Tag Archives: young children

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

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!

Encouraging Young Engineers with Robotics for Kids

16 Mar

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With recent developments as innovative as medical robots performing surgery and as hilarious as a 3D printer making pizza in outer space, the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (commonly known as STEM), and more specifically robotics are taking humanity farther than we ever thought possible. Allow your children to actively take part in shaping the world around them with the help of STEM practices.

In fact, by including robotics in regular play, you can engage children in different aspects of engineering and teach different scientific concepts. When children work with STEM toys and activities, they learn problem solving skills, creativity, ingenuity and critical thinking alongside developing a passion for science and mathematics. Keep reading for some great activities and toys to help foster your child’s interest in engineering.

Origami Robots – Start simple by creating a robot using origami. Using traditional Japanese paper folding, you can introduce your child to basic engineering concepts and help them begin to understand the importance of following instructions when it comes to larger projects. The Paper Punk Build Your Own Paper Bot002 incorporates creativity and individuality into construction. Instructions are simple, but stickers and a variety of patterns and designs keep kids from getting bored and allow them to explore their own ingenuity.

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Starting Easy Mio the Robot allows children to construct their own real life, programmable robot. The amount of interchangeable parts helps children think critically and encourages creativity as they bring their robot to life. You can also help children learn some programming basics and work on mathematics to make the robot move!

Explore Versatility – With the Smart Lab Motorblox Robot Lab, children will learn how to build something from scratch. The Robot Lab allows children to build and test three different walking robots. Adding movement allows children to develop problem-solving and experimentation skills while learning about mechanics.

 The Big Leagues – Step up the programming game with the ReCon 6.0, a programmable rover that young engineers can program to navigate specific courses. Children can program the robot to deliver a treat to a pet, surprise a family member with a personalized message, carry a soda, guard a bedroom, or even dance! By working with a more complex type of programming, they will engage with early mathematics and delve into more complicated problem solving.

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Schools are pushing for more STEM concepts in the classroom, but who says they have to stay there? Allow your young ones to put on their thinking caps and encourage exploration, experimentation, and excitement at home with their own personal robot friends! For more STEM toys and products, visit the STEM and STEAM section of our website.

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!