Tag Archives: Parent Resources

Fostering Creativity in Your Child

12 May

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Providing opportunity and support for creative growth for your child can be difficult. Often between work, dinner, homework, and sports there seems to be less and less time for your child’s creative outlets. In addition to less time at home, schools are often losing more and more of their art programs as focus shifts to promoting STEM education. Finding a balance is key to creating a fostering environment for your child’s exploration of the arts. Consider the following activities as ideas of ways that you can weave creative moments into your child’s everyday life.

Provide the tools to create a masterpiece.

  • Gather all of your “child-friendly” art supplies into one central location for easy access and so that they can know what they have to freely create with.
  • Give them tools of their “trade”, such as providing a ballet bar for your little twirler, taps shoes for your jumping jack, and a box of costumes for your tiny actor to use in their living room performances.
  • Consider the Craft-tastic® Idea Box, which provides all the craft supplies and ideas that help kids tap into their own creativity.

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Provide the space to create.

  • It can be as simple as a basket of supplies and a blanket, a kitchen table covered in newspaper, or a whole crafting corner as long as there is a safe space to make stuff without worry of their safety or destroying of your favorite carpet.
  • Provide a quite space for your writer or painter to work without distractions.
  • No clear open space? Take art outside! Paint in the grass or even with sidewalk chalk! With the Chalktivity Stomp ‘n Stamps, they can create magical star and moon prints with every step or create a rainbow of color with the Chalktivity Rainbow Jump Rope.
  • Clear a space in the basement for your ballerina to practice her twirls. Help create a makeshift stage, complete with a blanket curtain, for your little actor to perform a play for the family.

Encourage multiple explorations.

  • Creativity is found beyond the coloring page. Be sure to expose your child to multiple aspects of the arts because you never know when an activity will spark a lifetime love and even a future profession.
  • Consider theater, singing, film, and dance camps. Perfect for exploring interests without a yearlong commitment.
  • Let them explore learning how to play musical instruments. Don’t want to commit to professional lessons? Try YouTube or the Toccata Musical Measure Blocks (which teaches about measures, rhythm, & meter).
  • Provide them an example! Don’t be afraid to show them that you can be creative too by dancing around the living room, helping them create a college of pictures, and playing a role in their backyard show.
  • Finally, provide opportunity. Whether it’s performing a song for their grandparents or painting a canvas for daddy’s office, find opportunities to not only encourage but also showcase their creative abilities as they continue to develop.

Encouraging Your Child’s Love of Animals

20 Apr

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Have you noticed that your little one has a particular fondness for furry friends? Whether they just love the family pet or all creatures, the love of animals is a great trait to have and support. Including this passion for animals into everyday activities can be a fantastic learning opportunity for teaching subjects likes responsibility, kindness, and even natural science! From learning about animals to actual animal care, their attachment to pets and wildlife can easily be supported and creates an excellent opportunity for family fun.

Positives of Pet Ownership

It doesn’t matter if they own a fish, a house full of furry friends, or a just collection stuffed animals; pet ownership can positively influence your little animal lover’s development. Taking care of a pet obviously teaches your child about responsibility, but it also teaches them how to nurture. Pets are often a source of unconditional love with provides your child with a “safe” friend to talk to and love. Pets also encourage children to be more active and social. From running with the dog in the backyard to playing with a friend’s hamster, animals require activities that are healthy to both the pet and owner. Perhaps due to space or family allergies, your child can’t own a pet. No worries! Maybe your child can visit pets of friends and neighbors; they can demonstrate to them how they take care of the pet and maybe let them join in for some activities. Consider adopting or sponsoring a pet at a local zoo! Your child can even help raise the money to cover the cost of the support. A trip to visit “their” animal is sure to be a blast!

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Ideas for Motivating Their Passion

From chasing lighting bugs outside to taking care of their favorite stuffed cat each night, your child will naturally find ways to explore their love of pets. Of course, spending time doing family activities is always important. Consider these ideas on how to combine your child’s love of animals with your family fun time. These activities are sure to entertain as well as educate and create extraordinary family memories for both you and your child.

