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:

How to Make an Outdoor Art Studio

29 Mar

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With all of the bright colors of spring and the warm weather that encourages outdoor play, it’s the perfect season for creating your very own outdoor art studio for kids! Here are four simple steps for making the perfect creative space for your budding artists:

1. Pick Your Space

There are a couple of factors you’ll want to take into consideration when choosing an outdoor art space. Look for an area that has both grass and sidewalk, so that children can choose between a cement canvas for chalk or a plush grassy space for art easels. You’ll also want to consider being near a water source so that children can water down paint and clean off their hands when they’re finished!

Browse our chalk selection here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/store/trans/search.asp?tbSearch=chalk&searchButton=

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2. Permanent or Temporary

Before you start outfitting your kid-sized art studio, you’ll want to decide whether the space is temporary or permanent. If it’s temporary, you’ll want to choose easels that are easily moveable. Usually these can be hung from fences and are easily collapsible. In-ground easels are more durable and better for permanent studios. Adding large trays and waterproof plastic bins are great tools you’ll want to look into if you’re leaning toward a permanent art studio.

Browse our art easel selection here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/store/trans/search.asp?tbSearch=art+easel&searchButton=

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3. Outfit Your Studio with Art Supplies

Now, the fun part! Having colorful, easy-to-manipulate art supplies in your child’s studio is a must. Including a paint station, chalk supply, and clay station all fun ideas you can incorporate. We suggest having the following:

  • Apron Stand: keep a consistent work space by having children put on and take off art aprons at the beginning and end of art creation!
  • Paint Trays: have a large canvas for little ones to splash creations on with bright colors! A blank space is a great way to work with patterns and inspire creativity. Check out the Discovery Tray as a great example: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/70918/discovery-tray
  • Clay Table: keep a few tubs of moldable clay tucked away under a kid-sized table where children can sit down and work on their sensory skills. Create clay creatures that can be dried out and put on display! If you do go this route, don’t miss these Creative Paint and Dough Design Tools.
  • Art Supplies: keep your paint brushes, chalk, and other art supplies in consistent places so children will have a designated area for each of their art tools. This teaches organization skills and will encourage cleaning practices once they’re finished creating.

4. Choose How to Display Finished Work

The creation process is of course the most engaging, but showing off those beautiful creations is important, too! Whether it’s keeping clay creatures on the windowsill, hanging paintings on the walls, or taking pictures of chalk drawings, be sure to celebrate your child’s creative endeavors. One of our favorite ways to hang up paintings is the Aluminum Paint Drying Rack (https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/17183/aluminum-paint-drying-rack). Dry your favorite paintings then frame for years to come!


Have you already set up an outdoor art studio? Share what you learned with us by commenting below or on our Facebook page!

Three Science Adventures for Spring!

22 Mar

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 Spring is here and with it comes sunny days for outdoor exploration! Foster children’s natural curiosity into inquisitive engagement with the outdoors with three of our favorite science adventures for spring:

1. Rainbow Sprinkler

Science Objectives: observation, classification, communication.

What to Do: 

  1. Turn on the garden hose and adjust its nozzle so that water comes out in a fine spray.
  2. Hold the hose nozzle so it shoots straight up in the air. If possible, find a way to attach the hose to a chair or some other stationary object, so you do not need to hold it. (Bathing suits before hand is always a great option!)
  3. Tell children that they might be able to observe a rainbow as the sun’s rays strike the water droplets in the spray. Suggest that children move around the spray and look for a rainbow. You will have to experiment to find the best angle to see rainbow colors. (This experiment is best on very sunny days!)
  4. After the children spend some time observing the rainbow, talk about ROY G. BIV, the mnemonic device for remembering the rainbow color order.
  5. Next, put out a set of crayons whose colors appear in rainbows, and put them in the rainbow order. Once the children do this, invite them to draw a rainbow with the crayons or chalk, or to make a picture that uses rainbow colors.

Source: Science Adventures Nature Activities for Young Children! 

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2. Riding Toys in the Yard

Science Objective: classification, measuring, identifying and controlling variables.

 What to Do:

  1. Bring the children out to an inclined riding area. Encourage children to help you draw a chalk line along the ground part of the way down the incline. Tell children this is the starting line, then using the yardstick, help the children make additional marks going down the hill.
  2. Talk with children about momentum. Use the example of how a tricycle will continue to roll along after its rider stops pedaling. Tell little ones that by experimenting with this idea, they can learn to determine which riding toys roll the farthest and how certain variables can affect the distances the objects roll.
  3. Ask your child to pedal a tricycle up to the chalk starting line, then to stop pedaling and coast to a stop. Invite children to use the chalk marks to measure how far the tricycle traveled.
  4. Ask children to think of ways they might increase the distance the tricycle coasted, such as having another child push the rider from behind, or having the rider pedal harder. Other suggestions include having a smaller or larger child as the rider or oiling the wheels. Record the children’s suggestions, and then help them try each suggestion from the list one at a time and compare the results.
  5. If other riding toys are available, invite children to compare them to the tricycles, then rate the various riding toys based on how far each coasted.

Want to Do More?

  • Invite children to test out their favorite riding toys to expand the variety of objects they compare.
  • Bring children to a steeper slope, repeat the activity, and discuss with the children what differences they notice between the two inclines.
  • Help children build a simple racetrack, and invite them to measure the differences in time it takes the various vehicles to complete the track.

Source: Science Adventures Nature Activities for Young Children! 

3. Clear Containers and a Sunny Day

Science Objectives: observing and classifying.

What to Do:

  1. On a clear day, select a sunny spot and ask children to help you fill a few clear plastic containers or bottles with water, making sure to reattach the lids securely.
  2. Line up the clear water-filled containers so the sun will hit them all at the same time.
  3. Point out to children the shapes and colors the sun makes when the light passes through the water-filled containers.
  4. Encourage the children to pick up the containers and move them to see how the sunlight passing through makes different shapes as they move the container.
  5. Ask kids to describe what they see when the sunlight hits the containers. Ask them to pick which containers they think generate the best light patterns. Ask, “Do all the containers show shapes and patterns?” Encourage children to describe the different ways the various containers affect the light.

Want to Do More?

  • Fill several colored containers and bottles with water and set them out for children to look through. Ask the children to describe the differences between how these containers affect the light, as opposed to the clear containers.
  • Provide plastic or glass prisms for the children to use and compare.

Source: Science Adventures Nature Activities for Young Children! 


Did you enjoy these science experiments for your kids? Find even more outdoor activities in Science Adventures Nature Activities for Young Children! 

 

 

 

 

Creative Chores for Young Children!

15 Mar

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Doing a little spring cleaning in your house? Motivate your children to help out with household chores and make the work fun with these five creative chores ideas for young children:

1. Sing as You Work!

Is it chore time in your household? One thing that can make chores go a lot faster is singing as you work! Encourage your children to come up with a song before they start. Learn the words together then sing as you go. It especially works with songs that involve chanting, so you can sing different parts of the song from different parts of the house as you clean!

2. Reward Systems

We all need a little motivation from time to time. Whether it’s getting to choose what’s for dinner or gaining access to that day’s Wifi password, presenting a reward for children to work towards is a great way to get little hands involved as you clean.

3. Cleaning Exercises

Not sure how to fit in workouts and get the house clean? Why not do both at the same time with your kids? Make chores a challenge by incorporating squats, pushups, and crunches into laundry time, sweeping, and doing the dishes. Give your kids goals to work toward as you motivate each other. It’s especially effective for burning all of that energy toddlers always seem to have! Find example workouts here: http://www.parenting.com/parenting-advice/mom/5-ways-to-turn-routine-chores-exercise

chore-blocks-may.jpg 4. Chore Dice

If you’re looking for a particularly creative way to motivate children to help out around the house, then have them help you create a Chore Dice! Not only is it a great craft to do together (as they can choose some of the reward sides), it’s also a creative way to involve chance to choose what chores kids do for the day as opposed to being assigned the same task repetitively. Find dice instructions here: http://lifeasmama.com/10-brilliant-ideas-to-motivate-your-children-to-do-chores/7/

 5. Kid-Sized Cleaning

 Finally, having the right-sized tools can make the task at hand seem a lot more manageable! We have a cute collection of kid-sized cleaning supplies that are easy to grip as children help out around the house. Don’t forget to enter our Sensational Spring Cleaning Spree Contest by sharing how you teach housekeeping skills to children on Facebook.

Enter here: www.facebook.com/kaplantoys

 

 

 

Rethinking Nutrition for Kids

9 Mar

What do you think of when you hear the word nutrition? Many times, it’s equated to ensuring there is some type of fruit included in a child’s snack time, or a limit on how many chips a child can have. With childhood obesity statistics on the rise, we want to foster the simple idea that nutrition is more than what’s in your child’s diet; it’s a lifestyle! Here are four easy tips to help incorporate nutritious choices as part of your family’s day-to-day:

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1. Modeling

You are looked up to more than you will ever know! Consumption choices, what items are available in the fridge, and how many times you incorporate exercise into your week are all important choices that acts as behavior models for children. Here are some small ways you can make a difference:

  • Pack lunch together. Children can see that you are packing healthy for lunch just like they are!
  • Use Sundays for meal prep. Having meals all ready to go for weeknights is a great way to avoid the fast food run that we all default to when time gets away from us!
  • Workout during chores! Incorporate squats, pushups, and abs into tasks you already have to do. This is a great example for kids to multi-task as they fold laundry, sweep the floors, or clean up their room! Here is a fun article for moms with toddlers: http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/fit-mom-exercise-tips/

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2. Meal Times

We all know what we put into our bodies is important, but at times, it can be hard to know what exactly a healthy balance looks like, especially for a hangry preschooler who only wants chicken nuggets and french fries! We have a helpful Health Eating from Head to Toe Handout that’s a great start for parents. Not only does it suggest what foods to eat, but also does so with colorful illustrations that show what health benefits come from each food group! Find the handout here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/28885/preschool-healthy-eating-from-head-to-toe-handouts-set-of-50

Nutrition Books to Get You Started: 

Another fun idea to do with the family is to create a “Healthy Recipes” Pinterest board so that you can keep track of nutritious meals your family loves! Follow our family board for weekly inspirations: https://www.pinterest.com/KaplanToys/healthy-family-recipes/

53689.jpg3. Motivated to Move!

Active play is an important part of a child’s day! Not only does it burn calories, but it also encourages creativity, builds important muscles, and gives children a chance to interact with their peers as they work on teamwork, friendship, and an understanding of social rules. Whether it’s getting out in the backyard to pass a soccer ball, mediating on a yoga mat, or hiking as a family on the weekend, motivating children to move is an important concept for children to adapt into their lifestyle as they grow. To browse our selection of active play toys, click here. 

Sources:

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4. Make a Garden

Spring is nearly here! With the start of warm weather comes the prime opportunity to start planting vegetables and herbs for your family meals! Teaching your child how to garden is not only an excellent practice of sustainability, but it will encourage them to incorporate homegrown food into their meals later on. To learn more about the benefits of gardening for children, head over to this article to get started.

Gardening Tools for Toddlers:

 

Share how you are celebrating #NationalNutritionMonth with your kids by commenting below!

Five Ways to Celebrate Dr. Seuss Day!

1 Mar

Dr. Seuss’ birthday is today! Want some fun ways to celebrate with your little ones? Find everything from themed snack time to reviewing your child’s successes with Oh the Places You’ll Go below. Here are five of our favorite ways to celebrate the holiday:

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1. Read Your Favorite Dr. Seuss Book

Everyone has a favorite Dr. Seuss book from childhood! Pick your favorite and reminisce with your children. Not only is this a great way to increase early vocabulary, but the lyrical genius also teaches important life lessons along the way. From What Pet Should I Get? to the Dr. Seuss’s ABC Board Book, browse our Seuss book selection here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/store/trans/search.asp?tbSearch=dr+seuss&searchButton=

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2. Take a Trip with Oh the Places You’ll Go

Love Oh the Places You’ll Go? So do we, as it encourages a sense of adventure and wanderlust in children! Talk about the different successes in your child’s life and the many goals that they aim to achieve. Make it into a craft project by breaking out a local or world map with pins for all of your child’s favorite haunts, family vacations, and places to visit! The map is a great reminder to keep dreaming!

Resources:

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3. What’s in the Cat’s Hat Game

Have little sensory learners in the household? What’s in the Cat’s Hat Game is a great way to celebrate Dr. Seuss Day while also bolstering your little one’s sensory skills. Hide something in the hat for children to discover! Kids can ask questions, use clues, and interact with the hat’s fun exploratory features to discover what it is! Find the game here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/62394/whats-in-the-cats-hat-game?c=11%7CKTGM02

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4. Seussical Snack Time

 Get creative with snack time! Incorporate hands-on learning in the kitchen with your favorite Dr. Seuss book. From Cat in the Hat cheese sticks, to green eggs and ham, there are a plethora of snacks you can try out with your little one on our Dr. Seuss Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/KaplanToys/ways-to-celebrate-dr-seuss/

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5. Fox in Socks Inspired Craft Time

Pull out the paper plates and orange paint! Here is a fun kid craft for making a fox to go along with Seuss’ beloved Fox in Socks. Go as far as picking out fun socks for your child to wear as they wiggle their feet and enjoy the rhymes of Dr. Seuss! Cut out and paint a fox afterwards for a cute memento.

Find instructions here: http://thisgirlslifeblog.com/2015/02/fox-in-socks-dr-seuss-crafts.html

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