Teaching Responsibility to Toddlers!

23 Feb

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Did you know February is Responsible Pet Owners Month? Celebrate by talking to your children about what responsibility means and what it can look like when taking care of household pets. Teaching responsibility is a key part of social-emotional learning in children. Here are a few ways you and your family can participate in keeping pets healthy:

  1. Training: Did you know one of the biggest reasons for pets ending up in shelters is behavior problems? By socializing your pet, it leads to better behavior and reduces their chances of getting lost and ending up in a shelter. It’s also a great example to teach children the benefits of disciplined learning.
  2. Grooming: Getting your pet out and ensuring they are well-groomed shows responsibility to children. Brushing a pet can also be a bonding experience for your child and their favorite critter!
  3. Cleaning Up: Showing your children how to not only clean their pets, but also pick up after them as well as clean the spaces they dwell in will go a long way in teaching responsibility. It can also lead to conversations on how children can keep their own spaces clean by picking up after themselves!
  4. Exercise: Get those pets moving! Going to the park for a walk or throwing ball is a great way to keep pets (and children) healthy. Talk to your kids about proper exercise and diet choices for their pet as well as the benefits of higher immune systems.
  5. ID Tag: Be sure your pet has some type of identification. This will come in handy when your furry family member ends up lost or in a neighbor’s yard so they can be returned safe and sound!
  6. Talk About It: Finally, be sure you sit down with your child and talk about ways to take care of family pets. Ask children what their current responsibilities are and why it’s important to follow through.

Source:

Have you had the responsibility talk with your little one? Have them draw a picture of their pet and submit it here to enter our Pet Portraits Contest for a chance to win a Set of 6 Jumbo Pets: https://petportraits.pgtb.me/gQ54KK

Inspiring a Love of Literacy with Indoor Forts

16 Feb

One of the best ways to inspire a love of literacy in young children is by providing safe and cozy reading spaces. Reading can become even more of an adventure as children’s imaginations take off, whether they are diving into a cave, entering a castle, or camping out under the stars! We’ve collected five of our favorite ways to build forts with your kids to turn their next reading time into a fortified adventure:

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1. The Traditional

If you’re looking for an easy fort to start with, then this one is for you! Simply pull out a square table and fasten two duvets so that all sides of the table are covered. Create an entrance by folding the blankets into a triangle so that children can crawl in! Pile in couch cushions or pillows so that kids have somewhere comfy to stretch out. It’s the perfect blanket fort to escape for some quality reading time.

Source: http://www.thejennyevolution.com/diy-easy-blanket-forts/

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2. The Star Gazer

Have old cardboard boxes? Simply set them on their sides for a crawl-in entrance. Poke holes through the top and insert holiday lights for a starry night to gaze at as children break out books under their personal sky!

Source: http://lifeasmama.com/10-awesome-fort-ideas-to-build-with-your-kids/5/

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3. The Adventurist

Do your kids love camping? Break out a clothesline, throw a sheet over it, and tie down the edges with four stakes. With a blanket and pillows underneath, children will have a comfortable outdoor retreat to escape to for some outdoor reading time!

Source: http://lifeasmama.com/10-awesome-fort-ideas-to-build-with-your-kids/

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4. The Air Fort

Make way for a new type of fort. Tape a fan to a sheet for added fun. The airflow will create crawl space for a flowing air fort, no blankets required. The moving walls are sure to add more creativity to imaginative play! Find out how to build one here: http://teachingmama.org/diy-air-fort/

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5. The Extension

Finally, you can take dramatic playhouses and extend them with blankets! Simply clip on sheets with clothespin to make extended rooms for children to play in. That way, they can have an adorable entrance and space for friends! Browse our selection of play houses to get started:

Tips & Tricks

Here are a few additions you can make to any fort to add a little magic.

  • Holiday lights: a little twinkle goes a long way when reflecting on sheets and blankets
  • Comfy seating: ensuring children are comfortable can also make forts the perfect places for nap time
  • Book selection: be sure books are readily available for your little readers to explore!

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.

The Galaxy’s Favorite Star Wars™ Toys

19 Jan

Do you have a family full of Star Wars fans? Celebrate the return of your favorite Star Wars characters by reenacting your favorite scenes from the movies with the galaxy’s favorite Star Wars toys! From new LEGO sets to a retro reel set, you don’t want to miss seven Star Wars toys for the family:

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1. LEGO® Star Wars™ Character Encyclopedia

Before you start building and collecting LEGO® sets, use the LEGO® Star Wars™ Character Encyclopedia to know where to start your collection! This expansive guide includes all of your favorite characters along with rare facts and exclusive releases from the movies.

