The 20 Best Halloween Costumes for Kids

By sara / September 28, 2017

Halloween is quickly approaching. Is your family ready? If not, we've got you covered. Your kids will be ready to collect all of the candy in the neighborhood in no time with these awesome costumes.  Our list is chalked full of  the hottest trends for 2017 as well as some timeless classics looks as well. 

20. Yoda (Star Wars)

Do or do not there is not try with this awesome Yoda costume. Your children will love dressing up as the wisest Jedi Master in the galaxy with this timeless costume.

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    Polyester
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    Costume features Yoda mask
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    Includes brown polyester jumpsuit and hooded robe

19. Finn (Star Wars)

Finn is one of the newest members to the Star Wars Franchise. Your children will be ready to save the galaxy in this cool costume from the movie.

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    Polyester
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    Comes with pants and top with attached jacket
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    List Element

18. Classic Princess Leia (Star Wars)

Your children will be ready to take on Darth Vader and the Death Star in this classic Princess Leia dress complete with her iconic space buns.

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    Includes white hooded dress,belt, and Princess Leia wig
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    Comes in child size small, medium, large
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    This costume is officially licensed by Star Wars 

17. Super Mario

Mario is one of the most loved video game characters of all time. Your child will ready to save Princess Peach when they transform into the iconic plumber. This costume consists of the classic overalls and red shirt.

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    Polyester
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    Features jumpsuit with blue overalls, big yellow button and attached red long sleeve shirt 
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    Inflatable belly to give Mario his plump belly

16. Emoji

Emoji’s are all the rage these days. They are able to show exactly how you feel by one very simple image. Your child will look like the silly face when they put on this awesome emoji costume.

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    Polyester 
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    Package contains the emoji tunic poncho costume only 
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    Leggings and shirt and not included 


15. Branch (Trolls) 

Branch is the complete opposite of the character Poppy from the movie Trolls. He is always gloomy and he never sings or dances like the other trolls. This costume will be able to transform your child into this gloomy character from the movie Trolls.  

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    Product includes Jumpsuit and headpiece 
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    Officially licensed product 

14. Poppy (Trolls) 

Who could resist this adorable costume? It will transform your child into the most lovable and relentlessly upbeat character from the movie Trolls.

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    Product includes dress and headpiece 
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    Officially licensed product 

13. Eliza Hamilton

Your child will transform into the wife of Alexander Hamilton when they put on this beautiful Eliza Hamilton costume.  She could also pull off Angelica...And Peggy with this particular outfit. 

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    Polyester 
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    Colonial Era Inspired dress with attached apron fabric mop cap
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    Shoes not included 

12. Alexander Hamilton

Hamilton of course has taken the world by storm.  The Tony-Award Winning  Musical has brought back to life the Revolutionary War Era. Now your child will be able to dress like one of the founding fathers and leading man of the hit play when they put on this Alexander Hamilton costume.

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    Costume runs big
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    Deluxe black velour long coat has gold trimming on the edging of the jacket cuff

11. Ghostbusters

This classic khaki jumpsuit is complete with the Ghostbusters logo is the perfect outfit for any kid that “aint afraid of no ghost”.

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    Includes classic jumpsuit and inflatable back pack 
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    Officially licensed Ghostbusters costume 
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    Child's Sizes 

10. Star Lord  (Guardians of the Galaxy)

This Star Lord costume will transform your child into the one of the most powerful outlaws in the galaxy when they put on the awesome red jacket. 

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    Polyester 
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    Printed jumpsuit 
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    Mask with glowing eyes 

9. Moana 

This Moana inspired outfit is perfect for any child that is brave enough to go on an adventure this Halloween. How far will your little one go? 

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    Iconic 2 piece outfit features unique prints and the skirt to match 
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    Skirt has two layers that include fringe detail for an authentic Moana Adventure look 
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    Recommended for ages 3+

8. Belle

This tale might be as old as time but this village Belle costume is timeless. Your child will be able to transform into the icon princess when they wear this Belle inspired dress.

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    Product includes dress 
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    Based off of the Beauty & the Beast live action 
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    Officially licensed product 

7. Groot

This costume will transform your child into a small tree and have them saying  “I am Groot” when they put on this adorable Groot inspired costume.

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    Polyester 
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    Imported 
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    Groot printed padded jumpsuit with attached shoe covers, mask included 

6. Dimond Armor (Minecraft) 

Your children will be ready to take on the mines or go to the nether when they wear the highly coveted diamond armor from the popular game, Minecraft.

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    Polyester 
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    Imported 
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    Officially licensed product 

5. Rey

Your children will be ready to fly the Falcon or take on Kylo Ren and the dark side when they wear this Rey costume.

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    Jumpsuit with attached apron, detached sleeves, and belt
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    Accessories sold separately 

4. Mal (Descendants 2)

This magic inspired costume will turn your child into the smart and ruthless character named Mal from Descendants 2.

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    Polyester ​​​
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    Imported ​​​​
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    Officially licensed product 

3. Uma (Descendants 2) 

This awesome costume  will transform your child into the strong and sassy daughter of Ursula and self proclaimed queen of the isle from the movie Descendants 2. 

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    Polyester ​​​
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    Imported ​​​​
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    Officially licensed 
This awesome costume  will transform your child into the strong and sassy daughter of Ursula and self proclaimed queen of the isle from the movie Descendants 2. 

2. Harry Potter  

This Harry Potter costume is perfect for the little Gryffindor in your life. Your child will be magically transformed into Harry Potter when they put on the icon black and maroon robes complete with the Gryffindor House Logo.

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    Polyester ​​​​
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    Imported 
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    Black fleece costume robe has burgundy accents with embroidered patch with Gryffindor House Emblem 

1. Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is one of the toughest superhero’s in the Justice League so why not dress like her for Halloween?

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    Polyester ​​​​
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    Officially licensed DC superhero costume 
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    Sleeveless red, white and blue dress with attached cape and gold belt 

The 25 Best Children’s Books about Immigration

By sara / September 21, 2017

If your children are anything like mine, they are hearing discussions of immigration and refugee status on the news, on the playground, maybe even quoting everyone's favorite Musical, "Immigrants, we get the job done!"  Your children may have a lot of questions about immigration and migration and where do you go for those answers?  Our team has compiled this list of 25 books to help even the youngest child understand the sacrifice and strength necessary to immigrate to another country.  These stories follow brave and determined individuals on their journey to a new life.  These are the 25 Best Books about Immigrants and Refugees.


25. The Name Jar

The Name Jar was written by Yangsook Choi. This book will help your children that might be a little nervous about going to a new school. Unhei is nervous because she is afraid that no one will be able to pronounce her name and that no one will want to be her friend. She decides not to tell anyone her name and instead she decides that she just go pick a new name. Unhei decides that she is going to pick a new name by drawing names out of a jar. The jar goes missing and her new friends decide that they want to know how to pronounce her name.


24. Two White Rabbits 

Two White Rabbits is by Jairo Buitrago. This books shares a detailed story of a young child’s trip towards the border of the United States. She talks about how her family spent most of their time in very dangerous situations and she was too young to understand what was going on. This book will help you explain to your children that this journey is hard now but it will help give them a better life in the future. This book is very interesting because it shows the journey through the eyes of the child.


23. One Green Apple

One Green Apple is by Eve Bunting. This book is about a young girl from the Middle East that feels very alone when she starts going to her new school. She does not communicate with those around her because she does not speak very much English. She finds comfort on a school trip to an apple orchard when she hears familiar sounds that she remembers when she was back at home. She starts to bond with her classmates as they make apple cider together and she finally starts to feel like she is not alone. This book will help you show your children that it does get better even if it hard at first.


22. Grandfather's Journey

Grandfather’s Journey is by Allen Say. This is a beautiful book that will explain to your children that you can have a love for more than one country. This book also shows that you are not necessarily leaving your country because you hate it but so that they can you can also leave because you know that you will have a better life somewhere else in the world. This is a personal book for the author because it tells the story of his grandfather’s journey to the United States and his love of two countries.


21. Apple Pie 4th of July

Apple Pie 4th of July is by Janet S. Wong. This book is about a first generation Chinese-American that is upset that her parents are not cooking traditional American food on the fourth of July. Her family was making sweet-and-sour pork while everyone else was cooking hamburgers and hotdogs. You can see her mood start to change once she starts to smell the amazing food that her family was cooking while watching fireworks and eating apple pie. At the end of the day she learns a powerful message that America is made up of all kinds of cultures and that is something to be proud of.


20. Four Feet, Two Sandals 

Four Feet, Two Sandals is by Karen Lynn Williams. The book was inspired by a refugee that felt like that there were no books that represented her and what she went through to come to the United States. This book is about two young girls that find joy when they each find a sandal that is part of a matching pair. The problem is that there are four feet and only two sandals. Instead of each wearing one shoe they decide to share the pair of shoes. This book shows the lives of refugees and how deal with bad living conditions while they do hard labor every single day in order to start a new life in the United States.


19. Madlenka 

Madlenka is by Peter Sis. This book shares many stories of people that live on Madlenka’s street. These people are from all of the world and they have a lot of unique stories to share. There are stories about life in France, India, Italy and many more. Your children are looking at the story as though they are sitting in the pocket on Madlenka’s jacket so they feel like they are actually hearing all of these wonderful stories first hand.


18. Migrant 

Migrant is by Maxine Trottier. Anna is a young girl from Mexico that wishes that she was a tree because then she would be deeply rooted in one place. Right now she feels like a bird because she moves all over the place. She goes north in the spring and south in the fall to plant and harvest crops for her family to sell. She does not have one place where she feels like she is truly home because her family is always moving around a lot for work. Will she ever become a tree and settle down or will she always be a bird in the sky migrating from season to season.


17. Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Maker's Strike 

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Maker’s Strike of 1909 is by Michelle Markel. This book is a beautiful picture book that shares the biography about people that immigrated from the Ukraine to the United States in the early 1900s. It shows what it’s like to be in a new country and not speak any English. It also shows that sacrifice, perseverance and hard work can pay off and help give you a much better life in a new country.


16. Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey 

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey is by Margriet Ruurs. This is a picture book that tells the story of Syrian refugee Rama and her family. They had to leave their home because of the civil war that broke out in their once peaceful country. Rama and her family pack up everything they can and start their walk to Europe for a better life. This book is very beautiful and shows the strength and courage it takes to leave everything you know behind to start your life in a new country.


15. The Journey 

The Journey is by Francesca Sanna. This book reflects on the refugee crisis that has been going on in the world. The artwork in this book is beautiful and bright and your children will love looking at it. This book shines light on the current refugee crisis that is going on in the world. It shows what it is like when war strikes a country and they are forced to leave everything behind in order to escape. This book focuses on the real stories of these people so that we can get a different view of what is going on. This is a great book that will be sure to open your children’s eyes to what it means to be an immigrant or refugee.


14. Mama's Nightngale: A Story of Immigration and Separation 

Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation is by Edwidge Danticat. This book is absolutely heartbreaking because it is about a family that is split up when a mother is sent to an immigration detention center. Saya is a young girl that listens to her mother’s voice on the answering machine to help her find the strength to survive. Her mother records bedtime stories so that her daughter will feel closer to her while she is in jail. This book shows what it is like to be separated from your family. It also shows what life is like when children are left on their own because of immigration.


13. Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush's Incredible Journey 

Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey is by Doug Kuntz. It has a unique way of showing what it is like to be a refugee because it shows a lost cats journey to be reunited with its family. We are able to see what it is like to move from one place to another and the amount of joy you feel when you are finally reunited with your loved ones. Your children will really enjoy the beautiful artwork in this heartwarming book.


12. Inside Out and Back Again 

Inside Out and Back Again is an award winning book by Thanhha Lai. This tells the story of the authors life growing up as a refugee that fled Vietnam. She and her family start a new life in Alabama and it was not an easy adventure. This book shows the healing process that takes place after starting a new life in a new unfamiliar country. This book is very enlightening and will definitely give you an appreciation for refugees and what they have to go through in order to get a better life.


11. The Red Pencil 

The Red Pencil is by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Amira’s life in her village gets turned upside down when it is attacked by Janjaweed attackers. She has to take a long journey on foot to a refugee camp where she will be safe. She endures a lot of hardships along the way and she starts to lose hope. She receives the gift of a red pencil and it uplifts her spirits a little. Her new gift opens a lot of possibilities and gives her hope for the future.


10. A Long Walk to Water 

A Long Walk to Water is by Linda Sue Park. This book was based on a true story about two twelve year olds that are from Sudan. The story goes back and forth between two stories from two different time periods. The story of the young girl takes place in 2008 and the story of the boy takes place back in 1985. The young girl has to walk very far to get to clean water that she will be able to drink. The boy is a refugee that is known as a lost boy. This book has a unique take on being a refugee and it will open your eyes to the hardships that these people face on a daily basis.


9. Landed 

Landed is by Milly Lee. The main character is Sun and we follow him from China to the United States. His trip is very difficult and he is nervous about moving to America because he does not speak English. He is detained and forced to take a very hard test before he is granted access into the country. Sun has spent a lot of time studying for this test but he knows that it will not be very easy. This book explains what life was like for Chinese people after the Chinese Exclusion Act passed in 1882.


8. Esperanza Rising 

Esperanza Rising is an award winning book by Pam Munoz Ryan. Esperanza is used to living a privileged life in Mexico with her family. She has servants and beautiful clothes and everything that she could have wanted. Her world comes crashing down when she has to move to a ranch in America during the Great Depression. She and her mother have to participate in hard labor in order to make money and that is not something that they are used to doing. It is going to take a lot of strength to overcome these new obstacles.


7. Drita, My Homegirl 

Drita, My Homegirl is by Jenny Lombard. This book will show your children that friends will be able to help you get through the hard times when you start a new life in a new country. Drita wants to live a normal American life after she moves to the United States with her family. She is nervous about being the new girl in school because she does not speak English. Drita is put into a group with one of the most popular girls in her class and it does not go well at first but they became friends when they least expected it.


6. When Jessie Came Across the Sea

When Jessie Came Across the Sea is by Amy Hest. This book tells the story of a little girl that has to leave her favorite person in the whole world to start a new life in America. This person is her grandma and they both are very sad about it. The young girl feels a horrible sinking feeling in the bottom of her heart as she leaves her grandma behind to start her new life. This book explains what it feels like when you leave your family behind and go to a new country where you have to start over from scratch. It takes a great deal of courage to do that and you will absolutely see that when you read this book.


5. Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty 

Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty is by Linda Glaser. This poem gives a voice to the Statue of Liberty during the late 1800s when thousands of immigrants start to move to the United States. It explains that Lady Liberty was a gift to this country from France. The statue of Liberty is one of the most important symbols of this country and your children will learn all about it when they read this book.


4. Blue Jasmine 

Blue Jasmine by is Kashmira Sheth. Seema and her family move to the United States when her father gets a new job in Iowa. Seema is 12 years old and has to go to a new school and try to make friends while she has to get used to a new country at the same time. She also has to learn how to speak English while she starts her new life. Seema and her family find ways to incorporate their Indian culture so that they can hold onto their heritage and all of the traditions that they had when they were back at home. This book will teach your children that they can still hold onto their memories so that they can always keep a piece of home with them.


3. Mama The Alien 

Mama The Alien is by Renae Colato Laainez. This book has a comedic take on a rather serious issue. Sofia grew up thinking that her mom was an extraterrestrial being because she always heard the term alien. Sofia always thought that she was half alien because her mom was an alien and her father was not because he did not have a card like her mother. This book brings up the issue of being confused with identity because you might not be from the same country as your parents. This is a beautiful book with a very good message that will help you explain to your children what it means to be an alien.


2. Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan's Rescue 

Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War is by Marsha Skrypuch. Anh Tuyet was airlifted to Canada as a baby. She was living in a Vietnamese orphanage with 56 other babies. They were taken to Canada so that they could get out of the conflict that was happening in Vietnam at the time. The book was based on a true story and it will show children what it is like to leave a country at a very young age because of political turmoil.


1. I Lived on Butterfly Hill

I lived on Butterfly Hill is by Marjorie Agosin. This book describes what it is like for a young girl to be forced to leave her country and her family for political reasons. The Chilean government decided that free spirits and anyone who helps the needy are far too dangerous for the future of Chile so Celeste has to leave her beloved homeland of Chile. Celeste is a very happy go lucky girl that loves to spend her time dreaming but this all changes when she leaves to live in Maine. Will Celeste be reunited with her parents in Chile or will she stay in the United States forever?

The Best Robot Kits for Kids

By Rebecca / August 30, 2017
Robot Kits for Kids

Why Are Robotics Kits a Good Investment?

By getting your kids involved in robot kits and robot games, engineering, mathematics, and other science kits at an early age you allow them to learn the basics of programming, advance intellectually, grow in confidence, and teach kids to become more prepared for the constant technologically advancing world.

What Makes a Good Robot Kit?

  • How engaging is it for your kids and you? You want something that either will keep your child engaged and learning individually or allow you to work with your child.
  • What does it offer parts wise? How many parts and what the parts are in the kit are influential factors since this can give you some limits if the kit comes with only a few pieces?
  • What the kit does (make a robot program, teach about a type of energy source, etc.)
  • Are the instructions easy to follow for both you and or your child? Instructions and the ability to understand/follow the instructions are important for achieving the desirable end product.
  • Quality of the overall product.
  • Your budget, some robotics kits can be rather expensive than others.
  • Are the parts safe for your child's age group? Some robotics kits come with small metal bolts, electrical components, and other small pieces that would be a hazard if swallowed. Make sure the kits are age appropriate and suit your child's abilities.

Rating

5.0

Ages

3 years old and up

Pros

  • High quality, environmentally-friendly ABS materials used
  • All keys on remote control can be programmed to add many playing ways
  • Move in all directions
  • Two modes of walking speed
  • Remote Control: Infrared remote control distance of 30 meters with 2.4 GHz transmission
  • Comes with instructions and USB charging cable

Cons

  • 2 AA batteries required and not included (for remote control)
  • Due to being remote controlled it is best to keep both robot and remote control together
  • Fairly expensive price
  • Charging time for robot's battery is 2 – 3 hours and only lasts 20 – 30 minutes of play

Rating

5.0

Ages

3-7 years old

Pros

  • Six rechargeable SAM blocks
  • Curious Cars App to play the game and SAM Space App to program your own inventions, compatible with Apple Mac, IOS, Android, and Windows desktop
  • Includes 20+ projects
  • Includes easy-to-read instructions
  • Compatible with LEGO

Cons

  • Fairly expensive price wise
  • Uses Bluetooth

Rating

4.7

Ages

3 years old and up

Pros

  • Comes with 87 pieces
  • Nuts and bolts construction building toy is durable
  • Comes with an idea guide/instruction manual
  • Comes with a little storage container to put all the pieces inside
  • Fairly inexpensive price wise
  • Offers a wide variety of things to be built

Cons

  • Not for children under the age of 3 due to small pieces being a choking hazard
  • Nothing is motorized or programmable

Rating

4.5

Ages

3-10 years old

Pros

  • Comes with a 32-page illustrated instructions manual that is easy to read in story format
  • Has 53 pieces and makes ten different models
  • Highly durable pieces for safe construction
  • Fairly inexpensive price wise
  • Robots have moving parts, wheels, and gears

Cons

  • Nothing is motorized or programmed
SainSmart 17DOF Biped Black Educational Robot Kit

Rating

4.3

Ages

1-3 years old

Pros

  • Makes a little durable humanoid robot
  • Can be motorized
  • Parts are made of quality metal materials

Cons

  • Fairly expensive price wise
  • Time-consuming to build end product
  • Requires adult supervision
  • Instructions are downloaded
  • Motor is sold separately

Rating

4.0

Ages

3-8 years old

Pros

  • Comes with a step by step booklet
  • Compatible with most MAGFORMERS shapes and accessories except XL shapes
  • Can build eight walking robot characters
  • Motorized to make the little robots walk

Cons

  • The magnets can come loose and become a serious choking hazard, so parental supervision is advised
  • Fairly expensive price wise
  • Can be a little noisy due to the motor

Rating

3.5

Ages

3 years old and up

Pros

  • Made of wood
  • All non-toxic, child safe, and made to last
  • Comes with a small pouch to keep all pieces together
  • Fairly inexpensive price wise
  • No noise
  • No batteries required

Cons

  • Must be used under adult supervision
  • No step-by-step guide to help build
  • Not motorized or programmable

Rating

3.1

Ages

3-10 years old

Pros

  • Pieces easily come apart and go back together again
  • Made of durable natural rubber wood
  • Makes four robots
  • No noise
  • No batteries required
  • Fairly inexpensive price wise

Cons

  • Has a small ball that may pose a choking hazard

Rating

3.0

Ages

3 years old and up

Pros

  • Comes with detailed instructions
  • Builds a wide variety of toys through the step-by-step guide
  • Comes with mini battery-powered drill
  • Made of durable materials
  • Fairly inexpensive price wise

Cons

  • Requires 2 AA batteries that are not included

Rating

None available

Ages

3 years old and up

Pros

  • Solar powered, no batteries required
  • Comes with instructions
  • Simple to build
  • Fairly inexpensive price wise
  • Motorized

Cons

  • Relies heavily on sunlight
  • Not very fast

Recommendations: The best kits to buy for your little one would be Kids First Robot Engineer Kit and Storybook, Nuts and Bolts Building Toy for Toddlers to Pre-Kindergarten with Tool Box Storage Container, Idea Guide & Ratchet by Skoolzy, and 3D Creative Builder, 280 Pieces, Educational Kids Engineering Construction Building Toy with Power Drill. They all offer the safest toys quality and parts wise as well as being fairly inexpensive making for a budget-friendly investment.

Top Ten Robot Kits for Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) (Ages 3-4 Years Old)

1.  Magnetic Building Blocks Toy Set – Create Cars, Truck, Motorbikes, Robots and More

Rating

5.0

Ages

4 years old and up

Pros

  • Wide variety of design options
  • Comes with instructions
  • High-quality ABS plastic magnets reduce the chance of breaking
  • 30-day full refund if not satisfied with product
  • Comes with storage container to store all parts and pieces
  • No noises
  • No batteries required

Cons

  • Fairly high price
  • Small parts make this a potential choking hazard for those under the age of 3

Rating

4.9

Ages

4 years old and up

Pros

  • Contains an idea sheet
  • Fairly inexpensive price wise
  • Made of quality plastic and rubber materials
  • No noises
  • No batteries required

Cons

  • Does not contain instructions
  • Not motorized or programmable

Rating

3.9

Ages

3 years old and up

Pros

  • Equipped with touch, color, and infrared sensors
  • ARM9 processor, USB port for Wi-Fi and Internet connectivity, Micro SD card reader, back-lit buttons, and four motor ports
  • Intuitive software, Windows PC and Mac iOS, with an icon-based drag and drop programming interface
  • Control and command your robot with the enclosed remote control or download the free app for your smartphone or tablet
  • Motorized and programmable

Cons

  • Fairly expensive price wise
  • Requires 6 AA and 2 AAA for remote control

Rating

3.8

Ages

1-4 years old

Pros

  • Solar powered
  • Fairly inexpensive price wise
  • No batteries required
  • Micro vibration motor is driven by being placed directly in the sunlight
  • No assembly required

Cons

  • Requires direct sunlight to work

Rating

3.8

Ages

3-15 years old

Pros

  • Contains detailed instructions and all the necessary parts
  • Fairly inexpensive price wise
  • Good for teaching the importance of recycling and repurposing

Cons

  • 2 AAA batteries required, not included
  • Small parts, not for children under the age of 3 years
  • Requires an empty soda can
  • Requires a mini screwdriver
  • Does make noise as it moves

6.)

Rating

3.5

Ages

3-8 years old

Pros

  • Multiple bugs can be used at the same time
  • Fairly inexpensive price wise
  • Measures 360-degree movement
  • Remote controlled
  • Comes in red or blue

Cons

  • 2 AA batteries are required, 9V battery is required in each remote, batteries not included

Rating

3.4

Ages

4 years old and up

Pros

  • Free programmable software for Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android
  • Free downloadable lesson plans for teachers & classrooms
  • Customize with LEGO pieces to create your own unique robot
  • Scans barcodes to learn new functions and activities
  • A variety of programmable functions
  • Has a variety of features ranging from infrared sensors, speeds, buttons, and transmitters

Cons

  • Fairly expensive price wise
  • Makes noise
Discovery Kids

Rating

3.2

Ages

3 years old and up

Pros

  • Step-by-step instructions included
  • Fairly inexpensive price wise
  • Comes with screwdriver and remote control
  • Assembly required

Cons

  • Makes noise
  • No programming involved
  • Batteries required and not included

Rating

None

Ages

3 years old and up

Pros

  • Solar powered
  • Fairly inexpensive price
  • Work life of solar battery is approximately 3 – 5 years
  • Six different working models
  • Easy to assemble by following the steps in the instructions
  • Requires no batteries

Cons

  • Requires direct sunlight
  • Will not work in cloudy or shady locations or under fluorescent light
  • Will not work if built incorrectly
  • Only one project can be completed at a time

Rating

None

Ages

3-18 years old

Pros

  • Download the free 4 Ablilix Apps on iOS or Android to the remote control and program/ build the robot modules
  • Comes with a lithium ion battery
  • Programmable and motorized
  • Build six different modules of robots with four robotic actuators and four sensors
  • The app has step-by-step instructions to help with the assembly process

Cons

  • Fairly high price
  • Instructions have to be downloaded

Recommendations: The best robotics kits to buy for your pre-kindergartener would be the SCASTOE 6 IN 1 Solar Educational Robots Plane Kit DIY Children Kids Creative Funny Toy Blue, Abilix Building Block Robot for Kids Age 4+ Starter to Learn Robotics, Coding, and Electronics (4 Sensors, 248 Pieces Set), Contempo Views Lego Compatible Educational Robot: Customizable & Programmable Robot for Kids Students Libraries Schools Classrooms Teachers & Educators or the 4M Soda Can Robug. Each offers a nice variety of teachable lessons ranging from solar power, clean energy, recycling, programming for beginners and building basic robots without being overly expensive and complicated.

Top Ten Robot Kits for Grade School Children (Ages 5 Years Old and Up)

1. Amazing Toys Tronex 288+ Experiment Electronics Kit

Rating

5.0

Ages

8-15 years old

Pros

  • 288 different experiments involve interacting with light control, magnetic control, sound control, and touch control
  • AM/FM radio
  • Comes with hands-on circuit board

Cons

  • Requires 4 AA batteries not included
  • Fairly high price
  • Can be noisy
Meccano Tactical Copter Model Kit

Rating

4.8

Ages

10-12 years old

Pros

  • Highly detailed helicopter with rotating, foldable rotor, retractable landing gear, and a working winch
  • No batteries required
  • Comes with two real tools
  • Has step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow

Cons

  • Parts are a choking hazard for children under the age of 3
  • Fairly expensive price wise
Remote Control Building Kits

Rating

4.7

Ages

6 years old and up

Pros

  • Comes with easy-to-read and follow illustrated instructions
  • Made from high-quality, non-toxic materials, free of phthalates, lead, and other heavy metals
  • Variety of remote controlled models you can make

Cons

  • 2 AA batteries and 4 AAA batteries required, not included
  • Fairly expensive price wise
4 in 1 Remote Control Building Blocks

Rating

4.6

Ages

6 years old and up

Pros

  • ABS environmental material, made of non-toxic and safe materials
  • Four different models can be made with the kit

Cons

    • Product must be used under the direct supervision of adults
    • Fairly expensive

Rating

4.5

Ages

8 years old and up

Pros

  • Hundreds of coding and other projects available in Wonder and Blockly apps
  • Built-in tutorials on how to use the device
  • Comes fully assembled
  • No batteries required
  • Use your Apple or Android smartphone or tablet to transform Dot into hundreds of different toys and gadgets

Cons

  • Fairly expensive  
LEGO Mindstorms EV3 31313

Rating

4.5

Ages

10-15 years old

Pros

  • Powerful ARM9 processor, USB port for Wi-Fi and Internet connectivity, Micro SD card reader, back-lit buttons and 4 motor ports.
  • Includes 3 interactive servo motors, remote control, improved and redesigned color sensor, redesigned touch sensor, infrared sensor
  • Intuitive software, Windows PC and Apple Mac, with icon-based drag-and-drop programming interface
  • Building instructions for 5 robots included
  • Build and program your robots on the go with the intuitive EV3 Programmer App available for iOS and Android tablet devices
  • Bonus building instructions on LEGO's website

Cons

  • Maybe a bit confusing, there is a supplementary guide for this robotics kit
  • Fairly expensive  

Rating

4.2

Ages

7 years old and up

Pros

  • Fairly inexpensive price wise
  • Helps the child learn about electronic basics like soldering and simple circuits
  • A step-by-step video walkthrough showing the assembly is available online on DFRobot official website

