Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Children's Media Lover's Wish List 2012

Last year's wish list was so successful and really fun to make. I couldn't wait to do it again this year, and I've spent the past few months bookmarking everything from Pinterest, Etsy, Amazon, and random adventures, that I thought might be good for the post. 

This year, I tried to create a mix of fun things that children's media peeps should have in their toolbox, as well as ways to show their love for the field. It does a pretty good of supporting my mission to make this site the official lifestyle blog for people in children's media. 

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Click on the picture for a larger view!

1. This sarcastic mug is a nod to the Trunchbull from Matilda. I can't wait until Matilda the Musical makes its way to NYC so I can get this awesome mug for my desk.

2. Writer's block got you down? Grab a few of these Story Cubes to help you come up with some new ideas and story elements. Also a fun game to play with friends big and small.

3. Going for some special subtlety on New Year's Eve? These Jem earrings are truly outrageous!

4. For the publisher friend who has everything: book fair in a bag created by Sweet and Lovely.

5. Pulled from Jim Henson's Red Book, a journal of his day-to-day musings and activities, Imagination Illustrated should be sitting on your shelf.

6. We preach high production value every day, which Fairie Tale Theatre didn't always have...but these fairy tales have celebrities and whimsical story elements that are sure to capture your child at heart and satisfy your '80s craving. Thanks, Shelley Duvall.

7. Ever wish you could smell like Play Doh? Me too.

8. Just a little something to share your love and appreciation, and they make pretty spectacular party favors: giant super ball in a You're Super! drawstring bag. Made by yours truly and available in my Etsy shop!

9. The Threadless Sesame Street tees are out...and these four are my favorites!

And perhaps the most children's media-worthy gift of all: a tax deductible donation to Children's Media Association!

What's on your wish list?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Children's Media Association Holiday Party

It's a free for all...literally. Come celebrate the holidays, catch up with friends, network, and nosh on some yummy apps.

Head over to the CMA website for more details and to RSVP!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Casting Jem

Jem is truly outrageous, and the main character's perfect combination of super hero, rock star, and girl next door means she's an aspirational character for girls of both 1986 and 2012. Last year, I saw a Halloween-themed episode of Jem and was so inspired. Though the animation was definitely dated, the story was still transferable to 2012, and the series maintained its playability. Is it possible we're due for a Jem redux?

Just the other day, I was perusing costumes when I came across this jem (pun intended)
It was then, that I became determined to pen the live-action Jem script.

What’s that? You’ve already signed some fantastically brilliant female comedy and/or teen writer? Fine. I’ll settle for cast recommendations. If I were to have a hand in the Jem production, I would round out the star studded cast with independent lady musicians who actually rock.

I think Esperanza Spalding would make a great Shana Elmsford:
Neko Case as a little bit older and a little bit wiser Synergy:

Don’t forget Heather Robb as Misfit Roxanne "Roxy" Pellegrini:
Elizabeth Ziman as genius Misfit keytarist Mary "Stormer" Phillips
Lucius would need to make an appearance. They could probably even be another supergroup competitor.

Who would you cast in the lead role?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Guest Blogger: Ashley Moulton

Ashley Moulton is a preschool television production coordinator and member of Children's Media Association

The Presidential Election for Kids

I have lots of personal memories of presidential elections throughout my childhood. I remember voting for Bill Clinton as a kindergartner in my school’s election because he played saxophone and I thought that was cool. In middle school, learning about the Bush v. Gore case in my Social Studies class illustrated the mysteries of the Electoral College. In high school, I was a political pundit on my high school television station’s live coverage of our Mock Democratic Convention.

I’m sure that lots of kids will remember this election, although perhaps equally as many kids echo the sentiment of four-year-old viral sensation Abigael Evans, who tearfully wailed that she was “tired of Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney."  If you’re interested in helping kids engage with the 2012 Presidential Election (hopefully sans tears), here are great ways to help them learn more!

