Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Gratitude and More! Character Education for Kids

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Since Thanksgiving always falls in November, it’s a great month to focus on not only gratitude, but also overall character education. Social and emotional growth is an important part of learning for young children as it teaches them how to interact with others. Here are five virtues you can instill to teach character education in children from an early age:

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1). Gratitude

Give your child a chance to model gratitude as you call attention to moments in your day when you express thanks for things or people. Whether it’s thanking your toddler for helping clean their room, thanking whoever is cooking this Thanksgiving for their time and commitment to making the holiday special, or even bringing in a Teacher Appreciation gift to show your child’s teacher their efforts are not forgotten. Be sure to engage your child in dialogue about gratitude by reading books like Greta the Grateful Goldfish that deal with how to show gratitude to others.

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2). Kindness

Sunday is World Kindness Day: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org. Talk to your child about what it means to be kind to peers and family. One way to show kindness is by visiting a park and giving out a “care kit” to the homeless. Another way is to visit a nursing home and have a conversation with the elderly. Seeing curious little faces can go a long way to brighten up someone’s day. Whatever you decide, there are always moments throughout your day to exemplify what it means to show kindness to one another. Books like I Can Be Kind are great conversation openers.

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3) Service

Practice dramatic play by setting up a play date for a tea party or imaginary meal. Encourage your child to practice serving others first, asking how they are, and taking their coats or bags before pulling out a chair for them. Serving imaginary food is always a great way to put others first! For inspiring ideas on how to serve in your community, check out The Busy Family’s Guide to Volunteering.

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4) Courage

Encourage your child to try new things. It’s ok if they want your help at first, you can practice courage together and ask them if they think they can accomplish the new task at hand on their own next time. Try climbing a rock wall for kids or tasting food they’ve never had an interest in before. Taking a step into the unknown goes a long way in instilling lifelong character lessons. Have Courage encourages children to develop self-confidence and a sense of purpose as they play.

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5) Responsibility

Teach children that everyone has responsibilities by assigning them little tasks around the house. Completing assigned jobs increases self-confidence and gives your child insight into the home being seen as a community of people who work together for the common good. Be sure to commend your child on a job well done when the task is complete. Another way to teach responsibility is by giving your child a pet to take care of – without the messes, of course. This cuddly dog hand puppet is the perfect companion: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/32055/dog-hand-puppet?c=24%7CKTPP10


How do you teach character education in your children? Comment below or tweet your answers to @KaplanToys.

Kid’s Edition: Finger Foods for Thanksgiving

25 Nov

Whipping up recipes for Thanksgiving? Don’t forget to include young children in the process with a few fun finger foods they can help make. With a little creativity, simple snacks become a fun way for children to learn nutrition, math skills through measuring, and how to follow directions in the kitchen! Here are five of our favorite Thanksgiving snacks for kids to make:

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1. Turkey Shaped Cheese Platter

Encourage children to work on sorting skills as they use a little creativity and a lot of cheese to create a turkey-shaped cheese platter! Find out how here.

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2. Caramel Apple Nachos

Break out the apples and caramel for a tasty treat the whole family will enjoy! This is an easy (and healthy) snack that’s perfect for children who are eager to help out in the kitchen. Directions here.

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3. Owl S’mores

Make these adorable Owl S’mores with a couple of graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate chips, yellow candy melts, and candy corn! They’re sure to be a family favorite! Find out how to make them here.

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4. Fruity Turkey

Get creative with different fruits to create this adorable fruit turkey! Kids will work on fine motor skills as they cut different fruits in half and put on the final touches with shaped carrots!

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5. Turkey Pretzel Snack

Break out the pretzels and peanut butter for some turkey fun! This is a cute idea to keep little hands busy as they create their cute turkey snack. Find instructions on how to get started here.

Build budding culinary skills in your children by investing in a starter kitchen set! Browse our selection here.

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Don’t miss even more ways to get creative in the kitchen with Cooking Art! 

Helping Little Hands for Thanksgiving Dinner

10 Nov

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As the holidays approach, there are more and more opportunities for little hands to get involved as you prepare for family get-togethers! One of the biggest jobs can be the Thanksgiving meal! Why not turn what can be stressful into a learning opportunity for your children? Here are a few ways to get little ones involved in the process:

1. Pretzel Kabobs

One easy way for kids to get involved is by making kabobs! Create patterns and different combinations by making completely edible kabobs with an assortment of foods – from cubes of turkey breast to grapes.

Ingredients:

  • Apple slices
  • Cheese pieces
  • Grapes
  • Pretzel sticks or rods
  • Turkey, cubed
  • Cranberry

What to Do:

  1. Before your child begins to make their kabob, prepare the ingredients by pre-cutting holes in the center so they can slide food onto the pretzel stick and avoid frustration of having the pretzel break.
  2. Invite your child to choose a combination of items and slide each one onto a pretzel stick.
  3. Encourage your child to discover different pattern possibilities.
  4. Serve for a creative Thanksgiving meal appetizer!

