Tag: educational

Landfill Harmonic: Turning trash into beautiful music

As a former music professor, I’m well aware of the transformative power of music in the lives of children. But this unbelievable Kickstarter campaign is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Or heard. Landfill Harmonic is the story of a garbage picker and musician in Cateura, Paraguay which is essentially a slum built on top of a landfill. He turned the trash he found into actual functioning musical instruments for the children in need there, creating “The Recycled Orchestra.” And oh the music they make! The goal of their Kickstarter campaign is to complete a documentary film about several of...

Read More

Will they stop teaching cursive? Not in our house.

With all the talk about getting rid of cursive handwriting in schools, this writer is a little panicky. Fortunately my kids are showing the inclination anyway. Which is in part why I’m loving these awesome personalized placemats to help them do that very thing. We fell in love with the awesome kids’ personalized placemats from Sarah + Abraham a while back–my kids still love sitting down at the chair where they see a likeness of their faces staring back at them. Plus? The placemats show no real sign of wear and tear, even after everyday use for more than...

Read More

Vines for your ears

There’s a reason why we keep coming back to raven+ lily. Between their gorgeous baubles and the wonderful cause they support, you just can’t go wrong. And that’s still the case with these new earrings for spring. We’ve featured their affordable leather earrings before, but now the shop has added a few cool new designs to the mix, in particular the Zia Gold Vine earrings, which are made with locally sourced leather by marginalized women in North India. And we love that proceeds from this collection help fund literacy programs for women and children in this community. All the more...

Read More

How to learn origami? The ultimate resource

My daughter came home the other day asking to learn origami. Sadly, all I could remember from my youth was how to make a butterfly. And then I realized after about six tries that…um, I didn’t remember that either. After much searching, I’m so happy to have found Origami Club, or at least that’s what I think it’s called. If it looks intimidating, just skip right to the page called Easy Origami, and find a truly terrific resource for rainy-day craft projects with the kids. You’ll find tons of origami projects sorted by shape, style (like food, Christmas, or...

Read More

Who knew the big bad wolf was really only somewhat bad?

If you like children’s books in the spirit of The Stinky Cheese Man–and I sure do-–then this funny, modern retelling of the classic Three Little Pigs story is going to be right at home on your bookshelf. Mark Teague’s The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf is true enough to the original story that the lessons about planning and hard work still come through, but updated with enough 21st century details, and a sub-theme about nutrition, that even older kids will laugh when you’re reading it to little ones. From the first page, when the farmer tells...

Read More

5 tech picks you won’t want to miss this week

In case you missed them, here are five of our most popular tech picks from this week. 1. It’s the mother lode of organizational gadgets for your home office. Awesome! 2. A stroller that charges your iPhone, tracks your mileage, and closes with the press of a button. Welcome to 2013. 3. Charge up your iPad, mamas: we’ve rounded up the best alphabet apps for preschoolers. 4. Don’t miss these awesome resources and camps for kids who want to learn how to code. 5. You won’t believe what this geeky soccer ball can do. We still...

Read More

Albert Einstein for kids. Smart kids. Of course.

If you think a book about Albert Einstein for kids will be dry, think again. The new picture book On a Beam of Light: The Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne is an absolutely delightful introduction to a super cool guy. In a way, the narrative feels like any children’s storybook, with simple prose, a few manageable lines per page, and gorgeous illustrations by Vladimir Radunsky. But what will captivate kids right away is that it starts at the beginning–when Albert is a little kid who refused to talk until he was about three. His parents worried how different...

Read More

Going Public: How you can help protect education. For all kids.

The state of education in the US has been top of mind ever since having children, as I’m sure it is for so many of us parents. And now there’s a really important documentary I sincerely hope you’ll take a look at if you care about oh, things like every kid in America getting a shot at a good education. Admittedly, I am not unbiased when it comes to Going Public, the upcoming documentary film from executive producer, author, and lauded educational consultant Nancy Letts. That’s because I know Nancy about as well as anyone; she’s my mother. This...

Read More

I Scream for I Scream for Ice Cream

Author Amy Krouse Rosenthal is on a tear with her awesome children’s books, and her latest is no exception. I Scream, Ice Cream: A Book of Wordles is so much fun if you’ve got kids, like mine, obsessed with wordplay and homophones. (Not the same as homonyms as I recently realized. Oops.) In other words, phrases or words that sound the same but mean different things like…well, I Scream/ Ice Cream. Heroes/He Rows. Or Pants Knees/Pant…Sneeze. Each set of wordles comes to life with wonderful, evocative illustrations by Serge Bloch, some of which incorporate woodcut illustrations or actual photos for an extra...

Read More

Grow your own vegetables with these cool new garden kits

I’ve been fortunate to have lots of neighbors with green thumbs, who generously offer me the extra spoils of their backyard gardens. But this year, mostly due to the begging of my children, I’ve decided to give gardening a try myself, and these kits might be the perfect place to start. The new Foodie Garden Kits at Cool Mom Picks fave Poketo give you everything you need to start a little home garden, including coco fiber wafers, seeds, and the very important instructions, all packed in convenient rectangular tin planter. You can group hot peppers, tomatoes, or what I...

Read More

Honoring Black History Month with poetry

In honor of Black History Month, I’ve started sharing a beautifully illustrated new book with my kids that introduces them to 200 years of poetry from some of the most influential African-American poets. Even more than a history book, these words will paint a picture in their minds of a time in the not-so-distant-past when their own friends would not have been allowed to share an ice cream at the restaurant or ride bikes down the street. The latest in the Poetry for Young People series, their collection African American Poetry includes over 30 poems from household names like...

Read More

A book to help kids look at the Presidents in a whole new way

My kids can remember who was the first president, who ended slavery, and who was president during the Great Depression. But there are so many other great stories and interesting personality quirks about these leaders of our nation; the challenge is how to remember some of them.  I’m delighted to have found a unique picture book about some of our presidents by illustrator Hanoch Piven, whose Faces I Make app is among our favorites. And I think his presidential portraits will be ones your kids will be staring at for a good long time.  What Presidents Are Made Of includes 18 “portraits” of Presidents Washington, Lincoln, Nixon, and Obama, among others. But unlike every other portrait I’ve ever seen, in this book, each president’s face is created of paint with three-dimensional objects affixed to fill in the features in sort of a visual mnemonic about their lives. Kids will remember not only President Carter’s past as a peanut farmer–his nose is a peanut–but the ladder for his mouth will remind them of his work for Habitat for Humanity. President Nixon’s face is created of tape recorder parts, an obvious nod to the Watergate scandal. And George Washington is shown in a fireman’s suit, racing to put out a fire, something he really did at the age of 67. With only 18 presidents represented, there are obviously far more that...

Read More

A book with illustrations worthy of Dr. King’s most famous speech

Yes, having a day off from school is exciting for the kids, but on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I’d also like for them to reflect upon the reason they are getting a day away from lessons. And even though they are old enough to have heard Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech a few times, there is a new book that brings it to life with such compelling illustrations, I don’t think they’ll mind cracking a book today. The recently released I Have a Dream book and CD take the unforgettable words of Martin Luther King Jr. and make...

Read More

What Does the President Look Like? A book to help make history cool.

With the Inauguration coming up, a lot of us will be watching and following the day’s events on TV. That also means a lot of questions from curious kids about…well, all kinds of things. There are a lot of books that talk about politics for kids, but my own girls have been enjoying What Does the President Look Like?, an original book that describes presidential history through the lens (no pun intended) of media and technology through the years. Author and political historian Jane Hampton Cook’s premise is that while we’re all familiar with President Obama’s face from TV...

Read More

Web Coolness: Valentine love notes, talking to kids about Dr. King, and IKEA hacks

Here are some of our favorite links from around the web this week. We hope you like them too! What do your kids love? Grab Mr. Printables free Valentine’s writing activity sheets and see how your kids fill in the blanks.  And don’t miss Kristen’s picks for The Sweetest Valentine’s Gifts for Babies. Talking to Kids About Martin Luther King Jr  gives us some great jumping-off points for talking to our kids about Dr. King’s contributions to history.  Some of our kindie music favorites, like Gustafer Yellowgold, Uncle Rock, and Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke, have come together to raise money for Hurricane Sandy Relief with...

Read More

Barrel of Monkeys for a new generation

Monkeys are fun, no doubt about it. I will even go out on a limb (see what I just did?) and say that watching monkeys leap from branch to branch is one of my favorite stops at the zoo. Which is why the kid inside me–along with my actual kids–loves this wonderful children’s monkey toy. This Balancing Monkeys kids’ toy from Cool Mom Picks favorite, Plan Toys, is like an updated and ridiculously fun Barrel of Monkeys except without all that plastic. In fact everything at Plan Toys is made from sustainable rubberwood with non-toxic dyes, and they were...

Read More

The puzzles that give other puzzles puzzle envy (is there such a thing?)

One of my favorite pastimes with my kids has always been puzzles. I love the combination of relaxing and challenging. My son usually only lasts a quarter of the way through, but my daughter patiently works until the very last piece is placed. (I try to quit but she just won’t let me.) So I am thrilled to find these gorgeous, handmade wooden puzzles that I think so many parents will love. The wooden magnetic geography puzzles by Steven Mattern Design are cool to look at and so educational–what a great way to make geography more interactive than a...

Read More

The best Schoolhouse Rock videos on YouTube – Happy Birthday Schoolhouse Rock!

Schoolhouse Rock for me, is more than just a part of my childhood, it’s a part of my family. As a kid, my dad worked at the ad agency with creator David McCall, and the other writers and art directors who brought us this genius educational series. In fact, one of my favorite memories as a kid was sitting in the agency screening room with my brother, watching them on the reel-to-reel (yes, I’m dating myself!) without waiting for Saturday morning TV. I love so much that now my own kids are fans of the series, and in fact...

Read More

Rock star science shirts for rock star kids

The thing about smart kids is that most t-shirts out there are not made for them. You know what I mean. So I was so excited to find this awesome shop that pays homage to everyone from Carl Sagan and Marie Curie to Tesla and Dr. Who. (Who smart kids know was not actually a real doctor.) If you’ve got a science-minded kid who rocks, you’ll both see stars over these science t-shirts for kids from meganlee on Etsy. Science, astronomy, geek chic, and Doctor Who feature prominently. Trust us–they have about the coolest Hawking or Copernicus shirt around....

Read More

The Board of Education makes smart music the kids want to hear in Binary

They Might Be Giants makes it sound so easy to put together educational music that is fun and doesn’t sound like a lesson plan, but–take it from this homeschooling mama–it isn’t so easy to do. In fact, I’ve found that there isn’t a lot out there that the kids want to hear in the realm of educational tunes. But thanks to this band from Seattle that has the touch, we’ve found a CD full of smart songs the kids choose to listen to at any time of the day. {Keep reading for a chance to win a copy of...

Read More

Pin It on Pinterest