7 tools to help kids engage with the election:

When I was a kid, I always wanted to grow up to be the President. This excellent game, by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s iCivics organization, gives kids the chance to find out just how hard it is to be President. Through your own Presidential avatar, you can make speeches, sign bills, and declare war.  I admit: this kid at heart really enjoyed playing!
Print out colorable line drawings of both Barack and Mitt, or better yet, indulge your own presidential ambitions by drawing your own face on a campaign poster.

3. Watch kid focused news specials about the candidates and the issues:
Linda Ellerbee’s “Nick News: Kids Pick the President” specials show the candidates from a kid’s perspective. Hear the candidates’ views on issues important to kids such as the economy, illegal immigration, and what constitutes Barack Obama’s most embarrassing moment. Interestingly, the results of the online voting that corresponded with Nickelodeon’s “Kids Pick the President” initiative indicated that if it were up to kids, Obama would be re-elected. The kids have predicted the winner for 5 out of the last 6 presidential elections, and only time will tell if they improve upon their record this year.
Click on states to see the different combinations of states it will take to win the Electoral College. Or, predict the states each candidate will win and share your map to show off your expert guesses!

Brain Pop has great animated videos that answer questions like “What makes you a Democrat or a Republican?,” “How do people get to be president of the United States?,” and “What happens during voting, how does it work?.”

Choose adorable cartoon versions of the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates, icons for important issues like healthcare and education, and backgrounds to make it look nice… and voila! You’ve made your own digital bumper sticker. You can save your sticker to the PBS Kids website, and vote on stickers other kids have made.

7. Take a kid to the polls
One of the best ways to interest a kid in the election is to take him or her to the polling place with you. I have fond memories of “helping” my mom vote by pressing buttons in the voting booth. By the time I was old enough to vote myself, I was very disappointed that voting booths no longer had levers to pull (at least in my state). But one thing’s for sure: going to vote with my mom instilled the idea in me that voting is important.

I hope that some of these tools help your little one become more interested in the Presidential Election!

Keep the conversation going @AshboNYC.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Very Hoboken Halloween

There's something special about Halloween! As kids, it was a treasured holiday in my family and we celebrated with great neighborhood parties. This year, I tried to carry on that tradition in my own way by hosting friends in Hoboken. We carved pumpkins, shared delicious fall treats, and dressed up in fun and ridiculous costumes.

Anuja and I as variations of our childhood faves:
Hipster Minnie Mouse and Brunette Rainbow Brite
Unfortunately, for a lot of Hoboken kids, Halloween will come a few days late due to Hurricane Sandy...so, it's STILL Halloween on iGeneration! In the last moments of electricity earlier this week, I pieced together an inspiration board for a future Halloween party with a Ghostbusters theme.

1. Imagine this imposing, inflatable Stay Puft Marshmallow Man greeting guests
2. Use contact paper or vinyl window cover to create ghostly figures in hallway and bathroom mirrors
3. Hang cheesecloth ghosts from fans of light fixtures, but remember: don't cross the streams!
4. Vinyl Craft Lettering sells these peek-a-boo monster decals for an added spook in the least likely of places
5. Egon loved collecting spores and slime, so don't let your guests leave the party without some
6. Lollipop ghosts are easy to make with white napkins and a piece of ribbon...stick them in a pumpkin for a cute centerpiece
7. Ghost cake pops are delicious and spooky--order some for the party of DIYvia Bakerella
8. Tori Spelling threw the ultimate Ghostbusters party for her son's birthday, take a cue from her great table and green decorations
9. A Stay Puft marshmallow bar might compliment some warm hot chocolate
10. Slimer, Ghostbuster, and Stay Puft cookies via Tori Spelling's awesome party are delicious, color-scheme complimentary, and fun

Whether you've celebrated Halloween already or plan to celebrate this weekend, have fun, be safe, and do it up!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I Spy...a cool new piece of furniture

Do you remember the I Spy books? Kids love the challenge of trying to spot something that’s hard to find. It takes focus, patience, and the payoff is a great sense of accomplishment.

