Tag Archives: parenting

Healthy Family Living in the New Year!

19 Jan

1-19-17-family-making-salad

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.

New Sprouts® Healthy Snack Set.jpg

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.

5 Ways to Make Warm Winter Memories with Your Kids

17 Jan

1-12-17-fmaily-reading

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!

1-12-17-super-snow

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.

Six Science Investigations for Summer

4 Aug shutterstock_417289936

Curious how your children can get more involved in science learning this summer? Take advantage of the time off from school to tap into children’s natural curiosity with scientific investigations at home! Whether little ones want to catch up, get ahead, or just have fun, summer is the perfect time for creative, scientific play.

1. Kitchen Creations

Change things up by encouraging children to play with their food! Together, you can make something edible or make food discoveries just for fun. You may want to try the marshmallow challenge: make a marshmallow sink by compacting it so that it is more dense than the water in which it would normally float. Check out more science experiments for the kitchen here:

kitchen-science-roundup1

Source: Makes and Takes

2. Grow Up

Use the summer sun to help practice planting and gardening! You can grow a whole garden outdoors, or keep a small potted plant on a windowsill inside to study with children. What do plants need to grow? Depending on what you plant, how high will it grow? Find out those answers and more with these gardening ideas here:

seedlings

Source: PBS Parents

3.Sponge Fun

Learn about absorption with a sponge! See how the sponge absorbs soap and water indoors, or take it outside to get messier! Compare the sponge to a block or other non-absorbent materials when it is both wet and dry. Why do you think it works like this? You can even turn chores, like washing dishes or a car, into a lesson about absorption. Check out the details of how absorption works and more fun facts about this activity here:

dsc_5546-1024x685

Science Sparks

4. Tornado in a Jar

Jump into sensory play by creating your own tornado! All you need is a jar, water, and a little bit of dish soap. Now, just shake it up. For more detailed instructions, click on the jar!

dsc_0008181

In Leiu of Preschool

5. Stargazing

If it’s a clear night, search for stars in the night sky! You can use a telescope or just look up above. Can you see planets? Any constellations? What are stars made up of? Here are the answers and some cool science facts for kids. Go even deeper into night sky exploration by checking out our related post: Planning a Family Stargazing Night.

constellations

Easy Science for Kids

6. Fireflies

Can’t see the stars from where you are? Fireflies make a great summertime substitute! You can catch these little critters temporarily in acute bug jar (with a hole for airflow) to observe the bugs up close. Find out what makes fireflies glow and other cool facts about fireflies here:

708px-photinus_pyralis_firefly_4

Smithsonian

For more summer science fun, visit our science section!

4 Stress Busters for Little Learners

26 Apr

shutterstock_266722850.jpg

Does your child struggle with stress? There are many life stressors, both in the home and in the classroom. As a parent, there are resources and practices you can put into place that will teach young children how to redirect negative emotions into positive self-talk and behavior. Here are some of our favorite tools for redirecting stress into hands-on learning!

91720.jpg

1. Tangle Therapy

 Many times, learning challenges or peers can frustrate children. Tangle Therapy is the perfect tool for relieving stress as children twist textured surfaces into different shapes. It’s a useful aid for redirecting behavior as children exchange negative emotions for complete fascination:

 

62322.jpg

2. Cooperative Board Games

 Competition is another stressor to many young children. Instead of putting precedence on winning, cooperative board games promote cooperative play as children work together to beat the game. Children can work on social–emotional skills while building self-esteem at the same time! Choose from the cooperative board games below:

20524.jpg

3. Sing the Stress Away!

Singing is a creative stress reliever for children. Positive lyrics can reinforce positive self-talk and self-image while helping children develop concentration and memory to be ready to respond to learning opportunities. Learn more about focusing attention on the present moment with the Here, Now Know-How CD: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/20524/here-now-know-ho-cd

143692a

4. Present a Challenge

Finally, stress can be alleviated in children when they are presented with a different challenge so that focus is shifted away from their current stressor. The Swingy Thing Spinning Game is a hypnotic challenge that gets children’s minds working as they play either alone or together to beat the Swing Thing Spinning Game’s challenges!


What do you do with your children to provide stress relief? Share with us by commenting below!

Pick out the Perfect Dollhouse!

12 Apr

31554a.jpg

Looking for a dollhouse to suit your child’s needs? There are a couple of questions you can ask before making the big purchase to supplement your child’s dramatic play experience! Here are four questions to ask before picking out the perfect dollhouse for your little one:

82531.jpg46239-1.jpg

1. Looking for Neutral Colors?

 The first thing you’ll want to determine is if your dollhouse is for a young girl or if it will be shared by several children. If you’re looking for a house the whole crew can play with, here are two of our favorite wooden dollhouses that are big enough for any imaginative play experience:

145298a.jpg

142522a.jpg

 

 2. Have a Big Play Space?

 If you’re looking for a large dollhouse to incorporate into a spacious playroom then we think you’ll love these options. Go pink with the Multi-Level Wooden Dollhouse or if you’re looking for something that allows children to reach in from all sides, then check out the Hi-Rise Wooden Dollhouse. Either way, your child will have tons of room to play!

145275a.jpg

143589fpo-a.jpg

3. Looking to Teach STEM Concepts?

If you’re looking to go beyond dramatic play to teach math and engineering concepts, we have two colorful options below. The Geometrics Dollhouse will teach geometry as children build rooms in whatever shape they please! Don’t forget the Roominate Townhouse that promotes architectural skills as children build their own townhouse from bottom to top.

