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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!

Stargazing: Ways to Encourage Children To Look Up!

5 May

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As the weather warms up, the opportunities for activities in the great outdoors increases. It also creates the perfect time to lie down and look up at the sky. Generally loved by all, the popular subject of space and the act of stargazing and planet observation is free and accessible to everyone. Between all the family adventures to the lake, car trips to far away theme parks, and weekly visits to your neighbor’s pool—there are those “normal” nights that create the perfect time for making family memories. So be sure to leave some SPACE in your family’s free time to explore the great night sky. Here are some of our ideas to get your family looking up in wonder!

Introduction to the Stars

Stargazing starts with opportunity. Camping is a fantastic way to combine family time with star exploration, but we understand it is not for everyone. If you live in a brightly lit area, move to a darker venue by asking around to friends or families whose houses may have a better view of the sky. If your backyard is already a perfect fit, create a “viewing lounge” by placing pillows and blankets into the back of a pickup truck, a blow up kiddie pool, or even lay out on a Star Wars™ Millenium Falcon Float. Remember to provide your family with the viewing tools they need like a telescope. Set the stage for relaxation with a playlist of space themed music playing softly in the background. Remember that every child has different interests and attention spans, so try to keep the activity age-appropriate. For younger children, stargaze for shorter amounts of time and provide them with general information. For older children, introduce them to a few easy-to-spot, major constellations like the The Big Dipper/Ursa Major and Orion. For those scared of the dark, stargazing can be done during the day by exploring eclipses and the sun (a giant star) cycles. Just don’t forget your sunglasses!

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For the Current Space Fanatic

If your child already has a love for the stars, you can keep that passion alive by giving them lots of astronomy resources. Be sure to provide your space lover with plenty of space related reading material. We suggest The Solar System and Beyond set and The Solar System Book Set. It is likely that if your child loves stargazing they may enjoy Star Wars. While stargazing, let them play with a Star Wars Lego Set or even a Light-Up Death Star Beach Ball. Star location apps are great for both parents and children, as you easy find position of stars and constellations in your piece of the night sky. With the official NASA app you can see current mission photos and even track satellites! Finally, we suggest hosting a stargazing party with plenty of space-themed snacks like this galaxy popcorn. Follow up by watching a space related children’s movie outdoors (like Wall*E or Muppets from Space).

Trouble-Free Preschooler Activities for Earth Day

14 Apr

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Observed annually on April 22nd, Earth Day is a celebration of environmental protection and conservation. One month into spring, Earth Day is the perfect time to get your little ones outside and learning. Use this day (or even week) to discuss how your family can play a part in protecting the Earth that we inhabit. Here are some excellent ideas that can help you turn fun in the sun into impactful lifetime of learning!

Rain and Shine

In order to explore conservation, your child must first understand why the Earth is so important to protect. A great place to start is with nature discovery. While exploring, explain the special relationship that humans have with nature and how we interact and depend on one another. Consider these activities:

  • Take a nature walk with a fun twist. Give your child pictures of items to find (like a rock, 3 types of flowers, a pinecone, etc.) for an afternoon of nature scavenger hunting.
  • Cook up a mud pie! Get messy while mixing up different types of dirt for a fun, sensory loaded activity. Try including as many different materials such as sand, rocks, and leaves into your pie “ingredients”.
  • Explore the water cycle with the Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table™. Your child can make it rain again and again with this fun cause and effect STEM activity.
  • Turn your nature walk finds into a nature collage. Use an old egg carton to organize and protect your new collection.
  • Create beautiful art with leaves! Paint various leaves and use them to stamp their designs onto paper or even a canvas.

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Love the Earth and It’s Creatures

Once your child has had a fun introduction to nature, it’s time to explore some of the Earth Day themes. From pollution to animal conservation, there is plenty to discover and themes to tailor to your child’s interests.

  • Play “can it be recycle?” by hunting around the kitchen and explaining what and how different materials can be recycled. Bonus! Practice sorting their discoveries based on the material.
  • Introduce upcycling by including them in a small project or craft that includes recycled and repurposed materials.
  • Create a small garden just for them. Use the Eco-Friendly Indoor Gardening Kit and the Watering Can with Shovel and Rake to create a special space for them to explore the growing process.
  • Give the earth an actual hug with the Hugg-A-Planet® Earth.
  • Discuss animal conservation while cuddling with the Baberoo Sea Turtle Plush or playing with the Polar Animals Set.
  • Create a bird feeder by repurposing a paper towel tube with peanut butter and birdseed.
  • See an Earth Day movie! We suggest the Disneynature series which premiers a new film every Earth Day. If you see it opening week they will make a donation to World Wildlife Fund.
  • Chow down on Earthy dirt cups! Your child will love the crush cookie “dirt”, chocolate pudding “mud”, and brightly colored gummy “worms”. Simply mix chocolate pudding to create a mud base, crush Oreos to form a dirt crust, and insert gummy worms for a buggy surprise!

However you choose to celebrate Earth Day, we would love to hear about it on our social or in the comments below!

Spring Fever! Encouraging Your Child to Be Physically Active

23 Mar

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The arrival of spring brings longer days, warmer weather, brighter colors, and increasing opportunities for engagement in healthy childhood activities. It’s no secret that the digital age has created various gadgets and apps that compete for children’s attention and free time. The draw of digital games and activities often drowns out the basic childhood desire of simple play. It’s important for parents to restore some balance into children’s lives and foster healthy habits and development. Beyond limiting screen time, try to encourage your little ones to explore the world around them and engage in activities that increase their heart rate. Here are a few ideas we gathered to help you spark your child’s desire for active play.

Individual Exploration

Teaching children to play by themselves is a special skill set that will not only engage their brain but also create a healthy sense of independence. Encourage your child to enact pretend stories in the backyard or “bake” a cake with items found in nature. Think back to your childhood and encourage them to do some of the activities you did, such as playing jump rope and creating art with chalk on the front driveway. Consider combining those activities with the Chalktivity Rainbow Jump Rope or Chalktivity Pogo Prints for increased exercise and fun! Imagination and a warm spring afternoon can spark a trend of healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

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Neighborhood Amusement

You are the primary person responsible for teaching your child about the importance of being physically active, but you can encourage other children in the neighborhood to be physically active as well. Provide your child with games and activities that can be enjoyed with others. Encourage children to have a bouncing race down the driveway with the Hop 55 Ball or arrange a good ol’ fashion game of tag. Make sure to finish the afternoon of active fun with a healthy treat! You’ll become the favorite house on the block in no time!

A Family Affair

Children often learn best by example. Not only should you encourage them to be physically active, but you should also engage in physical activity yourself. A pickup game of family hide-and-seek can go a long way in developing a child’s desire to play. Showing your child that you exercise regularly, as well as other healthy habits you engage in, sets a standard and example for them to follow in the future. Family participation in physical activities is a key part of nurturing physically active children and helping them maintain that as adults.

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Leave us a comment about your child’s favorite physical activity and remember to be physically active every day!

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!

 

Six Science Investigations for Summer

4 Aug

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!

Sensory Play for the Sand

24 Jun

 

Worried children aren’t learning enough during the summer? Want to give little ones a head start? Encourage kids to keep learning and playing — with sand! Children love to play and explore their senses, and sand is perfect for fun, sensory play.

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 1. Have a treasure hunt!

Have a treasure hunt for letters! Whether “X” marks the spot or treasure is unmarked, the search encourages motor-skill refinement and literacy. Bury something in the sand and allow children to dig around to find it. As they hunt for buried treasure, children will touch and feel the unique textures of sand.

 

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2. Cars & Trucks

Play with cars and trucks on a pretend highway or construction site. Have children explore how the wheels feel over the sand. More ideas for sensory play with sandy construction sites can be found here:

3. Build a Beach!

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Can’t make it to the beach this season? No problem! Bring the beach to you. All you need is sand, water, and shells. Marbles and rocks are fun substitutes if you don’t have shells. Build a sand castle or have your little ones write their names in the sand.

 


No time to DIY? We’ve got you covered. Here are some fun products to make sensory play with sand even more exciting!

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Sand & Water Play Set

This set includes two scoopers, a rake, bucket, sand mill, watering can, and a water pump! Enhance any sandy beach, construction set, or treasure hunt games with these fun toys.

 

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Shape It! Sand

No sand around? No worries. Shape It! Sand is just like the stuff you find on the beach, but it never dries out and is reusable. Bonus: it contains no gluten, dust, or allergens!