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13 Tips for Photographing Nature #NGKInsider

13 Tips for Photographing Nature #NGKInsider

My eldest has a growing interest in photography, especially nature photography. As a National Geographic Kids Insider, I had a chance to listen in on a chat with photographer Kelley Miller talk about how to photograph animals. We also found out how we can be part of setting a Guinness World Record! First, here are some tips for photographing nature from Ms. Miller, illustrated with her photographs and a few of mine: 1. Be patient. 2. Practice … Read entire article »

Filed under: Art, Featured, Science, Sight

Literacy and Technology with LeVar Burton and @NGKids #NGKInsider

Literacy and Technology with LeVar Burton and @NGKids #NGKInsider

National Geographic Kids got me and some of my fellow “National Geographic Kids Insiders” on the phone with LeVar Burton (of Reading Rainbow, Star Trek, and many other initiatives and projects) to talk about literacy and technology. Before heading over to our chat, LeVar Burton was taking pictures of the National Geographic Beehive for the Great Nature Project–can’t wait to see his photos! When he arrived, he was charmingly enthusiastic to have bumped into Oceanographer and … Read entire article »

Filed under: Literacy, Technology

Daisy Girl Scout Crafts and Activities for Earning Petals

Daisy Girl Scout Crafts and Activities for Earning Petals

What are your favorite ideas for earning Daisy Girl Scout Petals? I led my daughter’s Daisy Troop the past two years, with lots of help from a co-leader and some other parents, and we had a great time! As a new leader, however, I often struggled with planning out the year and figuring out requirements. Through the help of the council website and Google, though, we managed to piece things together. Here is a list of … Read entire article »

Filed under: 5-6 (Kindergarten), 6-8 (Early Elementary), Featured, Intrapersonal

Resilience and Academic Integrity at Monsters University #DisneySMMoms

Resilience and Academic Integrity at Monsters University #DisneySMMoms

When we were invited to a sneak-peek screening of Monsters University at the Disney Social Media Moms Conference, I was expecting an entertaining, perhaps even clever prequel to the fun Monsters, Inc. At most, I was worried that the college humor would go over the heads of my young kids. I was not expecting to have a conversation with my six year old about resilience and academic integrity. With Monsters University back in theaters for Labor … Read entire article »

Filed under: Drop-Out, Intrapersonal, Values Education

How to Make a Daisy Chain Flower Crown (Plus, Video Tutorial)

How to Make a Daisy Chain Flower Crown (Plus, Video Tutorial)

In mid-August, the black-eyed Susan and purple cone flowers reach their peak around here. It is a perfect time to take a nature walk and look at all the wildflowers. While we are walking through the flower fields, we like to make daisy chain flower crowns. All you do is: 1. Gather flowers. 2. Pierce the stem of the first flower with your nail so that you can fit a flower through the hole. 3. Pierce the stem of the … Read entire article »

Filed under: 6-8 (Early Elementary), 6-8 (Early Elementary), 9-11 (Elementary), 9-11 (Elementary), Featured, Home Arts, Spring, Summer

Picture Books About Sharks for #SharkWeek

Picture Books About Sharks for #SharkWeek

In honor of the end of Shark Week, here are our favorite children’s picture books about sharks. Most of our picks are non-fiction. When choosing fiction picture books for themed exploration, I try to choose ones that weave facts into the narrative. While there is no shortage of cute picture books with shark protagonists, the sharks tend to take the role of “scary-looking but really sweet inside.” While sharks are not the indiscriminate man-killers often … Read entire article »

Filed under: 3-5 (Preschool), 5-6 (Kindergartners), 6-8 (Early Elementary), Featured, Science

Straw Pan Pipe Craft for Kids

Straw Pan Pipe Craft for Kids

My daughter came home very excited that she had made a pan pipe out of drinking straws at camp. However, she had left the homemade craft instrument there and wanted to make another one. I helped her figure out a way of making one at home. Ours was a little different and she really liked it. Materials: plastic drinking straws tape (clear or decorative Washi tape) scissors yarn or thread (optional)   Directions: 1. Cut the drinking straws in increasingly smaller sizes.   2. Tape … Read entire article »

Filed under: 6-8 (Early Elementary), 6-8 (Early Elementary), 9-11 (Elementary), 9-11 (Elementary), Featured, History and Culture, Music, Performing Arts and Theater, Science

7 Best Picture Books About Zoos

7 Best Picture Books About Zoos

In honor of National Zoo Keepers’ Week last week, here are picture books about zoos my children enjoy! ZooZical: In addition to being a cute tale about animals, this is a lovely story about drawing on your own creativity to beat the boredom blues. When the zoo is empty of visitors, the animals put together a ZooZical–a series of punny acts that draw upon their unique talents. My kids enjoy the lively and humorous text.   If I … Read entire article »

Filed under: 0-3 (Babies and Toddlers), 3-5 (Preschool), 5-6 (Kindergartners), 6-8 (Early Elementary), Featured

Popsicle Craft Stick Pencil Holder

Popsicle Craft Stick Pencil Holder

My daughter has made these Popsicle / craft stick pencil holders as end of the year teacher gifts the last two years and was very proud to see that her kindergarten teacher still uses it. This also makes a great “back to school” craft, whether your child goes to school outside the home or has homeschool. Materials: tin soup can Popsicle / craft sticks tacky glue rubber band acrylic paints/glitter/ribbons for decorating (optional) Directions: 1. Cut the top off of a soup can. … Read entire article »

Filed under: 5-6 (Kindergarten), 6-8 (Early Elementary), 9-11 (Elementary), Featured

Perfect Illustration of the Issues with Common Core Elementary Mathematics

Perfect Illustration of the Issues with Common Core Elementary Mathematics

In the past, I’ve written about the Common Core from the perspective of its inevitable arrival and how we can help prepare our kids. I’ve also written about some of my objections to the Common Core elementary mathematics standards. I couldn’t resist sharing this video, which should be required viewing. Please watch this clever little girl trying to show her mom how to solve a mathematics problem the way she is taught in class. Based … Read entire article »

Filed under: Common Core, Mathematics