Tag Archives: children

Encouraging Your Child’s Love of Animals

20 Apr

shutterstock_39704332.jpg

Have you noticed that your little one has a particular fondness for furry friends? Whether they just love the family pet or all creatures, the love of animals is a great trait to have and support. Including this passion for animals into everyday activities can be a fantastic learning opportunity for teaching subjects likes responsibility, kindness, and even natural science! From learning about animals to actual animal care, their attachment to pets and wildlife can easily be supported and creates an excellent opportunity for family fun.

Positives of Pet Ownership

It doesn’t matter if they own a fish, a house full of furry friends, or a just collection stuffed animals; pet ownership can positively influence your little animal lover’s development. Taking care of a pet obviously teaches your child about responsibility, but it also teaches them how to nurture. Pets are often a source of unconditional love with provides your child with a “safe” friend to talk to and love. Pets also encourage children to be more active and social. From running with the dog in the backyard to playing with a friend’s hamster, animals require activities that are healthy to both the pet and owner. Perhaps due to space or family allergies, your child can’t own a pet. No worries! Maybe your child can visit pets of friends and neighbors; they can demonstrate to them how they take care of the pet and maybe let them join in for some activities. Consider adopting or sponsoring a pet at a local zoo! Your child can even help raise the money to cover the cost of the support. A trip to visit “their” animal is sure to be a blast!

shutterstock_445966090.jpg

Ideas for Motivating Their Passion

From chasing lighting bugs outside to taking care of their favorite stuffed cat each night, your child will naturally find ways to explore their love of pets. Of course, spending time doing family activities is always important. Consider these ideas on how to combine your child’s love of animals with your family fun time. These activities are sure to entertain as well as educate and create extraordinary family memories for both you and your child.

  • Visit a zoo, farm, aquarium, nature preserve or local science center
  • Consider owning alternative pets like an ant farm or sea monkeys.
  • Pet-sit (a great way to trial run before adopting a pet of your own)
  • Let your child be a vet with the Nici® Wonderland Doll: Veterinarian Set
  • Take a nature walk while bird watching
  • Watch a live stream of an animal from a zoo
  • Visit animals at the pet store
  • Visit a dog park (with or without a dog. Just asking before petting!)
  • Create adorable pets with the Magnutto™ Junior Make a Pet™ Magnetic Activity
  • Visit a petting zoo or butterfly garden
  • Watch a film starring an animal while munching on animal themed snacks (like animal crackers and ants on a log)
  • Go on a virtual experience with the Genuine Ant Farm® Antopia Adventure™ Virtual Explorer
  • Create a zoo with stuffed animals and cardboard box “cages”

146103a.jpg

Leave us a comment below and tell us your child’s favorite animal-themed activity.

Helping Your Child Cope with Stress

6 Apr

shutterstock_609977186.jpeg

Although stress is often associated with being an adult issue, children can also struggle with stress. There are plenty of factors that can lead to your child feeling these emotions—change of school, friends, seasons, classwork, and siblings—just to name a few common stressors. You as a parent, of course, want to ease these emotions, as best you can, and nurture your child’s mental health. Here are some recommendations to consider when mentoring your child on their stress management. (Please note if you have noticed an extreme change in your child’s behavior, please seek help from a mental health professional)

Good vs. Bad

Stress is normal. A little stress can motivate a child to achieve goals, learn new things, and explore new experiences. The first step in helping your child is identifying if your child’s stress is normal or unhealthy for them. Are they concerned for a certain test or testing in general? Are they worried about a certain situation or a long list of possibilities? Possible negative stress symptoms include increased crying, headaches and stomachaches, trouble sleeping, drastically changing emotions, and anxious body moments (like leg shaking and nail chewing). Listen and examine to decide if they just need a few extra words of encouragement or help with their entire stress management.

