Tag Archives: holiday

School’s Out! Five Ways to Celebrate with Your Child

25 May

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School’s out! Time to celebrate! Summertime is here, and your child could not be more excited. Share the excitement with them by celebrating together. Below are five ways to commemorate the end of the school year with your little one.

Create a Summer Guide Filled with Summer Ideas, Plans, and Goals

Brainstorm with your child all the fun activities you hope to do while school is out this summer. Once the ideas get flowing, you’ll hardly be able to stop! Creating a list will make it easy to keep your little one entertained during the summer months. As you complete each item on the list, allow your child to check it off. Then, it’s on to the next!

Plan a Summer Kick Off Night Complete with a Campfire and Ice Cream Sundaes

Enjoy sweet treats by the fire to kick off summer! From s’mores to sundaes, your little one’s sweet tooth will be satisfied. Take your child with you to the grocery to gather all the supplies. Graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate! Oh my! Don’t forget to scoop up all of your child’s favorite toppings for the ice cream sundaes, complete with whipped cream and cherries to top it off. Whipped cream and marshmallow mustaches by the fire will be a huge hit!

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Have a Summer Celebration Dance Party

School is out! Time to break it down with your youngster in celebration! But what’s a dance party without lights and music? Dance the night away with the IllumiCraft™ Light-Up Cell Phone Speaker Dock STEM Kit. Your little one is sure to enjoy the silly and carefree quality time with you.

Enjoy an Afternoon of Fun in the Sun

Soak up the sunshine with your little one this summer! Two of the best parts about summer are the sun and the fun it brings. Just Add Sun Science & Art Kit combines fun and sun through activities that are powered by solar energy. It’s so fun; it won’t even feel like learning! You might even learn a thing or two as well. Experiment with your little one making art and snacks with the help of the sun. Have fun in the sun!

Host a Picnic at the Park With Friends

Food and friends, what could be better? A picnic at the park is the perfect way to celebrate summer with your child. Allow them to invite a few friends, and let them play the day away. After lunch, they can play on the playground, draw with Crayola® Washable Sidewalk Chalk, and even have a Robo Balance Board competition! Whoever can balance the longest gets a prize. Your little one will love celebrating summer break with you and friends at the park.

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 What activities do you plan to do with your child this summer? Share your plans by commenting below!

Memorial Day Fun with Your Little One

19 May

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Memorial Day is quickly approaching! What better way to spend the long weekend than quality time with your little one? Explore the outdoors during Memorial Day weekend and show respect to those who have lost their lives while serving our country with the following Memorial Day activities for children.

Outdoor Adventures

Pool

It’s the end of May, the sun is shining, and a day at the pool has never sounded better! Your child will love relaxing in the pool with you on Memorial Day, but what’s a pool day without toys and floats? Your little one can float the weekend away in the pool on the Star Wars™ Millennium Falcon Inflatable Ride-On Float or Jumbo Flip Flop Pool Float. Your family can also enjoy some fun in the sun with the Big Kahuna and Lil’ Kahuna Ball Set.

Games

Spend some quality time with your child on Memorial Day by playing games together. Do you have a favorite game to play with your little one? It can be as simple as game of tag or hide-and-go-seek. You could even make a dodgeball tournament a family affair with the Coop Scatter Dodgeball Game. Making time to play games with your child during Memorial Day weekend is a great way to get the quality time in you both desire.

Grilling Out

After so many activities, bellies will be rumbling! Though there isn’t much for little ones to do while you cook on a hot grill, New Sprouts® Grill It! will allow your child to participate by working alongside you and making pretend burgers for the crowd. As you know, every moment counts, so embrace your youngster’s desire to be just like you.

Showing Respect

The purpose of Memorial Day is to show respect to those who have lost their lives while fighting for our country. It’s important to teach your child the value of showing respect for those who have died while serving the U.S. Armed Forces. By participating in the following activity together, you and your child can show respect to those who have sacrificed their lives for our country.

