This brilliant dad secured a bunch of fascinating hardware items to a board and let his toddler have at it. The best toy ever and educational.
Anna Rothschild says, "See the tiny creatures living in a pond or puddle using your smartphone, poster tack, and a laser pointer."
Build a microscope stand for your laser pointer lens scope.
Create a 1000x smartphone microscope with a glass bead.
Don’t have a smartphone? Try this water drop microscope from Mr. Wizard.
Walking through the children’s section of any given book store, this book will immediately catch your eye. The front cover has gears sticking out the side, and if you turn them, you can see one of our main characters moving up and down on a wheel and axel system. Open the book, and you’ll be treated to even more interactive illustration done in the book’s playful art style.
The plot of the story follows two friends who live in a zoo, Sloth and Sengi. After many years of living there, they have decided to escape using some simple machines. Along the way, they encounter many problems (as you can imagine would occur when a sloth and a variety of elephant shrew attempt to scale a zoo enclosure). Each page outlines a different type of machinery and invites the reader to learn about how each system functions. When Sloth and Sengi try and use an inclined plane to escape, the narrator demonstrates why it takes less effort to climb up an inclined plane than straight over the vertical fence. Later on, this idea of the inclined plane returns when Sloth and Sengi try and use a screw to escape. Probably my favorite section of the book involves the section on levers. The author outlines how a lever functions with an effort, a fulcrum, and a load. You can construct a lever from cardboard cut-outs in the book, and then use it to try and fling Sloth and Sengi over the fence of their enclosure, usually with more success than our main characters. Read the rest
It's exciting to get a new game in its pristine box, wrapped in cellophane, begging to be opened. Inside you find the game board, colorful game pieces, cards, and, of course, instructions. Instructions are the worst part of a new game. Reading and rereading the sheet of rules, digesting them, and teaching them to your friends so you can get your game on can be excruciating. And how many practice games do you have to play before you really get it?
Instead of learning how to play someone else's game, how about inventing one of your own? Combine the elements of all those games you've played and loved into your own unique adventure using a board game inventors kit by Board Game Manufacturing. Don't be put off by their site's poor graphics and design. Their product is worth the slog through its eye-crossing pages.
I purchased their Junior Game Inventors Kit. The kit includes everything you need to start building a game: a pre-cut box, a blank folds-to-square game board, paper to cover box and board, nine pawns, a pair of standard dice, a 12-sided numbered die, 56 blank cards, and a bundle of play money. You can also purchase a la carte from a long list of goodies. I added a money tray, a set of ten chipboard blanks, and ten stands to the basic kit. They offer an Advanced Game Board Inventors Kit as well, with a mind-boggling array of pieces.
The components of the kit are sturdy and as good as those in a purchased game. Read the rest
Confession: I know nothing – NOTHING – about coding. I’m still stuck in the glory days of the “if/thens” of my original Apple IIe, circa 1983. And I barely knew how to do anything past whatever I copied verbatim from Byte. I never got that right either. I don’t think. Ever. I remember staying up all night to do a Thundercats hi-res game. Tried to run it at 4am. Nothing. No Lion-O, no Cheetarah, no Snarf... NOTHING. Thus began a life of failure. BUT. I did not want my kids to suffer that same fate. Especially because it is now a presidential mandate that all kids must learn to code. And code they shall.
Kano is built on a simple idea: If kids can piece together Legos, then why not a whole computer? So they not only have a tactile experience in the building of the thing, but more importantly, they take ownership. Have a hands on experiece with their computer, and know it inside and out. My kids opened the cleverly packaged Kano box and had their machines up and running in about 45 minutes. The directions are sort of similar to Lego directions. Very simple, very easy to understand, and I’ll be damned... these boys, ages 7 and 9, were coding within the hour.
The computer itself comes with a Rasberry Pi brain, all the necessary cables, a keyboard, instructions and stickers to personalize the experience. It comes loaded with a bunch of different apps: Minecraft, Scratch, hack old school Pong, hack Snake, and many other great things, all with an eye towards hacking, coding and exploring. Read the rest
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a true-blue fan of intermediate-reader adventures published during the Sixties (1964–73). Attribute this, if you will, to the fact that these books were popular when I was an impressionable adolescent in the late 1970s. The fact remains, the Sixties were a cornucopia producing a flood of extraordinary titles: Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series, Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Joan Aiken’s Wolves Chronicles series, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door, S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, E.L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Sure, I dig older kids’ lit from other eras, too. But nothing compares.
In anticipation of their 50th anniversaries, this year, here’s my list of the Best Older Kid’s Lit of 1966. Please let me know which favorite titles of yours I’ve overlooked!
OLDER KIDS’ LIT on HILOBROW: Best of 1963 | Best of 1964 | Best of 1965 | Best of 1966 | Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Lost Prince (serialized) | YA Sci-Fi | ALSO SEE: Best 1966 Adventures (for Grownups).