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2. LEGO® Star Wars™ Luke Skywalker™

We can’t forget Star Wars’ main protagonist! Work with your kids to build this detailed LEGO® version of one of the galaxy’s most powerful Jedi Knights. Features fully posable limbs, buildable green Lightsaber and blaster pistol, handcuffs and a holster with extra Lightsaber handle.

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3.     LEGO® Star Wars™ Millennium Falcon™ 

No Star Wars LEGO® set is complete without the Millennium Falcon™! Open the hull plates to reveal the main hold with seating area and holochess board, a detailed hyperdrive, and secret storage for spring-loaded shooter ammo. Includes six mini-figures with assorted weapons: Rey, Finn, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Tasu Leech, and a Kanjiklub Gang Member, plus a BB-8 Astromech Droid™.

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4.     LEGO® Star Wars™ AT-D

Rebels have been spotted! Jump into the cockpit of the twin-legged LEGO® Star Wars AT-DP military walker. Patrol the streets of Capital City with loaded twin spring-loaded shooters and get ready to escort Agent Kallus and the Stormtrooper past the rebels.

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5. LEGO® Star Wars™ Death Star Final Duel

Reenact the epic final duel between Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine from the movie Star Wars™: Episode VI Return of the Jedi! Let the drama unfold in Emperor Palpatine’s throne room aboard the second Death Star, complete with swing-out side sections for easy play. Includes five mini-figures with assorted weapons: Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine and 2 Royal Guards.

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6.     Star Wars™ Me Reader™: Electronic Reader and 8-Book Library 

Read about your favorite saga with your kids and the Me Reader™! Select from eight different books to work on literacy skills with bonus feature sound effects from the movies. Interactive reading experience ahead!

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7.     View-Master Star Wars™ Reel Set 

It’s a blast from the past! Bring Star Wars to life with 3D story telling! Twenty-one images are pulled straight from Attack of the Clones. The View-Master is a great way to share the adventures again and again with kids on the go.


 

Find a complete selection of our Star Wars toys here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/store/trans/search.asp?tbSearch=Star+Wars&searchButton=

 

 

 

 

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.

Easy Ways to Make Indoor Snowmen!

6 Jan

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Winter is here! Whether you have snow outside or you’re looking for indoor activities to keep children engaged, we have the perfect pastime for you and your little ones—snowman building! Snowmen (and women) are the perfect go to as they can be built in many ways, both indoors and out! Even if you don’t have snow this year, here are some of our favorite ways to build indoor snowmen with your children:
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1. Coffee Bottle Snowman

 Incorporate recycling by reusing empty coffee creamer bottles for snowman building! Simply pull out the markers and cotton balls to get started. This is a fun activity that builds fine motor skills, takes creativity, and produces an adorable snowman your child can display around the house! Best part? It doesn’t melt!

Source: http://frogsandsnailsandpuppydogtail.com/fine-motor-skills-build-a-snowman/

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2. Giant Block Snowman

Break out the blocks to make this giant block snowman! Put those holiday boxes to good use by selecting four boxes of varying sizes. Whip out the white wrapping paper and encourage your child to start building! Children can select whatever accessories they want to add to their snowman as well as draw a face and buttons! This is a great way to incorporate block play in children’s indoor snowman building.

Source: http://b-inspiredmama.com/diy-giant-snowman-blocks/

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3. Shivery Snow Paint Snowman

Encourage children to use all of their senses as they get creative with snowpaint! This is a great activity for creating glittering snowmen on paper. Find the Shivery Snow Paint Recipe here and start creating a sparkly indoor snowman that your child can put on display!

4. Cupcake Snowman

 Do you love baking? Involved children in the process by making snowman cupcakes! This is a great way to teach cooking skills, inspire creativity, and create a warm tasty snack for a cold day!

Find instructions for making your tasty snowmen here: http://www.examiner.com/article/create-a-marshmallow-snowman-cupcake


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Don’t forget to enter our Spectacular Snow Down contest on Facebook! Simply take a picture of your child’s finished snowman, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, and share it with us here for your chance to win our Snowman Prize Pack! Contest rules found here. Good luck!

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