Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bean Bags at School: When Kids Need to Chill

If you're a teacher, your classroom probably has plenty of places to sit. After all, you have to have a desk and chair for each child so that they can learn each day. If you teach younger children, you might even have a few foam or vinyl mats in the room for either story time or naptime. However, if you want seating that is truly comfortable and quite popular with both kids and adults, consider purchasing bean bags for your classroom.

Some teachers do know the value of comfortable seating in their classroom, and may place small or large vinyl kids couches in the corners of the room. These can be great for reading time, play time, or as a treat for a child that does especially well in class that day. However, not every teacher can afford this type of classroom furniture. Furthermore, many cannot fit couches into their cramped classrooms. This is where bean bags come into play. They are smaller than couches in general, and also often less expensive so that you can get a few of them if they are indeed a hit in your classroom.

You might think they are too small for anyone to fit on, but there are a few different sizes. Of course, there are small bean bags available for one small child to fit perfectly on, but larger bean bags allow either older students to use them, or more to fit on at once. Similarly, there are several types of material available. If you want particularly soft seating that is comfortable any time of year, brushed cotton and suede are popular choices. Denim and vinyl bean bags are also on the market, so you certainly have choices.

You might choose to purchase bean bags that are all one color. These types of classroom furniture are not too distracting, and are appealing to both genders and all ages. Solid colors, such as green, red, blue, and brown, are considered timeless and can blend well with the rest of the classroom furniture. On the other hand, if you want students to get excited about this type of seating, or if your students are particularly young, they might appreciate some creativity. Many bean bags come in the style of different sports balls, such as baseball, football, soccer, and basketball. Others resemble beach balls, or feature adorable animals on them to catch the attention of kids of all ages.

No matter what you choose, it is clear that bean bags are fun, affordable, and flexible types of seating for the classroom. If you want to provide comfort and some fun to every student, purchase a few bean bags for them to use during play time, story time, or quiet time in general. Placing them near bookshelves can be the extra boost they need to pick up a book and not want to put it down because they are so content. Clearly, this can be the perfect new item for your classroom.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wall Toys Make Saving Space Easy and Keep Kids Busy

Having waiting room toys for your customers with children keeps little ones busy and happy while they wait for the doctor or while their parents are busy with sales people. Unfortunately, not every waiting room is very large, and if yours is not, you may feel at a disadvantage when comparing your options with those of a larger area. However, you should know that you can definitely still entertain the kids that have to wait in your office waiting room without making the area cluttered and stifling. The answer to your space problem is buying activity wall toys, which is much cheaper than remodeling your entire waiting space.

You have just as many options when it comes to wall toys as do other business owners who opt for the traditional toys. In fact, just like any other waiting room toy, many wall toys include several activities to keep kids of any age busy. They may include play telephones, plastic clocks, and myriad mazes.

Some are reminiscent of the colorful toy commonly seen in waiting areas that includes several colored wires with small shapes to push from end to the other. The main difference is that the one meant for the wall is flat, but still includes similar appealing shapes to push along a particular pattern that is carved into the wood. There are a few variations of this toy, such as plastic panels with colorful mazes built in. Nonetheless, they are all meant to do the same task, which is to entertain the children of your customers to keep everyone happy.

Mirrors might not sound very amusing, but most children are highly entertained by them, especially if they do not merely show the child's actual reflection. In fact, some wall toys feature mirrors that may remind you of a funhouse, allowing you to bring a little piece of a carnival to your small office waiting area. Such mirrors are often made of durable wood or plastic, and glass that is unbreakable and easily maintained.

In fact, most wall toys are able to stand up to heavy use as much as any other waiting room toys. The benefit, aside from saving some space, is that most cannot be removed easily from the area, nor do they usually come with pieces that can be lost. Remember that several young children will likely visit everyday with their parents, and some might be exceptionally good at taking apart toys to see how they work, and then losing the pieces. Thus, waiting room toys that are mounted on the wall are often among the safest available, and can also typically be cleaned easily with disinfectant.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Play Tables: Cooperative Learning and Fun

Commercial grade play tables are an investment in your business if you cater to children or if parents come to your establishment with their kids. For that reason you want to choose the right ones for young ones who are patients, siblings or waiting for their parents during examinations or while meeting with a sales person.

Play tables are excellent because they can keep children of all ages interested and occupied for long periods. There are several play table varieties and types, each one adding something new and exciting to your collection.

Here are a few of our favorites!

We never fully understand the power those colorful beads on wire tracks seem to have over children, but as far back as anyone can remember one thing has been certain-kids love them! For that reason, rollercoaster bead tables are an excellent waiting room toy option.

Bead tables come in different sizes, shapes, and themes; but when it comes to waiting room toys, the bigger the better! Some of them have extra large tops with wires and beads weaving in all directions, as well as mini roller coasters on all four legs to allow extra children to play. These are perhaps the versatile options because kids of all sizes can play, and there is certainly enough action for everyone!

One of our favorites is the Anatex Jungle Rollercoaster table. It's longer than most, and it has plenty of room for several children to play at once.

Drawing/Activity Tables

Some waiting room play tables have two ways to play. A Double Decker Train Table, for example, can be used as a chalk board drawing table with the top down, a train table when opened, and as a puppet show center.
Other options may offer drawing centers, surfaces for playing with clay or action figures, and more. The general concept of an activity tables is that they are virtually limitless in play options.

Sand Tables

The name is pretty self explanatory, but for the sake of being thorough, a sand table is much like a sand box on legs. Kids love playing in sand: feeling it slide through their fingers, building castles, scooping it, dumping it, and drawing in it. You’d be pretty hard pressed to find a kid who DIDN'T love playing in sand. It is, after all, a good excuse to get dirty without getting punished for it!

The pros of this interesting yet simple waiting room toy, is that it will keep children occupied for nearly infinite amounts of time. It can also accommodate several children at once, and better still; children of all ages will enjoy it!

But what about the mess? Good question and one that is easily answered. Yes, it's true that sand tables do have a bit of mess involved but there are several ways to keep it under control, so you can utilize the wonderful hypnotic powers sand has over bored children.

1. Only use "clean" sand. In other words, don't go digging dirt from your backyard and dumping it into the play table. Buy bags of pure sand from retailers who specialize in this sort of thing. Some craft stores and department stores even provide colored sand for an added fun touch. You can also substitute rice for sand if you prefer, and get nearly the same effect.

2. Do not allow water to be used unless you have the ability to get the kids cleaned up. If you add water to sand you will get mud and mud is a bad thing when it gets on clothes and carpets. Or, use rice, beans, or foam blocks instead of sand.

3. Designate a special area just for the sand table. Keep all other waiting room toys on one side of the waiting area and the sand table(s) on the other. Make sure the table is on a hard surface instead of carpet, or plastic down before you put down the table. With a sheet of plastic, all that's needed for clean up is to lift the table and shake the plastic off outside.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

You Can't Argue with Success: American Made Standard Unit Blocks

Standard unit block toys provide a lifetime of pleasure for kids who like to build. There are balanced kits of wood blocks, wooden block accessory sets, and toy blocks with educational shapes. You can buy a whole set or you can add to a set you already have. If you are seeking premium American made toys, wooden building blocks are made of Rock Maple will last for generations.

The blocks are school sized 1 3/8 inches thick. The blocks are not coated with chemicals or oils. You can be assured that they are safe, and that they'll last for generation. We understand educators are on a tight budget, but the higher price of these blocks will be a better long term value than they're less expensive cousins. 

It is satisfying to spend time with your children, showing them what to do with the blocks, and enjoying their progress in coordination. We sell the Barclay line of American made standard unit blocks that are completely unfinished and too large to pose a choking hazard. They also satisfy the CPSC rules for children under the age of three. The blocks are made of sanded maple so children can gum them and parents don't have to worry about the kids eating finish.

As time proceeds, children will now begin to integrate more fanciful stories and will employ dolls and toy soldiers. Blocks this size also work well with small cars. At younger ages, children will use more of the rectangles than anything else, but parents should resist the temptation to avoid the small and the more intricate pieces. The basic rectangles are necessary and always in short supply, but these alone will not suffice. A lot of roof planks and road planks are also important. The small pieces are extremely useful for decoration and for adding visual interest to simple buildings.

These unit blocks may be cleaned with a damp sponge or sanded with a fine sandpaper, but they shouldn't be allowed to soak as they will absorb water. A final thought. Although blocks may seem boring because they don't have the bells and whistles of the new generation of toys, they're still a great (maybe the best) learning toy around. Always were and always will be!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Learning with Toys

Games provide educational value even if they are not educational games so to speak if they are played at an age appropriate level.  There are many components to a game and learning process involved in it including math, learning rules, social skills, and so on.

For toddlers, games and toys are great at assisting the kid learn basic motor skills as well as sharing and playing together. The best educational games and toys typically involve doing things and does not include playing video games. Toddlers can enjoy educational toys that involve building blocks to an overhead mobile. The mobiles assist with color recognition and highlight motion while giving the baby something to reach for. fun waiting room toys are great once your baby starts to crawl and walk. 

Additional cool toys for this age range include letter and number cubes, stuffed animals, letters, and sounds as well. Later on when your kid reaches a toddlers age, kitchens with mock pots, pans, utensils and plates are great for them to interact with and learn.

While the toy kitchen is designed primarily for girls, boys have fun playing in the kitchen too. Books are a huge educational value to your children as well when you read to them. Educational toys do not always have to be toys at all as fingers, toes, and spoons can start the process of learning numbers.

When your child reaches school age, games become a little bit more developed and involve working as a team, sharing, learning rules, and numbers. A great game to start with for kids is Candyland and now there are vast options available. Games are terrific for families to bond together as well. Mini musical instruments can assist in children learning about music so that they gain interest in it. There are also the simplest of toys such as crayons and chalk for your child to draw and color. Toys like these allow the child to be creative and use their imagination and you don't have to worry about them coloring inside the lines. Other games that provide educational value are Scrabble for Juniors, Dominoes, and Bingo are low cost and great for kids. And an added benefit is building social skills vs. building none while playing video games.

Games can become more complex and difficult as your kid gets older where they involve more strategy like Risk and Battleship. Chess and checkers are also great games that require a lot of thought and planning. Most of the games and toys mentioned are not designed to be educational games but are educational in the way that they involve many learning traits and can in fact teach more than education in some cases. As discussed, they teach sportsmanship, social interaction, language, math, strategic thinking, and patience as well.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Five Benefits of School Rugs: Warm, Safe, Quiet, Attractive and Long-Lasting

The benefits of a warm, comfortable, beautiful, stylish, cushioning, noise reducing, strong school rug make them a must-have for classrooms everywhere. The sizes and shapes can vary to fit any classroom situation. Many activities, such as exercise, group discussions and reading time, are more comfortable, intimate, and safer with a rug protecting and enhancing child education and activity.

Children crave the comforts of home when they are in a new environment. Teachers have used rugs to lesson a youngster's anxiety. Gathering groups together to read and get used to each other is a great way to acclimate children to the newness and foreign feeling first-time usage of desks or first-time gatherings of large groups.

1. They are attractive: A well-crafted, good-looking rug ignites your child's sense of personal taste. Rugs play a roll in what your child thinks about style, very important in early child development. Children may be the most sensitive to the stimulation of beauty and style. As articulation grows, the aesthetics of surrounding play a major part in defining the rate and clarity in which distinction becomes apparent to your child.

2. Warmth is good: Rugs have R-values (a measurement on how well heat is resisted or contained; much like a contractor uses to grade material). A good rug will stay warm longer in cold climates and have a higher R-value.

3. Rugs are safe: A rug cushions underfoot, is mild on backs and feet, reduces and lessens slips and injury. A rug guarantees increased protection over hard surfaces. This is obviously true and important in the case of very young pre-school aged kids.

4. It's Quiet Time: For children sensitive to noise, a rug can absorb loud talking and other disturbances. Educational videos and electronic devices will not penetrate further than intended. Hallways and high-traffic areas can be a distraction to nearby classes in session unless they have rugs.

5. Long-Lasting is a big plus: A commercial quality rug will last many years. Quick vacuuming (except over the surge) and a couple good shake outs every few weeks will keep your classroom rug In good shape for many semesters and hundreds of kids.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Cleaning up Classrooms for the New Semester

Don't hang on to everything. Yes, some things will need to be filed away for future reference. Those art projects from three terms ago and the piles of dry erase markers that haven't worked since the Clinton administration
aren't among them. Once a semester, go through everything (and we mean EVERYTHING) that is taking up extra space in the classroom.

File away neatly anything that will be of use to you, and throw out everything else. For things that hold sentimental value like Christmas cards and letters from students, start a scrapbook and separate sections based on school year. This way you have one nice compact space to keep valuable items while still keeping the classroom neat and tidy.

Don't let your students hang on to everything either! How often do you make them go through their school desks and cubbies? If it's not at least once a week, you can be sure that there are piles of old test papers and forgotten homework balled up somewhere in the back corner. Each week before you all leave for the weekend, have students clean out their personal space. Added bonus: Wait until this day to hand out any papers that need to be signed by parents. That way, they can't use the excuse of "It got lost in my desk".

Use the cubby system. Yes, the tried and true cubby method is still the best way of keeping a classroom neat and tidy. One variation: use removable tubs instead of traditional cubby holes. That way students can search for lost items more efficiently, overflow is kept to a minimum, and they add a bit of pizzazz to the classroom if you choose ones with bright colors!

Try and get the rest of the school in on the action. Perhaps a monthly "cleanest classroom" contest. Offer the students a a free homework pass for each child or maybe an extra recess at the end of the day. With so many eager students in on it, the whole school will be spotless in no time.