  • Visit a zoo, farm, aquarium, nature preserve or local science center
  • Consider owning alternative pets like an ant farm or sea monkeys.
  • Pet-sit (a great way to trial run before adopting a pet of your own)
  • Let your child be a vet with the Nici® Wonderland Doll: Veterinarian Set
  • Take a nature walk while bird watching
  • Watch a live stream of an animal from a zoo
  • Visit animals at the pet store
  • Visit a dog park (with or without a dog. Just asking before petting!)
  • Create adorable pets with the Magnutto™ Junior Make a Pet™ Magnetic Activity
  • Visit a petting zoo or butterfly garden
  • Watch a film starring an animal while munching on animal themed snacks (like animal crackers and ants on a log)
  • Go on a virtual experience with the Genuine Ant Farm® Antopia Adventure™ Virtual Explorer
  • Create a zoo with stuffed animals and cardboard box “cages”

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Leave us a comment below and tell us your child’s favorite animal-themed activity.

Helping Your Child Cope with Stress

6 Apr

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Although stress is often associated with being an adult issue, children can also struggle with stress. There are plenty of factors that can lead to your child feeling these emotions—change of school, friends, seasons, classwork, and siblings—just to name a few common stressors. You as a parent, of course, want to ease these emotions, as best you can, and nurture your child’s mental health. Here are some recommendations to consider when mentoring your child on their stress management. (Please note if you have noticed an extreme change in your child’s behavior, please seek help from a mental health professional)

Good vs. Bad

Stress is normal. A little stress can motivate a child to achieve goals, learn new things, and explore new experiences. The first step in helping your child is identifying if your child’s stress is normal or unhealthy for them. Are they concerned for a certain test or testing in general? Are they worried about a certain situation or a long list of possibilities? Possible negative stress symptoms include increased crying, headaches and stomachaches, trouble sleeping, drastically changing emotions, and anxious body moments (like leg shaking and nail chewing). Listen and examine to decide if they just need a few extra words of encouragement or help with their entire stress management.

Stress can be contagious

As adults, we are often stressed about something in our lives. Regardless of the causes, this stress can be passed down to your child. Although they may have no direct ties to what is stressing you, they can reflect those emotions in areas of their own lives. Work towards creating a “stress free” home. Take the time to have relaxing family moments and vacations. Demonstrate how you ease your stresses to your little one. Whether it’s yoga, deep breathing or simply laying out in a hammock in the back yard, showing your child how you release your stress can help them release their own. Also, choose wisely on when and where is the appropriate time to vent about your own stressors because little ones are often listening and can pick up on your emotions. Stress can be contagious to a family, but if you make a conscious effort to identify and minimalize the stress you can create a happy and safe space for everyone.

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Stress relief techniques

Once you have identified what has stressed your child, it is then time to help them manage those feelings. First, pay close attention to your child’s behavior when they are feeling stressed. Do they increasingly rub their eyes? Do they sleep more? After you have noticed a sign that their stress has increased, it is time to initialize a stress relief technique. Consider the following:

  1. Outdoor play is an excellent way to help your stressed out little one. The exercise releases endorphins, which is a great natural relaxer. Explore our blog post on active play for more outdoor play ideas.
  1. Organization can also be key to relieving a child’s stress. We recommend the children’s book Get Organized Without Losing It , which is perfect for showing how being organized can be a great stress reliever.
  1. Consider small toys such as Theraputty and Tangle Therapy, which are designed to redirect stressful behaviors. These are also perfect for on-the-go relief when other techniques may not be an option.
  1. Lastly, simply teaching your child to slow down and just breathe can do a world of good for them. Taking multiple deep breaths, while having their eyes close, can melt away stress and refocus their brain.

Children will respond to stress differently, as long as you help them identify and manage their stressors, they should improve their own stress management, ultimately leading to a happy and relaxed life.