4. Need Something to
Take on the Go?145297a.jpg

Travel often? If you’re looking for a dollhouse to take with you for children that’s a little smaller, but is perfect for taking on the go, then the Fold * Go Wooden Dollhouse if for you. Durable and portable, this dollhouse comes with two play figures and eleven pieces of wooden furniture so that children can take imaginative play wherever they go!

Rethinking Nutrition for Kids

9 Mar

What do you think of when you hear the word nutrition? Many times, it’s equated to ensuring there is some type of fruit included in a child’s snack time, or a limit on how many chips a child can have. With childhood obesity statistics on the rise, we want to foster the simple idea that nutrition is more than what’s in your child’s diet; it’s a lifestyle! Here are four easy tips to help incorporate nutritious choices as part of your family’s day-to-day:

shutterstock_310703618.jpg

1. Modeling

You are looked up to more than you will ever know! Consumption choices, what items are available in the fridge, and how many times you incorporate exercise into your week are all important choices that acts as behavior models for children. Here are some small ways you can make a difference:

  • Pack lunch together. Children can see that you are packing healthy for lunch just like they are!
  • Use Sundays for meal prep. Having meals all ready to go for weeknights is a great way to avoid the fast food run that we all default to when time gets away from us!
  • Workout during chores! Incorporate squats, pushups, and abs into tasks you already have to do. This is a great example for kids to multi-task as they fold laundry, sweep the floors, or clean up their room! Here is a fun article for moms with toddlers: http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/fit-mom-exercise-tips/

28885.jpg

2. Meal Times

We all know what we put into our bodies is important, but at times, it can be hard to know what exactly a healthy balance looks like, especially for a hangry preschooler who only wants chicken nuggets and french fries! We have a helpful Health Eating from Head to Toe Handout that’s a great start for parents. Not only does it suggest what foods to eat, but also does so with colorful illustrations that show what health benefits come from each food group! Find the handout here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/28885/preschool-healthy-eating-from-head-to-toe-handouts-set-of-50

Nutrition Books to Get You Started: 

Another fun idea to do with the family is to create a “Healthy Recipes” Pinterest board so that you can keep track of nutritious meals your family loves! Follow our family board for weekly inspirations: https://www.pinterest.com/KaplanToys/healthy-family-recipes/

53689.jpg3. Motivated to Move!

Active play is an important part of a child’s day! Not only does it burn calories, but it also encourages creativity, builds important muscles, and gives children a chance to interact with their peers as they work on teamwork, friendship, and an understanding of social rules. Whether it’s getting out in the backyard to pass a soccer ball, mediating on a yoga mat, or hiking as a family on the weekend, motivating children to move is an important concept for children to adapt into their lifestyle as they grow. To browse our selection of active play toys, click here. 

Sources:

30795b.jpg

4. Make a Garden

Spring is nearly here! With the start of warm weather comes the prime opportunity to start planting vegetables and herbs for your family meals! Teaching your child how to garden is not only an excellent practice of sustainability, but it will encourage them to incorporate homegrown food into their meals later on. To learn more about the benefits of gardening for children, head over to this article to get started.

Gardening Tools for Toddlers:

 

Share how you are celebrating #NationalNutritionMonth with your kids by commenting below!

How to Talk to Your Kids About Bullying

6 Oct

shutterstock_34508773

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Having conversations in the home with children about bullying can not only prevents potential conflicts in the classroom, but can also prepare your child for being confronted by a bully. Here are five strategies for talking to young children about bullying:

 1. Get to Know Their Social Life

Checking in daily with your child is the best way to know when social dynamics begin to change in a way that could indicate bullying. Encourage your child to talk about their friends, sports teams, and how their classes are going. Your questions are a great way to show that you care while also allowing you to keep track of any environmental changes that may be problematic.

2. Build a Trusting Relationship

Ensure your child knows the lines of communication are always open when it comes to talking to you about what is going on in their life. Even if your child tells you something that is shocking, suspend disbelief to instead let them know you trust what they are telling you.

3. Establish Rules for Online Conduct

Surprisingly, a high percentage of bullying occurs online. With the prevalence of technology at home and in the classroom, it is imperative to establish online conduct rules for children from an early age. This will develop an understanding of responsibility for communications both verbal and virtual. You can encourage your child to keep protected by following these two guidelines:

  1. Never say or do anything online that you wouldn’t say or do in person.
  2. Never share any information that you wouldn’t tell a stranger.

4. Involve Child in Problem Solving Discussion

Work together to come up with a solution so that your child feels empowered. Trying to directly contact the parent of the aggressor can sometimes lead to additional bullying and rarely solves the situation. Instead, take active steps to talk to your child about ways they can bring conflict to an end. Find more resources on standing up to bullies here: http://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/talking-about-it/

81802a

5. Focus on Social-Emotional Learning

Showing children that everyone is different and speaking openly about the emotions certain actions can evoke is a key part of developing your child’s social emotional skills. Concepts like responsibility, respect, and kindness need to be taught before children can fully understand what a bully is and how to ensure they don’t become one unintentionally.

From books to games, the resources below can help you build social emotional learning in your children as they prepare for interacting with their peers:

Sources: