Tag Archives: education toys

Creative Ways to Introduce Language and Literacy to Children

28 Jul

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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Outdoor Games the Whole Family Can Play!

30 Jun

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Summer is the perfect season to get outside with the kids for fun family engagement! Active play is an important part of early childhood and becomes more engaging when parents are involved. We have a few games you can play with your kids that will leave you both learning and laughing together!

1. Four Square Madness

Have a driveway or empty pavement outside? Turn a hot, boring day into active play that will build fine motor skills in children by playing Four Square! Break out the chalk and playground balls for hours of fun as you teach children important lessons like boundaries, control, and patience while others players finish the game once a child is “out.” Find official Four Square rules here: http://www.squarefour.org/rules. Don’t have chalk? No worries! Find yours here; don’t forget to check out our selection playground balls below:

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2. Getting the Garden in Shape! 

Gardening is a great way to spend time together with your children as you teach them the importance of nutrition and sustainability. It can be hard to know how little ones can help when it comes to heavy gardening tools; that’s why we have just the thing! Find child-sized gardening tools below along with a tote they can carry to hold any yard tools you may need:

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3. Learning with Bean Bags!

Bean bags are always a fantastic way to get the whole family involved, however, with the addition of letters or numbers, they can also be used to bring classroom lessons outside. From spelling to counting, make up your own learning games with these easy-to-pack learning bean bags:

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4. Building Sand Castles with Molds!

Whether you’re taking a vacation to the beach or simply have a sand box in the backyard, sand encourages sensory play and is a great way to encourage building in children. See how big of a city your child can build or encourage creativity with the creation of canals or nature decorations like leafs for flags. The possibilities are endless when it comes to a child’s creativity!

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What are your child’s favorite ways to learn outside? Let us know by commenting below! Don’t forget to check out our Pinterest board: Outdoor Learning with Kids! 

10 Toys to Keep Kids Moving!

28 Apr

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Keeping kids active is a necessity when it comes to raising healthy and happy kids. Along with proper nutrition, teaching children to properly exercise, whether it be through outdoor play or organized sports, is an important role of parents. Though health classes can be taught at school, lifelong habits are born in the home. Here are some toys we recommend that will ensure children keeping active at home:

1. 4″ Play Balls (Robot, Fire Truck & T-Rex)

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Kids will love playing outside with 4″ play balls featuring fun designs! Lightweight and durable, play balls can be used both indoors and out for games varying from four-square to kick ball!

2. Kidoozie Hop & Squeak Unicorn Foam Pogo Jumper

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Children will get their excursive bouncing up and down on their very own unicorns! Adding to the magic, each hop on the Hop & Squeak Unicorn Foam Pogo Jumper makes a magical sound.

3. OgoDisk RAQ

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These hand trampolines for balls are a great way to get kids outside and running as they work on fine motor skills to keep the ball bouncing between players. For added fun, use water balloons to cool off during the summer!

4. OGOBUILD Pod Kit

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Imaginations will soar with this awesome building kit! Children can create fun shapes to crawl through as they put their creativity to the test! This pod kit creates large, light-weight structures that can be kicked, spun, and thrown!

5. Playhut Mega Fun Playhouse

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The Mega Fun Playhouse includes a basketball, miniature basketball hoop, ball pit, and tunnels for children to crawl through! It makes for hours of street-free play as children burn off some of that energy while stuck indoors.

6. Diggin GoGo Pogo

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With a stable base and bright colors, the Electronic Multi-Game Pogo Bouncer helps children with counting, memory, sound recognition, music and more as they use their muscles to bounce up and down! It’s a great way to keep active while learning with five electronic games.

7. Red Bullet Balance Bike

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Put little feet to the ground and take off on the Red Bullet Balance Bike! This two-wheeler provides hours of fun as children build the necessary balance to ride.

8. Yoga CD

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Relax and flex those muscles by teaching your child yoga poses for daily life. Music will encourage exercise while building flexibility in children as they learn to slow down.

9. Little Tikes Push & Ride Racer

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Little ones will get a workout using this combination ride-on/push toy that encourages coordination and balance. A seat for teddy is even included on the back to take favorite toys on a ride!

