Tag Archives: early literacy

Creative Ways to Introduce Language and Literacy to Children

28 Jul shutterstock_383236630

Want to make learning language fun for you and your children? Introducing language and literacy to infants and young children can be a challenging process. Whether you are teaching little ones their first language or you are promoting dual language learning, here are some ways you can make learning language and literacy more fun:

Combine Learning Styles.


Help children get a grasp on literacy by using headset devices that help them hear the words as they read along aloud without disturbing others. The WhisperPhone® Solo allows children to link the sounds they hear with words they see and read, combining auditory and visual learning.

Build up Vocabulary.


ABC Blocks are a classic toy. Children can learn to build words and sentences block by block with timeless educational blocks. This new Uncle Goose Classic ABC Blocks set features four complete alphabets as well as numbers, animals, and mathematical symbols.

Put the Pieces Together.


Introduce another language to your child with an alphabet floor puzzle! Learn about different and same letters in other alphabets and look along with appealing visuals. This Spanish ABC Floor Puzzle introduces the Spanish alphabet as well as vocabulary of some animals, plants, and food!

Make Magnet Magic!


Word magnets allows children to see, touch, and arrange their words. Magnetic words can help children learn to create sentences while encouraging creativity and imagination. Have a whale of a time with this new Magnetic Poetry® Really Big Words Set.

Crack the Case.


Mysteries can make language more exciting for advanced learners who want to be challenged. Games like Language Detective helps students develop language and writing skills under the guise of solving a mystery. In this case, children find misused words as well as errors in punctuation, capitalization, and spelling.


For more ways to make language arts more engaging, visit our language arts section!

5 Books to Get Caught Reading!

10 May



Did you know it is Get Caught Reading Month? In an effort to promote early literacy in young children at home, we have a few of our favorite book selections for you to choose from! Not to mention, fun ideas for places to get caught reading!30706.jpg

1. Henry Helps Book Set (Set of 7):

(2 years & up) Want an engaging way to teach children about household responsibilities? Learning from Henry is a great place to start! This adorable set of 7 paperback books encourages responsibility, teamwork, and helps build self-esteem in small children.


2. Little Blue Truck: 

(3 years & up) What happens when a little pickup truck faces a muddy country road? Read about the adventures of a little blue truck that gets stuck while pushing a dump truck out of the muck. Filled with truck sounds and animals noises, this board book is a lighthearted journey to the power of friendship and the rewards of helping others.

3. Dan and Jan: 27769.jpg

(4 years & up) Meet Dan and Jan, two friends who love to run, jump, and even dance together! com’s title Dan and Jan is a charming story that will help young readers learn words in the –an word family. A great adventure for young learners to teach early vocabulary.


4. Same Old Horse: 

14053.jpg(6 years & up) This lively story encourages kids to work with numbers and make predictions. Beautiful ink-and-watercolor pictures show horses in a barnyard acting just like children on a playground. Notes are included for adults and children about finding patterns and making predictions in everyday life.


5. Everything You Need to Know About Frogs:

(7 years & up) Great for science learning, this fascinating hardback book is packed with information about habitats, breeding habits, anatomy, as well as oddities and shocking facts! Explore the world of reptiles and amphibians from all angles with information that is presented through close ups, quizzes, games, and engaging text.

Looking for cool places for kids to nestle up and read? Here are some fun suggestions.

Places to Get Caught Reading:

  • Little nooks under staircases: be sure to include pillows
  • Wide window sills: the natural sunlight is always inspiring for readers
  • Blanket forts: inspire imagination with tiny castles
  • Closet spaces: clean out a corner and plug in a light, a nice little getaway

Tell us how you are promoting early literacy in the household by tagging us on Twitter and using the hashtag #GetCaughtReading.

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:


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=


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!



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


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/


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

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:



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/


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/


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/


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/


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!

Preparing Preschoolers for Back-to-School

11 Aug

Role of Talk

Looking at the calendar and wondering how August snuck up on you? Back-to-school is here and there are a few things you can do to give your preschooler a proper send-off!

Summer Math Review: That’s a Wrap


Brush up your little one’s math skills before they head back to the classroom. Opportunities for math learning can be found in every day activities like counting down how many days are left until the first day of school to helping you measure ingredients for special recipes! One of the easiest ways to do a quick review and practice with your preschooler is by using the Addition and Subtraction Wrap Ups. These string problems are great for self-correction and repetition!

Alphabet Case Study! Learn Letters with Hot Dots Jr.


Letter recognition, both uppercase and lowercase, is a big part of preschool! Prepare your child for the classroom with Hot Dots Jr. Alphabet Cards! The double-sided cards are great for visual learners as they learn to match letters and practice sequencing. The Hot Dots Jr. Pen is also an interactive tool for giving guidance as the canine pal cheers for correct answers and redirects children when they answer incorrectly. Letter learning has never been so fun!

Encourage Pre-Writing Skills with Personalized Pencils


You would be amazed by how much of a difference it makes in how enthused a child is about writing if they have their favorite character on their pencils! Allowing children to pick out their writing utensils is a great way to get them excited for the new school year and all of the writing and coloring that is surely on the way! We have a few colorful suggestions if you’re looking for something creative:

Stress Social Skills by Practicing Kindness and Cooperation! 


