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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