Tag Archives: Habits

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.

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!

3 Snacks to Warm Up a Cold Winter’s Day

3 Feb

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With frosty, winter months come nights of cabin fever and children seeking entertainment. Beat those winter blues with 3 quick recipes that your child can help whip up alongside you! Spending a little quality kitchen time with your little one can turn a cold winter’s night into a night full of treats that are sure to create delight and warm deliciousness!

Warm Soft Pretzels

Easy pretzels that are fun to make and delicious to eat!

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon of sugar

4 cups of flour

1 package of active dry yeast

1 ½ cups of warm water

1 teaspoon of salt

Beaten egg

Kosher salt

Vegetable oil

Tools:

Aluminum foil

Cookie sheet

Measuring cups and spoons

Mixing bowl and spoon

Pastry brush

Wax paper

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What To Do:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425° F (adults only). Grease a cookie sheet with vegetable oil.

Step 2: Help your child combine the yeast, warm water, sugar, salt, and flour into a large bowl. Mix thoroughly.

Step 3: Work with your child to knead the dough.

Step 4: Give your child a piece of wax paper for their workspace. Help them pull off a piece of dough and roll in into a long rope that they can shape into a pretzel.

Step 5: Place the pretzel on a greased cookie sheet, use the pastry brush to brush the pretzel with the beaten egg, and sprinkle it with kosher salt.

Step 6: When the cookie sheet is full, bake the pretzels for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Source: The Budding Chef

Mini Cherry Pie

Ingredients:

Vanilla wafers

Instant vanilla pudding

Milk (for pudding)

Cherry pie filling

Tools:

Cupcake cups (aluminum foil variety preferred)

Old-fashioned hand rotary beaters, not electric (aka Wisk)

Several tablespoons

Plastic sandwich bags

What To Do:

Step 1: Make vanilla instant pudding according to package directions.

Step 2: Let your child help mix the milk and pudding with the hand rotary beaters (not electric).

Step 3: Give your child a cupcake cup (aluminum foil, if possible). Have them place a vanilla wafer at the bottom of the cupcake paper.

Step 4: Let your child put about 2 tablespoons of pudding on top of the cookie and 1-2 tablespoons of cherry pie filling on top of the pudding.

Step: 5 if possible, chill the desserts in a refrigerator for at least ½ hour. Wrapping them in the plastic bags.

Step 6: Eat and Enjoy!

Source: Giant Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities

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Easy Rollers

Create a delectable treat that is easy to make and combines the wonderful tastes of cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg.

Ingredients:

1¼ cups of crushed graham crackers

¼ cup of sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ cup peanut butter

½ cup light corn syrup

Powdered sugar

Tools:

Cookie sheet

Measuring cups and spoons

Mixing bowl and spoon

Wax paper

What To Do:

Step 1: Invite your child to combine crushed graham crackers, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl.

Step 2: Once those ingredients are combined, stir in the peanut butter and corn syrup.

Step 3: Show your child how to form the mixture into 1/2 inch balls.

Step 4: Pour powdered sugar onto wax paper and work with your child to roll the balls in it.

Step 5: Place the balls on a cookie sheet and allow them to chill in the refrigerator.

Source: The Budding Chef

Teaching Your Child to be a Superhero

25 Jan

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Whether it is a muscular man in tights fighting crime or a fireman saving a crying, orphan kitten from a tree, superheroes have a strong representation in the fabric of childhood. With the men and women in capes growing ever so prominent in the media and the popularity of superhuman movie stars at the local theater, children’s fascination with these masked heroes is easily understandable. Teaching little ones manners and values is an everyday practice that comes with raising a child. However, teaching a child to have “superhero” qualities may seem at first, a daunting task, but in reality it is easier than you may assume.

 Why should they be kind?

 Courage, strength, wisdom, compassion—all words you may utilize when describing a superhero to a child. These words also describe elements of a polite, ideal child. Teaching your child manners may seem like common sense, but teaching your child reasoning for those manners can often be neglected in the hustle and bustle of life. The importance of answering the “whys” of actions and reactions develops a well-manner child into a well-mannered child with pure intentions and integrity. It can be hard sometimes for little ones (and even adults) to choose to act with kindness and honesty. Encouraging children to act with integrity starts with explaining the purpose of integrity. So next time your child asks why they should share their toy or why they should hold open the door, try your best to not respond with the easy “because I said so” sentence but instead explain how it assists others and in return helps them. However brief or descriptive that little explanation may be, it can have a huge impact in developing an average kiddo into a super kid.

Be an example worth copying!

 You don’t have to fight crime on a daily bases to serve as an example of how one should act in everyday situations. A fireman’s compassion and a police officer’s courage are just two examples of everyday heroes that can be used for teaching your little ones “superhero” qualities. YOU can also serve as your child’s superhero by turning everyday acts of kindness into teachable moments. Involve your child in charitable acts and encourage them to seek out their unique ways to improve life for others by being a local superhero (and don’t forget that animals count too)! It can be as simple as them helping you “pay it forward” or complex as raising money for a specific cause that they find interesting! Finding compassion in their passions is key to successfully developing “super” behavior.

Product spotlight: DC Super Hero Girls™ 6″ Action Figures

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Product spotlight: The American Hero Cape & Mask

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Know a child who is a superhero? Tell us about them in the comments below!

Healthy Family Living in the New Year!

19 Jan

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With the start of the new year, come the traditional New Year’s resolutions and promises. Eating fewer sweets, drinking more water, traveling more—the list seems to continually grow in both length and intimidation as the months briskly pass. Improving your own personal health, as well as your family’s, can seem like a daunting, never-ending task. We discovered some simple ideas that can help serve as a guide map to achieving your healthy family goals for the new year.

Mental Health

Arguably most important, mental health is often overlooked when thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Your child’s mood is easily influenced by your mental state. For example, if you are under a lot of stress at work, those stressful emotions can follow you when you come home. This often leads to you acting tired and having a short temper, which in turn makes your little one’s emotions run wild in response to what they cannot fully comprehend. Focusing on being less stressed at home, resting more, and identifying when your child is being influenced by you and your family’s mental attitude are key ways for family mental improvement. When you enhance your mental attitude, you are not only helping yourself, but also providing a flourishing environment for your child’s mental health.

Healthy Habits

Exercising and eating healthy are the no brainier aspects of the New Year’s resolution premise. It is quite easy to include little healthy habits, such as drinking plenty of water and taking the stairs, into your busy schedule without thinking about explaining it to your child. To improve your child’s health, you must also incorporate these concepts into their daily lives. Explain to them why you are parking farther away from the store and why carrots are a better snack choice versus cookies. It may seem like a cumbersome task, but to curious young minds, it is critical in developing good habits early on in life. Beyond explaining the “whys” of health, be sure to include your child in your healthy activities. Children learn with their hands and their eyes, so next time, let them help you wash the veggies for your stir-fry dinner and let them join you on your afternoon walk. You can encourage healthy habits in their play as well by providing healthy food sets for pretend cooking and allotting time for active play, such as dancing and running.

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Product spotlight: New Sprouts® Healthy Snack Set

It’s snack time! Nourishing snacks encourage children to make healthy choices! The freshly designed play foods in this set are soft and durable—perfect for small hands and big appetites! Snack on fresh fruit and yogurt, a granola bar, cheese and crackers, or veggies and pretzels!

Have a unique New Year’s resolution for your family? Share your ideas with others by commenting below.