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!
Go to www.kaplantoys.com for more ideas, crafts and materials.
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!
1. Peanut Butter Ball Monsters
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 1 cup honey
- 1 cup sugar
- M&M’s, mini gumdrops, and shoestring licorice
- measuring cups
- mixing bowl and spoon
- wax paper
What To Do:
- Help your child measure the peanut butter, honey, and sugar, and mix them together in a bowl.
- Place the bowl in the refrigerator for about an hour.
- Put flour on your child’s hands and work with her to form small balls. Place the balls onto wax paper.
- Add mini M&M eyes, mini gumdrop noses, and licorice antennae to the monster heads.
- Put the balls on a tray and refrigerate until these monsters are ready to be eaten!
Source: The Budding Chef
2. Witch’s Brew
- grape juice
- red grapes and blueberries
What To Do:
- Put grape juice, grapes, blueberries, and milk into a blender.
- Add ice and blend to make a “witch’s smoothie!”
- 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!
- whole pumpkin
- ingredients for pumpkin muffins or bread
- 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:
- Wash and cut open the pumpkin. Encourage children to smell it.
- Remove the seeds. Using your hands, remove and save the pulp.
- Encourage the children to describe the textures of the pumpkin.
- Cut off thin slices of pumpkin flesh and have the children taste it.
- Place the pumpkin, cut side down, in the baking pan. Add 1/2 cup of water.
- Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Let cool.
- 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.
- 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.
- Use the pureed pumpkin in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin. Let the children measure, pour, and mix.
- Eat the muffins. Compare the appearance of the batter to the finished product. Explain again how heat changes things.
- 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
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
- Empty thread spools
- Wire coat hangers
- Wire cutters
- Red, white, and blue paint
What to do:
- Cut the bottom wire of each clothes hanger at the ends, in the middle of the curves.
- Bend the center of the hanger in so that the ends almost touch.
- Attach thread spools to the ends of the wire hangers. This creates a handle on each empty spool and makes for easy rolling.
- Pour red, white, and blue paint into shallow containers.
- Let the children roller paint with their patriotic colors.
Find this and more festive crafts in the Giant Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities!
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:
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!
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:
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!
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)
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.
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
Winter is here! Whether you have snow outside or you’re looking for indoor activities to keep children engaged, we have the perfect pastime for you and your little ones—snowman building! Snowmen (and women) are the perfect go to as they can be built in many ways, both indoors and out! Even if you don’t have snow this year, here are some of our favorite ways to build indoor snowmen with your children:
1. Coffee Bottle Snowman
Incorporate recycling by reusing empty coffee creamer bottles for snowman building! Simply pull out the markers and cotton balls to get started. This is a fun activity that builds fine motor skills, takes creativity, and produces an adorable snowman your child can display around the house! Best part? It doesn’t melt!
2. Giant Block Snowman
Break out the blocks to make this giant block snowman! Put those holiday boxes to good use by selecting four boxes of varying sizes. Whip out the white wrapping paper and encourage your child to start building! Children can select whatever accessories they want to add to their snowman as well as draw a face and buttons! This is a great way to incorporate block play in children’s indoor snowman building.
3. Shivery Snow Paint Snowman
Encourage children to use all of their senses as they get creative with snowpaint! This is a great activity for creating glittering snowmen on paper. Find the Shivery Snow Paint Recipe here and start creating a sparkly indoor snowman that your child can put on display!
4. Cupcake Snowman
Do you love baking? Involved children in the process by making snowman cupcakes! This is a great way to teach cooking skills, inspire creativity, and create a warm tasty snack for a cold day!
Find instructions for making your tasty snowmen here: http://www.examiner.com/article/create-a-marshmallow-snowman-cupcake
Don’t forget to enter our Spectacular Snow Down contest on Facebook! Simply take a picture of your child’s finished snowman, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, and share it with us here for your chance to win our Snowman Prize Pack! Contest rules found here. Good luck!
Blocks have always been a great way to keep children entertained while building” their fine and gross motor skills, but did you know they can also be used to instill gratitude from an early age? Here are a few ways you can use block play to teach children about Thanksgiving.
1. Talk About It.
It’s important to start off play with a discussion. Talk to your children about Thanksgiving, what it is, as well as the harvest and the changes of autumn. Introduce the concepts of thanks and sharing and ask kids why they are important.
2. Read Apple Farmer Annie.
It always helps to have a story to go with playtime! Read Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington and use the blocks you have to help kids create an orchard. The floorboard can act as the ground while children use blocks to construct apple trees and fences.
3. Encourage Sharing.
While you are building with children, be sure to encourage cooperative play. Teaching children the importance of sharing and working together to build something great are valuable lessons that will tie in perfectly with the season of thanks. It will also help to build communication skills as children embrace building ideas from playmates, ask nicely for blocks they want to use, and attempt to describe building intentions to another person before they’ve built their creation.
4. Spice It Up.
To take block play experiences to the next level, provide children with colored paper pieces (red, green, yellow, brown, and orange), markers, scissors, and tape so that they can tape “leaves” onto whatever structures they’ve created for a fun, fall feel! This way, children can build whatever they want and then decorate for the season.
For even more themed-block play experiences, check out Let’s Build by Pamela Phelps.
Looking for the perfect block set for your child? We’re here to help. Here are some block sets we think your kids will love: