All posts in Education

STEM TOY: Ozobot (robotics using markers)

STEM TOY: Ozobot (robotics using markers)

I’m always looking for STEM toys for my son to get him off screens. When I was offered this toy, I didn’t really know what it was, but it sounded like it was worth checking out. The packaging doesn’t really do it justice in terms of how simple and fun it is to use so it sat for weeks, untouched.

STEM TOY: Ozobot

Finally, I got my son to open the box. And we found a nice package of stickers, markers and a very small robot! I wish that was on the box. We would have torn the box open much sooner!

Ozobot STEM toy for kids

STEM TOY: Ozobot

The Ozobot is a very cool toy that teaches kids the principles of programming using this small robot and markers! Yes! Markers. And stickers!

STEM TOY: Ozobot

You program the Ozobot’s path by using colored markers to lay a track that it will follow.

Ozobot STEM Toy for kids

Different colors in different patterns are pre-programmed to make the Ozobot do different things.

There are stickers with these color patterns that your child can use, or s/he can use markers to get the Ozobot to do different things.

STEM TOY: Ozobot

The Ozobot comes with everything you need including paper paths that your child can customize. The Ozobot itself can be decorated as well.


The Ozobot kits start at $49. I’d recommend it for kids ages 6 and up. I really like how this STEM toy combines art and creativity with robotics in an opened ended way to play. This makes the toy suitable for a wide range of ages, and also makes it more interesting so that your child will use it more than just once or twice. Math and computer programming is essentially understanding patterns, and this toy teaches that concept using markers and colors! This is a toy to lure kids who think they don’t like STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) into the fold!

I received a kit from Ozobot to evaluate with my son. My opinions, as always, are my own.

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

STEM TOY: Ozobot (robotics using markers)

I am an Amazon affiliate which means if you buy anything through my blog, I get a very small kickback at no cost to you. I use this money to pay for postage and handling for my giveaways.

#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

My son started middle school this year and this is my year to evaluate his study spaces now that he will be getting more homework. What’s interesting is that good study spaces are not what I thought: it’s better to mix it up rather than study in the same place all the time. This New York Times Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits article by Benedict Carey upends that idea that a specific place, a study room or a quiet corner of the library is good for retention. The research finds just the opposite.

Instead of sticking to one study location, simply alternating the room where a person studies improves retention. So does studying distinct but related skills or concepts in one sitting, rather than focusing intensely on a single thing.

My son likes to study in different spots around the house. The perfect study space for my tween is actually many locations: his room, my office, and the kitchen.

#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

He likes to read, draw, or do homework in his bedroom lying down.

#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

The reading nook in my office is a sunny spot to work on homework, and I’m near by if he has a question or wants me to quiz him on something like Spanish words.


He likes to do project work here, especially anything messy or arty. It’s really sunny and bright so it’s a nice creative work space.

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Razia's Ray of Hope in Afghanistan

What if You Could Never, Ever Go to School? Book GIVEAWAY

Please welcome my guest author today, Elizabeth Suneby. I met her at Paul Reynolds’ presentation at Charlesbridge Publishing. I had seen her book, Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education, during our Multicultural Children’s Book Day celebration so it was nice to match the book with a face!

Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education by Elizabeth Suneby

Razia Jan is an Afghan native who Global Citizen describes as “the woman who started a school in one of the worst places to be a girl.” She won a CNN Hero Award, given to ordinary people who do extraordinary things. This is her story about building a school for girls in Afghanistan in a poor, highly illiterate, conservative area where girls had never been allowed to go to school. Razia convinced the village elders to let her build a free, private K – 12 girls school and now more than 600 girls are studying Dari, English, math, science, history, computers and the Koran. [picture book, ages 8 and up]

Today, Elizabeth Suneby talks about what it was like to research and write Razia’s Ray of Hope. I’m also giving away a copy of her book below. Read more…

Top 10: Bilingual Spanish Picture Books

Top 10: Bilingual Spanish Picture Books

This is my third bilingual Spanish book list. Author Derek Taylor Kent wrote the first one. The second bilingual Spanish picture book list is from illustrator Wendy Martin. Today’s list is my own, the result of a pile of bilingual books that I’ve been saving for six months, and the books I read to create a Mexico picture book list.

What bilingual Spanish books do you recommend? Thanks for sharing!

Bilingual Spanish Picture Books Hot of the Press!

Marisol McDonald and the Monster by Monica Brown, illustrated by Sara Palacios

Marisol McDonald likes being mismatched but she doesn’t like monsters. After hearing a noise under her bed, she’s certain there’s a monster there. She figures out her own solution to her phobia, but it turns out that the noise has a more prosaic explanation. And now, she has two companions under her bed at night. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Mama the Alien by René Colato Laínez, illustrated by Laura Lacámara

It’s a case of mistaken identity. Sofia finds Mamá’s identification card in her purse and discovers that she’s an alien. Sofia now believes that she’s half alien and gets to work to figure out what this might mean. What language does an alien speak? Will space ships land in her yard? Does she have hidden alien body parts? Finally, her parents realize what Sofia thinks and explain their reason for celebration. Mamá is becoming a citizen! Her old card was a Resident Alien card, which has been renamed Permanent Resident. This a humorous picture book to discuss the process of Naturalization with kids. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Top 10: Bilingual Spanish Picture Books