10. Waboba® Lacrosse Set

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Start kids learning lacrosse early as they fall in love with a sport requiring hand-eye coordination, team work, and plenty of physical fitness! Lacrosse is a great way to have fun in the back yard and hone skills for team play later on.

We hope you enjoyed our toy selection and have fun with your children as you take in the sunny vibes of spring! Don’t miss our outdoor activities Pinterest board for even more ideas.

Sand and Water Inspiration for Spring

21 Apr

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It’s spring and with the sunny season comes plenty of opportunities for sand and water play. Whether you have a sand and water table or a sandbox outside, we have a few learning activities you can engage your children in to embrace spring time.

Sand and water tables provide added benefits, including the ability to bring outdoor elements inside when the weather isn’t cooperating! If you don’t have one yet and are considering what table would be best for your child, we have a few options we think you’ll enjoy:

4 Hands-on Activities for Spring!

1. Water Play! Bring it Onboard

What happens when objects are added to a floating jar boat? Children can compare the objects that sink their boats to objects that leave boats afloat.

Materials:

  • different weighted materials such as plastic or wooden spoons, rocks, fishing weights, corks and metal washers
  • plastic containers with lids, small plastic jars with lids
  • sand and water table or a large container filled with water

What to Do:

  1. Float a closed plastic jar on the water in front of your children. Talk about floating. Ask, “Do you have toys that float in the bathtub? What happens when you push them down to the bottom? Let’s pretend this is a boat and see what it can carry without sinking.”
  2. Remove the lid and place a large, heavy object in the jar. Say, “Let’s see what happens when we bring this onboard our boat.” The object should not be heavy enough to sink the jar, though it should make it noticeably lower in the water. Talk to your children about why.
  3. Select a heavier object that will sink the jar. Repeat the process of placing the jar in the water and discussing what happens when the boat sinks.
  4. Allow children to explore with several more objects and containers. Ask, “Which objects let the jar boat float and what sinks the boat?” Have children group the objects in these two categories and discuss size, weight, and material characteristics of the objects in the groups.

Challenge: Do the activity using only sand or water as a weight. Add varying amounts to identical jars. How much does it take to sink the jar? Challenge your children to keep track of how many scoops of sand they put in the jars.

Source: The Preschool Scientist 

 2. Water Play! Aluminum Foil Boats

Make boats from aluminum foil, and experiment with how to make them float and carry objects!

Related Books:

  • Boats by Anne Rockwell
  • Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham
  • Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen

Materials:

  • objects used as “passengers” or cargo in the boats, such as small plastic blocks, washers, or pennies
  • pieces of aluminum foil: 6” x 6” squares work well, but any size and shape can be used
  • sand and water table or a tub of water

What to Do:

  1. Talk with your child about what the word sink means. What might make a boat sink?
  2. Show your child a flat sheet of foil and a small toy. Talk about how you might make the foil into a boat so that the toy can ride in it.
  3. Create several boats, experimenting with different designs and testing each boat in the tub of water. Add animals or other toys to see what happens.
  4. Talk about your boats and what you noticed when you put “passengers” in each boat. Does it make a difference where you put the passengers? Can some boats carry more passengers than others? Does the shape or size of the boat make a difference?
  5. Test your ideas about boat designs by redesigning and floating many different boats.

Source: Where Does My Shadow Sleep: A Parent’s Guide to Exploring Science with Children’s Books 

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Kaplan Toys Suggestion: Looking for items to float in your boat? Try out My Buddies, the perfect companions for water play!

 3. Sand Play! Dinosaur Dig

Children will learn about colors and paleontologists as they dig for dinosaurs!

Materials:

  • laminating machine or clear contact paper in different colors
  • sand and water table or tub of sand
  • scissors

Preparation:

  • Cut dinosaur shapes out of different colored paper. Laminate or cover with clear contact paper.
  • Hide the paper dinosaurs in the sand.

What to Do:

Tell children that they are going to be a special kind of scientist called a paleontologist. Explain what they study and the history of life on Earth.

