Archive for August, 2013

First Day of School Outfits: Our Highlights and Lowlights

Friday, August 30th, 2013

The first day of school—it’s the one day when kids truly dress to impress. Savor it and take pictures, because grass-stained pants and woefully mismatched colors will soon rule the day.

First day of school outfits can make or break an entire school year, something the staff knows all too well. Check out a few stories of the highlights and lowlights (mostly lowlights) of first-day fashion from the team.

Blythe and her older brother, in 1992, walk to the first day of school together.

1995: Blythe and her older brother Trent walk to the first day of school together.

Expires in One Year
It took exactly one year for my first day of school outfits to go from the best dressed list to the worst. For my first day of second grade, at my new school, I wore a sweet burgundy Laura Ashley dress with puff sleeves and pink flowers. I was the epitome of ’90s chic.

For the first day of third grade, I wore an outfit that I had bought especially for the occasion: purple cotton shorts, white athletic shoes, and a teal T-shirt featuring a picture of Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I think at the time, I thought it made me look like Esmeralda. –Blythe


Get Ready for Science Fair Season!

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Seem to soon for science fair time? While most schools don’t start their science fairs until spring, many of the national science fair competitions are already heating up online. Check out Google’s Science Fair candidates, who have some really awesome, really inspiring ideas. If you’re interested in voting, better hurry — it ends today! The next big one is Intel’s Science Talent Search, and they’re taking applications until November.

Luckily, your kid probably has plenty of time to think of science fair ideas. If you’re feeling inspired by Google’s 2013 candidates, check out some of our science fair ideas that reflect some of the science behind their projects.


Here’s why your parents want you to wash up before dinner!:


Learn more about the science behind solar cells:

solar cell


It’s Labor Day at!

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

What is Labor Day for, you ask? Labor Day means a long weekend, but it also means thinking about what it means to work hard. Luckily, we’ve got heaps of material to help you celebrate both. Give summer a fond farewell with our favorite Labor Day pieces.


Teach your child the true meaning of Labor Day with these community helper worksheets.

W is for Worker: a worksheet about Labor Day:

W is for Worker

Learn the difference between goods and services:

Goods and Services

Match the worker to the tool they need:

tools of the trade

Kids get to play detective in this fun matching sheet:

who am i

Learn about different kinds of jobs in this easy research project:

different types of jobs

Unscramble the working words in this word scramble:

job scramble


Now for the fun part! Put together a custom Labor Day menu with these Labor Day recipes that look great on a picnic table.

Make a splash at your next barbecue by whipping up one of these lemonade recipes:


Everything — even salad — tastes better on a stick:

toothpick salad slide
Summer’s just not the same without a heaping scoop of potato salad on a paper plate:


Chill out with some easy flavored ice cubes:


We’re going to let the photo do the talking here:


Don’t forget ketchup for dabbing, dipping and dousing all your delicious Labor Day treats!:

ketchup Partners with Scientific American’s Bring Science Home

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

We at are proud to announce our partnership with Scientific American’s Bring Science Home. Every Thursday, Bring Science Home provides parents with a fun, science-related activity to do with their six- to 12-year-olds that can be completed with simple household materials in under an hour. The projects themselves are fantastic because they give parents and children the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning together, and are written in such a way that the scientific content is enlightening to people of all ages. It’s a truly fantastic feature.

Bring Science Home: No Experience Necessary

“As a kid, I often spent an afternoon after a big rain storm with my brothers tromping down to a local drainage stream tBring Science Homeo see what the water had washed in,” writes Katherine Harmon, associate editor for Scientific American and managing editor of Bring Science Home, in her introduction to the feature last spring. “And it wasn’t unusual to find  sitting around the kitchen table with our hands coated in a green, oozy cornstarch-and-water mixture, wondering at its weird properties. My parents aren’t scientists or university professors, and my brothers and I didn’t think of these diversions as science. But they were—and these simple activities, along with the questions and conversations they prompted, have stuck with me into adulthood.”

Bring Science Home is built on this guiding principle: you don’t have to have any formal background in science whatsoever in order to promote science literacy in your home. Even American astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson acknowledges this in an American Scientist interview, as he recounts his two-year-old daughter spilling a glass of milk on the dining room table: “When she watched it drizzle between the leaves, and then drip down to the floor, she was performing experiments in fluid dynamics. Let ‘em play. When you do, the kids do not have to be reintroduced to ways of questioning nature, and the task of promoting science would be a trivial exercise.”

By contributing content to Bring Science Home, helps parents facilitate an environment where kids can easily follow through on their own innate inquisitiveness. The content we contribute is structured in the sense that it gives parents and kids a clear procedure to follow and accessible scientific explanations that are tied directly to what parents and kids saw happen—but it’s informal in the sense that the content isn’t designed to lecture. Instead, it encourages kids (and their parents) to ask questions think critically about what they’re exploring.

Whenever we choose an article to rewrite from’s vast library of science fair project ideas, we make sure that the article lends itself particularly well to creating these kinds of enriching experiences…but we must admit that we have a strong bias towards selecting projects that make kids and parents go “Whoa.”

Check out what we’ve contributed to Bring Science Home so far. These projects are sure to be a big hit with your little evil geniuses.

Seesaw Science: The Hammer-Ruler Trick

Sonic Science: The High-Frequency Hearing Test

Soapy Science: How Microwaves Affect Matter

Steamy Science: Demonstrating Condensation

Sight-Line Science: Candle in the Mirror

Stuff We Like: Ink & Pen

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

ink and pen

Sometimes, when I have between 20-30 minutes to kill at the end of the day, I hop on Pinterest and see what’s going on there. Most days I like to trace the path of pins from our site. Other times I just go to the “education” tab and see what’s trending.

I can’t remember how I got there, but a few Thursdays ago, through a long string of pins and links, I ended up at this little blog: Ink & Pen.

Run by a confederation of children’s book enthusiasts and experts, Ink & Pen spotlights diversity in children’s books, something that, I’ll admit, I never really knew was an issue. Having grown up with a dad who was really good about buying me books from indie and local writers, artists and publishers (way before indie and local was cool!), I’ve always thought of children’s books as being one of the few places where diversity is actually represented pretty well.

However, it seems that outside of the books I grew up reading, children’s books might not be as inclusive as I always assumed they were — check out this post about 6th graders’ reactions to the YA displays in a major chain bookstore. Ink & Pen, however, offers boundless recommendations for children’s books that feature powerful characters from all walks of life and everywhere in between. From plucky heroines and underdog heroes to everyday kids who happen to be biracial, there’s a lot of inspiration to choose from here. Ink & Pen delivers suggestions from cream-of-the-crop picture books to tie in with heritage months to more nitty-gritty lists like diverse heroes and heroines in fantasy novels and Cinderella stories from around the globe.

So if you’re looking to restock your kid’s summer reading library, click on over to Ink & Pen and see what you can find. You can also keep up with them on Pinterest.

So, how about you: what’s your favorite kid’s book featuring diverse main characters? I’ll start: The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963.