Mystery Birthday: Who traveled the United States with a bag of seeds? (Hint: apple-related play ideas below!)

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Johnny Appleseed! He was born on September 26, 1774 as John Chapman. But, this produce pioneer earned his nickname many times over. He became famous for planting apple seeds, which he gathered from cider mills and planted during his travels. He tended his orchards on return trips, and happily shared with everyone he met. Celebrate Johnny [...]

Teach Mama Talks: Fun, Frugal Shape and Color Sorting

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This educational idea is brought to you by Melissa & Doug , written by our Blog Ambassador Amy Mascott. The best, most meaningful learning takes place during games and play.  -Amy Often I’ve found that my kids love to play with items that are not necessarily toys.  Mirrors, ribbons, buttons, tissue paper, paper rolls, you [...]

5 New Ways To Use : Geometric Stacker

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This educational idea is brought to you by Melissa & Doug , written by our Blog Ambassador Allison McDonald. “Everyday play is what childhood should be about.” Geometric Stackers were always classroom favorites while I was teaching preschool. They offer so many ways to teach children in one simple toy. Now that I am a [...]

Creative Play Quick Tip: Sort It Out!

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Starting around 18 months, toddlers begin to notice differences and commonalities between objects—which means it’s time to sort and group! HOW THEY PLAY: Preschoolers naturally seek to organize objects by color, size, shape, texture and type. Feed their hunger for this type of play by providing sorting toys like lacing beads, shape sorting cubes and [...]

Melissa & Doug Unit Blocks Week: Blueprint for Block Fun

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If your little builders are ready to take their block play to another level, try creating a set of “plans” for them to follow.  Here are a few “blueprint” activities we especially like: 1. FLOORPLAN: Trace a building (or wall, shape, or pattern) on a piece of extra-large construction paper and ask the child to [...]

Creative Play Quick Tip: Tell the Worst Story Ever

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It’s the silliest game of one-upmanship ever . . . and a great way to lighten the mood after school, or when things are getting a little too serious! The rules are simple: The first storyteller tells the group a made-up event in his or her day. Everyone after that has to top it. For [...]

Creative Play Quick Tip: Play Food Is Good for You!

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Want a fun after-school activity? Get your kids involved in meal planning by using play food to act out healthy habits! Here are three of our favorite ways to play with food toys—with a lunchbox spin for back to school! Pack it up: Encourage your kids to have fun with nutrition by letting them pack [...]

The After-School Wind-Down: How to Open-Up with Coloring and Drawing Projects

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With the start of the school year comes whole slew of new social challenges: getting to know new friends, navigating different routines, and meeting the challenges of a brand-new grade level. What can parents do to help? Create a safe haven at home with the help of low-key creative play. Here are some ideas: what [...]

Get Ready to Write with Easel Art!

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How is your child getting ready to write?  To develop the strength and precision needed for writing, the best hand position is one with the wrist bent slightly back, allowing the fingers the greatest control and power. Wondering how to maneuver your wiggly preschooler’s hand into the “right” position? There’s one simple answer: Bring out [...]