  1. If appropriate, ask each child to find a certain color dinosaur.
  2. Offer an additional challenge by cutting the dinosaur shapes into puzzle pieces that the children find and then put together, just as paleontologists put together the bones they find to re-create the bone structure of animals that once lived on our planet.

Source: Another Encyclopedia of Theme Activities for Young Children 

  1. Sand Play! Coloring and Mixing Sand

Have fun showing children how to paint sand, and then mix the sands to form new colors!

Materials:

  • containers for mixing sand and paint
  • pans for drying sand (one for each color)
  • resealable plastic bags, small
  • sand and water table full of sand
  • spoons
  • tempera paints
  • mixing spoons
  • permanent marker

Preparation:

Collect several containers of white sand, various tempera paints, and find a location where children can set the painted sand out to dry.

  1. Have each child make a color of sand using separate containers to mix each of the primary colors—red, yellow and blue.
  2. Help each child measure and pour 1-2 cups of sand into each container, and then pour 1/4 cup of wet or dry tempera paint into the containers. Explain to the children that they should add 1/2 cup of water for each cup of sand in their containers. Help children add water and paint as needed to help make a good rich color and a runny mixture. Mix well.
  3. Help children pour the colored sand onto the sand and water table to dry, and then place the table in a warm, sunny place. When the sand is dry, encourage the children to crumble the sand back into granular form. At this point, each child should have one container of red, yellow, and blue sand.
  4. Next, talk with children about the primary colors. Ask the children why they think we call them primary and explain that they help to make all other colors.
  5. Set out several mixing spoons and resealable plastic baggies. Invite the children to use the spoons to measure the colored sands carefully and combine spoonfuls of each in various plastic baggies. Tell children to use no more than three spoonfuls of each color of sand. Be sure children mix one or two spoonfuls of color with three spoonfuls of another color, so that they can see a variety of results.
  6. Help children record on the sides of the baggies the number of spoonfuls of each color of sand they add to each baggie, and then help the children seal the baggies.
  7. 18753groupInvite the children to shake the bags well to mix the colored sand and watch as a new, secondary color appears. Point out to the children how the grains of the primary colors are still visible in the secondary color.

Source: Science Adventures: Nature Activities for Young Children 

Kaplan Toys Suggestion: Find non-toxic tempera paint for coloring your sand here.

Want to show off your child’s sand and water creations? Share pictures with us on our Facebook page!

Dramatic Play for Spring

24 Mar

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It’s finally spring and with the change in seasons comes more opportunities for young children to get out and enjoy some fresh air. There are plenty of games to play outside, but the best ones inspire children’s creativity as they act out dramatic play. We have a few ways your child can enjoy the sunshine while also using their imaginations to transform into something new! Without further ado, here are four dramatic play games for spring:

1. Better Fly, Butterfly!

There’s nothing more magical than the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly! Have your children act out the transformation with their very own set of wings. The wings are a great addition to books full of early science learning, such as From Caterpillar to Butterfly and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and will help children become more invested in the stories being read.

2. Get Your Grill On!

Since March is National Nutrition Month, encourage your child to pretend to make their favorite healthy foods on the Pretend Play BBQ Grill. The grill is a great way to teach children proper nutrition and build fine motor skills as children let their imaginations flourish, combining all of their favorite ingredients! (Even if they probably wouldn’t work so well in real life!) For a book of simple recipes you can cook together with your toddler in the real kitchen after playtime, don’t miss The Budding Chef.

3. Build Something Brilliant!

There’s nothing like working on a construction project outside, whether it’s in the sandbox or on the patio. Have your child grab their Construction Worker Dress-Up and head outside to build. The No Ends Construction Set, Bricks, Blocks and Rock Builders, and the Giant Polydron Set are all great outdoor building sets.

4. Go on a Safari!

Every child is a little adventurer at heart! Foster your child’s love of new experiences by helping them gear up for an outdoor adventure! Grab some binoculars for bird watching, a critter cabin for new friends found along the way, and an Early Science Explorers Set to get children started. Creating a sensory box afterwards of items found is always a great tool for science learning at home.

We hope you and your children are enjoying the start of spring! Feel free to share your favorite spring activities with us by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

Things to Consider When Planning a Play Date

26 Aug

 

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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: