Just in case you guys did not know, we have started a You Tube channel!!
It has been a huge learning experience, but we are having so much fun! Please check out the page and subscribe!
We will post all of the videos here as well so that you can easily access them.
Thank you for your continued support!
We have tried to start a book club in the past with no avail because either people were too busy or just not interested. So, instead of giving up, we decided to do something different and have a virtual book club. For the book club, Rahni will pick out a book to read and then she will come back in a month to the blog and NEW YouTube channel and review the book. We think that this will make it a lot easier for both parents and readers as they don’t have to physically be at a place to meet, and also, if they miss this month’s pick, they can pretty much jump in whenever it is convenient for them.
The purpose of the book club is to inspire reading in all ages, but mainly to get other kids motivated and excited about books! When children see their peers doing things, it tends to make it look more attractive or fun, so the hope is that by doing more with the blog and YouTube, kids will find inspiration to pick up more books.
If you have suggestions on books to read, please do not hesitate to comment on the blog or on YouTube!
Thank you for your continued support and for stopping by!
(Click headings for more information)
Price range: about $25
Age range: 5 years old and up
Goldie’s tech-savvy and stylish BFF Ruby Rails is ready to head out on a skydiving adventure. She has fully-articulated joints, hands that grip, and a kit to build her coder backpack and working fabric parachute – all she needs is you.
I was very excited when this doll came out for many reasons, but the main reason is because she looks like my daughter. I cannot stress enough the importance of positive images for children, and the importance of them seeing characters that look like them represented in the media and products. I think that Goldie Blox really won with this one, as she makes me more excited for all of the great products that they offer that promotes STEM curiosity in girls.
Also, check out
Ruby’s Sky-High cable car
Price range: about $89.99
Suggested age range: 14 years old and up
Take what you have and make it a smart device!
This kit includes the CloudBit plus 5 of our favorite prototyping modules; everything you need to create internet-connected devices in seconds. Recreate the most popular smart devices, use littleBits to prototype the next billion dollar idea, or invent a project that solves your own, unique problem.Perfect for hackers, designers, makers and tinkerers of all levels–without the programming, soldering and wiring normally required.
To find out more check out the video below!
Price range: $59- $75
Suggested age range: 6 years old and up
Looks can be deceiving! This is actually a lot cooler than it appears. Admittedly when I first saw it, I thought it looked pretty basic and boring. But the more that I have researched it and the more videos I have watched, I have discovered that this is actually pretty cool! The figurines, which look like add connector toys, are very conducive for stop motion as they are easily ,manipulated and have a wide range of motion due to their flexibility. Your child can create some pretty gnarly looking characters from what’s provided in the studio kit. There are also additional kits for character pieces that are sold separately.
If your child is interested in film, photography, or animation, this would be a pretty awesome gift!
Still not convinced?
Check out this video, that is sure to change your mind.
With the stop motion animation, you can virtually use anything as long as you have the proper equipment. There are many online tutorials and short films of people using various things from Minecraft to LEGO. Check out the videos below!
Price range: $99-$200
$299-500 for G15 KS
Suggested age range: 10 years old and up
I just do not know where to start with this one. The MeccaNoid G15 is a personal robot that constructs up to 2 feet tall. The arms and legs are movable due to 6 motors. The MeccaNoid can mirror images, respond to voice commands, and comes pre loaded with over 1000 jokes, phrases, and fun facts. The android Meccabrain actually walks you through part of the assembly process..wow! The MeccaNiod can be controlled with the free MaccaNoid app installed into your smart device. There is also a motion capture feature that is used woth the MeccaNoid and your smart device to capture movement.
There is no way I can put into words just how amazing the MeccaNoid G15 or it’s big brother MeccaNoid G15 KS are so please, check out these videos below.
This is truly an awesome time to be a geeky kid!
Price range: Starter pack $59-$99
Level packs: $14.99- $50
Suggested age range: 7-14 years old
LEGO Dimensions is a quest game that gives players the opportunity to mix characters and worlds as they journey to defeat Lord Vortech. The Dimensions brands include Back to the Future, DC Comics, Dr Who, Jurassic World, LEGO Chima, LEGO Ninjago, Portal 2, Scoooby Do, The LEGO Movie, The Lord of the Rings, The Simpsons, and The Wizard of OZ.
The game supports 2 local players and mixing of matching of characters and worlds.