While teaching preschool in Massachusetts, a colleague had the brilliant idea to create an I Spy coffee table. She asked all her students to bring in small objects of different colors from their home. The students then sorted the objects by color and counted each group. They placed the items in the table, creating a beautiful piece of furniture and hours of fun.

I thought it might be fun to have something in my home like that! I thought of it as a way to feature favorite small objects from my childhood that I was not ready to part with. I had friends donate any small “junk” pieces at my housewarming party this year. I then scoured my parents’ basement and attic. Like the students, I also sorted by color. It just seemed to work!

But what about the table to put all this great stuff in? I didn’t have the space or tools to properly build the piece of furniture in my small apartment, so I took to the Internet with vigor. It was tough to find something that perfectly suited my idea without costing a fortune. This Urban Outfitters table seemed perfect, but just too much over my budget. I settled on a table that I found on Overstock.com, took out the material inside, and covered the bottom of the table with cork contact paper.
I now have a reminder of some favorite childhood moments and memories, objects that remind me of good friends, a great piece of furniture to talk about with friends, and a piece of art that is always changing and evolving.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Guest Blogger: Sarah Wallendjack

In honor of Halloween, Sarah Wallendjack, friend, producer, and President of Children's Media Association, shares all the Mahna Mahna behind her costume tradition.

During this time of year, I am usually surrounded by fleece, furry fabric and foam. You see, this year will mark the 10th year in a row I have been dressing up as a Muppet for Halloween. What can I say, it's fun. I have been a Muppet fan as long as I can remember and the magical world that Jim Henson created has left an impression. Jim's philosophy on life has been wisdom I turn to often, and I now work in kid's television.

My Halloween tradition started the year I helped coordinate a Halloween costume party at the animation studio where I was working. I found an Animal costume in the child's section at Ricky's. The head piece was amazing and I knew with some creative scissor and sewing work, I could adapt the child's costume to fit me. The following year, I found a Swedish Chef costume, in an adult size, and all the sudden I had started a trend.   

I found some great 'pimp' accessories and it was easy to transform as Dr. Teeth from the Electric Mayhem. In following years, I was able to find a Miss Piggy wig and a packaged Fozzie Bear costume. Both were big hits. I crafted a yellow yarn wig to help me transform as Janice, mmm, OK, and I donned a green dress, a statue of liberty head piece and a headband with ping-pong balls to attend a friend's wedding as Kermit the Frog. But after that I had to get a little more creative. I knew I wanted to be Gonzo, but couldn't find a costume that felt quite right, so I got crafty and turned an old baseball hat into Gonzo's head with lots of feathers and felt to recreate his signature nose.  

Last year's desire to be Sam the Eagle required some more out of the box thinking. I crafted the head out of foam and an old blue blanket. I visited my friends at the Puppet Kitchen for some professional support and to help make sure that Sam's eyebrows looked furrowed and American. Another hit at another party.

I count some professional puppeteers as friends who help me perfect the Muppet looks. I study lots of photos to make sure I can deliver on the comedic details that make the Muppets so unique. 

It is a fun tradition and my goal is to one day have enough Muppet costumes to gather my friends and march in the Greenwich Village parade as the Muppet Show. I still have quite a number of Muppets to cross of my list.  At a minimum, I get a pretty great Facebook profile photo :) If you would like to see who I am going to be this year, follow me on Twitter @swallendjack to get the first glimpse.

All photos by S. Wallendjack.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Element of Surprise

This past weekend, my mother and I each received our Heather Ross surprise packages. Heather Ross, illustrator and fabric designer supreme, does a studio sale each year. This year, she asked shoppers to write a short paragraph about themselves, which fabric patterns they like, and what they might hope to get from the sale. Shoppers then purchased a box size, ranging from small to extra large. Heather explained that the sale would essentially be a surprise. She'd curate the boxes for each individual, based on what was shared in the letter.

