Archive for May, 2014

The Dogs of

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014


Happy National Pet Week, everybody! As the creators of coloring pages, science fair projects, and activities that revolve around animals of all kinds, we’re pretty big fans of pets over here at Over the years, we’ve discovered that our freelance photographers aren’t just talented artists—they own some of the cutest animals we’ve ever seen. Below, we’ve listed three of the stars of our activity and science fair sections. Meet three of our favorite furry, fuzzy mascots of

dollyName: Dolly
Pet Parent: Alycia Aragon, Activity and Science Fair Photographer
I live in: San Jose, California
My favorite food is: Anything that Mommy or Daddy is eating.
How I found my family: I was the only survivor of my litter. My dog mom was very shy so I didn’t get a lot of experience with other dogs. Luckily, my human parents were allowed to take me home one weekend and soon after were told they could keep me forever!
Hobbies and Interests: Playing with stuffed toys, fetching the ball and not giving it back, shredding paper towels, finding dust bunnies, digging in blankets, eating treats, and being a good girl!
As Seen In: T-Shirt PillowAre Dogs Colorblind?Praise vs Food, Pup Tent 


Name: Oreo
Pet Parent: Meghan Smolka, Photographer and Activity Writer
I live in: Santa Cruz, California
My favorite food is: Bacon Treats
How I found my family: I met my family at the orphanage!
Hobbies and Interests: I love to stretch out and warm my belly in the sun, chase flies and squirrels, and take up the whole bed at night.
As Seen In: Dog Massage


Name: Milo
Pet Parent: Beth Levin, Activity Writer
I live in: Portland, Oregon
My favorite food is:
How I found my family:
Happy Valley Pugs
Hobbies and Interests:
Chewing rawhides, playing with my family, cuddling in blankets, sitting on laps, walking, and attending pug meet-ups in Portland.
As Seen In:
Host a Dog Wash!Doga

Social-Emotional Learning at Home

Monday, May 5th, 2014

We’re very excited to welcome guest blogger Dylan Arena to the blog. Dylan has done some amazing things in the field of education: he’s the co-founder of Kidaptive, holds his Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Technology Design from Stanford, and sits on the board of a local charter school. An early-learning specialist, Dylan wrote a guest post for us about supporting social-emotional learning at home.

Mother together with the son. Tenderness, love and care.

Social-emotional learning, or SEL, is exciting—and not only because it promises well-behaved, considerate kids! When a child practices social-emotional learning, he is learning how to recognize and manage his emotions and navigate social relationships. Recent research on over 270,000 students showed that those who received SEL instruction outperformed those who didn’t by an average of 11 percentile points on measures of academic achievement.

In short, SEL matters, whether you care about whole-child development or pure academic achievement. So what can we do to equip our children with the social and emotional tools they need to thrive?

What You Can Do

For early learners, there are three foundational aspects of SEL: understanding and expressing their own emotional states; responding to others’ emotional states; and beginning to learn to control their emotional states. (Young children’s brains aren’t yet fully wired to allow them the kinds of emotional control that adults can muster.) Parents can support this learning at home, every day.

Build Social-Emotional Vocabulary

First, help give your child words for the emotions he feels. To a preschooler, feelings like frustration, fear, and boredom can just seem like a bunch of ways of feeling “sad.” Understanding their differences helps pave the way for finding solutions. When you comfort your child, describe the kind of “sad” he’s feeling. You might say, “Whoa, you almost fell off the bed! That must have been scary. I bet you’re crying because you’re feeling scared right now.”

Identify Peer’s Emotions

As your child learns to name different emotional states, you can help him spot those states in others. Many conflicts between young children arise simply because one child doesn’t see how their actions have affected their playmate. Helping kids learn to notice those effects can be powerful. You might help your child observe another child’s emotions like so: “Do you see how your sister’s forehead is scrunched and her mouth is turned down? I can tell that she’s upset. Why do you think she’s upset?”

Learn to Manage Emotions

Now for the hard part: helping children begin to manage their emotions. The part of the brain that controls self-regulation functions doesn’t finish developing until after adolescence. So when a preschooler is in the grip of a tantrum he is literally out of control; he can’t choose to calm down! Trying to reason a child out of the tantrum won’t work, because as long as he’s upset he can’t follow your reasoning. Instead, connect emotionally and offer strategies for riding out the storm. Give your child a hug, help him find a quiet space, or encourage him to breathe deeply, listen to music, or hold a favorite toy. When the waters have calmed, you can talk to your child about what happened to make him upset and what he might do next time to avoid the problem.

In an era in which academic success seems like the end-all-be-all, it can be tempting to focus solely on “the basics” of early learning, like ABC’s and 123’s. But there’s nothing more basic than our emotions; and learning how to manage them and be sensitive to others is a powerful way to succeed in school and in life!