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Wave the Flag

Materials:

  • Small American flag

What to Do:

  1. Recite the following rhymes, modeling each line’s appropriate action.
  2. Have your child practice the rhymes several times.

Wave the Flag

Wave the flag high, (wave a small flag or hands in the air)

Up to the sky, (point to the sky)

Red, white and blue, (show one finger for red, two for white, three for blue)

We salute you. (put right hand over the heart)

See Our Flag (Tune: “Farmer in the Dell”)

See our flag wave

In the land of the brave,

Red, white and blue,

To our country we are true.

More to Do:

  • Art: Have your child make copies of the original American flag. Give each child a 4” x 6” piece of white paper with a square in the upper left-hand corner and 13 uncolored stripes. Starting at the top, have the children color every other stripe red and the square blue. Give them 13 silver adhesive stars to place on the blue square. Help the children tape a craft stick to the backs of the flags for a flagpole.
  • More Art: Have your child cut out pictures of red, white, and blue food from old magazines and use them to make collages.

Source: The Giant Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities

 How do you plan to celebrate Memorial Day? Share your plans by commenting below!

Valentine’s Day Gifts and Activities for Kids

10 Feb

shutterstock_170959730Valentine’s Day is almost here! Do you know what you’re doing to make the day extra special for your kids? If you haven’t made any plans yet, we’ve come up with a great list of activities and gift ideas to help your family celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14.

Valentine’s Day Activities

Valentine’s Day is a great way for children and adults to celebrate the people they care about and love, so be sure you take the time to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a family with these four fun activities:

1. Celebrate the Color Red

shutterstock_63459514People associate Valentine’s Day and love with the color red, so make it an emphasis in your household on Valentine’s Day. Encourage everyone to wear something red and decorate your house with red-themed decorations. You can even eat red foods, such as strawberries, cherries, cranberries, tomatoes, watermelon, strawberry jelly (on a PB&J), marinara sauce, or red velvet cake, that day to complete the theme.

2. Focus on Three Important Words: I Love You

shutterstock_169747577Come up with a creative way to tell your kids you love them. Stick a handwritten note or special card in their book bags or somewhere in their room, for example, or schedule time during the day to spend time together doing their favorite activity. You could also make a special message for them in your backyard with rocks, sea shells, or other materials. To make Valentine’s Day even more fun, come up with a scavenger hunt for children to do in order for them to find their special Valentine’s message or surprise.

3. Create Unique Valentine’s Day Cards

shutterstock_172021634Creating handmade DIY Valentine’s Day cards is a great way for families to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re making them for family, friends, or each other, putting your family’s own special twist on Valentine’s Day cards will make them unique and memorable for both the sender and recipient. Visit Pinterest for a great selection of fun ideas for Valentine’s Day cards for kids.

4. Make Heart-Themed Crafts and Baked Goods

shutterstock_8355568Valentine’s Day is all about matters of the heart, so make sure your family celebrates the holiday by making fun heart-themed crafts and baked goods. Junior bake sets are a great way for your kids to help you make and enjoy heart-shaped cookies, for example, and your family can also make heart-themed crafts with stamps, sand, and play dough. Be sure to check out Pinterest for other fun Valentine-themed craft ideas and Valentine’s Day activities for kids.

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Kids

1. Baby Love – Cloth BookBabies will love touching this soft cloth book, and it can even be hung on a crib for them to enjoy.

Baby Love Cloth Book
2. Sweet Baby BlocksThese soft baby blocks squeak when they are squeezed and feature colorful raised pictures for babies to touch and explore.

Sweet Baby Blocks
3. Heart of Mine Dolls (set of 4) These soft and loveable baby dolls are great cuddle buddies for kids.

Heart of Mine Dolls
4. I Love You Ritual Bib Set (Set of 3) You can connect with your kids and help them increase their attention skills and brain development by telling them the different rhymes embroidered on each bib.