Cons

  • No programming involved

Rating

4.2

Ages

12 years old and up

Pros

  • Get hands-on experience in graphical programming, electronics, and robotics
  • Drag and drop graphical programming software provides a quick way to learn programming, remote control robot, and realize multiple functions from the robot
  • Comes with various basic pre-assembled options, including obstacle-avoidance car, line-following vehicle, controlled via APP
  • Compatible with Makeblock platform and most of LEGO parts

Cons

  • Fairly expensive  

Rating

4.1

Ages

8-10 years old

Pros

  • Get hands-on experience in Arduino programming, electronics assembling, and robotics knowledge
  • Infrared remote control and Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR via phone and tablets of Android system
  • Easy to Assemble
  • Comes with instructions on how to assemble the robot car from scratch and all the necessary programs and codes are included in a tutorial

Cons

  • You will have to download the programming for the car from the Arduino IDE (Integrated Developer Environment) from the provided CD
  • Fairly expensive  

Rating

4.1

Ages

7 years old and up

Pros

  • Comes with instructions on how to assemble and play with it
  • Fairly inexpensive price wise
  • Can be combined with other sets
  • Motorized

Cons

  • Requires 2 AA batteries, not included
  • Pieces are small, so it may be a bit time consuming to assemble
  • No programming required


Great Math Activities to Teach Kindergarten and First Grade Students

By Rebecca / August 23, 2017

Everyone wants their children to succeed in life. In order to ensure your child’s success in the future, it is vital to boost their academic interests and abilities early on. Subjects like math can be difficult to gain and then keep an interest in. Many parents struggle to come up with a fun kindergarten math activity, math game, or a number of math worksheets that will not only pique their child’s interest but help them learn at the same time.

kids math toy wood image

It is often said that mini students learn best when they are having fun. There are various math games, activities, and first grade and kindergarten worksheets that are not difficult to set up that will aid your children in developing their math knowledge and skills. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, kindergartners often showcase a positive attitude towards learning behaviors. This means that it is possible to teach your child and have fun while learning subjects like math and be met with a positive, open attitude.

math game image

When it comes to first graders, most children are experiencing a full day of school for the first time. Some parents may find it harder to keep their children excited about learning. The National Center for Education Statistics states that 95% of first graders worked on their math every day. However, there are always fun activities and games that will keep them working on math and not get tired of it!

Math Activities for Kindergartners

Kindergarten is an important stepping stone to a child’s education. Five and six-year-olds have sponge-like minds and are eager to learn new things. When it comes to counting numbers, single digits, and double digits, there is a multitude of activities that will teach your child all while having a blast.

Airplane Number Game

This activity utilizes the child's imagination and pretend-play to bring a unique style to learning numbers. With the use of sidewalk chalk or sidewalk chalk paint, draw puffy clouds onto the driveway.

Number each cloud (not in order, scatter them around) and make sure to repeat numbers as well. When you call out the numbers, have your child pretend to be an airplane and fly to that number. For repetitive numbers, tell your child to find all the number 6s or any number you wrote multiples of. The Airplane Number Game not only is helping your child recognize numbers, but it is also allowing them to channel their energy as well with moving around.

Two-Digit Number Counting Cup Game

Some children have a hard time remembering two-digit numbers. Have you ever heard a child say two-teen for twelve? Or just completely skip some numbers and think they are correct? This game will help them visualize and count to higher numbers.

Using paper cups, number each cup with a double-digit number. Place the cups on a table or countertop. You will need a pile of poker chips (or buttons, pennies; anything easy to count with) next to the cups. The number of chips should equal the total sum of the numbers each cup says. Your child will count out the amount of chips for each cup, corresponding to the number written on it.

Some children are visual learners and need hands-on in order to grasp a concept and the Two-Digit Number Counting Cup Game is the perfect way to do so.

Marshmallow Math

One way to add incentive for your child is to make the game involve food. Who doesn’t want a tasty reward? There are many ways that marshmallows can aid in learning math for kindergarteners. Marshmallows can be used for addition, subtraction, estimation, measurements, and more.

One activity that can be done with marshmallows is dropping some in a clear container and have your child estimate the amount in there. Add incentive by allowing them to eat one marshmallow each time they are correct or at least one number off.

Another fun game that will also teach them shapes is drawing various shapes of different sizes on a piece of paper and having your child count how many marshmallows fit inside the shapes. Marshmallow math is simple and fun with a lot of learning opportunities.

Memory Game for Numbers

Matching games are always fun for kids and even for adults too! Create a matching memory game for your kindergartner using index cards or cut-up pieces of paper. Number half of the cards with any numbers they may need help remembering. On a corresponding card, draw or use stickers to match the numbers.

For example, for a card that says the number 6 on it, on a separate card, draw six objects or place six stickers. When you are all done creating the cards, place them upside down in random order for your little one to match!

The memory game works by flipping over two cards at a time. If it is not a match, flip them back over. Not only does the game help associate the numbers with a visual representation, but it is helping your child improve their memory skills as well.

Counting on a Number Line

Number lines are used to help children visualize when they are adding and subtracting. There are many ways to create a number line, either with sidewalk chalk, post-it notes, a shoelace, or just regular pen and paper. With either direction you decide to go, the idea is the same.

Depending on your method, have your child move a chip or themselves to the right or left for addition and subtraction. Help your child recognize numbers by telling them a number and moving to it on the number line.

You can also tell them a new number and ask them if it is greater than or less than the number they are currently at. Multiple math concepts can be taught through the use of number lines.

Monster Cardboard Boxes

Don’t be afraid to get downright silly with your activities for learning. Kids are highly imaginative and love playing pretend. For this activity, you will need two cardboard boxes (like a tissue box or empty cereal box), one big and one small.

Decorate the boxes to look like monsters to satisfy your child’s imaginative spirit and keep them interested. The monster’s mouth will be the opening in the cardboard box. Make sure it is big enough for your little one’s hands to fit in. Make number cards that the monsters will “eat.” Mix high numbers and low numbers together.

The bigger monster box only eats high numbers and the smaller monster box only eats low numbers. Have your child differentiate between high and low numbers with the monster eating game.

Math Activities for First Graders

First graders usually have the basics down for simple math concepts, such as knowing how to count to ten or even 20. In first grade, the math concepts get a bit more complex. According to PBS parents, they learn concepts like counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s; money; and 2-3 dimensional shapes.

Just like kindergartners, first graders learn best when they are having fun and can use their imagination.

Frog Jump Game

Children love small animals, so incorporating cute, little frogs into a math activity will surely gain their enthusiasm for learning math! To play the Frog Jump Game, make a start line with tape of some sort (painter’s tape would work best), cut out a picture of a frog or make one out of construction paper, and have measuring tape on hand. Have your child jump from the start line as far as they can. Mark where they land with a piece of tape.

Your child can measure how many frogs they jumped with the cutout picture! This is a fun way for them to begin learning about distances. Once your child knows how many frogs in length they jumped, get out the measuring tape to find the actual distance in inches. This is also a fun activity to get your kids moving and use up some energy!

Magical Sums

Does your child ever put a sheet over their head and pretend to be a ghost? Kids love the idea of the supernatural and of magic. Around Halloween time, in particular, this activity will amaze your child and help them learn too! On a plain white sheet of paper, take a permanent marker and draw several ghosts. Above the ghosts write an equation that fits with what they are learning or need to review. Write the answers to each equation inside of the ghost with a white crayon so that your child can not see the answer when they are doing the worksheet. Have you child write down their answer to the equation with a pencil next to the ghost. When they are all done solving the problems, it is time to reveal the answers inside the ghosts!

In order to do this, water down some black paint so that it is not thick enough to cover the answer. Have your child reveal the answer by brushing the watered-down paint over the ghost. The answer will reveal itself like magic!

Odds and Even Slap Card Game

Learning the difference between odd and even numbers can be tricky for some kids. Luckily, there are fun ways to help your kids learn and remember which numbers are odd or even. The only thing you need for this game is a deck of cards and a few players.

This game works just like the popular game, Slapjack. A dealer hands them out to each player with the face down. Instead of slapping the Jacks, slap each odd or even number! Helping your child know the difference between odd and even numbers will help them solve math equations involving addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication.

Let’s Make a Dollar!

Children begin learning the concept of money in first grade. Help teach them the value of coins with this fun activity. Depending on how many children are playing, get 100 pennies and 10 dimes for each player. You will also need a die and pencil and paper for each player.

In order to play, each player will have a scorecard will columns labeled for pennies, dimes, and the value. When the die is rolled, each player will pick that number of either pennies or dimes from the piles and place them in their corresponding columns.

After each roll, count the value of dimes and pennies each player has. For every 10 pennies, the player must trade them for a dime. After 6 rolls of the die, have the players add up their remaining values on their scorecard. The player closest to making a dollar wins!

Color by Subtracting and Adding

Every kid loves the popular way of coloring called color by numbers. Take it a step further and print out or make your own color by number sheets that involve solving an equation first! The correct answer to the equation will correspond to the right color needed for that section. An incorrect answer will cause the wrong color to be used and change the picture.

This is a good way for your child to see that they made a mistake and encourage them to go back and check their math.

Learning to Tell Time

One of the harder concepts for children to learn is telling time. Children get used to counting to 100 to make a dollar. With time, the highest number for the minute hand is 60. This can be hard to grasp and differentiate for small, growing minds. For first graders, they are just learning to understand how clocks work.

To help them understand the clock a bit better, help them make their own clock for a hands-on experience. Take a paper plate and either you or your child write the hours on the plate. Make arrows out of cardstock or index cards, then make a hole in the middle of the paper plate, and finally fasten the hour hand and minute hand to the plate with a paper fastener.


math sign blocks image

Once your child starts getting the hang of the hours, add the minutes for more precise times. This paper plate clock can be used to conduct a lesson, but it can also be used continuously. Have your child use it throughout the weeks to keep track of daily activities and so on!​

The Top 10 Educational Art Activities for Preschoolers

By Rebecca / August 22, 2017

Preschool education involves much more than just merely preparing children for kindergarten. Rather, preschool is an initiation of sorts into the larger world. Away from mom and from dad, young children are encouraged to independently practice fine motor skills and cognitive development through a variety of games and activities including play time, circle time, and arts and crafts.

For most children, preschool provides their first experiences within a classroom setting that provides structure to many other children. This initial exposure for children allows them to learn important concepts like kindness, sharing, empathy, and the academic foundations for solid learning in future elementary grades.

Preschoolers will inevitably make the slow transition into kindergarten, where curriculum becomes more academic in nature and is viewed by many parents as a fundamental launch pad for children to succeed in school and education.

Early childhood educators must walk a fine line between providing enough of the pre-math and pre-literacy skills needed for future success in school while delivering enough play time and social interaction with children to assist them in building valuable social skills so that they can get along well with their peers when they grow in age.

Preschool is a setting that efficiently enmeshes necessary basic academic standards that children can use as an academic launchpad while also providing ample opportunities to experience art, crafts, socializing, sharing, and more.

As such, preschool holds a special position within school education systems. Grades one through five are typically geared towards academic learning and kindergarten is a transitional area that gets children ready for academic settings. It is only preschool that offers ample opportunity for students to experience high degrees of academics, as well as play time and creative arts, to bolster young children’s learning and development for years to come.

Preschool teachers are important figures who are required to be highly organized and be able to effortlessly transition between teaching children emotional, social, physical, and cognitive education. Preschool teachers must be able to provide an environment that is highly structured where children can safely laugh and make friends with their peers and play well amongst others. The structured classroom that a preschool teacher provides is a boon to children’s social interaction opportunities and serves to minimize most of the conflict found in disorganized classrooms.

Perhaps most importantly, preschool is a locale in which children begin their initial forays into independence and decision making. As children experience their first time away from their parents, they are presented with a litany of choices, from what to eat, who to talk to, what to play with, and finding out what interests them. Confused children may benefit from gentle suggestions from their teacher and can be found engaging in tasks that are of interest to them in no time.

With all of the time available to make autonomous decisions, preschool aged children grow a certain confidence that cannot be found elsewhere. In the safe confines of a preschool classroom, children can make strong choices about their interests and start the emotionally-driven process of building the foundations of their personal identity and interests.

While children are learning to become independent in preschool classrooms, they are also learning to take care of others while also taking care of themselves. Opportunities to engage in “adult-style” work and tasks like handing out papers or setting the snack table before break are special job opportunities that serve to grow a child’s sense of competency and self-worth as they successfully complete their jobs and execute their job performance in an outstanding fashion that benefits their peers and themselves.

Preschool affords children myriad opportunities to take care of themselves and their peers and to promote fine motor skills along with cognitive building skills. Throughout these daily opportunities for interpersonal growth children find their curiosity piqued in infinite ways and they subsequently search to hunt and discover for answers to their many questions. Preschool teachers are well acclimated with the vivid imaginations and excited curiosity that their students have and are expertly adept at providing a climate where children can hunt and discover, build and foster, create and define, in ways that cannot be found elsewhere.

A large part of the climate that a preschool teacher must provide to cultivate the curiosity and exploratory tendencies of children resides in providing plenty of opportunities for self-expression through arts and crafts and creative activities that are either performed autonomously or as a group.

Through art, preschool-aged children are able to take advantage of various artistic tools such as pens, pencils, markers, Sharpies, assorted papers, shapes, and more to create works of self-expression that define the child in a creative and artistic perspective.

Art nurtures the lively curiosity found in preschool aged children and serves to motivate children to express and convey their interpretations of the world around them on to paper through the ultimate form of free artistic interpretation.

Ultimately, preschool is a place that holds imperative value for children and their parents. A place to not only learn pre-math and literacy skills, preschool provides curious, wily, and observant children competency in necessary skills like socializing, following instructions properly, helping out peers, and sharing that they will require in future grade levels. However, it is the creative element discussed above that distinguishes preschool from other levels of school. In preschool, children are able to learn from a wide variety of arts and crafts, games, exploratory opportunities, singing, and more to develop and build their own unique and highly individual personas with confidence and character as they transition into higher grades.

To learn more about some of the incredible arts and crafts activities that you can share with your preschool aged children, read on below!​

Arts and Crafts Activities Perfect for Preschool Aged Children​

Paper Plate Instruments

Make tambourines and other musical instruments from paper plates and simple decorative items! This perfect noise maker is made from basic materials and provides your preschooler with their very own musical instrument crafted from their own artistic hands!

paper plate instruments image

Materials:​

  • Paper plates
  • Beads or dried beans
  • Stapler
  • Markers, glitter, glue, stickers, other embellishments

Painting with ice

Create paintings and other works of art with ice! This opportunity enables kids to swirl paints over assorted papers to create beautifully unique designs.​

painting with ice image

Materials:

  • Craft sticks or popsicle sticks
  • Assorted papers
  • Ice cube trays
  • Liquid child-friendly paints

Hanging CD Ornament

Use old CDs and clean up unwanted clutter by saving this item from the trash bin and letting young children make their own sparkly works of art from it!

hanging cd ornament image

This fun recycling project helps kids to learn the value of recycling and provides them with a fun and entertaining experience at little to no cost.​

  • Sparkly craft items like beads and sequins
  • Fishing line or beading wire
  • Child-safe scissors
  • Craft-style glue
  • Newspaper and other papers

Sparkle Bottles

This activity lets children make their own glittery water bottle full of sparkles and fun! Within the bottle are alphabet letters jumbled up to provide immense fun for toddlers who are trying to learn their letters.

sparkle bottles image

Materials:

  • Alphabet beads or shapes
  • Empty water or soda bottle
  • Assorted glitter colors
  • Sequins and other decorations
  • Water and corn syrup
  • Paper sheets
  • Highlighter marker

Blown art

This activity provides an innovative and fun new way for your toddler to perfect their artistic and painting skills. Blow painting will have your toddler giggling as he creates unique splotches and shapes in an array of vivid hues.​

blown art image

Materials:

  • Watered-down paint for a sheer effect
  • Plain paper
  • Bending straws
  • Spoon
  • Container with sides to hold liquid in

Sensory Dough

sensory dough image

Much like homemade play-dough, this recipe makes use of common household items like baby oil or cooking oils. For the ultimate in cheap and entertaining play opportunities, sensory dough will have your toddler safely entertained while they pull and squish joyfully through this non-toxic and all natural dough.

Materials:​

  • Baby oil – 1 cup
  • Flour – 8 cups
  • Plastic container
  • Food colorings (assorted)

Colorful Rainsticks

Rainsticks are instruments that feature a hollow core and that are filled with small objects like rocks or beads to produce a variety of interesting noises and effects. Rainsticks make special noises when they are turned side to side and upside down and will have your child engrossed with the different effects they can produce with their changing hand motions.

colorful rainsticks image

Materials:​

  • Colored markers
  • Cardboard tube (from empty paper towel roll)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Small objects like dried beans or rocks
  • Masking tape

Waxed paper art

All children love to color, whether it be on paper, books, or even on walls! Rarely are kids presented with opportunities to draw on alternative sources such as wax paper that offers impressively different results from coloring on regular paper.

waxed paper art image

Have your toddler-aged children cut out shapes and give them markers and crayons to decorate the shapes to their heart’s content. As they watch nearby, you or another adult can carefully iron the art to create a seamless melding of bright cheery colors that you can hang up in your child’s room or elsewhere.

Materials:​

  • Iron (for adults)
  • Wax paper
  • Pencils
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Scissors
  • Crayons
  • String

Clothespin Caterpillars

This arts and crafts project enables your child to create their very own vibrantly hued caterpillar bug. Complete with small accessory eyes and pipe cleaner antennae, this lovable and whimsical caterpillar toy will be your young one’s favorite toy as he lovingly carries from room to room.

clothespin caterpillars image

Assisting in promoting color recognition, and strengthening fine motor skills, this art project is both entertaining and educational.

Materials:​

  • Elmers-style white glue
  • Colored pom-poms in a variety of sizes and colors
  • Pipe cleaners for antennae
  • Googly eye decorations
  • Magnets
  • Clothespins

Additional ideas for awesome arts and crafts activities for your toddler-aged child!

  • Tape-resistant art – Place pieces of tape on paper while children color over the paper and tape. Peel off the tape to expose uncolored areas that create a cool collage effect
  • Color mixing activities – Free paint into paint-cubes within ice tray compartments and bring them outside on a hot day to see the paint streak and run and create drippy works of art that will have children enthralled
  • Sponge art – Simply cut sponges into familiar shapes like circles, hearts, stars, and squares and have children dip sponges into their favorite colors and dab away to create their own sponge paint masterpiece
  • Add sensory touches to any arts and crafts projects to provide a multi-sensory experience that ups the educational ante. Anything with texture (such as grains of salt and sugar, tissue paper, and flour) are great sensory additions to art work
  • Shave crayons and melt them with your hairdryer as your little ones look on at awe while your crayons melt into a seamless rainbow of hues
  • Try very simple cooking or preparation idea with your little ones, by letting them do simple tasks like stirring batters and carrying utensils to the sink

As shown above, there is a multitude of activities that are perfectly suited for preschool-aged children. Through the use of color, simple imagery, blocks, shapes, and ample opportunities for self-expression and self-discovery, preschool is a time where a child’s brain is exposed to many of the important components of the world around them. At this young age, children learn to mirror the behaviors of the important adults around them, and are navigating the terrain in discovering new information about themselves, their likes and dislikes, and what their individual personalities ultimately look like.

Through social interaction, pre-math, and pre-literacy skills at preschool, young children are taught a bevy of important subject matter. Within those highly important subjects they are taught, it the paramount concept of art, self-expression, and creativity. The valuable experiences provided by preschool teachers and parents alike in providing significant amounts of time devoted to self-expression through arts and crafts help to ultimately shape the young child’s persona and sense of identity. As such, the importance of preschool arts and crafts cannot be stressed enough; it is a highly important component of preschool education that offers a multitude of educational and personal benefits that are immensely invaluable and will go on to benefit the lives of children for years to come.​

8 Funtastic Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers

By Rebecca / August 14, 2017

The critically important concept of fine motor skills development for toddlers and preschoolers cannot be stressed enough. Efficient fine motor skills enhance a child’s ability to succeed in future academic settings with confidence, dexterity, and poise in addition to succeeding in performing the skills found in everyday life.

When children experience an inability to perform simple everyday tasks, their self-esteem can be immensely compromised, resulting in poor academic performance and limitations in social interaction with their peers.

Involving the use of the smaller hand muscles and hand-eye co-ordination, motor development is commonly found in basic activities, such as using pencils, opening boxes and lunch pails, and playing with Legos. For a child to be efficient in fine motor skills, they must be readily exposed to the daily opportunities to practice and perfect their skills, in order to influence the speed, agility, and outcome of the tasks performed.

Mastering fine motor activity skills are a part of the basic foundational framework that enables children to transition into becoming more independent when doing things like tying their shoes and feeding themselves. An inability to perform basic tasks often hinders children from necessary maturation levels needed to succeed in future grades.

fine motor activity skills image

Read on below for more valuable information on fine motor skills.

Many parents find themselves confused about what exactly fine motor skills are and how to successfully train their children into using them. At its most basic level, the definition of fine motor skills for toddlers and preschoolers is the daily and repetitive use of hands that serve to efficiently and quickly master the skills required for performing a wide variety of independent work in a successful fashion.

Examples of children using fine motor skills are:

  • Tying shoelaces, doing/undoing straps/buttons/zippers/snaps/belts
  • Hygiene - brushing teeth and hair, going potty
  • Eating and using utensils like a fork and spoon and opening and closing food containers
  • Using pencils to scribble, draw, write, doodle, and color
  • Using play scissors to cut and create shapes
  • Use of technology such as a computer mouse and stylus
  • Construction skills with blocks, Legos, and puzzles

The aforementioned fine motor skills are important may seem basic to many parents but are critically important in getting a child ready to grasp the concept of independence. Fine motor skills are essentially about exposure; exposure to basic life situations such as eating, bathing, communicating, and playing. When children are continuously exposed to these basic life situations, their ability to use their hands and visual senses become stronger, and as a result, their level of dexterity and confidence grows as they become better acclimated to handle new skills and situations found in later grade levels.

Examples of identifying a child struggling with fine motor skills:​

  • Lack of interest in using a pencil or scissors to cut shapes or draw and doodles
  • Avoiding opportunities to use fingers in play activities
  • Asking peers to draw, write, cut, or create for them
  • Ongoing preference for physical activity as opposed to learning activities or sit-down activities
  • Preference for non-interactive, passive activities like movie-watching over opportunities to use fine motor skills
  • Waiting on parents to tie shoelaces, help them get dressed, and fix other basic problems
  • Refusing to address personal challenges and asking parents instead of addressing it themselves
  • Expecting parents to help them brush teeth and go to the bathroom without trying to do so themselves
  • Refusing to use basic technology like a stylus or mouse

The situations listed above are indicators to parents and teachers that a child may be struggling with the implementation of fine motor skills. However, it is not a definitive list; other situations may present where a child could be struggling with fine motor skills even though they do most of the activities above. Use the above information as a guideline to survey your child and make estimations about their fine motor skills to see if they could use some improvement. By providing children with ample play opportunities, coupled with patience and ongoing parent interaction, a child’s fine motor skills can easily become perfected in a short amount of time.

Perfecting and mastering fine motor skills are paramount in getting a child ready to grasp the concept of independence. Fine motor skills are essentially about exposure; exposure to basic life situations such as eating, bathing, communicating, and playing. When children are continuously exposed to these basic life situations, their ability to use their hands and visual senses become stronger, and, as a result, their level of dexterity and confidence grows as they become better acclimated to handle new skills and situations found in later grade levels.​

Fine motor skills for toddlers:

  • Tummy time – A quintessential favorite activity for toddlers and parents, tummy time offers babies and toddlers their first experiences with dexterity and movement. Toddlers are able to spend time pushing up, swiping at objects in the air (such as nursery carousels and hanging toys), and moving from side to side as they roll and rollick in their toddler glee
  • Playing with smaller items – Providing babies and toddlers with simple stacking blocks, large beads, and single-piece puzzles will give them opportunities at safe, unencumbered play as they start self-mastering their fine motor skills from a very young age
  • Feeding with fingers – Toddlers will pick up food with their fingers in a simple grasp that is similar to holding a crayon or other coloring device. As such, letting your toddler finger feed as much as possible will guarantee future ease for your child in using writing utensils and more
  • Playing with Play Dough – Play Dough is a classic favorite among parents and children. Its mushy consistency and bright colors afford children endless delight while also helping them safely build hand and finger strength via resistance
  • Finger painting – Finger painting gives toddlers a creative outlet and allows them to use their fingers to develop fine motor skills in fun ways
  • Simple/One-piece Puzzles – Simple puzzles that feature one piece are safe ways to let children learn about object manipulation as they turn and flip the large puzzle pieces

Fine motor skill development differs vastly between children’s ages. What may be entirely appropriate for an eight-month-old might prove to be boring, irritating, and cumbersome to a two-year-old. For example, an eight-month-old can develop their fine motor skills by rocking about during tummy time but a two-year-old will desire a more hands-on and independent experience via drawing, playing with blocks, or cutting shapes with scissors.

While the development of fine motor skills remains the same in terms of mastering the use of the hands and fingers, the activities that school-aged children will engage in to achieve this mastery will be very different.

Read on below to learn more about some of the many activities preschool children will engage in to master their fine motor skills.

small hand muscles image

Preschoolers will perform tasks that require the small hand muscles to work in conjunction to result in efficient performance of movement. Tasks and areas of play that train the small hand muscles in the development of fine motor skills include the following:​

  • Writing and drawing – Provide a child with pencils in a variety of colors to let them use their imagination to draw, doodle, and scribble while they build their coordination and hand strength
  • Buttoning, tying, lacing – Practice with buttons, zippers, fasteners, snaps, and other things by opening and closing them to help build understanding, strength, and finger and hand dexterity
  • Cutting – With child-safe scissors, your child can safely cut out shapes for a fun way to build scissor-using comprehension and hand coordination
  • Beading – Large beads provide children opportunities to thread and make beautiful strands in their first experiences using creative expression
  • Using Legos – Legos will provide your child hours of fun and give them ample opportunities to build, construct, and survey as they use all sorts of muscle and hand movements to create their Lego projects
  • Coloring – With an array of colorful and vivid crayons, your child can express their inner artist and creative tendencies while using a variety of strengthening hand movements

Additional fine motor activities for toddlers and preschoolers:

  • Use empty water bottles and a handful of pom-poms and let your children play and push the pom-poms into the water bottle opening
  • Use empty bottles and fuzzy wire cleaners to let your children wrap the fuzzy cleaner around the bottle and poke at it
  • Use an empty box (cardboard) with holes poked into it for toddlers and preschoolers to poke and insert pom-poms and pipe cleaners into
  • Use ice cube trays and large colorful beads or pom-poms to encourage toddlers and preschoolers to sort, arrange, and organize the colors by the ice cube tray squares
  • Use contact paper to let small children stick things to it and create their own great works of art
  • Construct simple sensory bags that will provide young children with hours of exploratory fun
  • Let kids color match by providing them matching sets of colored beads and other play items
  • Give young children tissue paper that they can crumple, twist, and manipulate to their heart’s content

For those parents who are concerned about their child’s adeptness at learning fine motor skills, below are some simple activities that can be used in repetition to ensure your child learns the mastery of basic movements.

Basic activities for improving fine motor skills in the preschool years:

  • Clapping hands
  • Pasting objects on to paper
  • Manipulating a simple zipper
  • Manipulating a simple button
  • Building and constructing with ten or fewer blocks
  • Simple puzzles
  • Using pencils and crayons to facilitate color, drawing, and self-expression
  • Rolling balls of dough and “cutting” with hands
  • Playing with clothes pins by hanging pictures or pages onto a simple clothesline

To conclude, fine motor skills are vastly important skills that must be learned by children from an early age. The development of fine motor skills involves continuous, repetitive exposure to basic elements and components of a child’s life; from crayons and pencils for drawing, toys and blocks for playing, and Legos and beads for constructing these things serve to provide children with the opportunities of fine motor skill self-mastery.

Mastering fine motor skills enable children to succeed in their present-time grade but also prepare them for the challenges and new concepts that await them in future grade levels. For those children who are keenly adept at drawing, writing, communicating, building, cutting, and fashioning, the coming challenges of the following school year will come easy.

In contrast, a student who has not mastered fine motor skills will essentially be ill-prepared for many challenges. As their peers readily engage in classroom activities, these children lacking motor skills may experience low-self-esteem, a sense of panic and fear, or a feeling like they don’t belong.

It has become abundantly clear in early childhood education that the development of fine motor skills is integral to the success of all students. Mastery of these skills not only promotes a sense of autonomy and independence but also can result in healthy levels of self-esteem or conversely, degrading levels of self-esteem that potentially could last throughout a child’s formative years.

As such, the development of fine motor skills is of the utmost importance in any child’s education. Through the development of the fine motor skills, children are able to successfully complete important tasks such as bathing, feeding themselves, writing, communicating, drawing, playing, dressing, and more.

As these abilities continue to develop through time, it is the repetitive exposure to education materials, toys, foods, visual stimuli and other objects that keep these skills sharpened and efficient. With the strength and dexterity that comes from motor skill mastery comes from a sense of confidence that cannot be found elsewhere. The abilities of a child not only define their present-time experience but can serve as a blueprint for the rest of their lives. As such, it is of critical importance that educators and parents spend as much time as possible on the development and reinforcement of these all-important skills.​

Graphing Games: 5 Fun Data Handling Games for Kids

By Rebecca / August 10, 2017

At their most basic definition, graphs are visual representations of important data. Included within the major discipline of math known as data analysis and probability, graphing can be taught to children as a basic and linear method of organizing specific information in a clear, easy-to-understand, and interpretable way.

Graphs are an integral part of everyday life and are seen in use by businesses, government, newspapers, and magazines all across the globe. The widespread use of graphs is due to a graph’s ability to convey critically important information in a highly visual fashion that makes it easy to understand, translate, and extrapolate the importance and meaning from the data and various entries.

Graphs aren’t limited to use by adults, corporations, and other big entities. Graphs are also a fundamentally important part of early childhood education and are an essential component in the teaching and instruction of mathematics concepts. Through graphs, teachers are able to introduce broad or complicated mathematical concepts in an easy-to-grasp way for children. Through the use of color and decorative shapes, graphs can be fashioned to not only express important numerical information but also be used to sharpen focus for students and to create stimulating visuals that will help to keep them on track and paying attention to the board.

By using interesting worksheets, young children can enjoy constructing their own graphs will small sets of data points that they can count and compare as they work in a hands-on fashion in constructing the graph, interpreting the numbers, and making judgment calls about where to place numbers on the graph. This kind of all-in-one activity serves to reinforce mathematical learning while also promoting the strengthening of fine motor skills, and critical thinking, along with cognitive skills.

The importance of using graphs in early childhood education cannot be stressed enough. The use of graphs provides young children with important and pertinent education about mathematics while also reinforcing skills that be extremely helpful toward their academic success in later grades.

To learn more great information on awesome graphing games to incorporate into your child’s academic repertoire, read on below!​

graphing games image

​Tips for parents and educators using graphing games and data handling for kids

  • Prior to engaging students with the topic of graphs (or charts), make sure that you set the stage appropriately and have any useful props, worksheets, tools, or toys nearby. A great example of using a prop can be found in teachers who employ “talking” puppets to maximize interest in the subject and command attention to what’s being taught in an effortless and efficient way.
  • Anticipate any questions you think children might ask you in regards to the material you will be presenting
  • Give students an opportunity to explore the “stage” or materials. As they poke, prod, and examine the various components associated with the upcoming lesson, their interest will be sustained as they have had the opportunity to incorporate senses on a multidimensional level
  • After teaching students the graphing and charting lesson, review the information with the entire class and ask specific questions of students in the form of “which ____ did the class like the best?” or “which _____ got the most votes?” and “which _____ did the class like the least? These specific questions can be easily answered by looking at the graph and having a basic knowledge of its visual representation of information
  • Ensure you follow up with students/children and question them about the graph. Ask them simple questions such as what they liked or disliked and what their favorite part was. Following up with students will serve to reinforce the lesson just taught and have it remain fresh in a student’s head to discuss later at home with parents.
  • Provide homework or take home sheets that revolve around that day’s graphing lesson so that parents can see the classwork and become involved with what their child is doing academically

Simple DIY games to introduce your child to graphing concepts

Before delving into classic graphing activities for children, trying out a quick and easy DIY activity based on viewing information will provide interest and stimulation to your child to get further invested in the topic of mathematics and charting the different data they will come across in their lives.

Make sure you have simple materials like large-cut poster board, tape, and colored construction paper “rectangles”

Easy process:

  • Find a locale that is perfect for car-watching. There may be a bit of traffic but you want to make sure it’s not too congested. Ensure that area is safe for sightseeing and at an appropriate time of day. With your child, sit on a bench or other comfortable sitting area.
  • Using a timer or your watch, sit quietly with your child and watch cars pass by for a total of 10 minutes.
  • Take turns with your child graphing the various colors of the different cars you witnessed coming. Do so by taping a construction paper “rectangle” on the bar graph so that the graph gets taller with the addition of each passing car in that same color
  • After ten minutes remain seated with your child and ask them some of the following questions: Which color car did we see the most? How can you be sure? Which color car did we see the least of? How many red, black, green… cars did we see? Did we see more white cars or black cars?

As your child answers these questions effortlessly based on their experiences of watching cars in conjunction with looking at the easy-to-view and easy-to-understand information on the bar graph, their mathematical reasoning is strengthened and their fine motor skills reinforced further with their new foray into graph making.

Graphing activities and data handling games for kids​

Graphing activities and data handling games are extremely prevalent in modern day education. Classrooms all across the world incorporate the learning of numerical data and its translation into charts and graphs from a very young age. Doing so ensures mathematically-savvy children who are well-prepared for the academic hurdles and challenges that face them in upcoming grade levels. Parents looking to bolster their child’s academic success are able to do so in significant ways by implementing repetitive learning of math and its most important concepts for children, like the learning of graphs and charts.

For preschool - and kindergarten-aged children, graphing activities and data handling games are mostly limited to collecting data and organizing it in a sensible and meaningful manner. Data and other relevant information can be garnered from simple household staples like cereal boxes, fruit, beads, and more, as children tally up numbers for assessment and then subsequently input them into graphs.

Though this process might seem overly basic, the reality is that preschoolers and kindergarteners are not only practicing graphing skills through playing graphing games but they are also delving into the world of data analysis, specifically statistics.

Many parents are able to immediately recognize the importance of simple bar charting activities once the link to complicated mathematics concepts like statistics is brought into the equation. When a parent shows a lack of enthusiasms for participating in data graphing games with their children, teacher’s must strong convey how critically important the matter is, and how it is a mathematical subject that must be practiced at home and at school in order to master the information and succeed at optimal levels in future grades.

Check out these graphing activities that can be used at or at home!​

Slightly more sophisticated than the super easy DIY graphing activities, these graphing games will have your child reading data like an expert in no time!

Tally bar-charts

Make a tally-style bar chart and ask children what their favorite cereal is. Have your child ask all of his friends and peers and to assess his data to put on his tally.​

tally bar charts image

Use this basic tally to collect information on everything else you can think of from animals, colors, foods, and more. Using this data graphing game enables children to:

  • Collect information
  • Engage in surveying
  • Sorting and organizing
  • Reading graphs
  • Preparing graphs and tallies
  • Comparing results with peers

To chart many of the basic information that your child or student compiles, you are not limited to the use of a simply tally bar-chart. There is a wide array of graphs you can use to input your data including, but not limited to the following: Graphing Mat, Pocket Charts, and more sophisticated charts with extensive options.

In-school Data Handling Models and Games for Kids

A step up from the basic and simple games described earlier in this article, these data handling games encompass many models including bar charts, pie charts, pictograms, and tally charts.

Through the use of simple numerical values and easy-to-understand illustrations that are brightly colored, engaging, and promote interest, these data handling games are immensely important tools in getting children to understand the concepts of data analysis and to find meaning in the mathematical concepts they are studying.

Upon becoming proficient at data handling, adept children will assess their own data, and, subsequently, create their own graphs with the appropriate information.

venn chart image

Venn Chart or Venn Diagram – a wonderfully easy-to-use resource where children can practice the sorting of multiples and more.

carrol chart image

Carrol Chart or Carrol Diagram – Another fun and easy-to-use diagram for children to play around with as they input their information and group things together in yes/no categories.

grapher image

Grapher is a popular kid’s game that enables students to create and design their own block graphs with specific information. Users are able to personalize their graphs by changing titles, scale, and colors.​

bar chart image

Bar Chart: The Game is an engrossing game for students based on the use of bar charts and graphs. Different playing levels are available after students have mastered the previous level. The game offers hours of educational fun and interactive activity, as children perfect their data collection understanding and fine-tune their motor skills.

sort the shapes image

Sort the Shapes is a popular in-class game that centers on students sorting and organizing shapes within a stationary Carroll diagram. As students quickly match shapes, the game takes on an almost Tetris-like feel and provides ample amounts of educational entertainment.

At-A-Glance Benefits of Teaching Graphing Activities to Students

  • Graphs transform dull and droll numbers into exciting and easy-to-understand concepts
  • Graphs and data graphing games provide incomparable opportunities to seamlessly blend together math, reading, literacy, and social skills to best-prepare children for future grades
  • Reading and using graphs helps to develop fine motor skills and cognitive skills
  • Graphing games help children to build knowledge, skill, and confidence
green graph image

In classrooms of yesteryear, technology was not a luxury that was enjoyed by within educational settings anywhere. In the last two decades, technology has exploded across the globe and today, nearly every man, woman, family, and child have been exposed to all the latest technology has to offer, like cell phones, laptop computers, and myriad other handheld devices.

Technology has successfully made its way into mainstream households and is found to be as commonplace as other basic home elements such as refrigerator, sink, and living room space. With our population’s increasing use of technology and the Internet, computers have made their way into America’s classrooms and have transformed the way children are taught, the way they learn, and how they ultimately perceive the world around them.

Technology enables children to play educational video games that clearly and decisively express and impart meaning to complicated subjects that are not easily explained by a teacher’s lesson or lecture. Through the use of engaging characters, bright colors, and riveting dialogue, computer graphing games serve to teach children all manners of subjects in a quick and easy-to-understand fashion.

The continuous use of technology is fundamentally important to education. Not only are children learning important mathematical concepts such as data handling through computers but they are also developing their fine motor skills, expanding their environments, and ultimately building the knowledge, skills, and high level of confidence to succeed in future grades and life.​

The 6 Best Educational Blocks for Toddlers & Preschoolers

By Rebecca / August 10, 2017

Toddler building blocks are some of our best early childhood memories and are among the most beneficial gifts to give to children aged 18 months up to 3 years and provide countless hours of fun, engrossing entertainment while also providing opportunities to strengthen fine motor skills. When children master their foundational fine motor skills, they are able to further develop their cognitive thinking ability through simple problem-solving and the use of spatial intelligence while also establishing the beginning formations of their identity and self-expression.

Read on below to see some of the bestselling top picks for toddler building block products for ‘block play’ available today to make learning fun.

Our Picks: The Top Toddler Building Blocks​

1. 30 count colored and lettered Alphabet Blocks by Skoolzy

From Skoolzy, these Alphabet blocks come in an accessible size measuring one inch around and feature brightly labeled letters and borders that are pleasing to toddler’s eyes. The set comes complete with 30 imprinted blocks and is an excellent tool to have in your play arsenal to teach toddlers basic language skills and to also develop the use of their fine motor skills.

skoolzy alphabet blocks image

An included orange colored Skoolzy traveling backpack lets parents travel with the building block set easily and effortlessly for on-the-go educational opportunities wherever the family might be at.

Made from safe, non-toxic materials, this set from Skoozy is a highly recommended product that will offer your child vast opportunities for educational entertainment and plenty of time to improve dexterity and hand-eye coordination.​

Product Dimensions

Product Weight

Ages

1.2 x 1.2 x 1.2 inches

13.6 ounces

Two to Five

Pros:

  • Washable and reusable backpack included
  • Improves dexterity, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination
  • Enables children to learn the alphabet while having fun
  • Additional activity guide online for download

Cons:

  • Missing or lost blocks are not readily available for purchase

2. Mega Bloks Deluxe Building Bag

Titled as the First Builders Big Building Bag, this set is the mega Lego set we have always dreamed of having since childhood.

mega bloks deluxe building bag image

With 150 blocks coming in a vast array of bright colors, this mega block set offers ample opportunities for entertainment, visual stimulation, the building of fine motor skills, and strengthening dexterity and hand and eye coordination.

Included are 80 larger sized building blocks that children can use to attach smaller blocks on as they construct their first child-sized buildings. Fabricated BPA-free and from top quality 100% safe commercial-grade plastic, the Mega Blok set from Lego will have your child enthralled while also providing them the utmost in safety.​

Product Dimensions

Product Weight

Ages

18 x 8 x 11.5 inches

0.6 ounces

One to Five

Pros:

  • 150 blocks included in a variety of sizes and in visually stimulating bright colors
  • Perfectly sized blocks for children’s small hands
  • Included reusable storage bag for easy and efficient cleanup and transportation

Cons:

  • Lower quality block construction than other competing sets on the market

3. Magnetic Wooden Block Set

This premium block set from Tegu features 42 elegantly constructed blocks with integrated 100% safe magnetic elements and are made to cultivate intellectual curiosity and inspire awe and wonder.

magnetic wooden block set image

The addition of the magnetic elements takes the activity of playing with blocks to previously unseen levels. With magnets, children can easily stack, create, and learn how to make massive size buildings that won’t teeter or totter in the way that regular constructions made from wood blocks will.

Without any need to attach or lock blocks together, kids are able to seamlessly compose the buildings of their dreams with an array of colors including sunset, various tints, and jungle.​

Product Dimensions

Product Weight

Ages

14.2 x 10.8 x 3.2 inches

4.4 pounds

One to Five

Pros:

  • Wooden construction is free from plastic parts
  • Incorporates unique colors and shapes
  • Distinguished by internal magnets that let children build and create in unique ways
  • No lead materials, non-toxic, all finishes are water-based lead, no plastic, non-toxic, water-based lacquer finish, no small parts

Cons:

  • Higher price point may make this item inaccessible for some buyers

4. Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby's First Blocks

A classic favorite among households with young children, the Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby’s first blocks features ten distinctive blocks in readily identifiable simple shapes like star, circle, and square that are vibrantly hued and made to be dropped within matching cutout shapes.

fisher price brilliant baby blocks image

These blocks are entertaining for children and will help to reinforce their fine motor skills along with their dexterity and hand and eye coordination. While children attempt to drop blocks into their associated slots, a wide-open and expansive bottom allows them to easily access the dropped blocks for more attempts at play.

This adorable product comes with a built-in handle that will allow your little one to tote their blocks around the house on their own to set down when they are ready for play.

