Tag Archives: young children

Healthy Family Living in the New Year!

19 Jan

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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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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.

3 Spooky Snacks for Halloween!

27 Oct shutterstock_322899092

Picking out costumes and watching all of the classic Halloween movies? The time for trick or treating is upon us next weekend, but first, why not enjoy a little kitchen time with your children. Dive into festive creation with three recipes for spooky Halloween snacks!

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1. Peanut Butter Ball Monsters

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • flour
  • M&M’s, mini gumdrops, and shoestring licorice

Tools:

  • measuring cups
  • mixing bowl and spoon
  • tray
  • wax paper

What To Do:

  1. Help your child measure the peanut butter, honey, and sugar, and mix them together in a bowl.
  2. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  3. Put flour on your child’s hands and work with her to form small balls. Place the balls onto wax paper.
  4. Add mini M&M eyes, mini gumdrop noses, and licorice antennae to the monster heads.
  5. Put the balls on a tray and refrigerate until these monsters are ready to be eaten!

Source: The Budding Chef

2. Witch’s Brew

Ingredients:

  • grape juice
  • red grapes and blueberries
  • milk

Tools:

  • blender

What To Do:

  1. Put grape juice, grapes, blueberries, and milk into a blender.
  2. Add ice and  blend to make a “witch’s smoothie!”
  3. Sing songs to the Healthy All Over CD to talk about how little witches can stay healthy!

Source: The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities 

3. Be A Pumpkin Cook!

Ingredients:

  • whole pumpkin
  • water
  • butter
  • ingredients for pumpkin muffins or bread

Tools:

  • knife (adult only)
  • 9″ x 12″ baking pan
  • aluminum foil
  • blender or food processor
  • muffin tin or loaf pan
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • mixing spook and bowl

What To Do:

  1. Wash and cut open the pumpkin. Encourage children to smell it.
  2. Remove the seeds. Using your hands, remove and save the pulp.
  3. Encourage the children to describe the textures of the pumpkin.
  4. Cut off thin slices of pumpkin flesh and have the children taste it.
  5. Place the pumpkin, cut side down, in the baking pan. Add 1/2 cup of water.
  6. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Let cool.
  7. Remove the foil and encourage the children to observe the changes in the pumpkin. The pumpkin is darker and soft because heat changes the consistency of things.
  8. Scoop out some of the soft pumpkin pulp. Puree it in a blender or food processor. Add some of the liquid from the baking pan, if needed.
  9. Use the pureed pumpkin in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin. Let the children measure, pour, and mix.
  10. Eat the muffins. Compare the appearance of the batter to the finished product. Explain again how heat changes things.
  11. Bonus: Melt butter and coat the pumpkin seeds. Bake at 250 degrees until golden brown. Salt and enjoy!

Source: The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities 

10 Fall Activities for Kids!

20 Oct shutterstock_64392277

Cold weather and scarves, pumpkins and colored leaves, fall is officially here! Whether you’re planning on celebrating Halloween or simply going for nature walks, we have 10 things to do with your kids to fall in love with autumn learning:

143690a.jpg1. Take a drive to the mountains.

Jump in the car for a road trip to the mountains to see all the leaves changing. Road trips are a great way to spend time together as a family as you sing songs, play with on-the-go toys, and end up in fun destinations!

Toy spotlight: Mini Squigz are perfect for color coordination and building on any surface! Stick to car windows for perfect on-the-go learning: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/143690/mini-squigz-75-piece-set?c=1%7CKTAP16

2. Read around a campfire.

Cool weather is the perfect time to gather around a campfire and pull out a book for story time. Read about fictional characters and fall adventures as children learn about seasonal weather changes, how to dress appropriately, and fun ways to explore the season. Don’t forget to bring a flashlight!

Book spotlight: Listen, Listen introduces young readers to the sights and sounds of the different seasons. https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/71808/listen-listen-board-book

3. Go on a fall scavenger hunt.

Get outside and start collecting! Autumn brings a variety of discoveries from high up above on tree limbs to the ground for little hands to find. Take the discoveries inside and start investigating.