Stress can be contagious

As adults, we are often stressed about something in our lives. Regardless of the causes, this stress can be passed down to your child. Although they may have no direct ties to what is stressing you, they can reflect those emotions in areas of their own lives. Work towards creating a “stress free” home. Take the time to have relaxing family moments and vacations. Demonstrate how you ease your stresses to your little one. Whether it’s yoga, deep breathing or simply laying out in a hammock in the back yard, showing your child how you release your stress can help them release their own. Also, choose wisely on when and where is the appropriate time to vent about your own stressors because little ones are often listening and can pick up on your emotions. Stress can be contagious to a family, but if you make a conscious effort to identify and minimalize the stress you can create a happy and safe space for everyone.

shutterstock_143247310.jpg

Stress relief techniques

Once you have identified what has stressed your child, it is then time to help them manage those feelings. First, pay close attention to your child’s behavior when they are feeling stressed. Do they increasingly rub their eyes? Do they sleep more? After you have noticed a sign that their stress has increased, it is time to initialize a stress relief technique. Consider the following:

  1. Outdoor play is an excellent way to help your stressed out little one. The exercise releases endorphins, which is a great natural relaxer. Explore our blog post on active play for more outdoor play ideas.
  1. Organization can also be key to relieving a child’s stress. We recommend the children’s book Get Organized Without Losing It , which is perfect for showing how being organized can be a great stress reliever.
  1. Consider small toys such as Theraputty and Tangle Therapy, which are designed to redirect stressful behaviors. These are also perfect for on-the-go relief when other techniques may not be an option.
  1. Lastly, simply teaching your child to slow down and just breathe can do a world of good for them. Taking multiple deep breaths, while having their eyes close, can melt away stress and refocus their brain.

Children will respond to stress differently, as long as you help them identify and manage their stressors, they should improve their own stress management, ultimately leading to a happy and relaxed life.

Sources and Resources:

http://americanspcc.org/signs-stress-kids-teens-reduce/?gclid=CKSDn_6ti9MCFcWPswodNpIE8Q

https://psychcentral.com/lib/7-tips-for-helping-your-child-manage-stress/

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/stress-coping.html

Six Science Investigations for Summer

4 Aug

Curious how your children can get more involved in science learning this summer? Take advantage of the time off from school to tap into children’s natural curiosity with scientific investigations at home! Whether little ones want to catch up, get ahead, or just have fun, summer is the perfect time for creative, scientific play.

1. Kitchen Creations

Change things up by encouraging children to play with their food! Together, you can make something edible or make food discoveries just for fun. You may want to try the marshmallow challenge: make a marshmallow sink by compacting it so that it is more dense than the water in which it would normally float. Check out more science experiments for the kitchen here:

kitchen-science-roundup1

Source: Makes and Takes

2. Grow Up

Use the summer sun to help practice planting and gardening! You can grow a whole garden outdoors, or keep a small potted plant on a windowsill inside to study with children. What do plants need to grow? Depending on what you plant, how high will it grow? Find out those answers and more with these gardening ideas here:

seedlings

Source: PBS Parents

3.Sponge Fun

Learn about absorption with a sponge! See how the sponge absorbs soap and water indoors, or take it outside to get messier! Compare the sponge to a block or other non-absorbent materials when it is both wet and dry. Why do you think it works like this? You can even turn chores, like washing dishes or a car, into a lesson about absorption. Check out the details of how absorption works and more fun facts about this activity here:

dsc_5546-1024x685

Science Sparks

4. Tornado in a Jar

Jump into sensory play by creating your own tornado! All you need is a jar, water, and a little bit of dish soap. Now, just shake it up. For more detailed instructions, click on the jar!

dsc_0008181

In Leiu of Preschool

5. Stargazing

If it’s a clear night, search for stars in the night sky! You can use a telescope or just look up above. Can you see planets? Any constellations? What are stars made up of? Here are the answers and some cool science facts for kids. Go even deeper into night sky exploration by checking out our related post: Planning a Family Stargazing Night.

constellations

Easy Science for Kids

6. Fireflies

Can’t see the stars from where you are? Fireflies make a great summertime substitute! You can catch these little critters temporarily in acute bug jar (with a hole for airflow) to observe the bugs up close. Find out what makes fireflies glow and other cool facts about fireflies here:

708px-photinus_pyralis_firefly_4

Smithsonian

For more summer science fun, visit our science section!