To get started, you must have either an XBox, XBox One, PS 3 or 4, or Wii U and a starter pack. You also, need an internet connection.(The internet connection is for updates only right now.) After that you build your collection through various expansion packs with different characters and items from their worlds.
To see how you get started check out this awesome diagram from Gamestop.com
Also, head over to LEGO for these really cool videos and FAQs!
Price Range: $19-$25
Suggested age range: 5-12 years old
This is a little less bells and whistles, but to me it’s just as great because it lets kids use their imagination and creativity. We all remember the fashion plates sets from childhood, right? It had various templates of girl models with different out fits that you rub on the outline and color it in. I loved those things as kid! I would spend hours upon hours making different pictures planning how I would someday take the fashion industry by storm! I recently discovered this very cool activity set that features action heroes in place of fashion models. With the resurgence of comic books and super heroes into pop culture, this gift would be perfect for your little geek. I am not too excited about the crayons that comes in the set, but that’s easily remedies by using your own. And for about $20 it’s not such a bad choice t all!
Light Up Tesla Kit (Blue Tooth)
Price Range: $85-$100
Suggest age range: 8 and up
This is one of the coolest toys that I would definitely recommend for any child whether they consider themselves geeky or not. LightUp introduces kids to engineering, tinkering, and coding with a construction kit that includes magnetically connected circuits. There is an app that is used in conjunction to the kit. Using pre-designed, magnetically connecting circuits and switches, plus a large programmable microcontroller, kids get to build, rearrange, invent, and even program all kinds of real electrical circuits.
For more information watch the video below!
Price range: $19.99- $25
Age range: 5 years old and up
Created by mechanical engineer, Denys Fisher – the Spirograph, originally a drafting tool, was an instant hit in the toy world. It’s been fascinating people ever since its first introduction in 1965.
Beautiful, intricate designs from the motion of gears around wheels – the mathematics and art of it are awe-inspiring.
Price range: $50-$75
Suggested age range: 7 years old and up
Who say’s girls don’t like to build?
K’Nex is another company that has launched products and campaigns geared towards promoting STEM for girls and it’s pretty awesome. They have an entire line of Mighty Makers with really cool construction kits that include an airplane, green house, Ferris Wheel, and more.
Build your dream house from the ground up with Brianna and Sophia in the Home Designer Building Set. Sophia loves building, while Brianna helps with the finishing touches of the interior. These best friends are a dynamic duo when it comes to building and decorating houses. Help them build different styles of houses – a colonial, a brownstone, and a ranch. Decorate the houses using the included accessories and make their home, your home with the Home Designer Building Set from Mighty Makers. Most models can be built one at a time.
Price range: $27.99- $45.00
Suggested age range: 7-15 years old
This ain’t your mama’s View Master!
Mattel has partnered with Google Cardboard to bring VR technology to the youngest audience. Aimed at kids 7 and older, the VR Viewer works with a compatible smartphone to offer an immersive experience in space, landmark destinations, and cool wildlife.
Sew Fab Sewing and Style for Young Fashionistas:
Author: Lesley Ware
Sew Fab is a great book about sewing, style, and designing. There are guides to help you pick your own style tribe, accessorize, and also how to choose your color palette. I love this book because I am really into fashion and clothes. One day I want to be able to use a sewing machine like my mom does to create pretty dresses and skirts to wear. There are also some really cool projects in the book, my favorite one is the After School Tote.
Another thing I love about the book is the illustrations. The pictures look like they are painted with watercolors and all of the girls in the book have on really cute outfits! The colors are bright and pretty The girl on the cover has on Chuck’s and those are my favorite shoes. I sometimes use the book when my mom lets me pick my own outfits.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fashion or wants to learn more about sewing. It has helped me out a lot!
Jem and the Holograms comics :
Author: Kelly Thompson and Sophia Campbell
I love comic books!
I just started reading the Jem and the Holograms comics a few weeks ago. I read all 4 comics in one day and have read My favorite part of comics are the illustrations because I want to be an author/illustrator one day. I have seen the Jem cartoon that my mom used to watch when she was a kid and I loved it!
In the comics the main character is Jerrica Benton but her secret identity is Jem. Jem has a girl band called Jem and the Holograms and they give concerts and help out kids with the Starlight Foundation. Jem has a computer named Synergy that helps her and her band transform and it is super cool! I like the Jem cartoons and comics because all of the stories have a lesson and a moral that I can learn.
I would recommend these comic books to anyone who likes music, brightly colored graphics, and comics. There are 11 books in the series plus a holiday special.
Author: Roald Dahl
My teacher read this book to our class and I loved it so much, I had to read it myself. I want to read all of Roald Dahl’s books because the stories I have seen in movies were great, and I am sure the books are too!
The story is about 2 boys, the narrator and a boy named Bruno Jenkins, who meet some witches and get turned into mice. With the help of the narrators grandmother, they try to find away to turn back into boys and get back at the witches.
I like this book because it is very funny and creative. The funniest part of the book to me, was when the witches were at their meeting and The Grand High Witch told them all that they could remove their wigs, gloves, and shoes.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes funny stories.
The Jigsaw Jones Mystery Books :
Author: James Preller
I like these stories because they are funny and there are real mysteries to be solved. I like to watch NCIS, Sherlock, and other mystery stories with my mom, but I don’t always understand what is going on. The Jigsaw Jones books are very kid friendly and easy to understand. Another thing I like, is that I can read the books easily in one day and still remember details.
The main character is Jigsaw Jones. He loves drinking grape juice and he has a dog named Rags. The story is written like Jigsaw is an actual detective and I like that a lot. It’s not just a kid trying to solve mysteries, he actually is really good at it. The book reminds me of Nancy Drew or Encyclopedia Brown.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mystery stories.
Have you missed us?
Due to technical issues we haven’t been able to upload a new episode in a while, but once again WE ARE BACK!
We have a new format now, and we hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed making it!
Remember to subscribe, follow, and leave us feedback!!!:)
If you were born in the late 70’s or early 80’s like myself, you probably remember the days of booting up computers and typing in commands to do simple things like open a file or a program. If your mom and/or dad was anything like mine, you probably had a computer that had a hard drive that very seldom had the cover on it because of the constant tinkering that took place in attempts to make it process more information faster. I grew up in a house with a computer geek. For fun, my mother brought home Punched cards and green and white striped dot matrix computer paper for my brother and I to play with. We spent plenty of weekend days in cold rooms that had servers and large reels of tape collecting massive amounts of data. To this day, old school white tiled rooms, surrounded by glass, and filled with enormous computers brings back memories of my childhood.
I grew up around computers, like a lot of kids my age. Even if most of us only used them for simple things like playing games from floppy disks, we had a familiarity with them and an intimacy that kids these days don’t. When I powered up my old IBM, there was no pretty icons that showed me what programs were available. There was no mouse that I could point and click and have information quickly at my access.There was no start menu with lists of software to choose from. All we had was the C prompt. That was it. We had to learn. We had to learn how to navigate and communicate with our computers. We had to learn to understand what it was saying to us and how to address the scenario should a problem occur. “Syntax error” meant nothing more than you did something wrong and had to ask for what you wanted again. In magazines, there were fun codes we could run. I remember a code I spent about an hour typing in just for something to flash across the screen. Our world existed on a black screen with a flashing cursor in DOS. It was THE life!
Then entered Windows and Nintendos. Bye floppy disks and C prompts! See you later!
With the rise of the home PC and game consoles came a decline in kids needing or wanting to learn computer coding or about computer language. Super user friendly GUIs such as Windows does almost everything so that most people only need to know how to click icons, right click, left click, and press buttons in order to get to what they want from their computers and other devices. PC’s don’t require the users to do anything at the boot level any longer, so simple tasks such as running a programs from a command prompt is lost on most kids. Many kids don’t even know what a command prompt is. This lack of interest/need, and in adequate school curriculum in computer programming language and coding has lead to a lack of skilled people in the job market.
This lack was noticed by 4 scholars at University of Cambridge in 2006 and they decided to do something about it. In an effort to make learning about computers and coding more accessible and affordable for people all over the world, Eben Upton, Rob Mullins, Jack Lang and Alan Mycroft, based at the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory created the Raspberry Pi.
What is a Raspberry Pi? The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. It is a capable little device that enables people of all ages to explore computing, and to learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python.(Taken directly from www.RaspberryPi.org)
The Raspberry Pi is not meant to replace a pc/laptop. Though the processor is limited, it is still powerful enough to support some really cool projects at an affordable price. You could probably do the same things by buying all of the pieces and building a computer yourself, however, a lot of people don’t have the knowledge on where to start or how to begin. This simplifies the process by having the actual computing component already built with and OS and softawre. It comes with a Linux based OS called Raspbian. On the Raspbian the pre installed software is Python, Scratch, Sonic Pi, Java, Minecraft Pi, and more.
How much does a Raspberry Pi cost?
There are 3 versions of the Raspberry Pi:
(All prices are plus shipping and handling and tax.)
The Model A+ is the low-cost variant of the Raspberry Pi. It has 256MB RAM, one USB port, 40 GPIO pins and no Ethernet port. It costs $20.
The Model B+ is the final revision of the original Raspberry Pi. It has 512MB RAM (twice as much as the A+), four USB ports, 40 GPIO pins, and an Ethernet port. Itcosts $25,
Pi 2 Model B, the second generation of the Raspberry Pi. The Pi 2 shares many specs with the Pi 1 B+, but it uses a 900MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU and has 1GB RAM. It costs $35.
The Pi 2 is completely compatible with first generation boards, and is the model we recommend for use in schools, due to its flexibility for the learner.
At home we have a wireless keyboard and mouse that we plug into one of the USB ports on the Pi 2. The keyboard and mouse both have AA batteries in them, which is awesome as they are not wired together.We also have a 8GB 4D SD card that was pre installed with NOOBS (New Out Of Box Software), camera, a wifi dongle, heat sink, power cord, and an HDMI cord to connect to our television. On the sight and various places on the internet, there are projects that you can do with your Raspberry Pi such as building robots, bird feeders, sensors, automated devices, the possibilities are endless. I will compile a list of some of the projects that I have found that seem like they would spark a kid’s interest.
Where can I get a Raspberry Pi? The Raspberry Pi can be Purchased directly from RaspberryPi.org or other online retailers. We purchased ours through Amazon.
There are also other retailers that offer different kits such as The Kano Kit, Cana Kit, and BrickPi.
The Raspberry Pi is so affordable, you can have more than 1 for various projects and not break the bank. These would also make awesome donations to community outreach programs and schools.
What do I need to get started? It depends on what you want to do and how much time and money you want to spend.
Below are some helpful links and books to get you started on your journey.
Adventures in Raspberry Pi by Carrie Anne Philbin aka Geek Gurl Diaries
Raspberry Pi Projects for Dummies by Mike Cook and Jonathan Evans
Raspberry Pi Users Guide by Eben Upton and Garath Halfacree
Python For Kids by Jason R. Briggs
Raspberry Pi Projects
In my most recent blog post, I shared information with you all on different programs, books, and other resources for teaching kids or introducing them to computer coding. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting more specific information to give you more insight on what some of the resources have to offer. In this day and age it is imperatiove that our children have the tools that they need to be successful in their future. My goal is to share as much information as I can, to help you and children, so that they can be as creative, critical, and imaginative learners as possible. If we introduce our children to STEAM/STEM (science, technology, engineering, (art), and math) concepts early in life, while they are virtually learning new things every single day, the possibilities for where they can go and things they can do in the world will be endless!
The first program that I want to tell you more about it Scratch. I discovered Scratch from an online kid’s magazine called Kids, Code, and Computer Science Magazine . Scratch has been praised as a fun and easy way to get young people into learning more about computer coding. Rahni has taken a great liking to creating and remixing projects on the online community, which pleases me greatly. The website is designed simple enough for children who are pretty comfortable with electronic devices, but they may still need assistance until they become more acclaimated or confidant with the projects. Aslso, a parent or guardian should take the time to read over the FAQ and create the actual account as Scratch is an online community open to people of all ages.
What is Scratch?
Scratch is a programming language created by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT media Lab with the mission of engaging young people to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively essential skills for life in the 21st century.
Here are some of the books that I suggested in an earlier post about coding. These books are specifically for Scrtach.
Scratch Programming in easy steps by Sean McManus
Scratch for Kids for Dummies by Derek Breen
Who can use Scratch?
Anyone interested in learning more about computer coding. Though Scratch was designed especially around young people ages 8-16, many people of all ages are learning and contributing in the Scratch community. Many adults are using Scratch to not only teach their kids about coding, but also themselves. There is also Scratch Jr, aimed at children ages 5-7.
What can you do in Scratch?
