Top 10 Toys for the Holidays!

17 Nov

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The holidays are fast approaching! Looking for sweet deals on gifts for your kids? Then you don’t want to miss our Top 10 Toys for the Holidays! Children learn through play and these toy selections are a great way to foster early learning. Don’t miss this year’s latest and greatest picks for hands-on learning:

145100a.jpg1. Adora Baby Time 16” Baby 

Have a new big sister in the family? The Adora BabyTime dolls are great for little parents in training! This adorable baby is decked out with a soft blankie, feeding bottle, and a pink newborn onesie!

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2. PlayDoh Fun Factory – Classic 

Take Play-Doh play to a whole new level with the Play-Doh Fun Factory! Create fun shapes, crank out spaghetti noodles, or construct I-beams for building purposes! Don’t forget the included storage tray for holding all of the shape plates when not in use.

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3. SpinAgain Stacking Toy

Teach colors, work on baby’s fine motor skills, and watch as a sense of wonder is instilled in children as they see the SpinAgain Stacking Toy wobble and spin! This colorful toy encourages hand-eye coordination and baby engineering skills.

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4. Roominate Townhouse

Foster engineering skills in your young girl with the Roominate Townhouse! This award-winning line of wired building toys teaches STEM skills such as problem solving, spatial and fine motor skills, self-confidence, and creativity in girls! Get started building the perfect townhouse!

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5. Light Stax Illuminated Blocks Set 

What’s better than brightly colored building blocks? Blocks that glow in the dark, of course! Use Light Stax as a custom night light with three different light modes: flashing, fading, or solid. Want to build a robot? Flower? Creations are only limited by creativity!

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6. Mario Thwomp Ruins Building Set 

Does your child love Mario Kart? Bring the game to life with the Mario Thwomp Ruins Building Set! Build Mario & Yoshi figures, two Karts, Thwomp obstacles and let the battery-powered motorcar racing begin!

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7. Sprinkles Recordable Build a Bear

Looking for the perfect companion for your infant or toddler? Sprinkles Recordable Bear offers the perfect way to record personalized messages to celebrate occasions, milestones, or simply leave silly messages for your child! Just hold down the heart-shaped button and record up to 10 seconds. Great for parents who travel and want to leave a sweet message young children can replay!

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8. Crane Lift

Put building skills to the test with the Crane Lift! Practice construction site planning with this fun engineering set for budding builders. A great way to weigh toys already in the toy bin!

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9. Kids First Physics Lab

Challenge your child with this beginner physics kit! Launch experiments with actions ranging from racing, rolling, flying, falling, crashing, balancing, and spinning around! Follow step-by-step instructions for completing each model and learn the basic laws of physical mechanics.

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10. Snap Circuits Arcade

Not sure how to teach STEM to your children? Check out Snap Circuits Arcade! This building set teaches children about electronic circuits as they work with a base grid. Includes more than 200 projects and 30 components as well as an internal Microcontroller pre-programmed with interactive games!

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Helping Little Hands for Thanksgiving Dinner

10 Nov

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As the holidays approach, there are more and more opportunities for little hands to get involved as you prepare for family get-togethers! One of the biggest jobs can be the Thanksgiving meal! Why not turn what can be stressful into a learning opportunity for your children? Here are a few ways to get little ones involved in the process:

1. Pretzel Kabobs

One easy way for kids to get involved is by making kabobs! Create patterns and different combinations by making completely edible kabobs with an assortment of foods – from cubes of turkey breast to grapes.

Ingredients:

  • Apple slices
  • Cheese pieces
  • Grapes
  • Pretzel sticks or rods
  • Turkey, cubed
  • Cranberry

What to Do:

  1. Before your child begins to make their kabob, prepare the ingredients by pre-cutting holes in the center so they can slide food onto the pretzel stick and avoid frustration of having the pretzel break.
  2. Invite your child to choose a combination of items and slide each one onto a pretzel stick.
  3. Encourage your child to discover different pattern possibilities.
  4. Serve for a creative Thanksgiving meal appetizer!

Source: The Budding Chef

2. Apple Butter in a Crock-Pot

This delicious spread is a crowd pleaser. Make it in the fall and fill your home with the season’s best aroma for the family to enjoy. It’s also a great addition to any bread that may accompany your Thanksgiving spread!

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds medium-sized cooking apples
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

Tools

  • crock-pot
  • Cutting board
  • knives

What to Do:

  1. Peel, core, and slice the apples. Invite your child to help as much as possible, but supervise closely.
  2. Have your child put the apples, water, and cinnamon into a crock-pot to make applesauce. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 hours. (Savor the aroma!)
  3. The next day, help your child mix the applesauce, sugar, and cloves in the crock-pot.
  4. Take turns stirring every hour, for 8 hours total.
  5. Before you and your child go to bed, turn the crock-pot to low heat and let the mixture cook all night. The apple butter will be ready to eat in the morning!
  6. Help your child fill small baby food jars with the apple butter.
  7. Refrigerate once the butter is cool to ensure that the apple butter stays fresh!