This process took a while, and I was filled with anticipation. I essentially paid to be surprised. I spent time wondering about what might be in the package. Would I get fabric or clothing or books or something completely unexpected? JJ Abrams talks about a similar experience in his Ted Talk, regarding a Mystery Box purchased from a magic store as a child. When you don't know what to expect, the possibilitities are endless.

Turns out, the Heather Ross packages were pretty fabulous. My mother and I shared our love for Heather's mermaid prints in our letters, and she delivered with matching mermaid tee shirts and some swatches of fabric.

This experience reminded me of childhood. So much of the world is a surprise and a mystery to a child. This comes along with that feeling of excitement and happy anticipation, but it can also be a little scary. Not knowing what to expect or anticipate could cause anxiety. It makes me wonder how we can curate little boxes of excitement and surprise for young people, while addressing their uncertainty and possible anxiety.

How do you create surprise or mystery for young people in your work?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Halloween Costume Suggestion For My Unborn Child

I'm not a mom...but if I were and had any say in my child's Halloween costume, they'd be an Apple Genius. Though not completely original, I have yet to see a kid dressed up as such, and I wonder, "Why, hipster parents, have you not seized this opportunity?" I did the Etsy search, and I got nothin.

With more kids asking for and owning Apple products than ever before, is the Apple Genius the new superhero? He/she/it brings your beloved devices back from the dead with the power of their brain! Their simplistic uniform and super smarts make them the perfect protagonist.

I think a costume is just the icing on the cake. When will the Apple brand step out of the digital play arena and into more traditional forms of kids' play? Some potential future conversations may sound like this:

-"Playing school, Sally?"
-"Shh! I'm teaching a workshop on iMovie!"

-"Playing handyman, Billy?" 
-"No, I'm repairing Bear's track pad."

I'm in awe of the new Playmobil Apple Store playset. Though I think it's made with the nerdy adult in mind, it's possible that this kind of Apple store/product inspired play could grow.

So, what do you think? Is the Apple Genius the next superhero?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pretty Much the Best Thing I've Ever Seen

This weekend, inspiration hit me like a popped weather balloon hits the ground. I came upon a video of a father working with his child, to send the son's favorite toy train into space on a weather balloon.

The duo connected the train and a video camera to the weather balloon, released it, and tracked the balloon with a GPS. In addition to this amazing parent, child play experience, there's a great deal of science curriculum built in. I'll let the brilliant experience speak for itself in this bit of documentation created by the dad...

I hope you're feeling the same sense of joy that I felt after watching. What an awesome bonding experience for the family!

This experiment probably did not cost much. Surely, the materials are within the budget of a classroom teacher. Are you catching my drift? It's this kind of experience that we can create with and for students. In addition to the engineering aspects of connected the toy and attaching the camera and GPS, the math components of calculating travel, the science of the conditions in which the balloon and toy travelled, the technology involved in documenting the adventure, a teacher could build classroom discussion around what toy would be sent up. There might be voting involved, perhaps the decision to send up multiple toys, predictions of where it would travel and where it would land, parent involvement on the special day of the launch, observations of the travel, and creation of the documentation. This would be an experience a student could not forget. 

I'd love to hear your immediate reaction to the video. Please share below!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Spotlight On: Pop-Up Adventure Play

Pop-Up Adventure Play. Those words combined together evoke so much excitement! How could they not? Pop-Up Adventure Play is a non-profit dedicated to creating public opportunities of spontaneous and child-directed play. I first learned about them while reading a piece about the Century of the Child exhibit at MoMA. They worked with the museum to develop a family workshop experience for visitors. I was desperate to know more about the group, and was fortunate enough to sit down with Sharon Unis from the organization.

Adventure play is not just a modern movement, it’s steeped in history. To my surprise, I learned about the adventure playgrounds developed by children following World War II. They created their own spaces out of neighborhoods that in some way had been damaged. Leave it to children to create joy and beauty from rubble. The movement gained more formality in the UK, and play work is a recognized career. Second Masters degree anyone?

With the other founding members, Sharon has helped develop an organization dedicated to spreading this work throughout the States, and internationally. They decided their playgrounds would be pop-ups, similar to retail establishments that might spontaneously open for a limited time. The play is determined and directed by the children who participate. Sharon emphasized the importance of play in kids’ lives, and the evolution the playground could experience throughout an afternoon. “Every kid brings something different for what they need from a play situation,” Sharon shared.

The biggest question I had was about the materials. Do they ever run out and what kinds of materials do you use? With a big smile, Sharon told me that they haven’t run out of materials, that people work well with what’s provided. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that children don’t need glitz and glam to have fun. That fun is created with a few materials and a big imagination. Pop-Up Adventure Play has provided all different kinds of materials, from newspapers to bamboo.

In New York, they’ve shared pop-up playgrounds in Brooklyn Children's Museum, the 14th Street Y, MoMA, and Governor’s Island, just to name a few (these people definitely get around and can create a playground just about anywhere). I can’t wait to check out the Pop-Up Adventure Play team in action! Sharon spoke so highly of the work that she’s doing, and you can tell she really loves this organization and its mission. Judging from the great pictures, videos, and quotes on the organization’s website, it sounds like the whole team is this passionate!

The organization is not only committed to celebrating play in public spaces, but also to helping parents and educators extend those experiences in their own homes and classrooms. I’m ready to play…who’s with me?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Walk of Fame

In an effort to take a true vacation and relax a bit, I jetted off to California and disconnected from social media. As hard as I may have tried, I couldn't NOT think about children's media's place in Hollywood. I quickly swept the Walk of Fame and found a few familiar names. Further evidence that media for kids, even non-profit media for kids, can make a major cultural impact.

Who do you think should be on the Walk of Fame?

Friday, August 31, 2012

A Visit to the Curious George Store with Jackie Gonzalez

I was turning a Curious George book carousel, seeking the perfect souvenir, when someone started pushing it in the other direction. She had arrived! Jackie Gonzalez, fellow Tufts grad, children’s media scholar and enthusiastic, and kids tech expert, joined me for a spin around the new Curious George Store in Harvard Square. The store had closed during my final semester at Tufts, and I think the whole Boston kids' media and education community let out a joint sigh of relief when it reopened this spring.

The entrance maintains its historical look, but the heightened centrality of Curious George is evident. In its last incarnation, the store sold a mix of many different books and characters. Now, George takes the forefront, with a smattering of other seemingly exclusive books and merch for kid lit lovers big and small.

I really enjoyed the beautiful murals of George and his friends, and I couldn’t help but crawl into a small space created just for kids. The saleswoman at the store shared that this is one of her favorite features, as it allows kids to feel ownership over the store, using the space for play and quiet reading. It’s quite sweet that the store resides in Boston, just a few miles away from WGBH’s studios, home of the Curious George series produced for PBS.

Jackie and I shared a few of our favorite finds with one another. Jackie loved the imaginative play magical wand that plays a musical note when tapped against a surface (she’s SUCH a science nerd). I really loved the mini animals you could pick and choose from. I appreciated that there was something in this store for everyone, no matter what your budget. We both loved the Nancy Drew Cookbook. It must be a future gift for someone!

We ended our reunion with brunch at a nearby cafĂ©. Jackie, perhaps without knowing, ordered a thematic  dish: a peanut butter and banana sandwich. George would be impressed…and then probably try to eat it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Your Personal Playhouse

Inspired by the MoMA Century of the Child exhibit and Sarah Wallendjack's Pee-wee's Playhouse aquarium (that's right), I decided to find a few design pieces to help you create your own playhouse. 

1. A pterodactyl toy or statue envokes Pterri's spirit and makes you look like you know a thing or two about dinosaurs.

2. These yellow gerber daisies may not sing, but they do breath a little life and whimsy into the space.

3. I didn't want a clock that could talk back anyway.

4. Challenge yourself to a geography test. A Globey-esque globe collection of various sizes is always in good taste, too!

