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

stage

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.