Preschool Pumpkin Designs for Halloween

28 Oct

Halloween is Friday! Get your children excited by pulling together some pumpkin crafts to keep little hands and minds busy! Seasonal crafts can encourage cooperative play as children work together with parents or siblings to create something inspiring. Drawing, cutting, and gluing will also build fine and gross motor skills. Here are five fun ways you can make pumpkins at home with your children to celebrate Halloween:

99e096acb739f91ab3e96f5b19961440

 1. Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater!

Avoid all of the dangerous knives involved with jack o’ lanterns and have children cut out a pumpkin instead! This activity is easy and adorable. Simply take a picture of each child with their arms raised and print out the pumpkins with the “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater!” poem attached here. Have children cut out the pumpkins and color as creatively as they want! Cut out all of the pumpkin pieces and glue together for a super cute craft! It also makes for a great Halloween decoration to put on the fridge.

94e5e648b654f65961d3903263535222 2. Sparkly Pumpkins

Who says you have to cut a pumpkin to make it beautiful? Get preschoolers excited about making sparkly pumpkins! Break out the autumn colors, add some golden glitter paint, and have preschoolers use their hands to place sequins on the pumpkins with glue. Children will love getting their hands messy and seeing the sparkly results once pumpkins dry.

Source: http://theimaginationtree.com/2010/10/sparkly-pumpkins.html

b6f81e4c93ec61e663e960d188511993

3. Pumpkin Seed Fall Craft!

Though pumpkins don’t last forever, pumpkin seeds can last much longer! Simply save the pumpkin seeds from whatever pumpkin goody you’re making, engage your child in painting the seeds orange, brown, and green, and draw a pumpkin outline to be filled with colored seeds! Once glue is applied, children can simply place the seeds on their pumpkin for decoration. Results will leave kids with something to proudly hang on the wall for a little pumpkin decoration.

Source: http://blogs.babycenter.com/life_and_home/9-simple-pumpkin-seed-projects-for-fall/

4. Mini Pumpkin Quesadillas! 1e11c74c1802dcc2bbb29683c59eacd5

After you finish pumpkin crafting, you have to have a healthy pumpkin snack! Mini quesadillas are the perfect option as they’re easy to make and allow room for as much creativity as you’re willing to put in. Have your child draw the faces they want cut into their quesadilla on a piece of paper and replicate by cutting the faces out of the tortillas. Fill with cheese and cook to create festive pumpkin quesadillas!

Source: http://www.craftymorning.com/mini-pumpkin-quesadillas-kids-halloween-lunch/

5. Pumpkin Slime

Finally, if your family did go through with carving a pumpkin for the holiday season, there is a simple craft your child will love to dig his or her hands into! Get ready for pumpkin slime! This is a great option for sensory play and a creative way to recycle the insides of your pumpkin. Learn how to make pumpkin slime with liquid starch here: http://www.learnplayimagine.com/2013/10/pumpkin-slime-recipe-fall-sensory-play.html?m=1

00bba365fb52507b3fce615483b6b7e0

Books to Read with Your Pumpkin Craft:

-Pumpkin Soup

-Andy Shane and the Pumpkin Trick

-Piggies in the Pumpkin Patch

We hope you enjoy making pumpkin crafts with your children! Do you have something creative in mind for Halloween? Share with us by posting your pumpkin creations on our Facebook page.

DIY Boats for Christopher Columbus Day!