5. This Jonathan Adler chair looks like it'd be comfortable and friendly.

6. Warning: robotic garbage can may open and close without command.

7. Lock this sucker up! You don't want it to get stolen like Pee-wee's.

What would you add to your Playhouse?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Scotty Iseri Talks Kids' Tech and Rock 'n Roll Spaceships

Have you heard of Scotty Iseri? I hadn't until a friend sent me this article. His new project The Digits, sounded exciting and innovative, and I desperately wanted to interview him for the blog. Fortunately, Scotty agreed to share some of his inspiration and wisdom with us. Check it out and leave a comment for Scotty...

iGeneration: What prompted you to work in kids’ media?
Scotty: Kids are the best audience in the world.  I used to work in theatre and loved doing shows for kids.  They will follow your story and play along, but the minute you break your story rules, or if the characters aren't true, kids will let you know.  Sometimes rather....shall we say...vigorously? :)

Creatively I'm very interested in interactive technologies. Children are instinctually and naturally native to this technology and they have an expectation that their stories will interact with them.  

iG: Tell us a little bit about your latest project, The Digits?
S: The Digits is the greatest unknown rock band in the entire galaxy.  Gorgolax, the alien drummer, Ray Ray a former home-appliance who learned to play the keyboards and Pavi, the smartest earthling in the galaxy.  They're out to stop the evil Marvwell Doomfinger III from using music to make people stupid.  

The Digits is a live action interactive show designed for mobile and tablets as well as an integrated YouTube channel.  It's a show that includes, natively, all the interactivity of video games and social media.  Kids can play the apps and change the outcome of the story, all while learning math.  Or they can watch our videos online and ask the characters questions, or even get help with their homework.  

iG:What inspired you to develop The Digits?
S: Well, for starters I'm an uncle.  Nine neices and nephews. Watching them grow up in the digital world really inspired the project.  

Also, rock and roll spaceships are cool.  

iG: There are a lot of apps and media for kids out there. What are some unique qualities of The Digits that you’re hoping will get the attention of kids and parents?
S: I think kids will love the world we've created.  It can be hard to find truly enriching educational content once kids are too old for Elmo and Cookie Monster.  This ain't for babies.  We have a strong female lead character in Pavi, and a great cast of creatures, critters and characters.  The adventures we have planned for The Digits have them running afoul of a giant space worm, making a music video for a love lorn space pirate, and finally meeting up with the dunderheaded vat-grown pop stars, The Galaxy Twins.  

And The Digits is a show that plays with you.  When The Digits ask "Are you ready to rock?"  They wait for you to answer.  

For parents we created our educational curriculum under the guidance of a curriculum designer, and it was implemented by a 20 year veteran school teacher.  I was shocked to learn how few educational apps have an educator on their staff to create or implement their curriculum.  It's very important to us that the kids are not only having fun, but getting real educational value out of it.  I think there's an attempt to make the education "secret" or "stealthy," but in reality, I believe kids love learning.  They love the empowerment of feeling smarter, and learning something new. 

Also, we're targeting a slightly older age group than most.  Our target audience is later elementary students (3rd-5th grade), which is a critical time in a child's development.  This is the age when kids are making affinity choices.  They're deciding who they are what they like, and what they're good at.  It's also when math and science start to get way more difficult.  Math moves from simple arithmetic and into more abstract concepts like fractions, or geometry.  The math around this age lays the groundwork for higher level mathematics and The Digits is a good Rocket Booster to middle school math.  

Finally, The Digits rock.  Our show (and music) won't drive parents up the wall.  

iG: What are the challenges and triumphs of distributing your own content?
S: One of the best things has been building a team of collaborators to make The Digits.  You have that kind of flexibility when you work independently.  We have a fantastic team of people working on the project, such as visual effects designed by Xil Creative and a camera team from Studio Pebble.  We have artwork from some amazing comics artists such as Shannon Wheeler, Derek Kirk Kim, and Ron Chan. Our development partner, Battery Powered Games, has been invaluable in offering insights on game design and distribution.  

Of course, it's challenging to distribute content in this day and age, especially finding ways to stand out in a potentially crowded marketplace.  However, we have the same problem that a major game or film studio would have:  it's a busy world out there and it's quality that rises to the top.  

iG: What’s next for The Digits  and for you?
S: Well, The Digits are on a mission.  They need one thousand fans to join the battle of the bands and defeat the evil Marvwell Doomfinger III.  Doomfinger has a wicked plan in store for earth and The Digits (and their fans) are the only ones who can stop him.   

For me I'm working on finding funding for the next round of shows and apps.   We have plans to create a full suite of shows along science, technology and engineering.  We want to create a Sesame Street for the YouTube generation that exists on the platforms where kids are already spending the majority of their time (online and with games).  It's an exciting time to be making something new.

Thank you, Scotty and The Digits team, for a fantastic interview!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Best of Etsy Fairy Tale Finds

Fairy tales were so important in my family. My mother wanted us to believe in the magical, learn to expect the unexpected, and take away the lesson each story had to offer. She cites her sharing these with us as helping to instill some whimsy into our lives, but my take away was the art of storytelling. I learned that good stories, though adapted through retellings, are timeless.

I could spend a month blogging about fairy tales. Actually, I think I will. Until then, I leave you with the best fairy tale items on Etsy right now...

This Einstein quote provides a necessary reminder. If I were teaching right now, this would be on the top of the letter I send to parents at the beginning of the school year.

A true victory to wear the pea you felt under so many mattresses, around your neck.

The detail in this Pinnochio puppet charm takes my breath away.

A Rapunzel wig for pretend play, a costume, or just a chilly morning.

Beware: don't piss off the fairies. You'll live to regret it!

Fairy tale story utensils for picnics, parties, or theater game starters.

Heather Ross's Far Far Away patterns are beyond compare. I love this tech case made with her fabric.

Lover Dovers makes beautiful, retro style princess aprons. Both kid and adult sizes are available!

What's your favorite fairy tale find?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Synchronized Swimming

Since Friday, I have spent a lot of time enjoying and celebrating the Olympics. There really is an event for everyone...even if your thing is hand ball.

Thinking about trying some new Olympic-inspired moves? Allow me to recommend learning some basic synchronized swimming techniques. This great article provides five simple moves to start with.

What could be better than dancing in the water?

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Perfect Flip Turn

Inspired by a graphic how-to illustration in American Girl Magazine  (which cannot be found anywhere on the web), I took to the pool with a mission: to learn how to flip turn.

What better time to work on your swimming techniques than during the Olympics? This instructional video breaks down the turn in a way that would be easy for both kids and adults.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Let the Games Begin!

Do you remember watching the Olympics as a kid? At 11 years old, the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta meant everything. Dominique Moceanu, only a few years older than me, inspired me to believe that young people were talented, capable, and dedicated. The US women's basketball team completely changed the game. Sheryl Swoopes was god!

Whether it's just watching, or getting out there and trying some of the sports themselves, the Olympics can have a big impact on kids.  Get your future medal winner inspired with an Olympic themed party. Need last minute invites? Paperless Post has got you covered! Get the party started right by asking your guests to create their own opening ceremony uniform, from either a country of their choice or a country of their own making! Let them show off their sporty digs while marching around the yard or neighborhood to outrageous fanfare played over your iPhone. 


For decoration, hang up a banner of international flags, or have your guests create their own flags with white paper, crayons, a wooden dowel, and some glue. A chart to keep track of each country's medals is a great decoration, activity, and math exercise.

Don't forget snacks! I'll be making Olympic torches out of ice cream cones and popcorn. Air pop the corn kernels for a healthier option.

A photo booth will keep the party going, and helps each person remember the fun. Buy or make your own Olympic or sport-themed props!

Before each guest leaves, award them all with a medal. Turn it into a game by saying a few nice words about one child, give them a medal, and then have them say some nice words about another kid. Continue this activity, emphasizing that each person has to pick someone new, until each child has a medal.