Tag Archives: arts and crafts

Trouble-Free Preschooler Activities for Earth Day

14 Apr

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Observed annually on April 22nd, Earth Day is a celebration of environmental protection and conservation. One month into spring, Earth Day is the perfect time to get your little ones outside and learning. Use this day (or even week) to discuss how your family can play a part in protecting the Earth that we inhabit. Here are some excellent ideas that can help you turn fun in the sun into impactful lifetime of learning!

Rain and Shine

In order to explore conservation, your child must first understand why the Earth is so important to protect. A great place to start is with nature discovery. While exploring, explain the special relationship that humans have with nature and how we interact and depend on one another. Consider these activities:

  • Take a nature walk with a fun twist. Give your child pictures of items to find (like a rock, 3 types of flowers, a pinecone, etc.) for an afternoon of nature scavenger hunting.
  • Cook up a mud pie! Get messy while mixing up different types of dirt for a fun, sensory loaded activity. Try including as many different materials such as sand, rocks, and leaves into your pie “ingredients”.
  • Explore the water cycle with the Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table™. Your child can make it rain again and again with this fun cause and effect STEM activity.
  • Turn your nature walk finds into a nature collage. Use an old egg carton to organize and protect your new collection.
  • Create beautiful art with leaves! Paint various leaves and use them to stamp their designs onto paper or even a canvas.

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Love the Earth and It’s Creatures

Once your child has had a fun introduction to nature, it’s time to explore some of the Earth Day themes. From pollution to animal conservation, there is plenty to discover and themes to tailor to your child’s interests.

  • Play “can it be recycle?” by hunting around the kitchen and explaining what and how different materials can be recycled. Bonus! Practice sorting their discoveries based on the material.
  • Introduce upcycling by including them in a small project or craft that includes recycled and repurposed materials.
  • Create a small garden just for them. Use the Eco-Friendly Indoor Gardening Kit and the Watering Can with Shovel and Rake to create a special space for them to explore the growing process.
  • Give the earth an actual hug with the Hugg-A-Planet® Earth.
  • Discuss animal conservation while cuddling with the Baberoo Sea Turtle Plush or playing with the Polar Animals Set.
  • Create a bird feeder by repurposing a paper towel tube with peanut butter and birdseed.
  • See an Earth Day movie! We suggest the Disneynature series which premiers a new film every Earth Day. If you see it opening week they will make a donation to World Wildlife Fund.
  • Chow down on Earthy dirt cups! Your child will love the crush cookie “dirt”, chocolate pudding “mud”, and brightly colored gummy “worms”. Simply mix chocolate pudding to create a mud base, crush Oreos to form a dirt crust, and insert gummy worms for a buggy surprise!

However you choose to celebrate Earth Day, we would love to hear about it on our social or in the comments below!

Three Easy Activities to Help Your Family Embrace Spring

30 Mar

Transitioning into spring can be an exciting time for children. After several months of post-holiday blues, springtime brings green grass, blooming flowers, special holiday celebrations, and warm-weather activities. Spring also brings a sense of renewal and refreshment—perhaps from the spring cleaning or the ever-growing anticipation of summer. This is your chance to add a little fun and liveliness to your family time and embrace the seasonal change. Here are some simple spring activities that are the perfect cure to your family’s spring fever.

Make It!

Pretty Paper Flowers

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You will need:

Step One: Place the tissue paper flat on the table, alternating colors.

Step Two: Have your child fold the tissue paper (about one inch) back and forth just like you would to make a fan. Once they have reached the end, the stack of tissue paper should look like an accordion.

Step Three: Wrap a green pipe cleaner around the middle of the stack, twist to secure and make a stem.

Step Four: Next, help your child carefully separate each piece of tissue paper. Fluff the layers into a flower shape.

Step Five: Tear pieces of construction paper into leaf shapes and poke them onto the pipe cleaner stem, sliding it up until to reaches the top.

Place your forever-fresh flowers in a vase for a bright splash of spring in the kitchen or get creative and add multiple smaller flowers to a pipe cleaner circle for a fairylike crown.
 

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Bake It!

Honey Milk Balls

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You will need:

  • ¼ cup of honey
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup nonfat powdered milk
  • 1 cup uncooked rolled oats or ½ cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (optional)
  • Measuring cups
  • Mixing bowl and spoon

Step One: Talk with your child about honey—explain that honey comes from bees. Encourage them to ask questions as well as feel, smell, and taste the honey.

Step Two: Mix the first four ingredients well, and then knead them by hand until blended.

Step Three: Shape the mixture into 1” balls.

Step Four: Roll the honey milk balls in coconut if desired.

Recipe Source: The Budding Chef

 Do It!