13 Oct

What better way to celebrate Christopher Columbus Day than by building DIY (Do It Yourself) boats! Water play is a fun way to keep kids engaged as they use hands-on learning to build gross motor skills. DIY projects also stretch the imagination, teach children the value of being resourceful, and provide simple science lessons such as why some materials float and others don’t. Here are four DIY boats you can build with your child to keep creativity flowing and keep little minds engaged as they play:

lm-paper-boat1. Paper Boats

Learn about transportation by building a paper boat with paper or cardboard, duct tape, and water to send it on its way! Keep children engaged by talking about the importance of Christopher Columbus’ discovery and ask them where they would like to travel by boat. Once imaginations have been sparked, start building with these step-by-step instructions: http://www.mykidsadventures.com/paper-boat-race/. The duct tape on the bottom will prevent boats from falling apart.

 Extra: Get even more creative by providing markers and paint for children to personalize boats!

Penny-Boats

2. Penny Boats

Work on counting money and make a boat at the same time! Penny Boats are as simple as using aluminum foil, straws, paper, balloons, and any other household supplies you want to decorate with. Then it becomes a competition to find out whose boat can hold the most pennies before it sinks! Turn the project into a simple science lesson by asking children to make a hypothesis on how many pennies a boat will hold before it sinks! Ask children at the end of the activity if they have any ideas on how to make the boats more durable for next time.

Source: http://imaginationsoup.net/2014/07/summer-learning-pbs-kids/

boats-07

3. Pool Noodle Boats

There’s nothing like cutting up pool noodles, sticking in toothpicks, adding a paper sail, and watching boats sail around on a sunny day! Blow on the little boats to watch them go! Encourage your kids to participate in a competition to see who can blow a boat to the finish point the fastest!

Source: http://www.raisingwildones.com/2014/03/easy-sail-boat-kids-craft.html

cork-sailboats-with-sparkly-sails-mama-papa_-bubba_2

4. Classic Cork Boats

Make little pirate ships out of corks and rubber bands! Kids can make boats as long or short as they want by adding or subtracting corks. Once finished, blow on the shimmery sails to set them sailing! Use different colored sails to personalize.

Source: http://mamapapabubba.com/2013/06/25/cork-sail-boats-with-sparkly-sails/#comment-5592

Looking for related books to go with your activity? We’ve got you covered! Check out these fun titles on boats:

Related Products:

-Boat Puzzle: http://www.kaplantoys.com/product/83746/chunky-puzzle-boat?c=31%7CKTHS13

– LEGO Boats: http://www.kaplantoys.com/product/89493/lego-harbor-set

Things to Consider When Planning a Play Date

26 Aug

 

jfdakl;

 

It’s the first week of school for many students and parents! As students adapt to the changes of a new teacher and peers, it’s important to support the friendships being fostered in the classroom right from the start. Friendship is not only an essential part of developing a child’s social skills, but it also makes the transition back to school much easier. Interacting and planning play dates with other parents is a great way to support the friendships being made and ensure they will not dwindle away as the school year progresses. Here are six things you’ll want to keep in mind when planning your child’s next play date!

 

  1. Be Prepared —It’s important that your child is ready for the play date regardless of whether they are going or hosting. Make sure he or she is well rested and fed before the allotted time. Not only do you want your child prepared, but you’ll also want to prep the space that you intend to use for play. Choose a space that will allow children to be active as they interact and childproof it for any potential risks. If the play date is happening at your house, your schedule should be cleared for the devoted hour of social time, as children will need consistent supervision.
  1. Know What to Expect—You’ll want to establish who’s picking up who, arrival and departure times, if parents are staying throughout the play date, and how many children will be involved before getting children together. It’s also a good practice to ask about any allergies or medical needs of the children in your care. Once you have all of the details, be sure to talk it over with your child, so they also know when to expect friend-time and how to prepare. (We all know they have that one special toy or outfit they’ll have to find and show off!)
  1. Teach Children How to Play the Perfect Host(ess)—Social skills are one of the many benefits children will gain from interacting with peers and building lasting relationships. One of those skills is courtesy. Explain what it means to be a ‘’good host(ess)” with examples like taking their guest’s jacket and hanging it up, showing their guest the space they’ll be exploring, or even offering a pre-prepared snack or drink! Seeing the guest as someone to be valued will help children better appreciate the ideas of their peers both in and outside of the classroom.
  1. Avoid Threes—There is truth to the concept of “third wheels” and having someone feel “left out” is never ideal. If you can, plan in pairs or keep younger siblings distracted with separate activities so children can interact with their guest.
  1. Know When to Step In—Squabbles are going to happen; it’s natural as kids are unlikely to agree on everything that arises within an hour. There are a couple of ways you can handle play date skirmishes. If there is hitting (or biting) involved, it’s time to step in and change the activity, giving attention to a new subject. If the problem is one that does not involve children being emotionally or physically hurt, it can be just as beneficial to step back and let children work out their own problems. Using communication and understanding differences is a key learning process, and if children can come to joint solutions, problem-solving skills are already underway.
  1. Reflect When Finished—It’s important to know what worked and what didn’t when the play date has come to an end. This will help you with the planning process for the next date and how your child best operates with their peers. Plan your own meeting with the parents of the visiting children so you can both be better prepared for round two!

For the perfect play date toys, you won’t want to miss out on these selections:

Play Date Resources:

 

Fight Childhood Obesity Through Active Play

24 Mar

shutterstock_46172899

Various initiatives have been started in recent years to combat childhood obesity, but the number of overweight and obese children is still staggering. The CDC recently reported that more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese in 2012. The high number of overweight and obese children indicates that more needs to be done at home and in the classroom to help children learn to eat healthier and be more active.

Infrequent exercising is a major cause of childhood obesity, so you can help your kids keep a healthy weight and fight childhood obesity by encouraging active play. Participating in active play activities with your children will give you a chance to show your kids that you value physical activity and will help you spend quality time together as a family. Here are five active play activities you and your children can enjoy during the spring and summer months:

Five Active Play Activities for Spring and Summer

1. Create Sidewalk Art

Children can get creative as they use paint and chalk to make works of art on sidewalks and driveways. This is a great activity for kids of all ages and can help them stay active as they mix colors and draw and paint various designs. Work with your kids to see how big of an art piece you can create, and be sure to snap pictures of your kids’ designs before the rain washes them away.

18384new626218583185834b

2. Learn a New Skill

Spring and summer are great times of the year to learn new skills. Kids will enjoy learning how to ride a bike or scooter, and teaching them how provides wonderful bonding moments for parents and children. Learning to juggle, speed stack, and balance on stilts are also fun new skills your kids will enjoy learning. All of these activities will help your kids stay active as they learn about balance and motion.

141747b141864a142186    20770-bl

3. Explore Sand and Water

Kids love digging in sand and playing in water, and the spring and summer months provide great opportunities for fun, motion-filled sand and water activities. Sand molds, buckets, sprinklers, and other sand and water tools all facilitate active play as children explore sand and water. For more ideas on how kids can stay active with sand and water activities, check out Sand and Water Play: Simple, Creative Activities for Young Children.

301436113491111141728a

4. Help with Outdoor Chores

There are plenty of opportunities in spring and summer for children to help you do outdoor chores. Let them help you plant or water the garden, pick up sticks from the yard, or practice mowing with their pretend mower. You can even turn these activities into competitions to see whose plant grows best or who picks up the most sticks. Activities like these will help children stay active while they learn important life skills. Read The Budding Gardener for other ideas on fun-filled gardening activities you can do with your children.

6207362779-bl31325new141908a

5. Play Outdoor Games

Establishing a family routine that includes physical fitness can help you and your children keep a healthy weight. Make time to play an outdoor game with your kids a few times a week, especially in spring and summer. Play a game of basketball or volleyball as a family after dinner or teach kids how to play badminton or tennis. Even a quick game of tag or a simple 30 minute family walk will help keep you and your kids healthy.

99676141834a86899wc62570

Be sure to browse our Active and Outdoor Play section for additional ideas on how you can help your kids be more active.