In no particular order…René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo’s bande dessinée Asterix adventure Asterix the Legionary. The tenth Asterix story is a particular favorite of mine — because it is a sardonic inversion of one of my favorite sub-genres of adventure: the all-for-one, one-for-all argonautica. In order to rescue a Gaul who has been conscripted into the Roman army and shipped to North Africa, where Julius Caesar was battling Metellus Scipio, Asterix and Obelix enlist in the army themselves. Read the rest
With the unsettling closure and uncertain future of a vast original area of Disneyland which has remained mostly undisturbed since park opening in 1955, it seems fitting to reflect upon some things which made it memorable. This is the first of a series of pieces, and also the most indirect — it’ll take me six paragraphs to make my real point.
One thing every parent knows is the delight of “the unexpected moment” when your child comes upon a character at a Disney park without warning.
There’s less of that these days, with “Character Meet and Greets” having been turned into controlled experiences and fewer instances of the characters simply walking the parks and freely mingling with the guests. (You tend to see much more of this at the Tokyo Disney Resort.)
On a trip to Disneyland when my daughter was about 4 or 5 years old just under a decade ago, we entered the park early, passed through Main Street, and were taking the walkway up to Sleeping Beauty Castle that curves to the right, past Snow White’s Grotto. The white marble statues of Snow White and the Dwarfs were a gift from the Ambassador of Italy, I explained to my daughter. They reside in a man-made grotto with a waterfall.
On the walkway itself is a full-size replica of the wishing well from the film Snow White. If you lean over and listen, you will hear Snow White singing. My daughter was listening intently, looking into the well, and when she turned around there was Snow White — pretty, indeed, as a picture. Read the rest
The Little Prince, published in 1943, is a classic, emotionally stirring novella written by a French author that has since become the third most translated book in the world. With so many adaptions to both screen and stage, including a major animated motion picture debuting in the United States in 2016, you might be forgiven for assuming that the story has little more to offer in the way of novelty. One covetous glance at this enormous, intricate deluxe pop-up book and you’ll understand how very wrong you are. This tale of the enduring power of friendship, told by a narrator stranded in the sands of the Sahara, rises from the pages and extends into your world with enchanting, whimsical paper art.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry proclaims himself no “great artist” and this pop-up book stays true to the delicate pastels of the watercolors he used to create The Little Prince’s illustrations. The book begins with the Little Prince himself, being held aloft from the title page by a harnessed flock of birds, the white and pale gray of each wing a stark contrast to the enveloping black mass of the space that surrounds him. Beginning pages are full of hidden doors, windows and flaps that contain treasures of minuscule fold out animals and tiny doodles. As the classic tale unfolds and we learn more about the Little Prince’s miniature home planet, the pop-up art evolves into cratered orbs that spin at the pull of a tab or twist their flower clustered faces to the warmth of a rising sun stretching above the page. Read the rest
Quarterly.co is launching a brand new Maker Box subscription. This new Maker box features DIY kits and hands-on projects perfect for makers of all ages. You’ll receive kits to build your own gadgets, electronics, quirky tools, and more. Each quarter will feature a new curator, new ideas and new projects. The first curator is Boing Boing! Each box will contain at least 3 kits and will cost $100. The box ships in February. Read the rest
Fathers in Arizona who aren't delivering court-ordered child support payments may discover their mugs plastered all over social media soon. Arizona governor Doug Ducey this week unveiled a bizarre new name-and-shame campaign to publicly mock so-called “deadbeat dads,” a crackdown on "the worst of the worst" parents who fail to make child support payments.
In this beginner friendly book, called Learn to Program with Minecraft, you will learn how to do cool things in Minecraft using the Python programming language. No prior programming experience is needed. Author Craig Richardson shows you how to install Python (it's free) on your Mac, PC, or Raspberry Pi. The book has step-by-step instructions to show you how to teleport your character, create palaces and other structures with a few lines of code, stack blocks, duplicate villages and geography, and a lot more.
Robo-Sauce starts out as a mere picture book, then – with a few paper folds and a little imagination – transforms into a ROBOT picture book. The story starts out normally enough – when a boy can’t get enough of pretending to be a robot, he wishes for a potion that will actually turn him into one. And what do you know? The off-camera narrator happens to have the recipe for just such a potion. After dousing himself in the day-glo orange “robo-sauce,” the boy becomes a rather jerky and destructive robot – punching down a fruit stand with his robo-fist and blasting open a water tower with his laser eyes. When the startled narrator tries to offer the antidote to robo-sauce, the robo-boy promptly disintegrates it, then proceeds to slosh the noxious liquid all over his family, dog, friends, and pretty much anything else in sight. EVERYTHING transforms into a robot, and when the robo-sauce inevitably seeps over the words in the story, even the book turns into a robot. A page folds out, and instructs readers how to re-fold it to activate the robo-book. The larger fold-out page essentially turns into an alternate book jacket, and the last few pages in the story are full of beeps, boops, and, of course, robots. But one final page turn reveals that all the shenanigans were the result of one family’s afternoon of imaginative play.
Robo-Sauce is a brilliant twist on both storytelling and book design. Read the rest
Undertale is a new 8bit RPG that's much different from the rest. In most games, you have to kill bosses and monsters to survive. In this game, it’s up to you whether you want to kill anyone, and depending on your choices, you can make friends that you would have lost, engage in secret fights, and much more. You have so many choices in the game that you can replay it over and over to achieve all the endings. But be careful, because even if you reset the game, some characters might have a vague memory of you.
