• The Playful Walnut Archive

    The annual school Science Fair is upon us once again, and that means it’s time to start thinking up clever topics. I’m always amazed how the lemon light bulb and potato-powered battery make their appearance every year. Maybe this year, they can head back to the produce department, and let another veggie take center stage…like the zucchini. Never Insult a Killer Zucchini! is a delightful new picture book that pays tribute to this elementary school rite of passage. If you’ve been wracking your brain to help your kid come up with a prize-worthy experiment, this book not only provides food for thought, but pokes fun at the craziness of kids (and parents!) trying to outdo their classmates. Readers will enjoy this riotous romp, as the [&hellip

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    Barely a week into the New Year, and my resolution-keeping is off to a shaky start. After poring over home magazines and vowing to keep our little abode tidier than in past years, I admit to fighting a never-ending battle. With two school-aged kids and a husband who acquires more stuff than I can track, trying to keep up with the daily clutter is a job in and of itself. Even after de-Christmasing much of our house, I still can’t find a place for all of our odds and ends (sigh…). So, of course when the daily grind gets the better of me, I tend to seek out outlets that give me solace: my cat, a good book and anything that gets my creative juices [&hellip

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    It’s hard to believe that it will not only be a green Christmas this year, but possibly one of the warmest on records. And while it may be too soon to tell what January and February will bring, it doesn’t exactly put us in the seasonal mindset. If you’re looking to get into the holiday spirit –or are secretly hankering for a dusting of snow (don’t worry, we won’t tell)–two new picture books will surely satisfy your fix this season. The Tea Party in the Woods is a tender, unsuspecting story of a girl who sets out to deliver a pie to her grandmother. But before you think you’ve heard this one before, you can stop yourself right there. The lush watercolor imagery of this [&hellip

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    The holidays always usher in a new crop of kids’ movies, and that usually means a slew of toys to go along with them. If you have plans to take in Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur over the long weekend, don’t be surprised if TOMY’s line of dinosaur figures end up on the top of your kid’s wish list. Among the cast of characters is Arlo, an Apatosaurus who may be the runt of his family, but who proves that his small stature is no comparison to his big heart. Another favorite of ours is Forrest Woodbrush, whose branch-like horns enable him to pass for a tree. While he may be able to blend into the trees, we think this lovable creature will capture kids’ attention, [&hellip

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    Ever wonder what your cat does when you head out of the house for the day? If your answer is “sleep all day,” then clearly you don’t know Nature Cat. A natural extension of the Internet-based feline frenzy comes the latest animated television series from PBS Kids that’s kid-friendly and parent-approved. Centered around an ordinary house cat who transforms into a self-dubbed outdoor extraordinaire, this kitty is no slouch by any stretch of the imagination. Complete in a Robin Hood-esque get-up and an equally spirited energy that defies classic kitty stereotypes, Nature Cat and his gaggle of animal friends set out on a series of action-packed adventures that turn a basic backyard into a playground of non-stop fun. Voiced by SNL’s Taran Killam as Nature [&hellip

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    Sesame Street has always been ahead of its time. Since its inception, this beloved children’s television series has represented the diversity of our culture and the very rich tapestry that makes up its own urban neighborhood. Now, with the introduction of its new online program, Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children, families can now better understand autism, which reportedly affects one in 68 American children. At the heart of this digital content is Julia, a preschool character who is also autistic. Despite her differences, she is still a little girl who loves to play and have fun with her friends, a reminder that the universal traits of childhood are still timely. Her experience is played out through a host of online extras, [&hellip

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    In our family, Halloween is a pretty big deal. Every year, my husband transforms our front yard into a cemetery complete with ghouls rising up out of the ground, a gnarled handed witch gesturing to her magic cauldron and a skeleton bursting out of his coffin. Because our kids like to get in on the act, we save the inside decorating for my 7-year-old (our 6th grader is busy still trying to figure out her costume). Because our younger daughter considers herself “pretty crafty,” ordinary construction paper bats and pumpkins just won’t do. This year, she’ll be flexing her creative muscles using the Wikki Stix Halloween Fun Kit. If you’re not familiar with Wikki Stix, they are thin, bendable strips (made from yarn and wax) [&hellip

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    I made a meaningful discovery doing laundry the other day. While emptying out the contents of a pair of pants, I came upon a handful of unexpected treasure: a piece of sea glass and an acorn. I didn’t need to know whose clothing these came from; judging from these finds, I knew it had to be my 7-year-old. She’s the first one in our family to bring home a red fall leaf, and has been known to stuff her pockets with weeds, wildflowers and pine tree pieces…only for me to find them in paper cups filled with water on her bedroom dresser. Little slices of childhood like these are more precious than gold, but to the parent of a young child, they can be also [&hellip

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    I don’t care how old my kids are; I still can’t resist checking out new picture books. Maybe it’s that irreplaceable smell of the freshly printed pages or the excitement of an inviting cover whose illustrations are begging me to find out what’s inside…whatever the reason, I’m hooked on books–and they’re not even for me! As a mom, I find the best books speak to me as a parents as much as they do to¬† my kids. Witty puns read like inside jokes and tickle my funny bone on days I can use it most. And that’s the beauty of Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, an ode to breakfast gone awry. Much like my kids fighting over the last ice pop on a sweltering [&hellip

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    As much as I hate to admit it, summer is quickly drawing to a close. If you happen to live in a place where school has already started, then you know the sting of those first few weeks: Everyone is desperately trying to get back into the swing of things, and you promised yourself you would start off the new school year without yelling. (OK, so promises are made to be broken.) But seriously, we know how hard it can be to motivate your kids to get to the bus on time, do their homework and get to bed…just so they can wake up and start all over again. To give my girls a little boost, we ease into the whole homework cycle by making [&hellip

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