Tag Archives: games

Spring Fever! Encouraging Your Child to Be Physically Active

23 Mar

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The arrival of spring brings longer days, warmer weather, brighter colors, and increasing opportunities for engagement in healthy childhood activities. It’s no secret that the digital age has created various gadgets and apps that compete for children’s attention and free time. The draw of digital games and activities often drowns out the basic childhood desire of simple play. It’s important for parents to restore some balance into children’s lives and foster healthy habits and development. Beyond limiting screen time, try to encourage your little ones to explore the world around them and engage in activities that increase their heart rate. Here are a few ideas we gathered to help you spark your child’s desire for active play.

Individual Exploration

Teaching children to play by themselves is a special skill set that will not only engage their brain but also create a healthy sense of independence. Encourage your child to enact pretend stories in the backyard or “bake” a cake with items found in nature. Think back to your childhood and encourage them to do some of the activities you did, such as playing jump rope and creating art with chalk on the front driveway. Consider combining those activities with the Chalktivity Rainbow Jump Rope or Chalktivity Pogo Prints for increased exercise and fun! Imagination and a warm spring afternoon can spark a trend of healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

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Neighborhood Amusement

You are the primary person responsible for teaching your child about the importance of being physically active, but you can encourage other children in the neighborhood to be physically active as well. Provide your child with games and activities that can be enjoyed with others. Encourage children to have a bouncing race down the driveway with the Hop 55 Ball or arrange a good ol’ fashion game of tag. Make sure to finish the afternoon of active fun with a healthy treat! You’ll become the favorite house on the block in no time!

A Family Affair

Children often learn best by example. Not only should you encourage them to be physically active, but you should also engage in physical activity yourself. A pickup game of family hide-and-seek can go a long way in developing a child’s desire to play. Showing your child that you exercise regularly, as well as other healthy habits you engage in, sets a standard and example for them to follow in the future. Family participation in physical activities is a key part of nurturing physically active children and helping them maintain that as adults.

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Leave us a comment about your child’s favorite physical activity and remember to be physically active every day!

Get Green: St. Patrick’s Day Fun at Home!

9 Mar

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It’s mid-March: that time of year when kids start looking for little leprechauns under the couch and pinching each other for not wearing green. Be sure to bring some of the St. Patty’s day fun home with these creative and exciting activities!

Gifts for the Leprechauns – Kids love the stories of leprechauns: little Irish magicians who like to steal things and leave gold in their wake. Encourage children to make these green troublemakers small gifts, like figurines made from craft dough or cookies. When they leave the gifts out for the leprechauns, swap them for a sprinkle of green or gold glitter and watch the wonder in your little one’s eyes as they discover the change.

Go GREEN – Get environmental by planting some greenery or flowers in a mini greenhouse. Or set up a hanging bird feeder and attract the birds to the yard, just like gifts attract leprechauns. These will both decorate the yard for St. Patty’s Day and help kids learn a bit more about the environment. For songs and more activities, try reading a Going Green book. Get kids both excited about engaging with the environment around them and protecting the blue and green planet they live on! Be sure to check out the Kaplan Toys Blog for more environmentally friendly activities.

Green Eggs and Ham – It doesn’t have to be eggs and ham, but adding some food coloring to the milk in morning cereal, pudding in kids’ lunchboxes, or in the mashed potatoes at dinner can add an extra level of fun to a seemingly average afternoon. Read the classic Dr. Seuss tale for an added bonus!

Gratitude Treasure – Have children cut their own pot of gold and coins out of construction paper but on each gold coin, have them write or draw something they think is a treasure. Is it their sibling? Favorite food? Playing ball? Encourage kids to find the real gold in life and hang the result on the wall or the refrigerator to remind them that whether they’ve got a little leprechaun in their pocket or not, they’re lucky all times of year!

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Go to www.kaplantoys.com for more ideas, crafts and materials.

Sensory Play for Rainy Days

3 Mar

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Rainy days don’t have to ruin all the fun! There are plenty of creative ways to play and enjoy the day indoors! Keep reading for some new, fun ways to pass the time while waiting for the sun to return.

  1. Indoor Sandbox. Sand isn’t as messy as you’d think, especially if you use kinetic sand, such as Shape It! Sand. It never dries out, so it’s always ready to build another sandcastle. It’s also great for sensory awareness and development. Put out a large blanket or get out a kiddie pool and have some beachy fun indoors!
  2. Inside Rug Skating. Tear out some magazine pages, step on them, and you instantly have rug skates! Let your little ones slide and glide around the house without the mess or danger of real skates.
  3. Button Jewelry. Let kids make themselves or a loved one a button necklace or bracelet. All you need is some string and some colorful buttons, and soon your kids will be making the latest in craft jewelry trends!
  4. Wiggly Eye Silliness. Take some Wiggly Eyes and stick them on random items around the house. Surprise each other by secretly sticking them on things when the others aren’t looking. It’s sure to make the kids laugh until their bellies ache!
  5. Mini Picassos. Up the craft ante with a variety of art supplies and encourage kids to be super creative. For example, the Sensory Collage Kit allows kids to experiment with different collage materials as they create their own works of art. Having more than just paint and paper can help them engage with descriptive vocabulary and develop sensory awareness.
  6. Dance in the Rain. Why not go with a classic and head out into the front or back yard for an invigorating dance in the rain? Play your kids’ favorite music and maybe even include some water blasters to get even more soaked! Of course, always be aware of thunder and lightning in your area, and stay safe.
  7. Hot Cocoa. What cold, rainy day isn’t made better by a warm drink? Whip up some hot chocolate (marshmallows are optional, of course) for a special treat after lunch or dinner!