10. Olinguito, from A to Z! by Lulu Delacre

Join a zoologist in the cloud forest as he searches for the elusive olinguito. The Spanish version showcases alliteration, while the English version tells an alphabet story of the animals in the enchanted forest of Ecuador. Together, both reader and scientist discover a new species of raccoon-like carnivores … the olinguito! [picture book, ages 2 and up]

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How a Math Teacher Changed Peter H Reynolds' Life

How a Math Teacher Changed Peter H Reynolds’ Life

Most of us swoon at the mention of picture books The Dot or Ish, making Peter H. Reynolds a household name among those of us who love children’s books. But did you know his twin brother, Paul Reynolds? Together, they are the co-founders of Fablevision and they also write books together.

For any child who doubts the artist inside, read them The Dot, and its sequel Ish. And if you want to see authors and illustrators create their own dot, check out Celibri-Dots.


The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

Finding the artist within can be as simple as making a dot; even when made in anger! How to turn the agony of a blank sheet of paper into an piece of art! This book is dedicated to Peter H. Reynolds’ math teacher who dared him to make his mark … more on that below. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

This companion book to The Dot takes the idea of a frustrated almost-artist a step farther. Sometimes art is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps hyper-realistic renderings are overrated? Reynolds tries to dissuade the idea that art is not necessarily limited to technical drawing skills. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

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RISD Precollege Program Summer 2016

RISD Pre-College Program Summer 2016

Rhode Island School of Design Pre-College Program

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you probably know all the steps that led up to my daughter’s (Grasshopper and Sensei) RISD Pre-College Program. First, we looked at Art and Design Schools’ summer programs. She got four concussions her sophomore year of high school which lead to anxiety and panic attacks.

Her dorm room was spacious. 4 students shared one bathroom with shower. Each room was set up for two.

She was enrolled in the RISD Pre-College 6 week summer program as a resident student, but after three traumatic days, we switched her to a commuter student … 5 days a week from Boston to Providence, Rhode Island!

It was not the easiest commute — about 1.5 hours each way from door to door, sometimes more — but she made it to every class and, by a miracle of god, was never tardy.

RISD Rhode Island School of Design Pre-College ProgramRead more…

Top Tips to Help Your Child Settle in Well at School

Top Tips to Help Your Child Settle in Well at School

The back-to-school period at the beginning of a new term or a new school year can be stressful for both parents and children. For parents, there is always a long list of items on the checklist to tick off before day one, while for kids there is a potential flurry of nerves to deal with due to starting at a new school, making new friends, or trying to keep up with an influx of homework or a busy extracurricular schedule.

If you’re trying to be as organized and proactive as possible when it comes to sending your child off to school, it’s best to plan ahead and be prepared. Read on for some important things to keep top of mind today.

Top Tips to Help Your Child Settle in Well at School

Choose the Right School for Your Family’s Needs

One of the best things you can do to help your child when it comes to schooling is to actually ensure they are attending the right venue for their needs. With children all being so different, and requiring different facilities, support and teaching styles as a result, there shouldn’t be a “one size fits all” approach. When comparing schools, you should keep in mind things like your child’s interests (like music, art, drama, or sports), as well as their particular mental, emotional, and physical needs.

It is also important to consider familial beliefs when it comes to choosing a school. If faith is a priority in your household, you may wish to find a top Jewish boarding school or a local Catholic or other religious private school, as an example, so that the appropriate family values and customs are upheld. This will also make it easier for your child to settle straight in at school. Read more…

Maker Space STEAM: 3D Printing Camp

Maker Space STEAM: 3D Printing Camp

PickyKidPix joined her brother at computer camp this summer. This was her first introduction to the computer camp that he has been going to for the past three years. They picked 3D Printing this year which struck me as the perfect partnership of ART in STEM or STEAM.

3d Printing Camp is Art in STEM

PickyKidPix, now 14 years old, would be the first to tell you that she doesn’t think of herself as arty (more crafty), nor computer science oriented although she does like math and science. She called this camp nerd camp and we wondered how she would fare since she wasn’t able to get any of her friends to join her.

how to get girls interested in STEM and STEAM

It turns out that she does have an interest in Industrial Design. All her designs were practical applications of 3D printing. She made dog tags for her dog because she has long complained that the current dog tag is inadequate. She attempted to design retainer cases which took the 3D printer 7 hours to print (each), and were all failures.

3D printing camp projects

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Easy Sun Catcher Craft

Easy Sun Catcher Craft for Kids

This Sun Catcher Craft is easy and fun. I like it because it uses things you find around the house (with the exception of Epson Salt which I had to purchase).

Supplies on Hand:

Suncatcher Craft

  • spoon
  • 1/4 size measuring cup
  • bowl
  • clear, plastic lid; I used the lid from a takeout container
  • string
  • knife or scissors to punch hole in lid

Supplies You Might Have to Buy:

  • Epsom Salt. I bought this Espon Salt, $5.21, at my local drug store. You don’t need much but you can use the leftovers in a relaxing bath. It’s lavender scented too!

Suncatcher CraftRead more…