Jody Amable's Blog

Jody Amable is an editor at She has previously worked as a camp counselor, and spent her college years hosting birthday parties for kids at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. She has a degree in Journalism from San Francisco State University and writes for local blogs, magazines and weeklies in her spare time.

Recent posts

The Dogs of

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 by


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

Workbook Pick: Performing Arts

Friday, January 10th, 2014 by

As has been mentioned in a previous post, I grew up a theater kid. I know. Sometimes I can’t believe it, either. I was a pretty shy, reserved kidI still am. But somehow, for a brief window of time in my tween performing arts workbook coverand teen years, I was able to put that all aside in order to get up onstage. Having a ‘safe zone’ of school and community theaters where I could get all of my teenage pent-up emotions out of my system was a huge part of my adolescence. I don’t know what I would have done without it.

So a few months ago, when designer Lori Fagerholm and I were working on a sheet about Groucho Marx together for our Famous Jewish-Americans series, we started tossing around the idea of doing some worksheets on live performance. Thus was born our Performing Arts book, available now in December’s lineup. This jam-packed performing arts book is full of activities that will be surefire hits with theater kids of all inclinations, from future stage makeup artists to scenery engineers to stand-up comedians! Even if your child isn’t a “theater kid”, there are still plenty of activities that he’ll love in this performing arts book. Find your copy of our performing arts book here, and browse the rest while you’re at it.

Related Content:

Improv Game for Kids

Understanding Shakespeare

What is Drama?

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

Monday, December 16th, 2013 by

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!)’s 2013 Gift Guide is Here!

Friday, December 6th, 2013 by 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!

Authors We Like: Ransom Riggs

Monday, October 28th, 2013 by’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 weRansom Riggs 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, 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.


Stuff We Like: Ink & Pen

Friday, August 2nd, 2013 by

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.

Weird Workday Discoveries: Animals I Want to (But Probably Shouldn’t) Keep as Pets

Friday, May 31st, 2013 by

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 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:

5. Marmots

I usually end up on this page while looking for information on Groundhog Day.


National Historic Preservation Month…and Why History Isn’t Boring

Monday, May 6th, 2013 by

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-DubG-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.


5 Things Your Kid Can Learn From The Wizard of Oz

Thursday, April 11th, 2013 by

Illustraton by Brian Chang
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…)