Toy spotlight: Sort young children’s fall finds with Sorting Trays. These durable trays encourage skill building while kids sort, count, pattern, graph, and compare! https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/62974P/sorting-trays?c=12%7CKTMT06

91325.jpg4. Pumpkin sensory play.

Pumpkins are perfect for sensory play; place a pumpkin in your sensory tray, cut out the top, and let children dip in their hands for sensory exploration! The seeds are always fun to bake later for snack time.

Book spotlight: Read Pumpkin Soup together before you dig into your pumpkin for a fun song to sing as you play. https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/91325/pumpkin-soup-paperback-and-cd

5. Put on a leaf puppet show.

Not sure what to do with your child’s leaf collection? Draw faces on the leaves, glue on craft sticks, and have a puppet show! It’s a great way to engage in dramatic play.

Toy spotlight: These adorable Designer Craft Sticks add extra flair to your leaf people. https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/88924/designer-craft-sticks?c=2%7CKTAR11

Name-activity-for-fall.jpg6. Learn literacy with leaf letters.

Take leaf play a step further by drawing letters on each leaf! It’s a great way to learn letters and practice simple spelling. Learn more: http://www.pleasantestthing.com/leaf-name-game

Toy spotlight: Don’t have leaves to play with? Phonics Pebbles are a great substitute for letter recognition, word-building, and tactile discovery. https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/51552/phonics-pebbles

7. Investigate the great outdoors.

It’s time to break out the magnifying glasses and see what kids can find! Take a walk or go on a hike and be prepared to answer the many questions your child may have about nature.

Toy spotlight: Jumbo Magnifiers are easy for children to grab and take on the go as they get a closer look at life science lessons. https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/17447/jumbo-magnifiers-set-of-6?c=17%7CKTSC13

2f8a3567e5f82f8b3df3e5a28a715ab4.jpg8. Make a fall sequin lava lamp.

Dig lava lamps? Make your own with vegetable oil and Alka Seltzer tablets. Children will learn how to follow instructions, measure, and be thrilled with the reaction of the fall themed lava lamp. Find instructions here: http://buff.ly/2eVfw05

Toy spotlight: Still not satisfied? Set up a real LAVA Lite Classic Lava Lamp in your child’s room to use as a nightlight or as a science conversation starter. https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/145657/lava-lite-classic-163-inch-silver-lava-lamp-yellow-wax-blue-liquid?c=29%7CKTNEW9

9. Bob for apples.

It’s just not fall if no one has bobbed for apples. Pour some apples into a bucket of water and start bobbing; just remember, no hands! Enjoy a healthy snack afterwards.

Book spotlight: Once your finished, read Dr. Seuss’ classic Ten Apples Up On Top! https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/16648/ten-apples-up-on-top-hardback?c=6%7CKTCB09

10. Cook with fall foods.

Fall provides a fun variety of foods to cook with including pumpkins, apples, sunflower seeds, pumpkin spice, and more! Look for creative recipes to dive into with your little one in the kitchen for quality time together.

Book spotlight: The Budding Chef is full of kid-friendly recipes to make for snack time! Themes included. https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/20218/the-budding-chef-paperback


We hope you enjoyed making your way through our 10 Fall Activities list. Still, we’re curious, what would you add? Comment below!

 

Books to Ease the Back-to-School Transition

1 Sep shutterstock_11472577

How is your little learner adjusting to the back-to-school routine? With so much to take in, the big transition can sometimes seem scary. To help with the process, we have six books to help your child ease back into the learning experience and manage all of the responsibilities that come with it.

145591.jpg1. Casting Casey 

After a summer filled with fun, routine can sometimes feel boring to young children. Combat boredom by reading about the incredibly smart Casey who comes to understand why giving your best is always important. Discovering new passions at school is always a rewarding experience of learning in the classroom!

 

145000.jpg2. The Lego Ideas Book 

Encourage building at home! The Lego Ideas Book is a great resource for project ideas and building themes for your child to follow along with as they prepare for building with peers. Blocks are always readily available in early education classrooms, so encouraging self-directed building can go a long way in developing your child’s fine motor skills.