Source: The Budding Chef 

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3. Stone Soup

Whether it’s your famous stuffing or casserole, many Thanksgiving dishes require a lot of ingredients. Have your kids bring different ingredients and comment on how everyone has something different to add to the dish. Once you’re at a good stopping point, read Stone Soup and reflect on how important everyone’s role is in making a meal truly come together.

Looking for more ways your children can get involved? Check out the following resources:

5 Preschool Activities to Celebrate Fall

5 Nov

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With fallen leaves and pumpkins galore, fall activities for preschoolers are sure to abound! We have a few fun suggestions to get outdoors with your little ones to celebrate the season. Here are five fall activities to do with young children:

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1. Autumn Creatures

Make a creative creature with a few leaves, googly eyes, and select nature finds! Go on a nature walk with your preschooler and see what you can find. Be sure to pick up a few twigs for arms, leaves for heads, and rocks for buttons. Pieces of bark work great, too! Once you’ve brought items back for an indoor sensory table, glue the items onto a recycled toilet paper roll and add some googly eyes for an adorable autumn creature!

Get your different colored googly eyes here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/32117P/super-googly-eyes?c=2%7CKTAR11

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2. Pumpkin Seed Art

Do you have a leftover pumpkin from Halloween decorations? Take out the pumpkin seeds and bake them for an art project with your little one! Read a book on pumpkins like Pumpkin Soup, The Pumpkin Patch, or Andy Shane & the Pumpkin Trick while the seeds bake, and then pull out the paint for color sorting or pumpkin seed art!

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3. Homemade Applesauce

Get creative in the kitchen! Peel, core, and slice five pounds of apples into quarters to make about two quarts of applesauce. Use the EZ Grip Vegetable Peeler so that young children can easily get involved in the peeling process. Boil in a pot with water with the lid partially on until the apples are soft. Let children use a potato masher to mash the apples into applesauce! Add sugar and cinnamon based on preference.

Find even more autumn-themed activities here: http://buff.ly/1XN133g

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4. Fall Tree Quiet Bin

Looking for a quieter activity for your preschooler? Quiet time is a great way to foster independence and is important for parents as well! Fall Tree Bins are a cute way to represent autumn as children place buttons on a pipe cleaner tree. Just enough structure to keep little ones busy: http://handsonaswegrow.com/fall-button-tree-quiet-bin/

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5. Salt Dough Leaf Prints

Combine salt dough and silk leaves for an autumn masterpiece! This activity is the perfect way to spend some time in the kitchen as you measure out the ingredients and get creative with leaf placement! Find instructions for leaf prints here and don’t forget to check out our Exploring Leaves Kit.

5 Adorable DIY Costumes for Babies

27 Oct

Can you believe Halloween is this week? If you’ll be toting your baby around for their first Halloween or for some sibling fun, we have five adorable dress-up options that are sure to make the night fun and creative for the whole family! Get inspired:

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1. DIY Baby ET and Elliot costume(Wrap Your Baby)

Want an easy yet adorable costume option for your baby? Simply grab a basket, wrap your baby in a white swaddling sheet, and put some handles on your basket to make it look like a bike, and you have a mini ET costume! Find baby-sized sheets here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/900584/full-size-cot-sheet

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2. DIY Repurposed Sweater Sock Monkey

Love sock monkeys? Turn your little one into a little monkey with two pairs of socks and a repurposed sweater! With a little sewing and felt add-ons, this is truly an adorable option for your baby monkey. Find step-by-step instructions here.

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3. DIY Gnome

Add a beard and a pointy hat, and you have a baby gnome on your hands! Use felt to craft your baby’s hat and fashion faux fur into a pointy beard to see your baby transform into an adorable lawn ornament. Find felt sheets for your crafting project here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/35544/9-x-12-craft-felt-sheets-12-sheets?c=2%7CKTAR11

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4. DIY Despicable Me Minion

Make your baby your favorite little minion with a yellow onesie and overalls! Add fun, cut out glasses or these Color Mixing Glasses for the final effect to transform your little one into a beloved yellow minion.

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5. DIY Ladybug Baby 

Planning on using a baby carrier as you trick-or-treat with your kids? Add some black dots and adorable spotted wings to turn your baby into a beautiful ladybug! Don’t miss our ladybug options for your little one’s costume:

Don’t have time to get creative? Find last-minute dress-up options from super heroes to farm animals here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/shop/dress-up-fun

10 Fall Activities for Families

20 Oct

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Looking for things to do with your children to get outside and enjoy the autumn weather? Get in the fall spirit and celebrate the season with the following family activities to keep children learning! Check off your seasonal bucket list by trying out these 10 fun fall activities for the family:

