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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.

Top 10 Toys for the Holidays (2016 Edition)

18 Nov

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

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 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!

Recycle with Kids for Earth Day!

19 Apr

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Do you recycle in your home? Teaching children the value of natural resources and sustainability is essential as we strive to leave a healthier, greener planet for future generations. There are plenty of fun, creative ways you can make recycling fun for kids. Celebrate Earth Day with these five crafts for recycled goods:

frogs.jpg 1. Frogs on a String

Instead of throwing toilet paper rolls away, store them away for craft time! Pull them out along with green paint to make adorable frogs on a string. Simply paint the outside of the rolls green, paint the inside red, and paint two eyes on top. Staple the back, cut out two pairs of legs, and attach a colored string for a frog on a string! This is an adorable way for kids to go green!

 

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2. Cardboard Sundial

Still have left over cardboard from boxes or wrapping paper? Create a sundial with a ruler, glue gun, and sharpie. Construction is simple. Set it up in the backyard and teach your children how to tell time by the sun! Find instructions here:

3. Cereal Box Parking Garage

parking.jpgUse empty cereal boxes to create a parking garage for all of your child’s toy cars! With a few empty toilet paper rolls, a cereal box, and strips of yellow construction paper, you can work on your child’s engineering skills as you build. It’s a great way to encourage creativity as you use recycled goods.

 

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4. Recycled Flower Mobile

Have a lot of leftover bottles? Turn them into something beautiful! With a little colorful paper-mache and scissors you can turn bottles into delicate flowers to hang in the backyard! Find out how you can celebrate Earth Day with this whimsical recycled bouquet of bottled flowers:

 

 

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5. Crocodile Clackers

Turn those bottle cap collections into mini-crocodiles for kids! Use leftover cardboard, bottle caps, and green paint to make adorable clackers for kids. These little music makers are a fun activity that can lead to musical sessions as you discuss why conserving water is important for reptiles like crocodiles and alligators.

 

 

 

 


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Want to give planet Earth a hug for Earth Day? Choose one of the above activities or get inspired by our Earth Hugs Pinterest board to create a recycled craft with your kids. Submit a picture this week of your finished craft for a chance to win a $25 Gift Card. Enter here: http://earthhugscontest.pgtb.me/zjl3VP

 

 

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/

 

Toys to Teach Diversity at Home

11 Jan

Diversity: “having different forms, types, ideas” or “having people who are difference races or who have different cultures in a group.”

Sending your child from home to school opens them up to a variety of new ideas, different cultures, and peers of different races. One way to encourage, support, and prepare your child for a transition that instills openness and acceptance of differences in classroom is by using learning resources that teach diversity at home. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we have a compiled a list of our favorite toys and books to help you promote diversity in your children from an early age:

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 1. Kuddle Dolls 

Especially for visual learners, one of the best ways to teach diversity is through being inclusive in toy selection. These huggable fabric dolls offer a variety of different races to help celebrate diversity!

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 2. Emotiblocks 

Teach children to become familiar with their emotions while instilling tolerance, empathy, and racial diversity. You will have fun asking your children to describe what they see as you discuss different features of the board characters.

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3. Learning to Get Along Book Set (Set of 6)

Many times teaching diversity not only entails recognizing it in the community, but learning social emotional skills to know how to respond to those differences. The Learning to Get Along Book Set presents real-life situations and concrete examples for you to read-aloud and discuss ideas with your children on how to properly respond to each.

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4. International Food Collection 

One fun way to embrace diversity is by integrating it into kitchen play! Teach dramatic play and diversity at the same time with the International Food Collection as you introduce foods from around the world! It’s a great conversation starter about different cultures.

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5. Friends Like Me Differing Abilities Puzzle Set (Set of 4)

 Embracing children with special needs and varying abilities is an important part of acceptance in your child’s peer group. These puzzles are an engaging visual aid for showing real images of children with differing abilities. Use them as the perfect opportunity to discuss diversity with your kids!


We’re curious! How do you talk to your children about discovering diversity in the classroom and community? Let us know by commenting below with learning tools and questions your children ask about diversity.