Interestingly enough, a 20-year study recently revealed that young children who are taught social skills like kindness and cooperation early were more likely to obtain higher education and hold full-time jobs. That’s why it’s so important to practice those life skills at home. We have a few tools for doing just that, whether it’s following Shubert through the Shubert Series Value Pack, playing Social Skills or Blunders with the family, or learning about classroom etiquette with I’m Ready for School!

Best of luck as you drop off your little one for the first day of school! For even more back-to-school resources, check out the posts below:

Homeschooling Resources for Parents

4 Aug


Preparing to get your kids back on a schedule as the school year looms ahead? Whether you are an experienced homeschooling parent or you’re new to homeschooling, we have seven select resources to add to your homeschooling tool kit:

82147Dominoes Jar: 

Dominoes are honestly one of our favorite learning tools for young learners. Not only can you teach toddlers their colors and how to sort accordingly, but they also provide math learning that grows with your child. Teach anything from simple subtraction and addition to fractions depending on your child’s age!

29190Play Doh Rainbow

Teaching the smallest of learners? A starter Play Doh set is always a great tool to have on hand! Not only does it provide opportunities for color recognition and sensory play, but it can also be used in art projects. Just browse Pinterest for all the Play Doh inspiration you can ever need!


Early Learning Flash
Card Set: 

Early literacy is so important in young children, especially as it is proven to be one of the biggest indicators of future success. Flash cards are a great way for visual learners to practice the alphabet, rhyming, and sight words.



Not only is Bananagrams fun to play for a variety of ages, but it also provides vocabulary practice as well as words for young children to begin learning by sight. (Not to mention, it provides spelling practice without needing a pen and paper!)

Blunders Game: 91249b

Teaching children social-emotional skills is just as important as academics when it comes to young learners. Blunders is the perfect board game as it provides fun for the whole family while simultaneously teaching children the do’s and don’ts of social interactions.

Smart Lab Growing! Green House:143795a

Why not add a greenhouse to your science unit? The Smart Lab Growing! Green House provides the perfect contained ecosystem for children to grow flowers in as they learn about photosynthesis and the different parts of plants. Be sure to check the plant’s progress every day for interactive learning!

Hucklebee A Smart-as-can-Bee
Preschool Game:143808a

Hucklebee™ is always a favorite for little learners!. As children interact with clapped hands, laughing, and hugs for the adorable plush bee, this preschool game teaches shapes and colors, counting, and following directions.

We hope you find these learning tools helpful as you prepare your home for the school year! For even more sites to browse for homeschooling support, check out the resources below:

Even More Homeschooling Resources for Parents:

Guide to the Best Homeschooling and Unschooling Resources
10 Best Apps for Homeschooling Parents
4 Favorite Homeschooling Resources
• The Homeschooling Community 

Putting on a Proper Puppet Show!

23 Jun


Staging a puppet show is a great way to get children excited about reading, aid in the development of storytelling skills, and bring the family together to celebrate a child’s creativity! Not sure where to start? We have seven simple steps to aid your child in putting on a proper puppet show!

1. Choose your book.

It’s important to choose a story that lends itself to being acted out. Multiple strong characters, an exciting backdrop, and adventure are always great elements to include in a puppet show! Browse our selection of children’s books to get started: https://www.kaplantoys.com/shop/childrens-books.

2. Pick out the puppets.

Knowing which puppets to use as the show’s actors/actresses is the most important part! Allow children to express creativity by choosing their own character to act out whatever role they’ve chosen from the story. We have a range of puppets to choose from, from farm animals to Sesame Street characters! Below are some of our favorites:

Farm Puppets (Set of 8)28711

Happy Puppets (Set Of 6)Fox Hand Puppet by Folkmanis

3. Write the scripts.

Your children will have to decide which characters will be acted out as well as what they will say. Writing scripts is a great way to delve deeper into a book to pick out the most important lines of dialogue. It can also be a great opportunity to teach concepts like summarizing, themes, and the moral of the story. Children can depict with puppets what they learned from the story and practice early writing skills along the way!

4. Set the stage.

Tabletop Puppet TheaterWhat is a puppet show without a stage? Help your children pick out the perfect place to act out their stories. You’ll want to make sure the location is somewhere big enough for an audience of avid supporters.

On a budget? Use an ironing board! Simply hang a tablecloth over it and the height can be adjusted to the appropriate level. Children can add   whatever props they like!

5. Practice, practice, practice!

Encourage children to practice their scripts so they don’t get stage fright or forget who is supposed to speak when. This is a great way to teach dedication and may lead to some comical improvisation as well!

6. Stage the lights.

Lighting can go a long way in setting the mood for a play! Adding some dramatic flair to the performance is always fun and will make children even more excited about acting out the show. If you can, find a way to dim the lights and have the stage lit with a “spot light.” You can point a lamp in their direction, use a projector, or get fancy by having the stage lit from underneath! Use whatever works best for you!

7. Gather the family together.

Having a support system is always important. Children will not only work on public speaking in front of an audience, but laughter and applause will go a long way in building confidence. Make sure to catch the performance on video so children can laugh along later!

Ladybug Book Set

Using Finger Puppets to Encourage Early Literacy

Outside of giving a performance, finger puppets are a great alternative for encouraging children who are struggling with reading. Here are some great options for engaging children in early literacy by using their hands to act out the story:

We hope you enjoy a puppet performance in your home! What are some of your child’s favorite books to act out? Be sure to share with us by commenting below.