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Whether it’s a thunderstorm or a little drizzle, rainy days can bring out the blues in everyone. Blow those blues away with these engaging indoor activities that are creative, physically active, and just plain fun! Don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog for more innovative and exciting ideas and activities.

Ways to Celebrate President’s Day at Home

16 Feb

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When it comes to favorite holidays, President’s Day may not get a lot of attention, but it can be a great way to have some educational fun with your little ones. Because February hosts Abraham Lincoln’s and George Washington’s birthdays, a federal holiday was declared in 1971 to not only celebrate these two great leaders but also to commemorate all American Presidents jointly. Let’s get patriotic and excited for a day full of fun and learning opportunities!

Get Educational

This holiday is a great opportunity to teach young children about who the president is, as well as talk about two popular presidents – George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. For children 4 years and up, we suggest getting comfortable and reading Greatest U.S. Presidents. This book examines the lives of 4 presidents in a way that is simple and easy to understand. Don’t forget to also share some fun facts about First Ladies and their achievements. Maybe your little one will find a new hero!

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President for a Day

Let your child become president of the house for the day. They can wear a cool hat like Lincoln and offer up suggestions for dinner, a family game night or an evening movie. Don’t forget that the President doesn’t make all the decisions alone; the rest of the family has to vote or agree on it first!

Patriotic Crafts

President’s Day is a great opportunity to introduce American history in a unique way, so consider making Lincoln’s Hat Cookies or even playing President-themed games like President Coin Sorting. President’s Day is also the perfect opportunity to revisit some of your favorite patriotic-inspired crafts like popsicle flag sticks

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Jam Out

There are dozens of patriotic songs that have been written through the ages, so share some of your favorites with the kiddos. Some old 40’s and 50’s tunes are super fun to have a dance party to, as well as more contemporary jams! We recommend “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by The Andrews Sisters, “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus, and “Kids in America” by Kim Wilde.

Stay Encouraging

Remind your children that they can shoot for the stars and that if they want to be president some day then they can. After all, every president was once a young kid, just like them!

America’s been around for 241 years. That’s a lot of history (45 presidents worth)! So introduce your children to the basics of the nation they live in while having fun and getting creative.

Making Valentine’s Day a Delight

10 Feb

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Valentine’s Day is traditionally about romantic love, but celebrating familial love is always way more fun! Keep on reading for fun and simple V-Day activities that you can do with the whole family.

Make a Valentines Mail Box

Turn an old shoebox into a mailbox just for love notes. Cut a small rectangle in the lid, and then have kids use markers, glitter, stickers, etc. to decorate their mailbox. Place the box outside of their bedroom door just like a real mailbox and drop off little love notes every now and then. Encourage them to leave valentines for their siblings or for friends.

Make A Lovable Craft

There are dozens of simple and fun Valentine’s Day crafts out there on the internet to do with your little ones, but we recommend this adorable V-Day mouse! Whichever craft you choose, spending time getting creative with your little valentines is sure to be a good time!

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Make some V-Day Goodies

Baked goods are a staple during Valentine’s Day, so bake some simple sugar cookies and let the kids decorate them with icing and sprinkles. Or opt for a slightly healthier option and top strawberries with whipped cream or dip apple slices in caramel or chocolate spread. Get creative and cut foods into hearts!

Have a Valentine’s Story Time

After dinner on Valentine’s Day, gather the family and snuggle up on the couch with a good Valentine’s Day themed book, like Pete the Cat: Valentine’s Day is Cool. Some quality family time is a great way to end the day!

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Valentine’s Day isn’t just about candy and roses. It’s about sharing the love of those around you, and engaging kids in family activities is the perfect way to do just that! You can even do all of these in the evening, so work doesn’t have to interrupt family time. So take the time to hug your kiddos and spend some quality family time this V-Day!

5 Ways to Make Warm Winter Memories with Your Kids

17 Jan

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It is incredibly easy to get the cold, winter blues when the excitement of the holidays has past. Exchanging warm nights filled with family traditions, cheer, and enthusiasm for nights of snow and cabin fever can be tough on little ones. Here are some ideas that you can implement to help combat the melancholy of winter while building precious memories.

