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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!

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.

Pick out the Perfect Dollhouse!

12 Apr

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Looking for a dollhouse to suit your child’s needs? There are a couple of questions you can ask before making the big purchase to supplement your child’s dramatic play experience! Here are four questions to ask before picking out the perfect dollhouse for your little one:

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1. Looking for Neutral Colors?

 The first thing you’ll want to determine is if your dollhouse is for a young girl or if it will be shared by several children. If you’re looking for a house the whole crew can play with, here are two of our favorite wooden dollhouses that are big enough for any imaginative play experience:

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 2. Have a Big Play Space?

 If you’re looking for a large dollhouse to incorporate into a spacious playroom then we think you’ll love these options. Go pink with the Multi-Level Wooden Dollhouse or if you’re looking for something that allows children to reach in from all sides, then check out the Hi-Rise Wooden Dollhouse. Either way, your child will have tons of room to play!

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3. Looking to Teach STEM Concepts?

If you’re looking to go beyond dramatic play to teach math and engineering concepts, we have two colorful options below. The Geometrics Dollhouse will teach geometry as children build rooms in whatever shape they please! Don’t forget the Roominate Townhouse that promotes architectural skills as children build their own townhouse from bottom to top.

4. Need Something to
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Travel often? If you’re looking for a dollhouse to take with you for children that’s a little smaller, but is perfect for taking on the go, then the Fold * Go Wooden Dollhouse if for you. Durable and portable, this dollhouse comes with two play figures and eleven pieces of wooden furniture so that children can take imaginative play wherever they go!

Planning a Family Stargazing Night

5 Apr

Grab your telescope, space books, and blankets for a night under the stars! We have four simple steps for planning your perfect family stargazing night:

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Step 1: Learn About Space

The first step to enjoying a night full of space exploration is providing children with contextual knowledge of what they’ll be seeing when they look up! Understanding how stars are made, how far away they are, the inner workings of galaxies, and being able to point out constellations and planets will make your family stargazing night much more interactive. We suggest the Solar System Interactive 3D Chart to get started, as it provides in-depth detail of the solar system: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/143856/solar-system-interactive-3d-chart?c=17%7CKTSC04 

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Step 2: Pick out Your Telescope

Part of admiring the stars is being able to clearly see them! Little stargazers who are just starting out don’t need telescopes that are too high-powered as entry-level telescopes allow for many exciting discoveries! Hone in on Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the moons of both Jupiter and Saturn, Uranus, and Moon craters with the TKI Telescope & Astronomy Kit: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/145221/tk1-telescope-and-astronomy-kit?c=1%7CKTAP09

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Step 3: Camp Out Under the Stars

 The third step to an awesome stargazing night is getting the family outside for a night of learning! Discover the universe in the Space Module Spacecraft Tent: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/142998/space-module-spacecraft-tent?c=1%7CKTAP10. It’s the perfect place for kids to hang out and read by torch light while waiting for the stars to come out. Breaking out the snacks outside is not a bad idea either! Once they appear, prepare your telescope and start stargazing.

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Step 4: Stargazing Recap

Once you’ve enjoyed the company of the stars, be sure to review what your family learned! Whether that’s having children draw their own version of the starry sky, reading space books together to point out discoveries you made with your very own eyes, or completing a space puzzle as you discuss what planets children want to learn more about, we have a plethora of planetarium resources for your little learners below:

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/

 

Groundhog Day: Forecasting Weather for Kids!

2 Feb

It’s Groundhog Day! Are you tuning in with your family to see if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow? Even if relying on a groundhog’s predictive skills isn’t the most accurate way of determining weather patterns, the tradition can be a fun one for your family to engage in! Not to mention it’s a great segue into conversations on weather, seasons, and how you can forecast weather patterns with your kids! Here are a few of our favorite ways to promote science play with weather toys:

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1. Track the Weather

Introduce isobars, jet streams, wind chills and more with this super-sized 44″W x 28″H weather map of the U.S. and Canada. Use bar and line graphs to chart temperature changes across the cities! A write-on/wipe-off board is included for easy display. Educator’s guide with weather terms, activities, vinyl cling weather symbols and recording charts included.

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2. Weather Today Carpet

Settle in for weather talks with the Weather Today Carpet! It’s a stimulating visual for season changes and the months they take place in. Not to mention the adorable cloud pictures that are included for creative weather pattern display!

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3. Dress for the Weather

Engage toddlers with this creative puzzle! Discuss each season while putting the puzzle together and dressing each character for the appropriate season. Flip each season to reveal a seasonal stencil for extra enrichment!

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4. Weekly Weather Calendar Chart

Peek outside and see what the weather looks like! Teach children to observe weather patterns for different days and seasons as they fill out the weekly chart with fun weather and number cards! Make hypothesizes about what the week will bring while putting observation skills to the test.

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5. Weather Vocabulary for Young Readers 

Boost non-fiction skills in children with weather terms! This engaging book will expand children’s vocabulary as they absorb scientific concepts behind different types of weather. Includes diagrams, captions, a glossary, and comprehension questions for extended learning!

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6. Hot Dots Science Set

Not quite sure how weather relates to natural earth processes? Learn with your little scientist as you read through the Hot Dots Science Set, Earth & Weather to learn key science concepts and build vocabulary. Comes with 36 double-sided illustrated cards with questions for comprehension


Have fun forecasting! Let us know by commenting below if you have any creative ways to track the weather.

Kid’s Edition: Finger Foods for Thanksgiving

25 Nov

Whipping up recipes for Thanksgiving? Don’t forget to include young children in the process with a few fun finger foods they can help make. With a little creativity, simple snacks become a fun way for children to learn nutrition, math skills through measuring, and how to follow directions in the kitchen! Here are five of our favorite Thanksgiving snacks for kids to make:

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1. Turkey Shaped Cheese Platter

Encourage children to work on sorting skills as they use a little creativity and a lot of cheese to create a turkey-shaped cheese platter! Find out how here.

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2. Caramel Apple Nachos

Break out the apples and caramel for a tasty treat the whole family will enjoy! This is an easy (and healthy) snack that’s perfect for children who are eager to help out in the kitchen. Directions here.

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3. Owl S’mores

Make these adorable Owl S’mores with a couple of graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate chips, yellow candy melts, and candy corn! They’re sure to be a family favorite! Find out how to make them here.

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4. Fruity Turkey

Get creative with different fruits to create this adorable fruit turkey! Kids will work on fine motor skills as they cut different fruits in half and put on the final touches with shaped carrots!

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5. Turkey Pretzel Snack

Break out the pretzels and peanut butter for some turkey fun! This is a cute idea to keep little hands busy as they create their cute turkey snack. Find instructions on how to get started here.

Build budding culinary skills in your children by investing in a starter kitchen set! Browse our selection here.

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Don’t miss even more ways to get creative in the kitchen with Cooking Art! 

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