I Love You Ritual Bib Set
5. I Love You Rituals This book features 79 activities you can do with your kids to teach them how to be kind and help build self-esteem.

I Love You Rituals Book
6. Guess How Much I Love You Kids will enjoy reading this board book about the love between a parent and child.

Guess How Much I Love You
7. A Sweetheart for Valentine The story of Valentine and how she discovers love will enchant children as they read this fun book.

A Sweetheart for Valentine
8. Winter Beauty Dress & Matching Doll Dress Children can play dress up with this beautiful winter dress, and they can also dress their favorite doll in a matching doll dress.

Winter Beauty Dress and Matching Doll Dress
9. Road Construction Vehicles (Set of 3) Kids will love using their imagination as they play with these three road construction vehicles.

Road Construction Vehicles
10. Hugga Pet Giraffe Children can snuggle with this adorable giraffe or use it as a pillow for relaxing and taking a nap.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Encouraging Equality and Acceptance

16 Jan

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Martin Luther King, Jr. is an iconic American hero and civil rights leader who helped bring social and political changes to America, which is one of the reasons we honor King and his legacy every year on the third Monday in January. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day provides parents and caregivers with an excellent opportunity to encourage children to accept and understand differences between people and cultures.

Facts to Share with Kids

We found a great article that discusses King’s life and accomplishments on The History Channel website. Here are a few facts from the article you can share with your kids on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day became a federal holiday in 1986.
  • King believed in peaceful protest and was an advocate of nonviolence.
  • He played a critical role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington, which were major events that influenced the eventual passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
  • King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is considered one of the most memorable and influential speeches of all time.
  • King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his efforts in the civil rights movement.

You can also talk with older children about how King was fatally shot in 1968 while standing on a motel balcony in Memphis. If younger children ask about what happened to King, keep your responses simple and relatively easy for young kids to understand.

Three Ways to Encourage Equality and Acceptance

Peace, nonviolence, equality, and acceptance were all important principles and concepts of the civil rights movement and King’s own legacy. All of these principles and concepts are still important for children to learn due to the diversity in people and culture they encounter every day. Here are three ways you can encourage your children to be open-minded, understanding, and accepting of people’s differences:

1. Teach children about diversity, the history of the civil rights movement, and Martin Luther King, Jr. by reading books about those topics and asking them their opinion about what they read. All the Colors We Are, for example, gives children a scientific explanation of how our skin color is determined by a variety of factors while also addressing the myths and stereotypes that people often associate with a person’s skin color. Children can learn about the history of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with the Holiday Book Series, and our At Home with Diversity Book Set can help children further their understanding of differences.

2. Reinforce what children learn by reading and discussing books with fun educational activities, such as puzzles, word searches, and crossword puzzles. The Our Friends Floor Puzzle and Comprehension-Boosting Crosswords: Famous Americans are both excellent examples of activities that can help children learn more about diversity and why we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

3. Encourage children to express and share the differences they see in the world with multicultural art activities. Children can draw and create posters and pictures, for example, of the diversity they see in their own homes and communities. These types of activities will help children further explore and understand biological and cultural differences, which will ultimately help further King’s vision of equality and acceptance.

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12 Days of Learning | Day 8: Special Holiday Events

10 Dec

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There’s a reason the holiday season is called the most wonderful time of the year, so make sure your family goes out and enjoys the special holiday events for kids and families that occur near your neighborhood. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

1. Go caroling as a family. Many church groups and other community organizations plan special nights to go caroling in the community. Sign your family up to go with one of these groups or create your own caroling group if no one is planning one in your community.

2. Take a family sleigh ride. Sleigh rides are often offered at winter festivals and other events. This is a great family activity and an excellent opportunity to teach your children about holiday traditions. Your family can even sing “Jingle Bells” and other fun Christmas carols as you ride in the sleigh.