In the Scratch online community, or with the Scratch offline editor, you can program your own games, stories, or other interactive media. There are many projects available for the Scratch community to “remix” and view to get ideas from. You can create projects within a project editor using building blocks of scripts, costumes, and sounds. The blocks are codes that tell the program what to do and how to do it. Users can modify or even create their own blocks to fit the project. The only limit is imagination.
How much does it cost to join the Scratch community?
It’s free! The Scratch project receives funding from many foundations such as National Science Foundation, Intel Foundation, LEGO Foundation, and more. Donations are always welcome to support the project.
How much prior knowledge of coding is necessary to participate and create in the Scratch community?
None! Scratch is for learning and creating. Children and adults using Scratch can learn at their own pace and have fun while doing so. Also, there are plenty of projects created by other Scratchers for you to explore, giving you ideas on how to execute your project. In the online community, there are forums and a “Getting Started with Scratch” project that walks you through an interactive animation step by step. Once you get the hang of it, or decide that you want to learn more, there are other resources such as books and You Tube videos.
For more information, please visit Scratch.mit.edu
Follow Scratch on Twitter @scratch
ScratchED online community for Scratch educators
PCMag Scratch Review
About a year ago, I noticed Rahni becoming more advanced in Minecraft, ie., being able to play in survival mode without dying. She was able to do this because she has researched strategies and tips. Through the help of You Tube, the Minecraft Essentials books, a week long summer camp devoted to Minecraft, and other websites, she was finally able to grasp the concept and make the game more enjoyable. While I was hugely impressed by her ability to figure things out and research online different strategies, I was growing more and more concerned with the amount of time she was spending playing games.
Then it hit me.
Me: Rahni, do you want to learn about computer coding?
Rahni: What’s that?
Me: It’s teaching you language to tell the computer what to do in order to do things like make games and websites.
Rahni: Like Minecraft?
That was easy.
The hardest part is finding where to start and most importantly, affordable options.
From my research I have found so much useful information and I’d like to pass this information off to you.
Since there is a projected increase of STEM jobs in our country between now and 2020 of 14%, there is a push in the school system to have more programs and material in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics so that our children are prepared to take those jobs. I think that this is awesome because our children will benefit greatly from having a strong foundation in all of these areas. However, the truth is that many of our children, especially those that are African American and/or poor, will not get the support and instruction that is needed in order for them to be successful. As we all know, there is a huge disparity in income and access to resources causing it to be extremely difficult for children of lower income homes to be able to take advantage of the STEM programs that are available. Many of these programs start in the low hundreds.
Research shows that children in lower income homes actually handle technological devices more frequently than their wealthier counterparts. What does this mean? This means that all is not loss, and that we just need to use our technology in more productive ways. If I’m reading it correctly, it also means that a lot of children have access to smart phones, tablets, iPods, laptops, and desktops but they are not being taught how to use them as educational tools; they’re mostly only using them for entertainment. While this is disappointing, it also creates a huge opportunity.
*Soapbox* I’ve always said that if you have a smart phone that is capable of browsing the Internet and downloading games, then there’s no reason why your child shouldn’t be reading books and learning on it.
To combat the education/technology gap, in some parts of the country there are free and income based STEM programs geared toward marginalized groups such as girls, children from lower income homes, and African Americans. For those of us that don’t have access to any programs like these, and who cannot afford the ones offered in our area, there is the interwebs.
The Internet is chock full of blogs, videos, articles, websites, apps, etc. that have of information on STEM and STEM related resources that can help you and your child. The key is that you have go out there and look for it.
I’ve been researching STEM for elementary school aged children for a couple years now and we have been able to benefit tremendously from the information I have found. From simple tutorials like using Word to more specific subject matter like building robots, there are so many resources to help you teach your child.
Since my daughter’s primary interest is gaming and gaming related subject matter, I will provide you with some of the references that I have found extremely helpful. Some of the websites are free or offer free activities. Some of the websites may also offer fee based courses/programs.
Coding For Kids For Dummies by Camille McCue
Hello World!: Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners by Warren and Carter Sande
Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming by Jason R. Briggs
Scratch Programming in Easy Steps: Covers versions 1.4 and 2.0 by Sean McManus
I hope you find more than a few things helpful for you and your child. Please continue to share the knowledge and pass this post along to any and all who can benefit from it.
Also, please, leave comments and suggestions of other resources to add!