The fighting style of Undertale is also unique. When an enemy attacks you, instead of automatically losing your health, you can dodge their attack by moving your “soul” across the screen to avoid being hit. Because of this, you don’t have to lose any damage throughout the battle.
Undertale starts by your character falling down a giant hole at the top of a mountain and waking up in a world full of monsters. They were all banished to live apart from society for the rest of their lives by humans who sealed them underground with a magic spell. The monsters have figured out that the only way to undo the spell is to have the power of seven souls, but since monsters’ souls disappear after they die, they’ve spent years killing the humans who fall into the underground to gain their souls. Because of this, most of them want to kill you so they can leave, but it’s up to you if you want to hurt them back, or show them that you both can find peace. Read the rest
It’s mid-December folks. Like a bullet train. White knuckle time. With parties in motion and merry children abound, it’s time to jump on the fast track with those holiday gifts. And Wink’s gift guide is your golden ticket. The fun stuff on this week’s list focuses on the kiddos in your life. (For grown-ups, check out Gareth Branwyn’s Picks and Cheapies But Goodies Under $20.)
Much like a colorful, 3D version of dominoes, Juxtabo has simple rules that allow children as young as six years old to play. The strategy encourages development of quick pattern recognition, but also flexibility as you plan, since the "board" changes with every turn… Juxtabo is the recipient of the 2015 Academics' Choice Brain Toy Award …avid puzzlers beware – Juxtabo just may prove addictive! – Chloe Quimby
You may have read Harry Potter before, but you've never read it like this. Almost every page features some kind of full-color illustration by artist Jim Kay. Illustrations come in a wide variety of forms, ranging from small page ornamentations to whole page spreads. The full-page illustrations have a ton of detail and color and will likely make you stop mid-page to appreciate them. It never occurred to me that Harry Potter required illustrations, but after reading this it's clear why someone thought they would make for a good experience. Read the rest
Our friends at Bigshot Toyworks are kickstarting a new line of dolls called Dream BIG Friends. I saw the prototypes at DCon in Pasadena a couple of weeks and they are beautiful.
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After watching their own kids play, David Horvath and Sun Min (Award Winning Designers of Uglydoll) began a discussion with Klim Kozinevich (Creative Director of Bigshot Toyworks) and wondered; what if there was more? The worlds of princesses and pixies, fashion models and super heroes are all fantastic, but something was missing. The trio set out to create a unique personality in a small plastic body, focusing on aspirational, inspirational and imaginative play. Something that would encourage kids around the world to embrace what makes them who and what they are, inside and out. With all that in mind, Yuna was born!
Yuna is the very first doll in an all new line called Dream BIG Friends. She's also the first Asian American girl to be the center of a doll line! She loves science, travel, rockets, art, design, and Korean food. Her BIG dream is to run a company designing rockets that will one day take her to Mars. She'll be the first one to stand on the planet's surface, naturally. With your help, she’s sure to get there.
Today heralds the launch of a Kickstarter campaign for Dream BIG Friends, where you can invite Yuna and her cat Kamata into your home.
There have been many discussions about body types and unrealistic proportions and attitudes imposed through children's toys these days.
You're probably familiar with Scratch, the introductory programming language that allows kids (and adults) to create interactive stories, games, and animations. Scratch doesn't require lines of code to write programs. Instead, you build programs by snapping together colored blocks. (My book, Maker Dad, has an introduction to Scratch that shows how to make retro-style video games).
Scratch is perfect for kids 8 and up. Recently, MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten Lab announced the release of ScratchJr, an even simpler programming language for young children (ages 5-7) to create interactive stories and games. It's free and runs on iPads and Android tablets.
Mitchel Resnick, who runs MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten Lab, and Marina Umaschi Bers, a professor in the Computer Science Department at Tufts University, have a new book out called, The Official ScratchJr Book: Help Your Kids Learn to Code. The publisher sent me a copy, and it looks like a great way for parents to learn about ScratchJr so they can get their kids up to speed and let them go off on their own. With full color screenshots on every page, it provides a thorough overview of everything ScratchJr is capable of doing. Read the rest
Back in 2004, when designer David Albertson and I were creating a prototype for the magazine that would become MAKE, one the things we came up with was an item called 1+2+3. It was a one-pager with instructions for making a simple project in three steps. We ended up incorporating 1+2+3s into every issue of MAKE. This book collects 69 fully-illustrated 1+2+3 projects (including several that I wrote and illustrated) from the pages of MAKE.
Have you ever wanted to make your own "dice popper" (as seen in the game Trouble)? This book will show you how. You'll also learn how to make a projector that shines an alien head on the wall, an amusing "wobbler" made from two coins, a box that makes a great "boing" sound effect, a light-up hoodie, a simple motor, a $5 smart phone projector, and many more projects. This is a great book to go through with your kids. I guarantee they will say "Let's make that!" at least a few times. Read the rest