 

145598.jpg3. How to Do Homework without Throwing Up 

Is it always a struggle to get your child to do homework? This comical read will teach children how to ask for help when they need it. It includes helpful homework tips and pointers, scheduling aids, and a list of homework benefits they can look forward to in the classroom.

 

145589.jpg4. Nobody!

Is your child worried about being bullied? It is easy to feel all alone when starting a new school year, especially if a child is coming in not knowing familiar faces. This book explores how to overcome bullying by growing self-esteem and helping others. It also includes a special “activity club” page for parents, to help you discuss bullying with your child.

 

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5.Get Organized Without Losing It 

School comes with a pile of important papers! This special read teaches children how to keep organized, from homework to personal responsibilities. Includes quirky illustrations and helpful tips to enjoy the benefits of an organized learning experience.

 

 

145003.jpg6.Get Ready For School: I’m Ready for School Board Book

Get ready for school days full of play and fun! This interactive board book is perfect for supporting key learning skills, social skills, physical and knowledge development, language skills, and fun routines for everyday experiences. Prepare for play, exploration, and hands-on experiences!

 


Now your child is all ready to hit the classroom with confidence and a smile for all of the learning to come! Share your tips for easing student transitions back to school by commenting below.

Summer Splash Down! 10 Water Toys for Kids

18 Aug

This summer has been a scorcher! But who says that means children need to stay indoors? We have 10 water toys that will not only keep your kids cool as they play, but they will also inspire learning outdoors. Here are our top 10 water toys to splash into this summer:

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1. Active Edge Splash & Blast Aqua Hockey

Love air hockey? Then you’ll love aqua hockey! This fast-paced water game is the perfect solution to sunny summer days. Keep cool by competing in aqua hockey tournaments by attaching a water hose to the outdoors mat and watching kids have a blast!

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2. Spray, Sprinkle, and Squeeze Water Set (12 Pieces) 

Encourage children to explore how water flows, create their own currents, and learn more about water diffusion with the Spray, Sprinkle, and Squeeze Water Set! This is a fun starter set for kids to take outside to the creek, play with in the pool, or even help you water plants in the garden! 

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3. Active Edge Sprinkle ‘N Splash Play Mat 

This play mat is the perfect shallowness for little swimmers looking for a mini water park experience! Simply inflate and attach to a hose to watch little learners engage in water play.

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4. Waterfall Discovery Wall

Teach toddlers about water flow with the double-sided Waterfall Discovery Wall! This is a great toy that allows for problem solving and cause-and-effect learning as tots plug in different accessories to change water flow patterns. Includes wall buckets, bamboo water tracks, funnels, a water dumper, and more!

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5. Splash Patrol Sprinkler

This whimsical sprinkler makes water play creative and fun! Simply plug up these twelve grubs to a hose to spray water in all directions. Not only does the sprinkler keep children cool, but it will also keep them moving as they engage in active water play!

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6. Letter Link Crabs

Teach literacy in the pool! These colorful Letter Link Crabs are perfect for teaching spelling, letter recognition, and more. Squeeze these adorable little crabs to fill with water and build fine motor skills in young children.

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7. Number Ducks

Teach addition, subtraction, counting, and numbers 1-10 with Number Ducks! Perfect for the pool, these counting ducks have dots on their backs that match numbers on the bottom.

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8. Shape Shell Turtles

Teach little learners shape recognition as they match shapes onto the backs of these adorable turtles! Removable shells feature colored shapes including a moon, cross, circle, square, rectangle, triangle, and oval.

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9. Submergency Dive Toy

This high-tech underwater toy takes diving to the next level! The Submergency Dive Toy emits an underwater ping that sounds until disarmed adding a whole new level of excitement to diving. Set the toy to sink or float according to your little divers’ skill level.

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10. Float & Play Bubbles (Set of 4)

Have a toddler who’s just breaking in the swimmies? These durable Float & Play Bubbles are unique water toys that present fascinating patterns as they twirl and spin in the water! Great for early water play and fine motor skill development.


Remember to use sunscreen, practice water play safety, and most of all, have fun this summer as you and your kids go out and explore!