Creative Ways to Introduce Language and Literacy to Children

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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!

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Fresh Homeschool Ideas

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Looking for ways to make homeschooling more exciting for you and your students? Combining work with play can go a long way. Here are three fun ways to get inspired about learning at home:

1. Make STEM an interactive learning experience.

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Math and science can be a challenge for kids, but it can also be fun! With bright colors and hands-on educational activities, children will get excited for STEM. Check out these engaging gadgets that are perfect for homeschooling with math and science.

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Unifix® Cubes

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Fish’N Math

 

 

2. Include dramatic play.

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Whether it’s considered a break or part of your child’s curriculum, dramatic play is a great way for children to learn basic social and emotional skills while becoming comfortable with social situations. Here are some fun ideas for  dramatic play:

3. Sort with colors!

Use colors to learn about different things. Sorting colors supports organizational skills and engages the senses when learning about different categories.30281a.jpg

  • Example: Teach children about different foods and colors at the same time with play food and baskets.

For more inspiration for homeschooling activities, check out our Pinterest page!

Top 10 Toys for Summer Learning

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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.

Hands-On Crafts for Independence Day

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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

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  • 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!

Sensory Play for the Sand

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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!

Five Favorite Backyard Walkers

16 Jun

Are your little ones learning how to walk? Summer is a great time for kids to gain confidence in their stride. Walkers and push toys are great ways for helping kids to learn how to walk and balance. These five walker toys are perfect for pushing around outdoors this season:

1. Busy Builder Wagon

This pushable walker will keep your toddler busy with all of its fun activities! This walker comes with a wagon which contains 12 building blocks marked with letters, numbers, pictures, and new words! The Busy Builder Wagon also includes colorful sliding beads, a maze of wheels, and spinning, colorful gears which are perfect for encouraging hand-eye coordination.

 

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2. 2-in-1 Push ‘N Play Turtle

Both a walker and a play set in one wonderful toy! The turtle walker encourages balance as children stand and walk by easily gripping the brightly colored handle and steering the large base. The shape sorter allows little ones to work on their fine motor skills. It also includes a safety lock to maintain safe speed.

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3. Duck Push Toy

This colorful Duck Push Toy will provide exercise while also promoting balance, coordination, and motor skills. Make the duck flap its wings with a small push or pull.

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4. Chomp and Clack Alligator Push Toy

With each step, these three gators alternate chomping their jaws! Colorful beads spin to help build hand-eye coordination. Its easily gripped handle encourages activity and movement.

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5. Wide Tracker Activity Walker by Little Tikes

This multifaceted toy is a durable walker that folds up to become a floor play set. Includes modifiable control for wheel traction so you can match the walker to your child’s speed and walking ability. Learn colors, numbers, balance and motor skills.


Check out fun ideas to keep your children active throughout the summer:

 

5 Awesome Cars to Rev Up in the Driveway

2 Jun

Spending more time outside with your kids as summer approaches? Whether you’re washing the car, planting flowers, or doing yard work, outdoor play can take place right in the driveway! With a little chalk and imagination to create racetracks, we have just the cars for all of your child’s speedy adventures. Check out these five awesome cars to rev up for summer:

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1. Neo Tracks Flexible Assembly Track System & Extra Cars

This racetrack is engaging for little learners as they use problem solving and engineering to create different neo tracks for cars to race! Includes rechargeable cars for children to race around created tracks.

 

2.     63116.jpgOball™ Rattle & Roll Car Set (Set of 2)

With easy grips and colorful clattering beads in the wheels, these colorful cars are perfect for children 3 months and up. Not only are these cars ready for outdoor adventures, but they can also be used as a teether and rattle. Just push and go!

 

3.     Carrera® Servo Tronic (142811a.jpg2.4 GHz) Gee Arrow Remote Control Car

The Buggy Gee Arrow will provide hours of fun for kids! This powerful remote-controlled vehicle can race at a top speed of 20 km/h and automatically turns off after 30 minutes of standstill to conserve power. The RC car includes a controller, recharger, batteries, and a neck strap so that children don’t have to worry about dropping the controller.

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4.    Hot Wheels® Mega Hauler™ Truck

Does your child already have a large collection of Hot Wheels®? Then the Mega Hauler Truck is the perfect addition! Let your child pile on their favorite hot rods to haul cars wherever they want to play. Truck loads up to 50 cars with six expandable levels.

5. Tikes Patrol Cozy Coupe Car

 17282d.jpgCall out the crime fighters! This cozy coupe car is perfect for dramatic play as little ones pretend to cruise around town in their police car. This adorable car has a handle on the back for parent-controlled push rides and can be pedaled from below so that kids can take off on their own! Car also features cup holders, caster front wheels, ignition switch, and a horn!

 

 


Now that you have toy cars ready to go, don’t miss the following ideas for hands-on car play in the drive way: