Boing Boing 

Book of supercute crochet patterns for Sanrio Friends

A couple of days after I received a review copy of Hello Kitty Crochet I read an article in the LA Times about the 40th anniversary of Sanrio’s iconic character. The most surprising fact I learned is that Hello Kitty is not a kitty. She is a British girl named Kitty White who “lives in London with her mama (Mary White), papa (George White), and her twin sister Mimmy.” Also, she has a pet cat named Charmmy Kitty, which is kind of like Goofy having Pluto for a pet, I guess. Many Hello Kitty fans were outraged by the revelation, but I loved it. Hello Kitty is more charming and mysterious than I thought!

Hello Kitty Crochet, by Malaysia-based blogger Mei Li Lee (her name is so adorable that Sanrio should create a character called Mei Li Lee), has complete instructions for making 18 Sanrio characters, from Kitty White herself to the devilishly mischievous tomboy Kuromi (who reminds me of DC comics’ Harley Quinn). Mei Li Lee does a great job of retaining the cuteness of the characters in their transubstantiation into yarn, which is an impressive feat. I just might have to learn to crochet and try my hand at making these.

Hello Kitty Crochet ($9)
by Mei Li Lee
Quirk Books
2014, 96 pages, 7.3 x 7.3 x 0.5 inches, Hardcover

Take a look at other beautiful paper books at Wink. And sign up for the Wink newsletter to get all the reviews and photos delivered once a week.

Hanabi: card game with the goal to launch a spectacular firework display

In this immediately enjoyable card game players take on the role of Japanese pyrotechnicians with a shed full of unlabeled fireworks that they must assemble correctly before the show begins. By Jon Seagull

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Kit to study Venus Fly Traps

Our friends at Backyard Brains (makers of the Spikerbox and the Remote Control Cockroach kits) have been studying Venus Fly Traps lately. They have developed a new product called the Plant SpikerShield Bundle to measure the action potentials generated by plant cells.

spikershield

Experiment: Yes, Electricity in Plants

Freaky baby clothes and accessories by Mitch O'Connell

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Artist Mitch O'Connell recently had a baby. After making a pipe pacifier for his infant, he started a line of baby clothing featuring sideshow characters!

Step right up! The Fair has come to town!

From "The Prince of Pop Art," artist Mitch O'Connell introduces "Lil' Sideshow," a tent full of adorable carnival cutie characters ready adorn all your baby wear needs!

Have your wee one look fashionable on the midway as they turn over a prize winning plastic duck or ride high on the Ferris Wheel!

A circus parade of choices, including the cute "Lil' Mermaid" to mighty "Lil' Strongman" or the even spookier "Lil' Spidora" and mischievous "Lil' Devil Child" on everything from diaper bags to onesies!

Alive! Real!

If your heart can take it, see them all by clicking on the link

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Light Bulb Baking – The 50-year history of The Easy Bake Oven

The 1960s were a magical decade in the world of toys. Toy companies like Wham-O, Hasbro, Mattel and Kenner were churning out captivating toys faster than toy stores could keep them in stock. Toys like Lite-Brite, Etch A Sketch, Twister, Creepy Crawlers, Operation, Hippity Hop, Spirograph… and of course Kenner’s Easy Bake Oven (launched in 1963) were all the rage.

With an entertaining narrative, Light Bulb Baking explains how the miniature working oven got its start, dissects the oven, explains how a simple light bulb can bake a cake, and tells us loads of fun anecdotes and trivia about Easy Bake (such as the shelf life of Easy Bake mixes, the horrible burns caused by the 2006-2007 models, and the story of a 9-year-old Easy Bake Baker of the Year who won $5,000 for her Toffee Trifle Cake). The book, which is smartly designed with photos, diagrams and sidebars, ends with a bunch of award-winning recipes that make me want to dig out the old Easy Bake Oven I have somewhere in my garage.

Light Bulb Baking
by Todd Coopee
Sonderho Press
2013, 178 pages, 8.7 x 8.7 x 0.4 inches (paperback)

Take a look at other beautiful paper books at Wink. And sign up for the Wink newsletter to get all the reviews and photos delivered once a week.

Managing expectations on a trip around the world

When Tom Fassbender took a trip around the world with his family, he wasn’t naive enough to think that it was going to be a year of easy adventure full of laughs and endless fun.

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The Memory of an Elephant – A beautifully illustrated multi-layered picture book for all ages

This beautifully illustrated picture book takes more than one read to take in all of the delightfully layered pages. At its first level, it tells a sweet story about an old elephant named Marcel who has almost forgotten his birthday, until thoughtful friends and his own reminiscence about his colorful past spark his memory. But the book doesn’t end where the story ends. Inserted into most pages are “index cards” marked with an elephant symbol that have interesting elephant facts, such as listing the differences between Asian and African elephants, describing how they communicate over long distances, and giving us figures on how much they weigh, eat, and sleep.

As if jumping from story to elephant facts weren’t enough, the book is also saturated with yet another layer: miniature encyclopedias on certain topics mentioned in the story. For instance, when Marcel is reminiscing about his days at sea, we get a page of “On the Sea” related word entries. We learn about clipper sailboats, longships, a nautical mile, and more. While sitting with Memory, my attention span was constantly challenged by these fun extras that kept beckoning me away. I finally gave in and read all of the sidebars first, and then eventually went back and read the actual story from beginning to end. Unlike some children’s books, which are ready to be recycled after the first read, this is an illustrated book for all ages that has real staying power.

The Memory of an Elephant, by Sophie Strady (author) and Jean-François Martin (illustrator)

Take a look at other beautiful paper books at Wink. And sign up for the Wink newsletter to get all the reviews and photos delivered once a week.

Tzolk'in: a competitive resource-gathering-and-conversion puzzle

The genius of this game’s design is in the simplicity of what you are allowed to do on a turn, the intricate and divergent results those actions can achieve; and the way the physical design of the game board makes it all work automatically. Jon Seagull reviews.

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Mid Century rocking chair project

Mid-Century Rocking ChairOliver Frantelle, from Paris, built this Mid Century rocking chair from the instructions in my book, Maker Dad. He says: "We had so much fun that I wanted to report. First, it looks real cool. Second, it’s comfortable and cozy. Third, it makes my neighbors jealous!" Im jealous, too, Oliver -- yours looks a lot better than the ones I built!

Friday fun: make a paradox card

paradox-cardThe amusement I get from looking at this weird-looking card is worth more than the 60 seconds it took me to make it. No tape, glue, or hidden cuts are needed. If you can't figure out how to make one, someone in the comments will show you how to do it.

Coconuts game has no business being as much fun as it is

Coconuts is a goofy dexterity game from South Korea that has no business being as much fun as it is. Jon Seagull says its appeal is a testament to the power of great product design.

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Make a toothbrush bot -- fun and easy project for kids

The bristlebot is one of over a dozen how-to projects my daughter Jane and I taught people how to do. You can check out the rest of the parent-kid project videos here!

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How We Decided to Travel Around the World

“Most people think that taking a family of four on a trip around the world for an entire year would require a long discussion and some careful consideration,” says Tom Fassbender. “But for us, the decision was made with the speed of a single text message.”

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1984 Sesame Street segment: "What is a computer?"

What makes a computer different from a person? A computer doesn't have bones. Smart children are interviewed about computers in the 1984 episode of Sesame Street. (via Reality Carnival)

Mark's "Kids Crafts with Maker Dad" video workshop today and tomorrow

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I snapped this photo of the CreativeLive stage where Jane and I will be teaching our "Kids Crafts with Maker Dad" class today and tomorrow. There's still time to RSVP for the free live video.

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Kiddie Cocktails: hooch free drink recipes in a beautiful book

Without question, cocktails are the most fun and playful type of drinks on the menu, with their vibrant colors, toy-like swizzle sticks, plastic straws, paper toothpick umbrellas, swords of stacked fruit, and the exotic-shaped glasses that contain the concoctions. And yet – the cruel irony of it all – cocktails are off limits to children!

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Unbored – A zillion ways for kids to keep busy and engage with life

I’m always amazed when one of my daughter’s friends comes to me and says she’s bored. As if I’m supposed to put on a pair of tap shoes and dance a jig for her. My daughter knows better than to say the B-word, but I can always tell when she’s at a loss for something to do by the way she lies limply across the arm of the couch, her head dangling towards the floor, her voice depleted of emotion. Next time this happens I will suggest Unbored (which, when she picked it up for the first time yesterday, didn’t put it down for almost an hour).

A collection of inspiring activities, projects, and articles on freeing up your creativity (by the authors as well as many other DIY experts, including an introduction by my husband Mark), Unbored offers a zillion ways to keep busy, stay engaged, and connect with the outside world. Start a band, make a zine, teach “your grown-ups” how to geocache, trick your friends into saving the planet, tell your politicians what you think, build a backyard fort, make a pet robot controller… The book is fun, instructional, edgy (create different colors of fire, take an adventurous gap year between high school and college, spray paint your bedroom walls, read banned books), and has insightful lessons on how to engage with life rather than allowing life to pass by like a boring television commercial. And as a parent, it’s nice to be reminded not to fall into the trap of smothering helicopter parenting, passive parenting (screens!), over-scheduled parenting, and all the other pitfalls of modern life that turn our kids into lethargic, helpless, unthinking slugs. Unbored belongs in every kid’s – and parent’s – library.

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Geometry Dash: jump, fly and flip your way through dangerous passages

This episode of Apps for Kids is brought to you by Shoparoo – start earning for your school today.

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How to Be a Math Genius - Illustrated examples to show your kid the power, beauty, and joy of math

I enjoyed learning about statistics, probability, zero, infinity, number sequences, and more in this heavily illustrated kids’ book called How to Be a Math Genius, by Mike Goldsmith. But would my 11-year daughter like it as much? I handed it to her after school and she become absorbed in it until called for dinner. She took it to the dinner table and read it while we ate. The next day, she asked for the book so she could finish it. Loaded with fun exercises (like cutting a hole through a sheet of paper so you can walk through it), How to Be a Math Genius will show kids (and adults) that math is often complicated, but doesn’t need to be boring. (This book is part of DK Children’s How to Be a Genius series. See my review of How to Be a Genius.)

See sample interior pages at Wink.

Giant Bubbles - let me show you how to make them

Jane and I made this tutorial to show you how to easily make Giant Bubbles. We're going to run a free live video workshop with a dozen other fun grown-up-and-kid projects on August 4 and 5. You can RSVP for the workshop at CreativeLive. (If you live in the SF bay area and want to be an in-studio participant, apply here.)

Make your weekends more awesome with activities you and your kids can get their hands on. Join Make Magazine editor-in-chief Mark Frauenfelder — and his daughter Jane — for a class on cool, simple projects you can do with your kids.

In DIY Projects for Dads to Do with Kids, you’ll get the blueprints you need to complete projects with the whole family. You’ll learn how to whip up a mixture that makes enormous bubbles, and how to get started with polymer clay — a medium you can use to create custom toys, shapes, and figurines. You’ll engage in a little trial and error learning by creating your own simple board and dice games. You’ll also learn the more advanced magic of constructing a Drawbot – a simple robot that can make abstract art all by itself.

This course will have even your most reluctant kid excited to get their hands dirty and experimenting, making, and creating, together.

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Make a PiGRRL - Raspberry Pi Gameboy

From our friends at adafruit: "Celebrate the 20th anniversary of that classic gaming device by building your own with 3D printing and DIY electronics from adafruit. The 3D printed enclosure (files here) will house all the components and you can print it in your favorite color. Find out how to assemble and program this project by checking out the guide on the adafruit learning system.

A better version of Werewolf

The original game of Werewolf, also known as Mafia, is a party game of bluffing, paranoia, and wild accusations invented (appropriately enough) in Soviet Russia in the 1980s. It pits a small number of Werewolves (who know each others’ identities) against a larger group of Villagers who have no information; the Werewolves select a Villager to kill each “night” (while everyone’s eyes are closed), and the entire group votes on a player to lynch as a werewolf each “day” until one team or the other prevails. Jon Seagull reviews a much-improved version.

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Free live video course with Mark on making for parents and kids

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Sign up for my free 2-day video course on making cool stuff with your kids.

Make your weekends more awesome with activities you and your kids can get their hands on. Join Make Magazine founding editor-in-chief Mark Frauenfelder — and his daughter Jane — for a class on cool, simple projects you can do with your kids.

In DIY Projects for Dads to Do with Kids, you’ll get the blueprints you need to complete projects with the whole family. You’ll learn how to whip up a mixture that makes enormous bubbles, and how to get started with polymer clay — a medium you can use to create custom toys, shapes, and figurines. You’ll engage in a little trial and error learning by creating your own simple board and dice games. You’ll also learn the more advanced magic of constructing a Drawbot – a simple robot that can make abstract art all by itself.

This course will have even your most reluctant kid excited to get their hands dirty and experimenting, making, and creating, together.

If you have a kid and would like to be an in-studio participant sign up here.

Apps for Kids 057: Mega Dead Pixel

Mega Dead Pixel is an endless runner game where you have to avoid colliding with retro-shaped obstacles while collecting coins and special pixels. This episode is brought to you by Care.com, offering any type of care your family needs. As an Apps for Kids listener, you can save 25% when you become a Premium Member.

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7 fun toilet paper tube tricks

Seven tricks you can do with empty rolls of toilet paper, written by the late Martin Gardner.

5. A Mysterious Force: Two tubes are alongside each other on a table. Rub your hands vigorously together to generate a psychic force. Place your hands palms down fingers pointing toward the tubes. Lower your head slightly. Move your hands slowly away from the tubes, and at the same time secretly blow on them. They will roll toward your hands as if drawn by a mysterious attractive force. You'll be suprised at how many people will be totally mystified by this simple trick.

7 fun toilet paper tube tricks (Via Reality Carnival)

Printeer - a 3D printer for kids


Printeer is a kids 3D printer that runs on an iPad and "doesn't require any intermediate steps between design and 3D printing." This is a good idea because 3D printer software is still clunky and finicky.

Father's Day: A Bear for Punishment

In honor of Father's Day, here's one of the great, classic animation celebrations of the pater familias: Warner Bros' Three Bears celebrate in "A Bear for Punishment."

Giant bubble fun


It's great to see people making the projects in my book, Maker Dad! Thomas Beckett and his daughter did the giant bubbles project and posted this photo to Twitter.

Flash Point: Fire Rescue - a game of high-stakes trade-offs

Flash Point: Fire Rescue is a co-operative game about firefighting for 1-6 players. Both its difficulty and its complexity are hugely adjustable, such that it’s suitable for anyone from families with elementary-age children to groups of adult gamers. Where Escape: Curse of the Temple is frantic and breathless, Flash Point is deliberate and tense. Jon Seagull reviews.

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Recess Monkey's "Wired" video

[Video Link] I love this power-pop ditty from Recess Monkey. It's called "Wired," which is also the name of their new album.

Inspired by the breathtaking creativity and inventiveness of today’s DIY kids, kindie music icon Recess Monkey celebrates maker culture with the band’s eleventh studio recording, Wired, which will be released on June 17.

Wired, a collection of super-eclectic “gadget rock” songs about inventions, machines, and electricity, also highlights the richness of life beyond batteries: Grandpa’s wisdom, board games, singing with others, storytelling, and the fine art of duct tape.

Says Recess Monkey’s Drew Holloway, “Wired is all about design-thinking and innovation. We live in a ‘wired world’ with so much at our fingertips, yet it’s easy to lose touch … but not on this record!”