3. Drive or walk through a light festival with your family. Children and adults both love to look at Christmas lights, which makes going to a light festival the perfect family activity for the holidays. Ask children what they think about the light displays and go for hot chocolate afterwards to spend more time together as a family.

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4. Take your kids to special events at your local bookstore, library, art store, or children’s museum. Many bookstores and libraries have special holiday storytimes and activities for both kids and adults. Also check with your local art store and children’s museum to see if they are going to have any special holiday crafts or exhibits for kids.

5. Attend your community’s Christmas parade, Christmas tree lighting, or other holiday events. This is a great opportunity for your children to learn about the people in their community. Involving your children in community events also helps build a good foundation for teaching them about charity and volunteering.

6. Take your kids to see holiday concerts and plays, such as The Nutcracker. Holiday concerts and plays provide wonderful opportunities to teach your children about culture. If you attend a concert, ask children to point out the different instruments that they have at home. Music toys that are similar to the instruments they see also make excellent holiday gifts for kids.

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7. Come up with your own holiday event at home. If you have young children or are watching your budget this year, create your own special holiday concert or play at home. You can perform a family play with puppets and puppet theaters, for example, or you can have your own holiday parade by everyone dressing up as different characters.

8. Take your kids to see Santa and encourage them to write him a letter. If your family takes part in Christmas, find a mall or other location that has times where children can come see Santa. This will create fun memories for children each Christmas. Writing letters to Santa is also a wonderful family time activity and will help put everyone in the Christmas spirit.

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9. Help your kids track Santa on Christmas Eve. Children will enjoy keeping track of Santa’s whereabouts on Christmas Eve with the improved Santa Tracker website from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The new website counts down the time until Christmas and lets children digitally visit the North Pole to learn about NORAD’s mission and how they track Santa. Children can also play a variety of fun holiday games on the website with a new game released daily. Keep in mind that tracking Santa on Christmas Eve is also an excellent opportunity for children to learn about geography in a fun way.

Check back tomorrow for Day 9 of our 12 Days of Learning!

Happy Holidays!

12 Days of Learning | Day 7: It’s the Thought That Counts

9 Dec

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Are you working with a budget this holiday season? Or are you searching for gifts that your kids and family will find meaningful? Handmade and homemade items are the perfect way for you to provide meaningful and budget-friendly gifts for all of the people on your holiday list. Making items at home and purchasing handmade items will also help teach your children that it’s the thought that counts.

You don’t have to give expensive presents for people to know that you care about and value them. Small, inexpensive gifts that show you put some thought into what to buy or make someone can have just as much or more value than extravagant gifts. This is a great lesson for kids to learn because it gives them experiences and ideas they can compare to the materialistic world they encounter every day.

If you decide to make your own homemade gifts or purchase affordable handmade gifts this year, make an effort to include your kids as much as possible because experiences like these will help children understand the value of budgeting and being thoughtful. Children will enjoy the opportunity to be creative as they practice and develop new skills while helping you get ready for the holidays. Be sure to browse our art section for any art and craft supplies you may need. Here are a few budget-and-kid-friendly tips to keep in mind as you plan your holiday gift list:

1. Have your kids make holiday cards instead of buying them this year. This is a great creative project for kids because it will keep them engaged and make them feel like they are contributing something to your family’s holiday planning. It will also save you money because greeting cards can be expensive.

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2. Come up with DIY presents you or your kids can make for the people on your holiday gift list. The popular book 101 Great Gifts Kids Can Make provides unique gift ideas that children ages three to eight can make for family members, teachers, and other special people in their lives. The book is available in paperback and eBook formats. You can also browse Pinterest to find other ideas for gifts your kids can make and homemade gifts you can make for your kids.

3. Visit holiday festivals and fairs to find affordable handmade items. Some handmade items can be expensive, but you should be able to find a number of local artists and companies that sell their work for reasonable prices. Holiday festivals are also a great place to take the kids!

