotic play, check out our Pinterest page!

4 Nature-Inspired Hearts for Kids!

11 Feb

Everyone makes hearts for Valentine’s Day in one form or another; why not tie them in with outdoor exploration? Go on a nature walk with your little learner to collect a handful of decorations for creative ways to make Valentine’s hearts! Here are four outdoor materials you can collect to make nature hearts and foster organic love and learning in the home:

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Smooth Stones

Go on a walk with your child to find round stones to paint! These stones are usually found near creek or riverbeds. The smooth surfaces are perfect for colorful creativity. Draw hearts with Fluorescent Do A Dots for easy painting!

Source: http://www.firefliesandmudpies.com/2014/11/03/gratitude-stones/

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Backyard Berries

Do you use bird feeders? Help your child show love to their feathered friends by making birdseed and berry hearts! American Holly berries are the best, but if you have raspberries or blueberries growing in your backyard, those will work, too! String the berries along heart shaped wire for a lovely addition to your bird feeder.

Want to build your own bird feeder? Check out the Hanging Bird Feeder Kit! (https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/143861/hanging-bird-feeder-kit?c=1%7CKTAP09)

Source: http://www.hometalk.com/6929358/birdseed-cakes-and-berry-hearts?utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=featured

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Seashells

Live near the beach? Go on an exploration for seashells! Shells can give way to all sorts of creativity, but one way to use them is to make nature hearts. Simply use a hot glue gun to shape them into a heart on a hard surface. Whether you use cardboard or wood, the final result is pretty breathtaking! Place in a shadowbox as a treasured memento.

Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/448460075371453298/

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Sticks & Twigs

Now this one is fun! Go outside and pick up sticks of varying lengths. Once your child has collected a handful, break them into varying sizes to start making your wooden heart. Have fun painting the sticks, connecting them with wire, and hanging your colorful nature heart!

Find high-quality tempura paint for your child’s creations here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/18753P/kaplan-kolors-tempera-paint-16-oz

Source: http://www.handmadecharlotte.com/fall-crafts-playing-leaves-twigs/