Archive for December, 2013

Blogger Spotlight: New Year’s Eve

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

We’ve had a wonderful year at! Between the launch of Brainzy, our epic Secret Santa festivities, and collaborative candy-wrapper collages, our year at the office has been full of fun and excitement. We’re looking forward to celebrating a year well-passed with some of the amazing New Year’s crafts for kids and adults that we’ve seen floating around on blogs and social media. Raise your glass, and count down to great New Year’s crafts with!

The DIY party hats from Salsa Pie look like they came straight out a dream sequence in a family-friendly independent film. These super cute hats are surprisingly easy for kids to make, and look dapper sitting on party guests’ heads.

Add a burst of color to your New Year’s Eve party with these bubbly and elegant confetti poppers from the Ruffled blog. Just dress up toilet tissue rolls in their party-best, fill with confetti, and pull the attached string for a shower of colorful confetti paper!

In case you didn’t hear us the first time: we love confetti! These confetti surprise jars from Studio DIY add some cheerful decadence to your year-end gifting. Hide a small gift, like a bracelet, gift card, or headphones, in jar of confetti. Your recipient will love the present almost as much as he likes digging into the confetti to find it!

From all of us at, have a happy and healthy New Year!


Related Content:

Happy New Year in Other Languages

Happy New Year Coloring Page

Happy New Year Banner

Science Experiments at Home

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

At first glance into the office, you might think that our employees get the most excited about coloring pages, puzzles, or cardboard box forts. But if you could see past our bulletin boards and into our hearts, you would know that the activity that gets us most revved to come to work is science experiments. We love the thrill of a good hypothesis, the satisfaction of scientific process, and that moment when a simple chemical reaction bubbles over.

Because science is a beautiful thing, we want to share some of our favorite home science experiments with you, the members. Doing science experiments at home is a fun way to combine learning, crafts, and games into one amazing activity. These home science experiments work any time of the year, but we’re especially excited to do these projects during winter break.

Our African savanna animal adaptations experiment gets your child to test a friend’s predatory abilities! Your child will simulate camouflage by using text-heavy newspaper and colorful construction paper. Not only does this home science experiment use common household materials, it also helps your child learn about animals in the savanna. Around the holidays, we like to use similar and contrasting holiday wrapping paper when we do this science experiment at home.


Make some dinosaur footprints with your child over the winter break! This simple experiment is great for little scientists who love dinosaurs. This home science experiment gets your child to recreate the trace fossilization process with coffee and flour. Your child will love seeing his homemade fossil, and you’ll get a cute keepsake of your young scientist’s hand and footprints!

One of our favorite winter break pastimes is competing in rubber band car races! This fun home science experiment challenges your child to make a miniature car out of coffee cups, rubber bands, washers, and chopsticks. Do this science experiment at home to learn about kinetic and potential energy, and to make a really cool car. We like to make a couple of these with visiting family members over the break, then have races to see whose rubber band car can go the farthest!

Have a wonderfully educational winter break, and try some of these science experiments at home!

Our Most Popular Worksheets: December 2013

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

The staff loves worksheets. We even have layers of hand-decorated coloring pages, mazes, and printable cards lining the walls of our office! We may be experts on the subject, but we know that members love worksheets just as much as we do! To celebrate one of our favorite things, we’re bringing you the most popular worksheets for December 2013, as chosen by our members. So what’s popular this month? Christmas, coloring, and crafts!

This Christmas tree dot-to-dot lets your child create an iconic symbol of the holiday, while practicing counting and motor skills. But what’s the best thing about this worksheet? When you’re done connecting the dots, you’re left with a hand-drawn coloring page!

We’ve been using our printable December calendar to keep track of holiday parties, scheduled snowball fights, and winter vacations. These calendar printables can even be printed out as a set, colored, and bound together to make a last-minute stocking stuffer.

Our gingerbread house coloring page has all the charm of the sweet confection itself. We like to use this coloring page as inspiration when we’re assembling our gingerbread houses in real life.

Our printable Christmas ornaments are perfect for a kid-friendly Christmas tree! We also like to hang these in our windows, attach them to door knobs, and even glue these to wrapped presents for a little something special.

What’s your favorite worksheet this month? Share yours in the comments below!

