My absolute favorite feature on my iPhone isn’t the smart to-do list that keeps my life sane or the ability to look up random facts on Google whenever I want — it is, of course, the camera. I take thousands of pictures each year, and as a result, I kind of believe myself to be a pretty decent photographer (thanks, Instagram filters). But the truth is, I have a lot to learn about getting the best angle or action shot. And the Real Life Family Photography book by professional photographer Amy Drucker has tons of these kinds of really smart family photography tips to help novices —...Read More
A fun interview with Anne Holton, wife of Tim Kaine, about parenting, politics + funny tweets | Spawned ep 50
This week on Spawned with Kristen + Liz, it’s our golden anniversary, and we’re extraordinarily thrilled to be joined by an incredibly special guest, Anne Holton, wife of Senator Tim Kaine, the Democratic candidate for Vice President. But wow, Anne is a powerhouse working mom in her own right, having raised three “independent, strong-willed children” (in her words) while working as a legal aid attorney, a Judge in Richmond Juvenile Court, and until very recently, the Virginia Secretary of Education. We honestly didn’t expect to laugh so much, and we think you’ll love Anne like we did, in this incredibly enjoyable, relatable discussion. We talk...Read More
During this summer’s Olympic coverage, we all enjoyed seeing beautiful images of fun, lively Rio, and its gorgeous beaches, but there was one major aspect of the city that wasn’t broadcast — the favelas, or slums, which populate Rio and rarely sees electricity, proper sanitation, or a reliable police force. But one woman has been working to transform the favelas for a very long time. Artist, TED talk speaker, and former favela inhabitant Mariluce María has launched the Favela Art Project to provide art education to children living in poverty and make tangible changes in their day to day lives. The group has been painting over violent symbols and graffiti,...Read More
My youngest child started Kindergarten this week — sniff — and he’s learning to read so quickly. I’m thrilled to find out he loves books, and I’ve been scouring our bookshelves and grilling our librarian for some great beginner chapter book series. Of course, there are the classic favorites like Junie B. Jones, Magic Treehouse, Ruby and the Booker Boys, and Katie Kazoo, Switcheroo. But I was excited to find a few new options too, and all of these series have just added new volumes to their collection over the last few months. So, whether you’re trying to find age-appropriate books for your young...Read More
If your family is anything like ours, you’re only now getting caught up on lost sleep from the Olympics. But in its wake, the games leave us all with a healthy dose of wanderlust and interest in oh, say…Tonga. For no apparent reason. So, we’ve decided to round up some of the coolest world map decals to help inspire your own burgeoning jet-setters who may have gotten excited about learning more about the countries of the world this summer. The graphics are so nice to look at, and some even include a ton of information to qualify them as educational. Decals for the win! Related: Peel-and-stick wallpaper:...Read More
There’s something so special about sharing our very favorite childhood books with our kids. When we see our kids falling in love with Anne of Green Gables, or imaging themselves racing through Narnia to defeat the White Witch, there’s a certain jolt of nostalgia that just makes you want to be a kid again, discovering these books for the very first time. So we are so happy to welcome our newest sponsor Epic!, whose affordable e-book subscription service lives right on our kids tablets and gives them access to more than 15,000 books they can read anytime. (And yes, the exclamation point...Read More
Why I’m emotional about 19th Amendment Day this year, and links to help kids understand the importance.
I am finding myself a little choked up today, on the anniversary of the 19th amendment, in a way I can’t recall ever feeling before. Maybe it’s because this is the first August 18 in which we have a female presidential nominee from a major party. Maybe it’s because this is the first presidential campaign year in which my daughters are old enough to be interested and following along, and I can start to see their own paths as educated and engaged voters of the future. Or maybe it’s just because I’m hitting the age myself where I have enough life behind me to be...Read More
The idea of combining education and conservation with a family vacation is super appealing to parents, which is why ecotourism is such a fascinating concept for me — and maybe for you. If you’re not familiar with ecotourism, it’s aimed at providing travelers with environmental awareness by offering experiences that also support conservation. But in my own research, so many ecotourism vacation options involve heavy travel, often internationally, which can definitely be costly for families — especially for my family of five. That’s why I was so thrilled to learn about Jekyll Island, a small spot off the coast of Georgia,...Read More
This election cycle has been pretty brutal, leaving a lot of us wondering how to talk to our kids about politics. Well, I just got a copy of Grover Cleveland, Again! by the celebrated documentarian Ken Burns and illustrator Gerald Kelley, and I’m convinced that reading this with my kids is going to help them understand what being presidential is all about. Related: Turning kids into readers – 3 tips from LeVar Burton to help get your kids excited about books Related: 3 inspiring new picture books for kids that should be on every wish list This big, oversized book fills up my kid’s...Read More
It’s probably one of my kids’ least favorite things to talk about these days: Summer reading. Which is odd, because they really do love to read. They just don’t like someone else telling them what they have to read — and when to read it. Recently, though, a friend recommended this very easy tip: Invest in a summer reading journal to make the required reading a bit more exciting. I decided it was worth a try, and so, I picked up this Reading Journal for Kids (available from our affiliate Amazon, in different versions for kids’ ages and reading levels) to help my...Read More
My kids and I have encountered some very memorable girls with very memorable experiences in their children’s books over the years — Madeline’s midnight appendectomy, Freckleface Strawberry (a favorite among my brood of redheads) wearing a ski mask on the playground to hide her freckles, and of course, bossy big-sister Olivia the pig — our favorite non-conformist. And lately, I’ve been seeing an increasing number of empowering books for girls, all non-fiction stories written by women in the last 12 months or so, of girls busting stereotypes and fulfilling their dreams. These books teach our kids anything is possible if you work hard enough and...Read More
Like many of the world’s greatest ideas, She’s the First began with a cupcake bake sale (okay, maybe not many great ideas begin with a bake sale, but I say it’s never a bad place to start) and from there it’s grown to become an organization doing exceptional, impactful work creating educational opportunities for girls most in need. Let’s just say after reading up on it, I’m left feeling not just impressed, but inspired. Co-founded by 23-year-old Tammy Tibbetts and Christen Brandt, She’s the First grants scholarships to girls in low-income countries to help them become first-generation graduates, knowing this leads to a host of other benefits for the girls and...Read More
Of all the toys that have passed through the hands of my three kids over the past dozen or so years, there is no question that LEGO bricks have been the most enduring and versatile. From their first little plastic bucket of mixed bricks, to those 1000+ piece architectural kits that require hours of concentration, LEGO remains a favorite toy — for all of us — even up against the siren song of video games. But even more than just being fun, I love the important skills that LEGOs can teach. I’ve seen so many of them firsthand as a...Read More
Even though I’ve got a couple of avid readers in my house, I’m always looking for ways to continue to encourage them to pick up a book. Thankfully, there are no shortage of summer reading challenges that offer kids a little incentive for their participation. Whether you’re trying to give your reluctant reader a little motivation summer, or just want something to reward your voracious book lover, here are 5 free summer reading challenges for kids that you’ll want to check out, all of which offer participants prizes. Related: 3 simple tips from LeVar Burton to get your kids...Read More
When we asked teachers what they thought made the best teacher gifts a couple of years ago, an overwhelming number of them said a personal note from their students was the one thing that really made their day. Yes, gift cards, classroom books, and handmade gifts are nice (and always appreciated!), but getting a handwritten note of thanks takes very little work and goes a very long way in showing appreciation to teachers after a long year. However, I think we can all agree that getting all kids to sit down a write a thoughtful note isn’t always so easy, so we’ve...Read More
The 2016 National Scripps Spelling Bee finals ended last night and just wow. For the third year running, two amazing kids tied as winners: 13 year old Jairam Pathwar of Upstate NY, and Austin Texas’ Nihar Janga who is only 11. Wow. To clinch the number-one slot from among 285 contestants, Jairam and Nihar persevered through words like juamave, Biniou and zindiq, finally closing the deal with winning words gesellschaft (Nihar) and Feldenkrais (Jairam). All I can think of is that Rosenkrantz and Feldenkrais are Dead, but I know that’s not right. (Turns out it’s a method of education, like Waldorf or Montessori — two words I actually can...Read More
Anyone of us parents who can still recite the Preamble to the Constitution thanks to the animated shorts of Schoolhouse Rock knows how much kids can learn (and retain) when information is presented in the right way, a.k.a, learning without realizing you’re learning. So, we are so intrigued by a series of beginner chemistry books that hope to make the behaviors of protons, neutrons, and atoms as absorbable as, say, the superpowers of Spiderman. My First Science Textbooks by Genius Games founder John Coveyou is currently blowing up Kickstarter by reaching over 10 times its goal. Clearly, there are a lot of us parents who want...Read More
To be honest, Black History Month is year round for me. As a black woman, especially one living in the U.S., I’m reminded of and inspired by the endless contributions of black people to the collective betterment of this nation on a daily basis. And now, as a mother raising a brown boy here, I’m even more grateful for Black History Month to help me educate my son about the expansive history of African Americans. One remarkable non-profit campaign that I’ve leaned on to introduce him to new, significant heroes is Because Of Them, We Can. What started as a visual project...Read More
My kids can easily spend an hour at the kitchen table working on a good DIY project, so I’m always on the lookout for cool crafts kits that will pique their interest. Lately, it’s been the globally-minded kits from Festive Roots, which helps teach kids about cultural celebrations all across the world through crafting. Which is such a fantastic idea! Each kit includes three crafts inspired by a holiday from countries like China, India, and Mexico. The trunks come straight to your mailbox with everything — and I mean, everything — you’ll need to complete the craft. There’s no dreaded, Mom, where’s our glue stick? halfway through. The kit we...Read More
I don’t want to let holidays like Martin Luther King Jr. Day slip by with my kids thinking it’s just an extra day off of school. So if you’re like me and are looking for some ways to honor the spirit of MLK while you’re home today, we highly recommend you check out last week’s winners and honorees of the 2016 Coretta Scott King book awards which we briefly mentioned in our roundup of all the best book lists and award-winners of the past year. This is a list of winners we share each year because it’s important for us to seek out diverse stories from diverse authors, that aren’t always...Read More
Gift Guides, Yay!
Follow us on Instagram!
Latest from Cool Mom Tech
Latest from Cool Mom Eats
- 6 creative ways to pack pizza for school lunch. Hold the hot pockets, please. | Back-to-School Lunch Guide 2017
- 7 solar eclipse treats that are easy to make. Because last minute. (But, hey, at least we got our glasses.)
- Web Coolness: Back-to-school lunch packing tips, exploding Taco Bell burritos, gluten-free art, and more.