Getting Outdoors

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Another major part of spring is getting outdoors after the long winter. Incorporate the following outdoor activities into your family time:

  • Host a family soccer game! Switch it up by inviting extended family or neighbors to be the opposing team. Play girls vs. boys or adults vs. children.
  • Enjoy a picnic! Don’t forget your honey milk balls and paper flower centerpiece!
  • Create a driveway masterpiece! Stick to the classic sidewalk chalk or switch it up with Chalktivity.
  • Stargaze! Take advantage of the warmer nights and introduce your child to the sky’s wonders.

Leave us a comment below and share your family’s favorite springtime activity.

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.

Showing Dad How Much He Matters!

16 Jun

shutterstock_132978608Father’s Day is right around the corner! Fathers are an integral part of a child’s early education in the home as they provide stable male role models and play unique roles in children’s development. According to research, fathers are more likely to

  • promote children’s intellectual and social development through physical play;
  • emphasize independence and allow children more freedom to explore their surroundings, take risks, and challenge themselves; and
  • push their sons to higher levels of achievement.

To celebrate the special role father’s play in the lives of their children, we have a few fun crafts and books your kids can share with dad!

1. A Gift for the Car! Car Visor Clip

Help dad keep his car organized with this special gift!

Materials

  • clothespin, spring type
  • library pocket or small sturdy mailing envelope
  • paint
  • cotton swabs or thin paintbrushes
  • glue
  • nontoxic permanent marker

Make Your Great Gift

  1. Paint the clothespin and library pocket using the cotton swabs or thin paintbrushes.
  2. After the paint dries, glue the library pocket to one side of the clothespin.
  3. Use the permanent marker to personalize the clip by writing a title on the library pocket such as “Dad’s Car Clip.”
  4. Include a note with the gift suggesting that the recipient clip it to the car visor and use the pocket for parking stubs or other receipts.

Helpful Hint

  • The library pocket will last longer if it is laminated or covered with clear contact paper before attaching it to the clothespin. Glue does not adhere to laminate well, so use self-adhesive Velcro to attach the pocket to the clothespin.

Variation

  • Add magnetic tape to the back of the clothespin to create a refrigerator clip that can hold papers. Use the library pocket for storing pens and pencils.
  • Use a cut off denim jeans back pocket instead of a library pocket.

2. A Gift for the Office! Made-It-Myself Mouse Pad

Impress Dad with a unique mouse pad for the office!

Materials:

  • White or light-colored craft foam, cut into approximately 8” x 9” pieces
  • Nontoxic permanent colored markers
  • Clear vinyl, cut the same size and shape as craft foam
  • Clear 2” wide book or packing tape, cut to 9” length

Make Your Great Gift

  1. Brainstorm ideas to draw on the mouse pad. The following are possible ideas:
  • Draw a scene for the mouse to travel through
  • Trace simple shapes
  • Draw a self-portrait
  1. Draw the design on one side of the craft foam with the permanent markers.
  2. Place a piece of tape approximately 9” long to adhere clear vinyl to craft foam along the top long edge. Then you can slide notes, memos, or photos between the vinyl and the foam.
  3. Trim as needed.

Helpful Hints

  • Add notes and photos under the clear vinyl.
  • Clear vinyl, sold by the yard, may be found at stores that sell fabric. Or use leftover laminating film, clear page protectors, or clear report covers for the top of the mouse pad.

Source: 101 Great Gifts Kids Can Make

3. A Recipe to Make with Dad! 

Ingredients

  • 2” pieces of celery
  • 1/4 “ slices of carrots
  • peanut butte

Celery Race Cars

An easy and fun snack that will keep your child’s motor running!

What to Do

  1. Encourage your child to spread peanut butter into his celery “cars.”
  2. Spread peanut butter on the carrot slices and attach them to the celery to create “wheels.”
  3. Enjoy talking with Dad about your child’s favorite cars!

Source: The Budding Chef

4. Books to Celebrate Dad!

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Finally, there’s no better way to spend quality time with dad than by reading books together! We have a few selections that are sure to inspire bonding between little ones and their real-life heroes:

Have fun this weekend and a special Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there!

Valentine’s Day Gifts for Teachers

10 Feb

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Fostering social and emotional development in young children is a key point of focus in early education classrooms and programs. Though academics can never be underrated, it is important that our children have the social skills to express that knowledge to the world. Valentine’s Day is a great holiday for teaching children to appreciate and value the educators who instill a love of learning every day. We have a few crafts for little hands that will hopefully express just that!

1. Kindness Cards

Children will recognize and label basic feelings, becoming more aware of the feelings of others.

Books:

Materials

  • Crayons, markers, glue, and collage materials
  • Box with a slot cut into it
  • Large, blank index cards
  • Markers
  • Scissors

Preparation: Decorate a box with a slot cut into the top or side, and label it as, “The Kindness Box.”