Source: The Budding Chef

2. Apple Butter in a Crock-Pot

This delicious spread is a crowd pleaser. Make it in the fall and fill your home with the season’s best aroma for the family to enjoy. It’s also a great addition to any bread that may accompany your Thanksgiving spread!

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds medium-sized cooking apples
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

Tools

  • crock-pot
  • Cutting board
  • knives

What to Do:

  1. Peel, core, and slice the apples. Invite your child to help as much as possible, but supervise closely.
  2. Have your child put the apples, water, and cinnamon into a crock-pot to make applesauce. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 hours. (Savor the aroma!)
  3. The next day, help your child mix the applesauce, sugar, and cloves in the crock-pot.
  4. Take turns stirring every hour, for 8 hours total.
  5. Before you and your child go to bed, turn the crock-pot to low heat and let the mixture cook all night. The apple butter will be ready to eat in the morning!
  6. Help your child fill small baby food jars with the apple butter.
  7. Refrigerate once the butter is cool to ensure that the apple butter stays fresh!

Source: The Budding Chef 

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3. Stone Soup

Whether it’s your famous stuffing or casserole, many Thanksgiving dishes require a lot of ingredients. Have your kids bring different ingredients and comment on how everyone has something different to add to the dish. Once you’re at a good stopping point, read Stone Soup and reflect on how important everyone’s role is in making a meal truly come together.

Looking for more ways your children can get involved? Check out the following resources:

Building Thanks in Children

11 Nov

142971aBlocks have always been a great way to keep children entertained while building” their fine and gross motor skills, but did you know they can also be used to instill gratitude from an early age? Here are a few ways you can use block play to teach children about Thanksgiving.

 1. Talk About It.

It’s important to start off play with a discussion. Talk to your children about Thanksgiving, what it is, as well as the harvest and the changes of autumn. Introduce the concepts of thanks and sharing and ask kids why they are important.

 2. Read Apple Farmer Annie.

It always helps to have a story to go with playtime! Read Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington and use the blocks you have to help kids create an orchard. The floorboard can act as the ground while children use blocks to construct apple trees and fences.

 3. Encourage Sharing.

While you are building with children, be sure to encourage cooperative play. Teaching children the importance of sharing and working together to build something great are valuable lessons that will tie in perfectly with the season of thanks. It will also help to build communication skills as children embrace building ideas from playmates, ask nicely for blocks they want to use, and attempt to describe building intentions to another person before they’ve built their creation.

4. Spice It Up.

To take block play experiences to the next level, provide children with colored paper pieces (red, green, yellow, brown, and orange), markers, scissors, and tape so that they can tape “leaves” onto whatever structures they’ve created for a fun, fall feel! This way, children can build whatever they want and then decorate for the season.

For even more themed-block play experiences, check out Let’s Build by Pamela Phelps.

Looking for the perfect block set for your child? We’re here to help. Here are some block sets we think your kids will love:

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.

Gobble Games

18 Nov

Thanksgiving is a great time of the year for many reasons, but one of the most cherished is that it allows for a time where families can come together and express their gratitude for life and each other. In celebration of a holiday that allows you to spend time with your family, we’ve gathered a list of games for you to keep the kiddos entertained! Image

Turkey Feather Toss

  • Supplies: turkey feathers, weights, baskets
  • Instructions:
  1. Tape weights onto the quill ends of your Turkey feathers (these can be found at Micheal’s Crafts)
  2. Place baskets at staggered distances away and associate with different point values (the further away the more points)
  3. Take turns and keep score!

Thanksgiving Basket Upset

  • Supplies: as many chairs as people, minus one
  • Instructions:
  1. Put the chairs in a circle and choose a “caller.”
  2. Give everyone a “Thanksgiving name” (Pilgrim, dressing, pumpkin, etc.)
  3. Caller calls two of the names and they have to switch chairs.
  4. The Caller has to get to one of their chairs before they do.
  5. If Caller succeeds, switch! Whoever’s left becomes the Caller.

Chopstick Pass-Along

  • Supplies: chopsticks, unshelled walnut, acorn, cranberry, pea, small plate
  • Instructions:
  1. Each player gets a pair of chopsticks.
  2. Place walnut, acorn, cranberry and pea on a small plate next to oldest player.
  3. Use chopsticks to pass each object, largest to smallest, to the person to their right.
  4. Try to get all four objects back to the starting plate without dropping any!

Wall Football

  • Supplies: poster board, brown card stock, white opaque paint marker, poster tacks, blindfold
  • Instructions:
  1. Create a goal post from two-inch-wide poster board strips. (The uprights and the crossbar are each 20 inches long and the post is 6 inches long) Tack to wall.
  2. Cut 5-inch-long footballs out of brown card stock.
  3. Use white marker to decorate and add player’s names to the footballs; put a blob of poster tack on the back of each one.
  4. Players line up six feet away from goal. Player is blindfolded, spun around three times, and set loose to stick their football between the uprights (hopefully!)
  5. 3 points are awarded for each field goal. Highest score wins.

For more Thanksgiving games, visit: