Say season’s greetings to Education.com’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 Education.com-approved 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 Tower ( Big Fish Games) — A mysterious puzzle game for kids who love a good scare!
Education.com’s introduction to Ransom Riggs was kind of an accident. During our last year of Summer Reading roundups, we found ourselves with a complete list for high school…until we noticed that one of our picks wasn’t going to be released until November. With only about a week to go before we the list went live, we summarily dispatched an editor (i.e., me) to the nearest Barnes and Noble, armed with Amazon’s top-ten for teens that year. The book I came back with? Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
At Education.com, we strive to make our content friendly and inviting for all kinds of kids, so we try to stick to happy stuff. However, there’s a small contingent of kids out there who actually like to be scared, and go largely underserved every month of the year that isn’t October. I was definitely one of those kids – I always loved the thrill and suspense of ghost stories; of creeping mysteries and tales of the supernatural. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, or Miss P as it’s often abbreviated, helped me reconnect with the kid in me that loved listening to scary stories under a blanket at sleepovers; that slightly woozy sensation of suspense that I still chase to this day. Honestly, I often wonder if Riggs even wrote Miss P with kids in mind: I likely would have never known it was intended for tweens if I hadn’t first seen that eerie cover in the children’s section of my local used bookstore. Still, the fact that it is strictly known as a children’s book is what made Miss P that much more refreshing: It’s scary, but not insulting. It doesn’t assault kids with horrific imagery, but it doesn’t attempt to shield them from scenarios that others might automatically proclaim “too scary” for kids’ delicate sensibilities.
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.
Over the course of our workday, we editors often find ourselves learning all sorts of strange and amazing information about history, science and literature. We’d like to share some of our favorite finds with you. Today’s post is brought to you by Wikipedia and editor Jody Amable.
I’ve always known that the animal world is an extremely diverse place, but it wasn’t until I came to Education.com that I got a sense of just how diverse it is. Even posting coloring pages to the site requires a quick Google search in order to write a competent blurb, and that invariably leads to falling down a Wikipedia rabbit hole, so to speak, of articles on the furry and the feathered; the slimy and the scaly.
I’ve fallen in love with quite a few animals here at my desk. I like to imagine a world where I could fall asleep with a snow leopard curled up at my feet, but I’m adult enough to know why that’s a bad idea. Nonetheless, I continue to dream. Here are my top five (very impractical) picks for exotic pets:
May is National Historic Preservation Month. Did you know that? I didn’t until my coworker told me a few weeks ago. But now that I do, I’m excited! History is totally my jam.
I know, I know: History? Really? I’m well aware of the reputation that history, especially as a school subject, has gained over the years. Luckily, working at this place has allowed me to indulge my love for history, preservation, and all things old. For instance, I produced this workbook here and had a blast doing so. The development of this series was really just an excuse for me to dig around in some archival photos. I visit the Wikipedia pages of certain historical figures so often that I’ve rechristened them with friendly nicknames (Susie B, G-Dub, G-Dub C). Though it’s consistently at the low end of favorite subjects for the majority of kids, I’ve always been amazed and astounded by history.
Illustration by Brian Chang
The landscape of my childhood is made up of obsessions. Most kids have ‘phases,’ but I’ve always felt my interests as a kid went much, much deeper than those of my peers. When I got into something, I REALLY got into something. It consumed me.
For instance, from my earliest childhood years and well into my late-elementary years, all I could do was talk Disney. My grandmother had four kids, who in turn had their own sets of kids, which meant that she was family babysitter. As such, she had a vast collection of Disney movies on VHS, which got me acquainted with the Disney library pretty quickly. This was the late ‘80s-early ‘90s, so I was living in the middle of a Disney revolution: Little Mermaid. Aladdin. Lion King. Every new movie was my movie. Every song I knew back to front. At age 4, my first career goal was to be the voice of a Disney character.
Age 7: My dad buys me a paperback copy of (more…)