4. Make cookies, cakes, and other treats to give as gifts. This is a fairly inexpensive and enjoyable way to give gifts. People who are extremely busy at this time of the year or can no longer bake their own cookies will enjoy receiving homemade treats. Baking is also a great way to teach your kids about nutrition, measuring, and counting as you spend time as a family.

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5. If you don’t have time to make something homemade, look for budget-friendly items in stores and online. Kaplan Toys offers a variety of fun and educational items that can fit in any budget. Browse our Great Gifts for Under $10 and Great Gifts for Under $20 to find affordable gifts that your kids will love.

Check back tomorrow for Day 8 of our 12 Days of Learning!

Happy Holidays!

The Importance of Raising a Grateful Child

20 Nov

Does your child say thank you when they receive a gift or someone does something nice for them? Or do they complain that it wasn’t what they wanted or say nothing at all? Thankfulness is a common topic in schools and at home this time of the year, but being grateful shouldn’t be something you discuss only during the holidays. A child will never learn the true value of being grateful if it is not reinforced throughout the year. Keep in mind that gratefulness isn’t a skill people have when they are born, so a child’s ability to count their blessings must be taught and nurtured.

Benefits of Being Grateful

In addition to having good manners, children and adults who frequently feel grateful experience numerous benefits. As reported by Melinda Beck in The Wall Street Journal, recent studies have shown that kids who are grateful “tend to be less materialistic, get better grades, set higher goals, complain of fewer headaches and stomach aches and feel more satisfied with their friends, families, and schools” than kids who are not grateful. These findings are great indicators of how important it is to teach children to be grateful, especially since many of the benefits children gain from being grateful carry over into adulthood. In her Wall Street Journal article, Beck also shares how being grateful can positively influence an adult’s health, relationships, and overall success due to the following factors:

  • Grateful adults generally feel happier and have increased energy, optimism, and social connections.
  • They also have a lesser chance of becoming depressed, envious, greedy, or dependent on alcoholic beverages.
  • In addition to these benefits, grateful adults have higher incomes, sleep better, exercise more often, and have better immune systems.

These scientific findings prove that knowing how to say a sincere thank you and being grateful for what you have can positively impact every aspect of your life as a child and as an adult.

Raising a Grateful Child

Helping kids understand the concept of being grateful will be something you need to reinforce through constant practice and nurturing. Children who are young or very shy may be especially reluctant to share their gratitude, which may be frustrating for parents. If children don’t express their thanks when appropriate, say it for them. As you teach children about gratitude, be patient and remember that being grateful is something that both children and adults have difficulty in mastering. Here are five great tips you can use to encourage and teach gratitude in your family:

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1. Be a good role model for your kids. Children learn by example, so make sure you are making an effort to be grateful in your own life. Try to think and talk positively about difficult situations and people you may not like.
2. Practice being grateful as a family. Take time to discuss what each person in the family is grateful for daily or weekly. This is a great reminder of what individual family members and the family as a whole can be thankful for throughout the year.
3. Teach children the value of a sincere thank you. Knowing how to express a sincere thank you will help children make an impression now and in the future. People want to be appreciated for what they do, and acknowledging even the simplest things will help people think more positively of a person.
4. Find alternative ways for children to say thank you. Try to come up with creative and engaging ways to help encourage children to say thank you. Have them draw pictures or do a craft to give someone as a thank you, for example, or teach them to say thank you in sign language or another language.
5. Provide opportunities for children to practice and learn about being grateful. A few of the toys children play with and the books they read should promote thankfulness in some way. Greta the Grateful Goldfish is one example of a children’s book that helps kids learn about being grateful. Also encourage children to say thank you when they pretend play or ask if their favorite toys and stuffed animals know how to say thank you.

Gratitude helps foster charity, so encourage children to give back as you teach them about gratitude. Be on the lookout for our upcoming blog post about teaching children the importance of giving back. We hope you and your family have a happy Thanksgiving!

References

Beck, Melinda. “Thank You. No, Thank You.” The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc., 23 Nov. 2010. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.