With its very affordable pricing and internationally recognized Fisher Price name, the Brilliant Basics Baby’s First Blocks should definitely be a routine part of your child’s play sessions.​

Product Dimensions

Product Weight

Ages

8.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches

15.5 ounces

Six months to eight years

Pros:

  • Children can match and drop familiar shapes into their respective slots in order to improve fine motor skills and coordination
  • Built-in handle enables children to tote around their own blocks
  • Internationally recognized brand name for children’s toys
  • Vibrantly hued, easy to grasp blocks stimulate the senses in multiple ways

Cons:

  • Small number of blocks in this set in comparison to other sets featuring dozens of blocks, shapes, and sizes

5. Earlyears Squeak 'n’ Stack Blocks Baby Toy

This innovative product from Earlyears features embossing on the sides of the blocks that will entice and engross young children and help to build their sensory perception skills along with their fine motor skills.

earlyears squeak n stack blocks baby toy image

Embossed shapes, characters, and various animals let children run their fingers over the detailing to add another dimension and depth to previously playing with plain wooden blocks.

Each side of the block comes embossed with a different theme to provide kids with endless entertainment as they engross themselves in learning and using different senses.

The Squeak and Stack blocks differ from traditional blocks in that there are no hard edges or angles. Instead, they are squishy and soft to the touch and allow children to grab them easily without posing any harm to themselves or their peers.

Constructed from an easy-to-clean vinyl material and coming with a convenient transportation bag, this product is an innovative and fun way to provide hours of affordable fun for your younger children.​

Product Dimensions

Product Weight

Ages

9 x 2 x 6.5 inches

11.2 ounces

Six months to two years

Pros:

  • A wide array of fun colors, engaging textures, and entertaining characters and animals
  • Provides multi-sensory play opportunities
  • Six sides of fun come on all blocks
  • Blocks are made from soft and squishy material that is easy for young children to grab and manipulate
  • Fun squeaking sounds
  • Effortless clean up requires just a wipe of the vinyl material
  • Included zippered travel case

Cons:

  • Soft and squishy construction is not conducive to creating taller buildings

6. Edushape Corrugated Blocks

This building block set from Edushape takes the concept of playing with blocks and turns it on its head! With large oversized, corrugated blocks with extra sturdy inner cardboard construction, this set provides children with exciting opportunities to construct buildings at sizes much larger than they experienced with traditional small wooden blocks.

Perfect for inspiring young architects at heart, this set from Edushape offers vast amounts of entertainment while ensuring that children develop coordination and motor skills.

Easy to clean, this set requires a simple wipe with a washcloth. Each block can support up to 100 lb and can safely provide your child with hours of autonomous fun.​

Product Dimensions

Product Weight

Ages

23 x 28 x 3.5 inches

10 pounds

18 months to 5 years

Pros:

  • A unique set comprised of extra-large and robust blocks that will let young children use their inspiration and self-expression in new ways
  • Colorful and vibrant hued blocks with easy to grasp corrugated edges
  • Fosters teamwork and interaction with other children
  • Softer surfaces make these blocks easy to handle and manipulate for building endeavors
  • Effortless clean up requires just a wipe with a clean cloth

Cons:

  • Higher price point may prove to be unaffordable for some families

Building block toys are a critically important and essential tool in a child’s development for a number of reasons. Of primary importance is the way that building blocks cultivate and strengthen fine motor and gross motor skills, spatial recognition, and hand and eye coordination. However, building block toys also serve to inspire, mesmerize, enthuse, and motivate children. Through the use of colorful imagery, vibrant hues, engrossing characters, kids are exposed to art and color in books and toys such as building blocks and are able to build upon their own preferences and modes of self-expression.

Developing a child’s self-expression is ultimately mostly about exposure to the many activities and child-friendly concepts that exist in the world. From books to toys, to age-appropriate technology, when children are immersed in new experiences, they can begin to learn what they like and dislike, and ultimately what they love and find a passion for.

Playing with building blocks is an essential part of growing a child’s self-expression, which many consider being as vitally important as the building of fine motor skills. Both self-expression and motor skills must be recognized as critically important and children must be afforded countless opportunities to develop both concepts as they make their individual transitions into kindergarten and later grades.

By providing children with building block play time, we enable them to become explorers and discoverers in their own right. As children make new discoveries about the world around them, they become increasingly more aware of meaning and begin to assign importance to things as they go about establishing their individual identity.

Often, younger children playing with blocks will be constrained by communicating because they have not yet learned to speak. Allowing these children to play with blocks gives them the chance to express themselves as they simultaneously learn and build the valuable motor skills they will need in future grade levels. As a consequence, it is vastly important that parents, teachers, and educators provide toddlers and young children a wide array of instruments, tools, and modes of play so that exploration and discovery can be fostered at all times of a child’s life, even when they lack the ability to speak.

As the importance of basic building blocks has become more readily apparent in recent years, toy manufacturers have responded by creating products that are far from the simple blocks seen in yesteryear.

Building blocks now come in an array of sizes, shapes, colors, and embellishments, as well as different materials. As a result, building blocks are no longer basic square toys but are multicolored, adorned with child-safe decorations, and come in a variety of materials that appeal to the touch and other senses. As such, building blocks can be bought and found for just about any child’s particular needs or desires. As they play with toys they find highly attractive; the child is also able to simultaneously learn in an invaluable and autonomous way through basic problem-solving skills, exploration, self-discovery, and more.

When it comes to increasing the imagination and levels of creativity and development of fine motor skills within your child, consider buying one of the basic block sets above. From Fisher Price’s incredibly affordable block set that features grab and go functionality to Tengu’s premium set that comes with handcrafted parts and components, there are block sets from both the lower end and higher end parts of the spectrum that can easily meet the needs of many families. With the wide-range of reasonable prices and the incredible array of options, there is a set available that can perfectly meet the needs of your child and yourself as you both begin the journey to creating a life full of discovery and enjoyment for your little one.​

The 5 Best Books to Get Kids Excited about Kindergarten

By Rebecca / August 8, 2017

Kindergarten has been an integral part of the U.S. elementary education system since its inception in 1837. Conceptualized by the educational philosopher, Friedrich Froebel, kindergarten became a locale in which children were recognized for their distinct individual needs and intellectual capacities.

Froebel was able to decisively determine through his exhaustive research that adolescent brain development grew at its greatest momentum up until the age of three. This finding subsequently led to his efforts in developing and retooling the early-childhood educational practices that existed at the time, with an emphasis being placed on the vast array of differing learning styles.

Froebel’s work has resulted in kindergarten classes and kindergarten teachers with targeted lesson plans today incorporating a wide spectrum of play-based activities that are child-centered and foster parent involvement. Through a multitude of activities such as music, games, and picture books, preschoolers are able to engage in activities that are pleasurable to their senses while also discovering how things operate and being able to assign meaning to those things.

In addition to making discoveries about the world around them, kindergarteners will develop their fine motor skills and spend significant amounts interfacing with their peers and learning valuable social skills.

Critically imperative to preschoolers and kindergarten kids is the introduction of cognitive-building tools in the form of books and other reading materials to get them reading - and enjoying reading - from a very young age. The experience gained from the incorporation of the early introduction of the library and reading leads to broader, richer vocabularies, and reinforces the relationship between reading and pleasure early on, which will, in turn, prove to be a boon for a child’s educational success.

It is fundamentally important for parents to be aware of the rapid connections being formed in their child’s brain every day for the first five years of their life. Up to 90% of connective brain developments occur by this young age and these connections form the essential building blocks and foundation for a child’s capacity to learn, experience, and grow on an intellectual level.

Books are an essential component and building block in a child’s intellectual foundation. A multitude of research dictates that children who are read to ultimately go on to become better adept at reading, building more extensive vocabularies, and succeeding in school from an early age. Providing literature-rich environments for children not only serves to help build their vocabularies and foster success in school but also provide extensive opportunities for children to discover their inner creative selves and learn to express their individuality in valuable ways.

As a starting point in many of the lessons that books teach children, the concept of determining importance is heavily stressed. Kindergarteners are encouraged to go above and beyond locating main ideas of texts and determining the importance or relevant value, which helps them to build valuable critical thinking skills for school and life.​

The Importance of Picture Books for Kindergarteners – At a Glance Chart​

Fun

​Entertaining

​Engrossing

​Rewarding

Provides literary experiences for kids that are entertaining and that they look forward to

Stimulation of visual senses via colorful images​

Provides interactive opportunities between parents and adults and children

Enables parents and adults to spend quality time with kids and discuss the pictures and words within stories

Reading comprehension is built through ongoing interactive reading experiences

Fosters dialogue and encourages children to voice their opinions and feeling

Assists in developing “story sense” skills

Through reading books, children are able to learn the different parts of a story, including the start, middle, and end and assign meaning to each part

Assists in conveying the concepts of cause and effect in an easy to understand fashion

Asking children prior to reading to look out for key words that convey a cause and effect relationship helps them build stronger reading skills for later

Provides a multi-sensory experience

Enables children to see, smell, and touch- encompasses all of the basic senses

Reinforces reading skills through repetition

Reading skills such as comprehension, phonemic awareness, and fluency are built through reading repetition

Develops language skills

Allows children to engage in practicing a wide range of language sounds and rhythm and rhyme

Catering to children’s love of art

Children love bright colors, drawing, and doodling. Reading from books that feature colorful illustrations provide additional enjoyment and inspiration for art-loving children

Effortlessly building understanding and reading comprehension through easy-to-understand basic illustrations

Illustrations provide assistance to children to determine and assign meaning to the story line

Featured below is a collection of titles geared towards kindergarten children that assist in helping them build reading comprehension, identifying main ideas, and determining importance. The titles have been carefully assessed for age-appropriateness, vocabulary, and illustrations, and are some of the most popular books used today by kindergarten educators. Read on below to learn more about these reading essentials that are found in classrooms everywhere.

kindergarten here i come book image

“Kindergarten Here I Come” is authored by D.J. Steinberg and Mark Chambers and is available in traditional text format as well as a Kindle edition. Geared towards children aged 3 to 5, “Kindergarten Here I Come” features vivid illustrations, bright colors, and an exciting storyline that will appeal to all children getting ready to make the transition to kindergarten.

The story centers around a young boy who is preparing to make the move from preschool to kindergarten. Throughout his excitement, he shares a dialogue with his enthusiastic mother, as they begin to prepare for his first day of kindergarten.

Young children will relate to the main character’s mounting excitement as he hurriedly prepares for school and ensures he has his new backpack, jacket, lunch, and school supplies.

Throughout the story, typical kindergarten milestones are described that serve to provide encouragement and motivation to incoming kindergarteners and the experiences they will face.

A basic staple in every kindergarten room and household with young children, “Kindergarten, Here I Come” is a classic that will resonate will parents and children alike.

the night before kindergarten book image

The Night Before Kindergarten centers around the first day of kindergarten. Have your children join the other kids as they get ready for their first day by gathering school supplies, getting their backpacks readied and posing for pictures as they say goodbye to mom and dad.

This cheery colorful book illustrates just how fun kindergarten really is and shows your child the multitude of enjoyable experiences that they will be looking forward to as they make their foray into traditional education.

miss bindergarten book image

This book also centers around the first day of kindergarten. Miss Bindergarten is working hard to get ready for her upcoming class featuring 26 brand new kindergarteners.

As Miss Bindergarten gets ready for her class, children are shown throughout the story getting ready for their first day with her as their teacher.

Adam Krupp wakes up joyfully excited for his first day, while Brenda Heath brushes her teeth in anticipation. Christopher Beaker searches for his lost sneaker. While Miss Bindergarten finishes decorating her classroom just in the nick of time as students start to file in.

This book is wonderful to showcase the process of getting ready for kindergarten, not only from a child’s perspective but also from the viewpoint of a teacher.

Note: The New York Times Book Review described this book as “Multifaceted and appealing” and can be enjoyed at home and at school.

the twelve days of christmas book image

This adaptation of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gives parents and children a familiar look at the kindergarten transition. Going through the 2nd of Kindergarten (Christmas) all the way up until the 12th, this familiar wording engages children as they read about the new friends they will make in Kindergarten and the activities they will engage in such as jumping rope, making art, and playing at recess.

The experience of saying goodbye to Mom and Dad is illustrated as kids make their way to their first journeys on the school bus where they are taken to be the school to be met with their awaiting parents again at the end of the day.

This is a fantastic book that delves into the experience of transportation to school and alleviates the fear a child might face at having to say goodbye to their parents for the day by reinforcing the fact that their parents will be there to pick them up at the end of the day.

Authored by Tish Rabe, this vivid children’s book is just one of her many 160 titles for children available today.

kindergarten rocks book image

Kindergarten Rocks centers on main character Dexter who seemingly already knows all the ins and outs when it comes to kindergarten. Dex proclaims his knowledge is a result of being informed by his big sister Jessie, and he is not scared at all.

However, Dex’s stuffed dog Rufus is scared - only until he finds out that kindergarten actually rocks!

i can read book image

The I Can Read Series featuring Pete the Cat is authored by New York Times bestselling author James Dean. This series helps kids learn reading through phonics and brightly illustrated images that are engaging and fun to look at.

Assessed and approved by many phonics experts, the I Can Read, Pete the Cat series showcases repetitive examples of common words and differing vowels sounds.

Phonics is of particular importance in how they teach children the phonemic relationship between letters and their correlating sounds. A child who has mastered phonics and phonemes will find reading, spelling, and writing easier to master at grade-level and future grade levels.

This series is an excellent way to teach kids to master reading while rocking out to the lovable and enthusiastic Pete the Cat.

As mentioned early on, kindergarten is a distinctive place where children will make discoveries about the world around them, develop their fine motor skills, and spend time interfacing with peers and learning valuable social skills. Within the basic framework of integral kindergarten elements are the incorporation of cognitive building tools in the form of books and reading that serve to teach children myriad concepts.

Books and interactive reading experiences provide children with a wealth of opportunities to develop broader, richer vocabularies, to reinforce the relationship between reading and pleasure early on in life, and to strengthen the foundation for a child’s assured future academic success.

Many parents make the mistake of not completely understanding the fast pace at which their toddler’s brain is making connections every day. The rapid connections formed in a toddler’s brain are occurring constantly for up to the first five years of their lives, with up to 90% of connective brain tissue having been formed by that time.

It is imperative that parents do not underestimate the rapid growth of their child’s brain and take advantage of this singularly unique time in their child’s life to put into practice and reinforce basic reading skills and fine motor skills. The development of these two skills will not only assist children in succeeding at kindergarten but also help them ensure academic success in future grades.

Books also serve to widen a child’s horizons and to broaden their perspectives. Books take children to places they have never before envisioned or imagined, to discovering people, places, and things they never knew existed, and to teaching lessons about life and morality that were previously unfamiliar. Books encompass a wide variety of subject material like the ones listed above and many more that can be used to enrich a child’s viewpoint and expressive qualities.