Sources and Resources:

http://americanspcc.org/signs-stress-kids-teens-reduce/?gclid=CKSDn_6ti9MCFcWPswodNpIE8Q

https://psychcentral.com/lib/7-tips-for-helping-your-child-manage-stress/

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/stress-coping.html

5 Toys that Grow with Your Baby!

15 Sep

Buying toys for your baby can be a challenge. Since infants grow so fast and at different developmental paces, we want to provide you with toy selections that can grow with your little one to help you get the best value for your purchase. Here are our five favorite toys that grow with your baby:

 

1. Grow-With-Me Activity Gym & Ball Pit

141452a.jpgThis activity gym is full of surprises! Use it as a comfy play mat for infants; once children are mobile, simply pull up the mesh sides to keep them in the safe zone. Encourage sensory play as they grow by turning the safe zone into a fun ball pit featuring 40 colored balls. All of these features come in the adorable shape of a turtle!

 

 

2. Newborn-to-Toddler Play Gym

145637cThis safari-themed play gym is adjustable and features a colorful mat for infants as they play with exciting bobbles above. Once your child is able to sit, the gym can be adjusted so that babies have access to the three mesh pockets. Once standing, toddlers can play with the woodland creatures that act as built-in ramps for balls to roll down and exit to the floor. This is one toy children won’t lose interest in!

 

3. Baby Einstein Discovering Music Activity Table

142965a.jpgTeach music to infants as they grow! This activity table can be floor level for easy infant access or adjust to become a piano station, guitar station, drum station, and a shape station. Includes English, Spanish, and French languages giving your little learner variety as their brains develop.

 

 

4. Early Melodies Pound and Tap Bench

30000n_b.jpgEncourage infants to learn melodies from an early age! Start by placing balls into the holes to practice color coordination and create music as the balls roll across the xylophone. Once children have better developed motor skills, they can use the hammer to tap out melodies on the xylophone. It’s a great way to expose your child to music for the first time and encourage music learning as they grow.

 

5. Fisher Price Roller Blocks Rocking Wagon

145334.jpgThe fun never ends with this rocking wagon! It’s Sit & Play mode allows babies to sit beside the wagon as they stack blocks, spin the clicker, and press the teeter-totter to hear music. As they become more mobile, they can advance to the Stand & Pull mode, which helps develop motor skills as they push and pull around their music wagon full of magical learning!

 

 


Regardless of what toy you choose, remember to select toys that provide years of quality learning for all of your child’s developmental stages. Have fun!

 

 

2015 Resources Roundup for Parent

21 Jan

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As you start the new year, it’s best to have learning resources in mind for your children. This will not only help continue learning opportunities that start in the classroom at home, but also give you options when it comes to filling weekends, indoor play days, and the special holidays you get to spend together! Without further adieu, here is a list of 2015 parent resources we hope you’ll find useful:

Early Education Blogs

Blogs go a long way in providing inspiration and a way to get connected with other parents and teachers. Here are a few of our favorites:

Pre-K Blogs

 Kindergarten Blogs

Educational Toy Suggestions

Keep up with our latest toys for the new year! Whether it’s incorporating new technology, discovering our latest dramatic play options, or finding classics on sale, here are our top toys for the new year:

  1. Stephen Joseph Wall Growth Chart
    • Keep up with how much your child is growing each day! Add inches and dates for memories to revisit years down the road.
  2. Lil Allie Gator
    • Start teaching proper brushing habits from the start with help from Lil Allie Gator! Because everyone knows if Alligators brush their teeth, then it must be important!
  3. Cottage Bed Pretend Play Tent
    • Encourage dramatic play and fanciful reading spaces with the new Cottage Bed Pretend Play Tent. Fits directly over a twin mattress!
  4. Geomag Gbaby Farm – 11 Pieces 
    • Magnetic rods allow budding builders to construct whatever shapes and structures they can imagine. Hours of building fun for babies!
  5. Laser Pegs® Combat Fighter – 6 Models in 1
    • Build 6 different models with the Laser Pegs® Combat Fighter! Vehicles can even light up while racing! Encourages creativity while providing hours of fun during play.
  6. Practice Lacing Shoes (set of 2)
    • Let your little ones practice tying their shoes without it inhibiting their progress. Great for 3 years and up.

We hope you find these suggestions useful as you launch into the new year with your children!