  1. Go on a nature walk! Turn your back yard or local park into a natural playground. Encourage children to take in the changing leaves and crisp weather as they note seasonal changes in their Nature Keeper & Tree Diary. Don’t forget to bring items back for your sensory table!
  2. Dress for the weather together! Pick out matching scarves or toboggans to bundle up for the season. Be sure to talk to your child about the importance of dressing warmly enough for the season. Learn more in our related post: Teaching the Reasons for the Seasons.
  3. Make a pot of soup or chili! Cooking together is always a great learning opportunity for little learners, and something warm and soothing is the perfect meal after playing outside in the chilly weather! Find a fun recipe in The Budding Chef!
  4. Break out the pumpkins! You haven’t truly celebrated fall until you pick out a pumpkin! There are a plethora of great pumpkin crafts for children, from sensory activities, to yummy recipes, to pumpkin carving for the Halloween season! For fun pumpkin ideas, visit our Pinterest board! 
  5. Pick sunflowers! It’s sunflower season; find a sunflower patch and pick these sunny flowers with your little one. Dry out the seeds later for a fun snack!
  6. Go to a fall fair! Search for festivals happening around your home to take a trip to the closest fall fair. With exciting rides, sweet snacks, and fun music, it’s sure to be a fun time for the whole family!
  7. Find a flea market! Markets are always fun places for children to find treasures! From discussing how old trinkets work to seeing farm animals, you will be sure to have many interesting conversations with your child as they discover a world of new things!
  8. Camp out and tell spooky stories! Have a tent? Set it up, grab the sleeping bags, and take a flash light for story time! It’s always fun to tell spooky stories as you work on your child’s storytelling skills. It’s also a great opportunity to discuss the difference between what’s real and what’s fiction. Find kid-sized tents for backyard adventures here.
  9. Make a scarecrow! Creating a scarecrow is always a great way for children to express creativity as they bring simple pieces of wood to life. Don’t forget to come up with a name once it’s finished!
  10. Star gaze! Bundle up and go out at night with a telescope! Cool nights can lead to clear skies as you learn about the constellations together with your children. Browse our telescope selection here.

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Don’t forget to enter our Guess Boo? Toy Detective Contest on Facebook this week by checking in at 9AM every morning to see if you can guess what toy is hiding behind the ghost mask! Good luck!

Teaching the Reasons for Seasons

13 Oct

shutterstock_311448788Season changes are always sure to bring plenty of new learning opportunities in their wake! Fall is one of our favorite seasons as colors emerge and pumpkins abound. We have four fun lessons you can teach your little ones as you enjoy season changes together:

1. See the Seasons

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Give your children visuals of what the four seasons look like with floor puzzles! Once built, discuss the differences and similarities between each and how one season fades into the next. Puzzles are always a great way to spend family time as you learn together.

2. Learn How to Dress

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Learning how to dress appropriately for the season can be fun! Discuss temperature changes with your children and ask them how they think they should dress. All answers are encouraged and originality is always appreciated, but keeping kids properly clothed is a must. Here are some games to help you discuss what to wear:

3. Watch the Weather

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An engaging way to keep up with season changes is to track the weather! The Weather Game allows children to match colorful photographs to the correct word cards so they track what weather patterns are associated with the different seasons.

4. Take Notice of Nature

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Foster your budding scientist by encouraging him or her to adopt a tree! Observe in detail the season changes in nature by pressing tree leaves and flower petals at various times of the year and noting observations with the Nancy B’s Science Club Nature Keeper & Tree Diary. This is an especially fun project to do in the fall as leaves begin to change!

How do you celebrate the season changes? Share your favorite seasonal activities by commenting below.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Bullying

6 Oct

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Having conversations in the home with children about bullying can not only prevents potential conflicts in the classroom, but can also prepare your child for being confronted by a bully. Here are five strategies for talking to young children about bullying:

 1. Get to Know Their Social Life

Checking in daily with your child is the best way to know when social dynamics begin to change in a way that could indicate bullying. Encourage your child to talk about their friends, sports teams, and how their classes are going. Your questions are a great way to show that you care while also allowing you to keep track of any environmental changes that may be problematic.

2. Build a Trusting Relationship

Ensure your child knows the lines of communication are always open when it comes to talking to you about what is going on in their life. Even if your child tells you something that is shocking, suspend disbelief to instead let them know you trust what they are telling you.

3. Establish Rules for Online Conduct

Surprisingly, a high percentage of bullying occurs online. With the prevalence of technology at home and in the classroom, it is imperative to establish online conduct rules for children from an early age. This will develop an understanding of responsibility for communications both verbal and virtual. You can encourage your child to keep protected by following these two guidelines:

  1. Never say or do anything online that you wouldn’t say or do in person.
  2. Never share any information that you wouldn’t tell a stranger.

4. Involve Child in Problem Solving Discussion

Work together to come up with a solution so that your child feels empowered. Trying to directly contact the parent of the aggressor can sometimes lead to additional bullying and rarely solves the situation. Instead, take active steps to talk to your child about ways they can bring conflict to an end. Find more resources on standing up to bullies here: http://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/talking-about-it/

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5. Focus on Social-Emotional Learning

Showing children that everyone is different and speaking openly about the emotions certain actions can evoke is a key part of developing your child’s social emotional skills. Concepts like responsibility, respect, and kindness need to be taught before children can fully understand what a bully is and how to ensure they don’t become one unintentionally.

From books to games, the resources below can help you build social emotional learning in your children as they prepare for interacting with their peers:

Sources:

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