What To Do:

  1. Read one or more of the suggested books to your children.
  2. Talk with your child about feelings and discuss the meaning of kindness.
  3. Ask children to brainstorm ways their teacher has been kind to them. Write their responses on large index cards.
  4. Introduce “The Kindness Box” and invite children to use art materials to decorate the index cards and then put them into the box.
  5. Explain that the cards they made will be given to their teacher to make him or her smile for Valentine’s Day! Explain that by helping someone smile, they are being kind.

Source: Activity adapted from Another Encyclopedia of Theme Activities for Young Children. 

2. Etched Candles

Work on children’s early literacy skills as they spell out a Valentine’s message on a jazzed up candle with creative design.

Materials

  • Votive size or other small, thick candles, colored if possible
  • Thin paintbrushes or wooden cooking skewers
  • Netting or tissue paper, cut in squares
  • Yarn, cut into 8” pieces

Make Your Gift Great

  1. Etch the sides of a candle with the handle end of a paintbrush.
  2. Have your child choose a Valentine’s word or message to write on the candle (ex. Love, Hero, Best Teacher, etc.) Etch it into the candle along with simple designs and shapes, such as dots, stripes, circles, and so on.
  3. Brush off loose pieces of wax.
  4. Wrap the candle in a square piece of netting or tissue paper and tie with yarn.

Helpful Hints

  • Retrace over the design several times to make it more visible.
  • Use a comb to etch in a design.

Source: 101 Great Gifts Kids Can Make

3. Shapes & Sand Design

Involve sensory play with a Valentine’s design to give to teachers!

What To Do:

  1. Glue bright, bold cutout paper hearts to a contrasting construction paper background. For example, use yellow on purple, red on blue, or white on black.
  2. Trace around the edges of the shapes with white glue squeezed from the bottle.
  3. Shake or pour colored sand onto the glue lines, or use sand you’ve put in a container for easy pour solutions.
  4. Tap the excessive sand onto a tray (save this in the sand container for later use). Let the design dry completely before presenting to the teacher.
  5. Extra: Have your child write a special Valentine’s note on the inside of the heart.

Source: Art with Anything 

We hope you were inspired to get together with your children to make something special for educators on Valentine’s Day. Be sure to share pictures of your child’s final product by tagging us on Instagram @Kaplantoys!

12 Days of Learning | Day 11: Celebrate Winter

13 Dec

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The winter solstice is coming up soon, and we have some great ideas to help your family celebrate the start of winter. Whether your winters are warm and dry or cold and snowy, you can use these indoor and outdoor activities to have fun as a family and help your kids learn about winter:

1. Encourage your kids to read. Reading is an excellent activity for keeping kids engaged during the winter months. In addition to encouraging your kids to read on their own, you can make reading a family time activity. Books are also an excellent way to help kids learn about winter. The Snowy Day, Winter Big Book, The Mitten, Snowballs, and Snow would all be great additions to your child’s book collection.

2. Have an outdoor (or indoor) family snowball fight! This is a fun way for your family to stay active and exercise during the winter months. If it doesn’t snow where you live or it’s too cold outside for the kids to play, we have the perfect solution for your family. Snowtime Anytime Snowballs feel like real snowballs and can be used indoors or outdoors, which means your family can have snowball fights anytime during the winter or all year long.

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3. Ask children what changes they are noticing in the weather. This gives you the opportunity to discuss weather words, weather instruments, how people forecast the weather, and other weather basics. Kids will be particularly interested in snow at this time of the year, so encourage them to play in the snow or make their own paper snowflakes. Books about snow, such as Snow is Falling, will also help them understand weather and how it changes. Older kids may enjoy having a weather station to help them monitor weather conditions and make their own forecasts.

4. Take your kids ice skating at an indoor or outdoor skating rink. Ice skating is a great way to get your kids out of the house during the winter months. It will also help improve their balance and coordination. After your family burns some calories on the ice, be sure to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or a bowl of soup. Remember that it’s best not to use a frozen pond in your neighborhood because the ice may not be thick enough or your kids may wander off to an area of the ice that isn’t safe. Sledding and skiing are two other wintertime activities your family may enjoy.

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5. Talk to kids about animals and plants that are commonly seen in winter. Point out or ask kids which animals and plants they see more of in winter. This is a good way to start a discussion about hibernation and migration. Books, such as Time to Sleep, can also help you explain why certain animals hibernate or migrate during the winter months. Encourage your kids to take pictures or keep a journal of changes they notice in nature during the winter months.

6. Come up with fun art and craft projects your kids can do indoors or outdoors. Kids can become bored pretty fast during the winter months, especially if the weather is bad and they can’t go outdoors. Fun art and craft projects will help engage your kids on gloomy winter days, but make sure you also have projects they can do outside when the weather is nice enough. It’s also a good idea to have a variety of art and craft supplies on hand to help engage your children during their breaks from school or on snow days.

Check back on Monday for Day 12 of our 12 Days of Learning!

Happy Holidays!