12 Days of Learning | Day 12: Holiday Road Trip

16 Dec

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“Are we there yet?” You’ll probably hear your kids ask this question quite a few times during the holiday season, especially if your family is one of the many that travel an hour or more to get to their holiday destination. As you prepare for your family’s holiday travel plans, keep in mind these five ways to entertain your kids during your holiday road trip:

1. Come up with fun games to play in the car. License plate games can be especially entertaining for kids, and you can find a variety of printable license plate games on Pinterest. Other game ideas include seeing which family member can spot the most animals, cars from a certain state, or Volkswagen Beetles. You can also give small rewards, such as winners getting to choose the music for the next hour.

2. Let kids keep up with where you are and where you’re going next. Give kids a state or U.S. map to help them keep track of your family’s movements. This is a great activity because it helps your kids learn to read maps and keeps them involved while you’re traveling. It also gives kids an idea of how much traveling will be required and how much time your trip will take.

3. Bring along a variety of music and books your kids will enjoy. Kids will enjoy listening to their favorite music or reading their favorite books on road trips. Ragweed, Bear on a Bike, and On the Go are a few books that directly relate to traveling, which children may find interesting since they will be on a road trip themselves. Remember to put music and books on an electronic device for kids to enjoy if you want them to use headphones or want to avoid bringing along a lot of extra books.

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4. Tell stories or talk about where you’re going and what your kids will enjoy there. Use your road trip as a reason to talk with your family. Ask kids what they’re looking forward to during the holidays or what they want to accomplish in the coming year. You can also tell your kids stories from your childhood or talk to them about your destination and what they can expect to do there.

5. Pack your kids’ favorite toys and other activities that will entertain them. Having their favorite toys with them will keep your kids engaged and will also give them a sense of security if they’re going somewhere unfamiliar. Bring along stuffed animals to help comfort younger kids. Activities that let children write and draw, such as the Do Art Travel Easel and Doodle Roll® with Writing Board, are also great items to bring along on your holiday road trip.

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We hope you enjoyed reading our 12 Days of Learning blog posts. Be on the lookout for more fun activities and helpful resources in the coming weeks.

Happy Holidays!

12 Days of Learning | Day 2: Christmas in Other Countries

2 Dec

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The holiday season is a great time to teach kids about diversity and how to appreciate differences. Research the ways people celebrate Christmas in other countries and then share what you find with your kids this holiday season. Children will love learning about how other people celebrate Christmas because it is something they can relate to and will find interesting. Here are a few facts from TLC’s Christmas Guide to help you get started:

Did You Know?

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— In China, Christmas trees are called “trees of light” and are decorated with lanterns, flowers, and red paper chains.

— In France, Christmas Day ends with the traditional bûche de Noël, which is a cake made to look like a Yule log.

— In Mexico, homes are decorated with lilies and evergreens during the Christmas season.

— In England, children send letters to Father Christmas by tossing their letters into the fire to help their wishes go up the chimney.

Keep in mind that Christmas is a good time to remind kids that people also celebrate different holidays and have different holiday traditions in the United States. Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, for example, are two holidays you can talk to children about at this time of the year. Here is some basic information about Hanukkah and Kwanzaa from the History Channel to help you get started with your research:

Fast Facts

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Hanukkah is an eight-day holiday celebrated by the Jewish community. Hanukkah usually falls in November or December and is often called the Festival of Lights. The lighting of the menorah, traditional Hanukkah foods (which are fried in oil), playing games, and exchanging gifts are just a few of the ways people celebrate Hanukkah.

Created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa is a seven-day harvest celebration meant to help bring the African-American community together. Singing, dancing, storytelling, poetry reading, African drums, and traditional food are part of the celebrations that start on December 26. The Nguzo Saba, which are seven principles that embody values of African culture, are discussed and celebrated each of the seven nights.

The holidays are a great time to teach your kids about acceptance and diversity, but remember to reinforce what they learn throughout the year. Books, puzzles, and games about diversity will help teach kids about differences and will help them learn that it’s okay to be different.

Check back tomorrow for Day 3 of our 12 Days of Learning!

Happy Holidays!