It should also be noted that children who are exposed to reading and books at a young age develop into people who enjoy books and reading and see it as a pleasurable activity and not one that is cumbersome and boring. Starting reading early on and practicing interactive reading between parent and child is among the best things a parent can do for their child to ensure a lifelong love of reading, academic success, and the growth of strong fine motor skills.

Parents and children can read together before bed, at activity time, or after dinner. Whether reading time is scheduled or unscheduled, the time you share together with your child in these interactive experiences will reward the both of you in countless ways.​

The 15 Best Accounts to Follow on Teachers Pay Teachers

By sara / August 7, 2017

Teachers Pay Teachers is a community of educators that can come together and share their experience and wisdom with millions of their fellow educators. This is a very unique place where teachers can buy and sell teaching resources that they found to be successful in their classroom.

The founder of Teachers pay Teachers discovered that his students were more successful when he used ideas from other teachers but the only teachers that he knew were in his own school. Teachers pay Teachers brings teachers from all across the United States together and that is what makes it such a great place. Be sure to follow all of these great teachers to get products that will help you in your classroom.

Our list highlights 15 of the best teacher accounts that you should follow on the Teachers pay Teachers website. They offer wonderful materials that will be sure to enhance any classroom. Enjoy! 

15. Deanna Jump

Deanna Jump has been a teacher for 20 years and has gathered some of the best materials for kindergarten through first grade. She currently has over 300 products on the teacher pay teachers website. 

We recommend looking at her Digital Math Centers for Kindergarten. This will allow students to learn math while using technology at the same time. This is a very simple activity that you can do with your class and it requires absolutely no prep time. You will be able to print the activity sheets and then use the corresponding PowerPoint slides that are provided. 

14. The Moffatt Girls 

The Moffatt Girls have over 62,000 followers on the website. The creator of this page taught grades 4-6 so she has hands on experience with teaching those grades. She has products that range from grades k-6 and even some homeschooling books as well. There are so many products for many different subjects like language arts, graphic arts, holidays and much more.

The Moffatt Language Arts and Grammar bundle is highly recommended in her shop. This bundle includes so many activities and games that will help your students conquer the second grade. Your students will learn about different verb tenses, adjectives, compound words, contractions and much more. The best part about this package is that it is ready to go and requires no prep time.

13. Deedee Wills 

Deedee Wills is a teacher and curriculum developer. She has been teaching for over 16 years and most of that time has been spent teaching kindergarten. She has over 400 products on her page. A lot of her products are centered around literature, language arts and other english topics as well. You will be able to find fun new ways to get your students interested in reading and writing with these fun and exciting activities.

We recommend taking a look at the Lets Get Organized Classroom Management bundle. This package will be able to keep your classroom organzed. This book is chalked full of charts for daily routines and expectations that will show your students exactly what you expect from them each day.

12. Reagan Tunstall 

Reagan Tunstall is a teacher, educational consultant/speaker and she also spends her time as a curriculum writer. She has won teaching awards from her many years as a teacher. Her products will allow you to engage your students in learning. She offers products for grades K – 12 and even some non-grade specific materials that are good to have. Reagan also offers products that offer helpful tips to teachers. She has over 630 products so you will be sure to find the right materials for your classroom and your unique teaching style.

11. Lovin Lit

Lovin Lit has created a curriculum that uses technology to get students engaged in learning how to read and write. You will be able to reach all kinds of learning styles with these interactive lesson plans. She has products for students of all ages k-5.

We recommend looking at the Interactive Notebook Bundle. These products are good for grade 4 and beyond. This book is full of activities that will get your students involved with learning lit. This package comes with five different interactive notebook ideas including poetry, writing, grammar. Reading literature and reading informational text. This bundle is great for reading teachers for fourth or fifth grade.

10. Rachel Lynette

Rachel Lynette has over 50,000 followers and offers 450 products on her page. She has taught a large range of topics so she has lots of hands on experience in the classroom. She thinks that students should have structure but also freedom to do what they want. She wants her students to want to come to school and enjoy learning while they are in her classroom

We recommend her Back to School Task Cards. This bundle includes 180 cards that will help your students get back into the rhythm of school after summer vacation. They will help teach your students about restating the question, classroom rules and classroom procedures. This would be a great way for you to start the day so that students know exactly what is expected of them.

9. Amy Lemons

Amy Lemons believes that students should be taught the same thing in many different ways. This will help students with all different learning styles be able to learn in their own way. This style of teaching also helps students remember the lessons better. She has taught first, second and fourth grade so she is able to use her experience to help teach those grade levels.

We recommend looking at her Back to School bundle. This bundle is full of activities to get students back into school mode. Your students will get to know each other by playing cooperative games and many other fun activities. This will be a great way to kick off another great year.

8. One Stop Teacher Shop

One Stop Teacher Shop has a lot of hands on experience in the classroom. She has been able to take all of her experiences and turned them into a curriculum that teachers will love to use in their classroom. She knows what teachers need in order to help their students succeed and have fun while learning. She has lots of interactive reading and writing products as well as math.

We recommend looking at the Teacher Binder bundle. This is an editable and customizable binder chalked full of lesson plans that you will be able to add your own flair to. This binder will help you stay organized and keep your lesson plans all in one place. You will receive free updates to this binder for life. As trends in the teaching world change this binder will also change. This is a great resource for all teachers to have.

7. Teaching with a Mountain View

Teaching with a Mountain View believes that students should be curious and ask questions. She centers all of her teaching on her students to make sure that every student learns on an appropriate level. She has experience with third, fourth and fifth grade so many of her products center around those grade levels.

We recommend looking at her back to school math project bundle. This activity book has a road trip theme so that you will be able to keep the summer spirt alive. There are 15 pages that will help your student practice their math skills while they take a math trip across the United States. There are operations, problem solving, following directions, place value, money and decimal problems in this workbook.

6. Teaching with Love and Laughter 

Teaching with Love and Laughter has been a teacher for over two decades. She has taught primary school for all of that time so she has a lot of experience with those grade levels. She has a laid back style of teaching. She teaches with love and laughter everyday so that students respect her and enjoying coming to class every day.

We recommend looking at her Writing Activities bundle. This bundle includes 23 different posters and tons of writing templets to help improve your students writing level. Students will be given a writing prompt to help them start their writing activity and the posters will help inspire them to write. This package is good for kindergarten through third grade.

5. Ashleigh Smith

Ashleigh Smith loves to help other teachers reach their full potential. She is currently a teacher so she knows what helps kids learn. She has products for all ages so you will be able to find the right product to fit your needs. She has tons of materials to help your students learn about reading, writing, and arts and music.

We recommend looking into her All 30 Third Grade Reading Street Workbooks. This product was created to accommodate the 5 day work schedule. You will be able to give your students one of the workbooks on Monday and have them finish it by Friday. Each day students will complete two activities. You could use this as classwork or even homework.

4. Cara Carroll 

Cara Carroll has over 50,000 followers on the website. She was a teacher for over 15 years and she had gain lots of hands on experience during that time. She has taught kindergarten, first and second grade but now she spends her time working with teachers as a teacher consultant. She helps teachers come up with challenging lessons that will also be hands on and fun.

We recommend looking at her Back to school bundle. This bundle is perfect for kindergarten or first grade. Teachers that have not complete their first month of back to school prep will really love this product. There are games and activities for all subjects and these lesson plans will ease students back into school. This bundle is full of great ideas to help you start the school year off right.

3. Runde's Room

Runde’s Room has over 300 items to offer her customers. She has won awards for lesson plans from SMART technologies so she has a lot to offer teachers looking for materials to use in their own classrooms. She incorporates technology in her classroom so she will be able to provide different ways for you to use it in your own classroom as well.

We recommend looking into her interactive math journal. This is the most popular interactive notebook on the teacher pay teachers website. This is a great resource for fourth graders and it will help them improve their math skills immensely. This product includes 38 hands on activities that will get your students involved with learning math. This is a fun way for students to keep track of their progress over the course of a year.

2. Jennifer Findley

Jennifer Findley currently has over 600 products on her page. She has experience teaching intermediate levels but you will find products for all ages in her store. She offers tons of english and literature products as well as math, science, history and many more subjects. Her products will help teachers give students the resources they need to achieve at a high level.

We recommend looking into her third grade weekly reading homework bundle. This will help you plan homework for 36 weeks. There are so many different topics and activities for your students to do. There are fairy tales, character traits, poetry, informational text and many more topics. You will be able to help improve your students reading level by giving them these well thought out homework activities.

1. Tara West 

Tara West is a kindergarten teacher and she also specializes in writing curriculum. She always felt like her students were not getting all of the information that they needed so she decided to come up with her own balanced curriculum. Her products have been tested in the classroom and she knows that you will see results in your very own classroom.

Tara’s KinderReaders bundle is highly rated in her shop. This is a very well thought out program that will help you teach your students how to read. This bundle is full of great ideas and well flash cards and games that will help your students learn to read. You will be able to help your students as they get better at reading because this bundle includes materials for NR (non-readers), AA, A, B, C and D level readers.

The 6 Best Exercise Games & Indoor Activities for Kids

By Rebecca / August 1, 2017

Exercise is imperative for people of all ages. The benefits of moving around are plentiful and will lead to a healthier way of life. Most people just think of children exercising as a way to burn off their extra energy so that they will get a good night’s sleep. However, it is much more than that.

According to Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, regular exercise in children helps improve muscle development, promotes heart health, helps strengthen bones, reduces the risk of chronic illness such as type 2 diabetes, improves mental health, and regular exercise also has positive influences on academic performance.

Several organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend that young children and adolescents have at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. This will ensure that a healthy lifestyle is being met and will also promote healthy habits that last into adulthood. With handheld devices increasing the amount of time kids spend in front of a screen, it’s important to establish healthy habits and mental well-being early on. Finding fun ways to do so, even if it’s inside, is providing your child with a plethora of benefits! Here are loads of great ideas that go beyond a simple ball or hula hoop:

Indoor Trapeze Bar and Swing

indoor trapeze bar and swing image

When the weather decides to be less than favorable, especially during winter time, kids usually have little outlet for their energy that won’t also drive adults up the wall. The Indoor Trapeze Bar and Swing changes all of that. The trapeze bar fits inside a standard door frame and can withstand up to 135 pounds (the door will still close with the bar set up!). The swing and trapeze rings strap onto the bar to bring the playground indoors! This is wonderful for families who do not have a lot of yard space or for those in apartment complexes. The trapeze bar allows for kids to build and tone muscle, improves hand-eye coordination, and also improves balancing skills.

The trapeze rings and bar are especially helpful to kids who are beginners in gymnastics or who are interested in the sport. The recommended ages for the trapeze bar and swing are 3 to 10 years old. Due to being suspended above the ground, make sure your child is using the Indoor Trapeze Bar and Swing under adult supervision.

Yoga for Kids

Yoga for kids might sound a bit odd to a few, but it is definitely a great indoor activity that will get your little ones to move their busy bodies with excitement. Yoga has many health benefits for kids—it’s not just an adult activity! It builds strength, improves flexibility, helps with balance, coordination, concentration, focus, and attention skills. Not only does it have these physical benefits, but there are mental benefits as well! Yoga helps calm the nerves which help kids with their self-regulation skills. It also aids with their creativity with self-expression and their imagination. All in all, yoga for kids will provide an all-around sense of well-being for your child.

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There are various resources for kids yoga and the Yoga Spinner Game is a great place to start. The game builds upon teamwork skills by having multiple players in the game. Depicted on the spinner and cards are multiple yoga poses that children can easily perform and also some more challenging ones. Whatever yoga pose the spinner lands on, the kids must do that pose and hold it for ten seconds. If the player can hold it for the full ten seconds, they can keep the card. The objective of the game is to be the first player to obtain a card in each of the colors: Red, white, blue, and green. There are more exciting features of this game as well, like partner cards that involve two-players to perform together. There are 54 playing cards in all with various yoga poses for everyone to try. 42 of the poses are for individuals to try and 14 of them are for two players to do together. The age recommendation for the Yoga Spinner Game is five years old and up. In order to get the most out of the game, find a non-slip surface to play on or with the use of yoga mats. There are special yoga mats made just for kids with fun colors and pictures on them! Also, do not forget to stretch before playing the Yoga Spinner Game!

Indoor Parachute Games

Every student loves walking into physical education class and seeing the bright, multicolored parachute waiting for them. Almost all young children who attended public school has memories of the games played with a parachute. The parachutes can be used indoors as well as outdoors. Obviously, inside of a gymnasium, there is plenty of room to run around and play with a large parachute. What about using a parachute at home? Can it be done? Of course it can!

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Parachutes come in many sizes and can be used in a few different ways that will get kids up and moving around. However, games are best played with a small group. You can play tag with the parachute by having everyone lift the parachute up and yelling out a child’s name. That child then has to run underneath the parachute and make it to the other side before the parachute starts coming down. If the parachute touches the child before they make it to the other side, they have been “tagged.”

Another game that can be conducted is turning the parachute into a “turtle.” Have everyone get on their hands and knees underneath the parachute. Using teamwork and without crawling out from underneath the parachute, make the turtle shell (the parachute) move about. You can also play a musical version of a merry-go-round. Everyone holds onto the edge of the parachute and can either jump, run, skip, or walk in a circle as the music plays. When the music reverses, everyone must turn and go the opposite way with the parachute. Last, but certainly not least, another fun game that can be done indoors with a parachute is to avoid the snakes! Place jump ropes, pool noodles, or something of the sort in the middle of the parachute. Have the kids shake the parachute so that the “snakes” move and jump around.

The object of the game is to not have the snakes touch you. The kids have to bring their side of the parachute up when a snake comes near them to avoid being bit by the poisonous reptile! With many parachute games, children can use their imagination and creativity! It is a perfect balance of physical activity and mental stimulation.

Foam Pogo Jumper

A classic outdoor activity is jumping on a pogo stick, which has been around since 1918! However, pogo sticks can be very dangerous and can lead to serious injuries. According to a study conducted by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), the average number of injuries caused by pogo sticks each year is 1,322 in the United States alone. Luckily, there is a much safer alternative on the market that can also be used indoors!

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The Foam Pogo Jumper is made entirely out of foam, drastically reducing the pogo stick’s usual safety issues. The base of the Foam Pogo Jumper will not scuff hardwood floors either when being used indoors due to the foam and it also contains dual speakers that emit squeaking sounds with every hop!

​The stick is made of elastic bungee cord and will stretch to adjust to different heights. The handles, which are spongy and soft, have LED lights in the ends that flash red and blue when someone is jumping on the pogo stick. Not only is this pogo stick safer, indoor-friendly, and will get your child moving, there are physical advantages to jumping on a pogo stick as well! Pogo sticks help strengthen core muscle groups in the stomach, legs, and backside. It is also a great cardio workout.

Make a game out of it and pin kids against one another to see who has the highest number of jumps during a certain time span. That can also be a great way to practice counting numbers into the double digits!

Monster Monkey Bar Tower

Playgrounds and kids go together like peanut butter and jelly. It can be hard sometimes to pry your kids away from the playground. Sometimes children cry, run, or throw a tantrum when told they have to leave. However, now you can bring the playground equipment inside! The Monster Monkey Bar Tower is an indoor jungle gym that will fit perfectly inside of a play room, living room, bedroom, basement, or classroom.

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The pieces of the Monster Monkey Bar Tower are easy to put together and it is also portable! Each tube is made from a durable plastic that interlocks. The connectors have double self-locking springs for added structural durability. The tower can withstand up to 150 pounds, making it the ideal activity for busy toddlers.

While burning off some of their energy, the kids will gain important skills such as balance; they are strengthening muscles in the arms and legs, and also improving hand-eye coordination. The tower can also be used to play unique games. Add creativity by having your child color in fish that you draw or print out. Attach the fish to strings and hang them from the bars or put them on the ground in the middle of the structure. Have your little ones go fishing! Add numbers to the fish to make it a math learning experience as well! How many fish can they catch and can they count to the number that's written on the fish? You can also throw some blankets over it and create a fort or igloo! The possibilities are endless with a little imagination.

Fitivities

Activities and games that the whole family can get involved in are wonderful ways to help build or improve strong family connections and relationships. For children, it will also help them improve their ability to work in a team and, depending on the game or activity, will help them with learning to share with others. The same can be said when playing with friends or classmates as well!

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Fitivities is a multifaceted activity that blends together board games and exercise for a fun time with a small or large group of people. The game is for anyone six and up and can host between two and 24 players! With over 20 exercises for kids and family members, Fitivities is a perfect way to spend some time either indoors or outdoors.

Fitivities comes with a large game mat that is durable for outdoor use, four dice, four team shoe markers, and four spinner cards. The game works with teams, each team competing against one another. Each team gets a foam shoe which will mark their place on the game mat. When you spin the spinner, it lands on a number of repetitions (or the action to go back to a certain spot on the board!), and when you roll the die, you get how many spaces to move on the board. Whatever exercise the shoe marker lands on, the team (or just an individual) must perform it with the number of repetitions the spinner landed on.

The most interesting part of Fitivities is that each team does not take turns, they are playing at the exact same time! The object of the game is to be the first team (or person) to make it the whole way around the game board.


Exercises can be modified for those who cannot perform an exercise in full. The game promotes a healthy lifestyle by getting people moving! It is a great source for cardio, muscle building and toning, increasing flexibility, and more! It is a good idea to go over all the exercises before playing because the game is about being the first to finish, so everyone should know the moves beforehand to make the game fair. Fitivities has won several awards, including the Creative Mag’s Game of the Year and Mother’s Choice.​

The 10 Best Educational Movies That Kids Will Enjoy

By Rebecca / July 31, 2017

We all know how fun games and movies like Toy Story are but sometimes it is better to get kids interested in more educational movies. Teachers have the unique ability to harness the power of visual learning tools such as movies and educational films to bring about an array of intellectual stimuli that serve to engage, motivate, and, most importantly, inspire children.

Educational films are a highly effective means of delivering in-class subject material in a way that is powerfully thought-provoking and engaging. Through vibrant onscreen characters, rich dialogues, and interesting story lines, children’s films are able to add to educational environments in singularly unique ways.

Through careful assessment, teachers are able to assign artistic and contextual merit to particular films in determining their relative value to their classrooms. By considering class-specific curriculum, student ages, and historical elements within films, educational picks can be shown during class time that will serve to bolster learning through open discussion, question and answer sessions, relevant projects, and response reading.

In addition to the above, teachers might provide students with a handout to fill out during the film or after the film is over in order to reinforce what was learned and to further stimulate future classroom discussions.

While films geared towards children’s education convey classroom material in an interesting delivery, there are myriad other benefits that exist as well. Children’s films work to entice children into discovering newfound passions and cultivating those interests in academic and life pursuits

Read on below to learn about the ten best educational movies that kids will enjoy

The Men Who Built America

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Audience: 5th graders and up

The Men Who Built America is centered on the personal motivations and ambitions of famous industrial titans who rose to power during the late 1800s. Men such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, and J.P Morgan came to shape much of American history with their capitalist virtues. Coming together as an impossibly powerful elite group of associates, these men wielded power over presidential elections, economic and social policy, and many of the formative events that marked our nation’s history, including but not limited to the Civil War and World War I and the Great Depression.

Notes: This is a three-disc documentary that includes footage never before seen on TV, including special features such as:​

  • Completive Nature
  • The American Dream
  • From Richer to Rich
  • The Rise of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  • Monopoly
  • The Every Man
  • Carnegie
  • Traits of a Titan

America the Story of Us

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Audience: 5th graders and up​

Perfect for the teacher who wants to educate students on the making of America and the formations of American history, America the Story of Us takes a comprehensive look at the last 400 years in the U.S. and explores the formative events, innovative ideas, and trailblazing people that comprised the foundations of this country.

This educational film touches upon a multitude of vastly important subject matter, from history to business, to society and race relations. With in-depth interviews given by public figures such as Meryl Streep, Tom Brokaw, Colin Powell, Buzz Aldridge, Donald Trump, and Brian Williams, students learn in a highly visible and emotionally compelling way what it means to be an American.

This film is done in the documentary style and is student-friendly for grades 5th and up. Featuring 12 assorted chapters; this expansive documentary is just over nine hours long and delves into a wide breadth of subjects.

It commences one hundred years after Columbus’s arrival and finishes in the present time. Throughout the expansive amount of time, historical events, and societal developments that proved to be transformational to this nation are delved into.

Critically important subject matter included in this film:​

  • Early American transportation via covered wagon and wagon trails
  • The building of the transcontinental highway
  • The lives of abolitionists, slaves, frontiersmen, patriots, pioneers, immigrants, inventors, entrepreneurs, Native Americans and more.
  • The Japanese-American experience/internment camps
  • Engineering feats including buildings fabricated from steel
  • The landing on the moon
  • The Revolutionary War and its divisive impact

Bonus features:

  • George Washington
  • American Revolution
  • Declaration of Independence
  • Civil War
  • Transcontinental Railroad
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Henry Ford and the “Model T”

The Story of All of Us: Mankind

the story of all of us mankind image

Audience: 5th graders and up

The Story of All of Us: Mankind takes a unique and intriguing look at history through a global lens and beyond. Starting with the Big Bang 13.7 million years ago, this educational film encompasses a thematic approach to what defines that start of “our” story as humans.

This highly visual take on ancient history will enrapture students as they learn about the Homo sapiens struggle for sustainability on the parched African savannah. Utterly vulnerable, without essential physical elements such as teeth, jaws, speed, or dexterity, these early Homo sapiens were forced to become reliant on innovation and communication in order to adapt and survive. Those learned survival instincts enabled them to succeed in the face of uncertain extinction and pave the way for a precarious future marked by the creation of fire and farm crops.

As viewers, we are shown how the innovations of fire and crops were essential building blocks that would prove to shape the destiny of mankind as we know it.

Important topics covered include the following:​

  • The ways in which technology advanced the human race throughout the world
  • The transformation from hunter-gatherer societies to global citizenry
  • The Ice Age
  • Farming techniques
  • The significance of the movable type invention
  • Space exploration
  • The Industrial Revolution

Sid the Science Kid

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Audience: Preschool and Kindergarteners

Sid the Science Kid is a wonderful option for teachers looking for educational movies that cover the concept of Science. Starring Sid the Science Kid, this curious kiddo attempts answer the wide range of basic questions that young children have about why things work the way that they do.

Using simple scientific principles to answer the array of questions he has, Sid enlists the assistance of friends, family, and his friendly teacher, Susie. With his oversize magnifying glass and big, gregarious smile, Sid is a highly engaging figure that will enthrall and capture the attention of the youngest of viewers.


​Go Diego Go: Animals Around the World

go diego go animals around the world image

Audience: Kindergarteners

Go Diego Go: Animals Around the World is an educational movie that centers around the adventures of Dora the Explorer’s eight-year-old cousin Diego.

Throughout his adventures, Diego rescues animals from perilous situations and helps them become safe and secure. Important concepts related to basic science, names of animals, simple geography, and environmental facts are abundant in this film that has garnered much acclaim for its bilingual Latino main character.

Since its inception in 2008, Go Diego Go has been nominated four times for NAACP Image Awards.​


Finding Nemo

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Audience: Kindergarteners

Finding Nemo is an internationally recognized film with highly relevant educational themes about fish and the underwater world. Based on a father’s journey across the Pacific Ocean as he searches for his son, viewers are treated to a delightful range of vibrantly colored visual stimuli in the form of brightly hued fish, turtles, coral reefs, and anemones.

Finding Nemo is an excellent choice for teachers looking to provide their students with messages about the importance of family, love, and devotion.​


School House Rock

school house rock image

Audience: Kindergarteners

School House Rock is a classic educational film that has been popular in classroom settings for decades. Featuring a multitude of short animations and educational music chapters, this series provides an upbeat and engaging mode of learning.

In this series, children learn about topics such as science, grammar, reading, history, and society through popular songs like Round the World.” “The Shot Heard.” No More Kings,” “Fireworks,” and “Preamble.”

With its array of catchy tunes, School House Rock remains a classic even in modern times.​


A Little Princess

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Audience: 2nd grade and up

A Little Princess is a story beloved by schoolchildren far and wide. Based on the life of a little girl named Sara Crewe and her life at Miss Minchin’s boarding school, this movie covers themes of compassion, kindness, and empathy.

When Sara’s powerful father goes missing, she finds herself robbed of the privilege she once enjoyed as a result of her father’s status. With her possessions taken from her, Sara is forced to become accustomed to the life of a servant and experiences great poverty as a result. Despite her tragic circumstances, Sara maintains a positive outlook on life and continues to exhibit kindness and empathy to all those she encounters.

A Little Princess is a wonderful film with an engaging story line that will rivet 2nd graders and up. Providing critically important education elements on the themes of humanity and kindness, this movie is an integral part of classroom education and has withstood the test of time.​


The Incredibles

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Audience: 2nd graders and up

The Incredibles is a film that is based on the head of the family, Mr. Incredible. Mr. Incredible’s experience with the Superhero Relocation Program finds him making a career switch to a salesman, while his wife Elastigirl takes on the seemingly normal role of a stay-at-home mom and wife whose main roles are raising her children and preparing dinner. Their newfound “normal” personas are in stark contrast to their previous lives as superheroes.

However, the Incredible’s life of normalcy changes swiftly when a super villain named Syndrome comes on to the scene. Through a show of family unity, the Incredibles’ family teams up to fight the evil syndrome.​


Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

willie wonka and the chocolate factory image

Audience: 3rd graders and up

Roald Dahl’s famous “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” is a timeless favorite that even adults remember with fondness. The main character Charlie is one of the lucky recipients of a winning golden ticket and is awarded a trip to the awe-inspiring chocolate factory that is owned by Willie Wonka.

Charlie is but just one recipient of a golden ticket, as four other recipients happen to exhibit spoiled and obnoxious behavior that is often unethical and self-serving. The four obnoxious children find themselves experiencing many losses during their trip to the chocolate factory, with Charlie prevailing through his unrelenting honesty to ultimately win the grand prize.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been an enduring favorite amongst teachers for its themes of honesty and integrity and for the many lessons it imparts to student viewers.​


Educational films are immensely valuable learning tools that can be effectively used for all ages from preschool to 5th grade and beyond. By providing rich dialogue, captivating story lines, and intricately constructed characters, students are able to learn about important concepts, such as morality, honesty, hard work, and empathy for others. Moreover, students are able to learn educational concepts such as mathematics, language, reading, history, and social studies through these types of films.

Movies that serve to educate ultimately bolster and stimulate classroom-wide discussions and increase participation and interest levels. Pertinent materials can be used to augment the film experience, such as handouts, Internet activities, art projects, response papers, and collective class projects, in addition to vocabulary and spelling lists and “main idea and supporting detail” worksheets.

Educational films are also useful in terms of extending the class period in an effective way. By using engaging films that promote student engagement and interest, boredom is staved off, and children are not peering towards the clock. A strategically timed movie that coincides with the end of class time is a great tool a teacher can use to fill up any lapse in classroom time while ensuring that students remain on task and engaged.

In today’s day and age, teachers are well aware of the advancements in technology and increasing interest in digital media. By harnessing the power of media in conjunction with educational endeavors, teachers are able to create alternative educational experiences that serve to augment existing curriculum in incomparable ways.

Through careful assessment and creative inspiration, the sky is the limit in terms of educational films teachers can choose from and present to their students. The use of educational films as tools of instruction is a necessary component in today’s classroom education models that make use of technology to provide children with valuable learning experiences that will remain with them throughout their education.​

The 15 Best Cookbooks for Children

By Rachel Romonosky / July 14, 2017

Getting your children in the kitchen from a young age will help them develop healthy eating habits early on in life. These cookbooks for children are full of quick and easy meals and are a great way to get your children involved in making the food that they eat. They will have so much fun preparing and cooking the meals that they might not even notice that most of these dishes are actually good for them. Cooking is a great way to spend time with your family and they will be proud of the food that they make at the end of the day.

Methodology: We ranked these books by the following criteria:

  • Reviews
  • Sales
  • Price​

Kid Chef: The Foodie Cookbook: Healthy Recipes and Culinary Skills for the New Cook in the Kitchen is by Melina Hammer. This book is full of delicious and nutritious foods that your children will be able to cook for the family to enjoy. This book will teach your kids more than just how to cook a great meal, it will also be able to teach them kitchen basics that they can use for the rest of their life. They will learn skills like how to handle a knife safely as well as how to use the stove without getting burned and so much more.

The Complete Children’s Cookbook has 150 simple recipes for your children to master. Each recipe in this book is complete with pictures to help walk your children through the steps. This book will also teach your kids that it is important to be safe when they are using dangerous tools in the kitchen. At the end of this book your children will have basic cooking skills that they can use the rest of their life and they will make delicious dishes that the whole family will enjoy.