Family Photo Sharing Time

Whether you store them in a dusty crate in the attic or in carefully designed and organized scrapbooks on the shelf, looking at family photos can provide an excellent night of indoor entertainment. Your children would love to see the adventures of your youth, important events such as their favorite uncle’s wedding, and even their baby pictures from the not so distant past. If you have fully adapted to the technology age and prefer your photos digital, have no fear! This gives you a fantastic opportunity to invite the grandparents over who are sure to have a few photo books sitting around. Plus, there is nothing like reminiscing past summer vacations to warm up a cold winter’s night.

Reinvent Family Movie Night

Often the go-to staple of family time, especially during the winter, movie night can easily become predictable. Why not reinvent it? Instead of watching that cartoon adventure that you can quote word for word, watch old family films that are sure to be crammed full of memories and stories. If you do not have access to home movies, why not start a collection now? Whip out your cell phone and record your little ones answering questions. You can even host a mini family “talent show” then relive the memories by watching your new film at your next family movie night.

Favorite Food Night

Nothing can lift a mood like giving your child their favorite food. Next time you plan your family dinners consider hosting a family favorite food night. Simply create a meal including at least one favorite food item from each family member. For example, if your favorite food is Italian and another member of the family favorite food is Mexican, perhaps you can enjoy a dinner of spaghetti tacos or something less intimidating such as pasta top with taco meat and queso cheese. Yum!

Family Game Night- Winter Edition!

Playing in the snow is a must do in wintertime. Time to make it a family affair! You can, of course, stick to the “snow day staple” such as snowman building, snowball fighting, and sledding. If you are interested in changing up your snow play, try building snow animals instead of snowmen. You can even play traditional games such as “Tic Tac Toe” and “Hot Potato” but instead with and in the snow. If your house is lacking the white, fluffy, wet stuff; consider artificial snow, all the same fun with less hassle and no need to shovel the driveway!

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Product Spotlight: Super Snow Bucket (1.5 lb.)

Create snow at anytime, in any climate! Simply add a tablespoon of Super Snow powder to a quart of water and stir. The more it’s stirred, the more it shines and sparkles. Super Snow expands to more than 100 times its size and lasts for weeks without rewetting. Makes over 15 gallons of snow.

Family Fitness

Cabin fever is hard to defeat when the temperatures outside make playtime a challenge. Family fitness is a great way to combat both post-holiday calories and winter restlessness. It can be as simple as pushing the couches aside and stretching as a group or as planned out as a group exercise session. You can even choose to involve your little ones into your already existent home fitness routine, such as having them count your push-ups and “hold down” your feet during sit-ups. Use classic games like “Simon Says” to creatively morph simple exercises like jumpin’ jacks into family fun!

Have other family activities that you use to form special memories and chase away the winter blues? Share your ideas with others and us by commenting below.

Making Math Fun for Summer!

28 Jul

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Teaching math to your kids isn’t always the easiest, especially if children already have the mindset that math “isn’t fun.” However, with the right toys and a little imagination, math can be as fun as you make it! We have five ways you can incorporate math into everyday learning, so that children will find it fun!

1. Make It a Movie Night!

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Movie nights are always a fun way to spend summer evenings, especially if you have good company and snacks ready to go. Why not add math learning to the mix with Count ‘Em Up Popcorn? This popcorn-themed sorting game will leave kids entertained as they build number sense and recognition. It’s a great way to put restless energy to good use as it keeps little hands busy during the movie!

2. Create a Play Store!

Want a fun way to teach simple addition and subtraction? Create your own play store! Whether it’s your child’s stuffed animals, storybooks, or frequently used household items, allotting price tags to different items and putting your child in charge of the Teaching Cash Register is a great way to teach money sense. Furthermore, it’s a fun dramatic play experience that can lead to fun-filled family interactions!

3. Take Shapes on the Go!

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Taking a road trip for the summer? Put those hours to good use by bringing along shape sorters! The Counting Shape Sorter and the Multishape Sorter (9 Pieces) are both great toys for taking in the car to teach math skills as children roll along! Children will learn colors and shapes all while developing problem-solving skills as they count pieces out onto the appropriate pegs.

4. Encourage Sorting for Nature Finds!

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Sorting is a great skill for toddlers to learn as preschool approaches. Enjoy the season by taking the concept outside! Go on a nature walk with your kids and have them collect small items for sorting. Items can vary from shiny rocks, to acorns, to fallen feathers. Once you’ve finished your nature walk, bring your child’s finds inside, come up with categories, and ask them to sort the items into Sorting Trays. Once finished, ask children to count how many items they have in each category for addition math learning.

 5. Cool Off with Number Fishing!

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Spending your summer days by the pool or lake? Take along the Giant Fishing Set for bonus math learning! Children will build hand-eye coordination as they snag different numbered fish and total their catches! Ask children to sort fish into even and odd numbers or multiples of five for addition math learning.

We hope you’re finding time for math this summer with your kids! What’s your favorite way to make math fun? Let us know by commenting below or sharing on our Facebook page.