We Pity the Fool Who Doesn’t Have a Happy Holiday (and other Secret Santa Shenanigans)

Monday, December 16th, 2013

It’s no secret at all that’s Secret Santa festivities are head and shoulders above all others. Seriously. Yours might result in some generic gift baskets, but employees have a long-standing reputation of going above and beyond during the week of Secret Santa.

In the past we’ve had baked goods, books, and other treats perfectly tailored to each individual (And also wine. Lots of wine). This year…this year was a lot different. There was a piñata. There was a string of Christmas lights hooked up to a light switch on a desk. There was a big, blinking, light-up Virgen de Guadalupe hung over the mirror in the men’s bathroom (don’t ask).

And then there was Candice’s gift.

Workbook editor Candice, if you’ll recall, told a sweet story of her very first lunch box in a past blog post. It was a Mr. T lunch box that she thought was the coolest thing in the world…until she got to school and noticed that all the other girls had pink and purple My Little Pony lunch boxes. 5-year-old Candice was instantly embarrassed.

So, after a few days of coffee, croissants and champagne, all thoughtful gifts in their own right, what arrived on her desk on the last day of Secret Santa?

mr t lunchbox

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Our Secret Santas are better than your Secret Santas.

(Update: The Secret Santa has been revealed as activities editor Katherine!)

Freelancer Spotlight: Lori Fagerholm, Designer

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

While the Redwood City office is our official HQ, also employs a large team of freelance writers, designers, artists and photographers from all over the country. In our Freelancer Spotlight series, we pay tribute to our many beloved freelancers.

lori fagerholmLori Fagerholm is what we’d call a veteran designer around this office. She’s been in our pool of freelancers since all the way back in 2010, and once we found her, we never wanted to let her go: she’s a font of ideas, she’s an absolute joy to work with, and her designs rock.

Lori’s a match made in heaven with Her worksheets are always age-appropriate for each grade, but never go overboard on cute. She’s always willing to try her hand at an assignment, no matter what it is, and takes on every project with an incredible enthusiasm. Her latest feat is a performing arts-themed workbook, coming this month to our workbook selection.

Name: Lori Fagerholm

I’m an: Illustrator, designer, occasional writer

I live in: Berkeley, California

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a (fill in the blank) when I grew up. I was a Renaissance kid. At nine, I wanted to be a pop singer; at 14, I thought I’d become a children’s speech therapist; at 16, I decided to be a writer. Almost every occupation involving creativity and curiosity caught my fancy at one time or another.

How I became interested in illustration and design: I wrote and illustrated my first “book” around age seven; it consisted of several pages of construction paper, messily stapled together. I guess you could say that was the beginning of my illustration and design career.

My favorite thing to design is: Plants and animals—the odder, the better! I’m delighted when I get to draw, for example, coloring pages of rare wild animals. There’s such variety in nature, I don’t think I could ever tire of drawing animals and plants.

My favorite children’s book: The Bee-Man of Orn by Frank R. Stockton, illustrated by P.J. Lynch. It’s a and wild and wonderful story, and the illustrations are masterful.

My favorite thing about working for is: I get to use all of my creative skills. I do illustration, layout, and even some writing—sometimes, all on the same project!

Why I love design: I love to learn, and every time I work on a printable or workbook, I get to learn about a whole new subject.

Find out more about Lori’s design work at

Christmas Movies for Kids

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

It’s just about Christmas time, and in between rounds of holiday party planning and Secret Santa drawings, we at have been excitedly reminiscing about our favorite things for the holiday. One of the best pre-Christmas activities, in our opinion, is cozying up with a blanket, a popcorn snowman, and a cheerful holiday movie. We’ve decided to take our quest for kid-appropriate Christmas movies into the digital age by searching for the best streaming Christmas movies on Netflix. Enjoy these fun Netflix Christmas movies with your family this holiday season.

I Want A Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown

I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown follows an oft-ignored Rerun van Pelt as he pursues his true Christmas wish: to have a dog of his very own. This Christmas special, which revolves around the iconic Peanuts gang, is a great movie for young kids and parents who grew up with Charlie Brown. Rerun feels a little out of control of his life; as the youngest child in a big family, he always seems to find himself getting pushed around by his siblings, stuck in the booster seat of his mother’s bicycle, or disappointed by naivete. Rerun goes through all the motions of a child desperate for a Christmas present: he writes letters to the North Pole, visits the bell-ringing neighborhood Santa, and even buys a leash and collar. The van Pelts don’t get a dog in the end, but Rerun does forge a furry friendship with Spike, Snoopy’s brother from out West. While not necessarily cheerful, I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown is an entertaining and funny holiday special that emphasises the importance of compassion and friendship during Christmastime.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

In this millennial holiday flick, Jake, a smooth-talking student at a Southern California boarding school, tries to find his way back home by Christmas Eve. However, it’s not fueled by some touching sentiment that you might expect from a Christmas movie: Jake is racing to his home in New York in order to win a bet with his father and the car of his dreams. On the eve of his departure, Jake finds himself alone in the California desert wearing a Santa suit, after an unlucky encounter with school bullies. The film follows his eventful, zig-zagging journey through the United States as he hitchhikes, runs, and sleds his way to his family in New York. I’ll Be Home for Christmas is a cornball teen comedy at its root, but it’s a good throwback film for families who like ’90s movies with Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Christmas pop hits. Even after a series of sketch comedy-esque scenes where Jake bonds with a group of Tom Jones enthusiasts, wins a Santa 5K, and lies his way out of traffic tickets, the story ends with lessons learned and Christmas morals.

The Polar Express

The Polar Express is a new Christmas classic that takes the viewer on an adventure to the North Pole. Based on the classic Chris Van Allsburg book, the film captures the somewhat heartbreaking internal struggle of a boy unsure of his belief in Santa Claus. The unnamed boy lies awake in his bed on Christmas Eve, hoping to hear the ringing of Santa’s sleigh. He hears a different sound instead: the whistling call of a train. The story follows the boy onto the Polar Express and through his adventures with ghosts, caribou, and hot chocolate en route. Told through expertly-used computer animation, protagonist point of view, and animated characters, The Polar Express instills a sense of hopefulness for childlike wonder in its viewers. This film is a perfect holiday feature for kids and families, and it gets our vote for the best Christmas movie on Netflix.’s 2013 Gift Guide is Here!

Friday, December 6th, 2013 gift guide 2013

Say season’s greetings to’s 2013 Gift Guide! We’re proud to say that our Gift Guide’s got it all: 87 gifts total, with 13 per grade from Preschool to 5th and over 20 under $10. From apps to art kits; board games to books, all of the toys in the list are fun, engaging, and always with an educational lean.

What do we mean by educational lean? Here are some highlights from this year’s Gift Guide:

Box World Adventures (Chronicle Books) — 15 beautiful projects to make with simple cardboard boxes.

Playskool Showcam (Moose Toys) — A sturdy play camera that really works!

Mr. Wuffles! (Houghton Mifflin) — A wildly imaginative picture book that was a huge hit with our editors the minute it arrived on our doorstep.

I Like Everything About You CD (Crosspulse Media) — A musical adventure featuring heart-thumping percussion.

Demolition Lab (Smart Lab) — Mythbusters-style science made safe for kids and living rooms alike.

Terzetto (Gamewright) — An unplugged two-player game that’s great for kids who are into puzzles.

Quirky Physics (Copernicus Toys) — Because science isn’t always, well, an exact science!

Swish (ThinkFun) — A fast-on-your-feet card game that is unlike any you’ve ever played before.

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) — Get swept away in Chris Colfer’s debut foray into YA.

Drawn: The Painted TowerBig Fish Games) — A mysterious puzzle game for kids who love a good scare!

Grammar Graphics: Hoard vs Horde

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

We know that mastering the English language and all its quirks can be tricky, so we’ve rounded up some commonly mixed-up words and invented some silly scenes to go along with them. Use our Grammar Graphics to help make these words’ definitions — and differences— stick!

There are so many words in English that sound the same but have different meanings and different spellings: In and innknot and not, let’s not even get started about totoo and two, and the great their/there/they’re war that rages on social media. The name for these kinds of words is homophones, and since they sound the same, and there’s really only one true way to conquer them:  Repetition. This GIF tackles a tricky one that might be familiar to older kids:  hoard vs horde.

(Psst — take your time with this one. You’ll see why in a few seconds!)

Horde and Hoard


What words sometimes give you the slip?