• The Smart Walnut Archive

    This week, my fifth grader experienced her first bout of writer’s block…something that every good student must contend with at some point in their academic career–and one I know all too well. She was attempting to write a speech for school, but couldn’t quite get started. How do you motivate a kid who’d rather be doing anything but sit still? Perhaps that’s why Poppy’s Best Paper struck a chord with us. At a time in the year when kids have had just about enough of school work, this story follows the tale of a confident young rabbit who is certain she can crank out the best paper in her class, without even trying. But this smugness suddenly turns sour once Poppy, back at home, takes [&hellip

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    Homework is a real drag. And at this point in the school year, with the warmer weather beckoning kids outdoors, it’s getting even harder to sit still and get that work out of the way and done! In the spirit of finding innovative (read: inexpensive) ways to entice my newly minted 7-year-old to breeze through her math problems, I presented her with Wild Animal Scented Erasers and boy, did she perk up. These soft erasers are designed in colorful animal shapes–purple gorilla, blue elephant and green frog–and sit atop an easy-to-grip decorative holder. With 5 refills in each pack, your kid can make as many mistakes as she pleases. And don’t be surprised if some of them are intentional; one whiff of those erasing animals, [&hellip

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    There are few things I love more than getting my hands on a new book, especially kids’ books. (And if you happen to be an avid reader of this blog, you’ll understand this completely). The heavenly scent of freshly printed pages gets me every time (no e-readers for me, thank you very much), and the opportunity to dive head first into a new world is incredibly compelling. Books for kids have an important job to do, as far as I’m concerned: They must not only hold their attention, but stimulate their mind and capture their imagination. This season, I’m delighted to find two great picture books that tap into this love of learning with the great outdoors. Bug Detective is the bible for all things [&hellip

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    I’m excited for my first grader who will be taking an after-school program all about STEM. If my dad were still alive, I know he’d be equally thrilled over the prospect of grooming a future engineer–and a female one at that. Because so many girl toys from my childhood were designed in pinks and purples, I’m always on the lookout for playthings that speak more to a child’s fascination with learning while having fun than toys that simply coordinate with her wardrobe. GoldieBlox has had girls’ interests at heart right from the beginning. These innovative construction kits combine storytelling with design and creative play: the stuff that imaginative kids crave. Whether it’s designing a parade flat, a spinning wheel or a dunk yank, girls get [&hellip

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    It’s not your imagination; the days are getting shorter and there’s less daylight. I don’t know about you, but I miss summer! Until then, experts say it helps to expose yourself to more light, making it the perfect excuse to swap out those incandescent bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient LEDs. If you happen to live in NYC and are in the South Street Seaport area this coming weekend, take your old light bulb over to the Cree Great American Bulb Swap and you’ll receive a New Cree LED Bulb for free. The event takes place on Saturday, November 15 and Sunday, November 16 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m

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    Does your kid know his Carter from his Clinton? His Roosevelt from his Reagan? If U.S. history elicits snores and cries of boredom, then it’s time to remind your pint-sized patriot that yes, even these famous men were once kids. In honor of Election Day, we’re giving a shout-out to an awesome middle-grade book that will get kids interested in American presidents faster than you can say ‘Ulysses S. Grant.’ Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood From America’s Presidents gets our vote for entertaining education, as it profiles presidents way back to their (sometimes mischievous) youth. Who knew that Abraham Lincoln grew up with a stepmother who was anything but cruel? Or that Reagan was legally blind as a boy until a pair of glasses [&hellip

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    It’s the first rainy day we’ve had in weeks, and somehow, it’s oddly comforting. Staying indoors practically forces me to hunker down, brew a cup of tea and watch the raindrops fall. And yet, when you add kids to that equation, it suddenly becomes a different story. Lucky for us, my 6-year-old had a puppet-making class at our local library this morning that helped save the day. On our way out, we stopped by a table of books featuring kids’ crafts, an ideal way to extend the creative experience back at home. While we perused several noteworthy recommendations, nothing comes close to the recent book I received for review. The Complete Book of Activities, Games, Stories, Props, Recipes and Dances for Young Children is teeming [&hellip

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    In our house, losing baby teeth means big business…and I’m talking about the Tooth Fairy making sure she has enough funds to satisfy the expectant child! Imagine how much easier life would be if a kid would rather forgo his cash reward and hang onto his lost tooth as his prize. Such is the premise of The Tooth Fairy Wars, a picture book that challenges kids to think outside the mouth, so to speak. The story revolves around a young boy named Nathan who’s determined to keep his missing teeth, no matter what the Tooth Fairy says or does. Page after page, he attempts to outsmart her with a series of seemingly clever antics…but is only met with disdain as she manages to one-up him. [&hellip

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    When my husband was a kid, he liked to watch “Inspector Gadget.” He may have thought the adventures alone were cool, but personally, I think he was mesmerized by his watch, which could do just about everything under the sun. If ever we thought those kind of gadgets were a long way off, well, let’s just the say that the future is now. VTech’s Kidizoom Smartwatch is probably the hardest-working timepiece we’ve ever seen. Ever the multitasker, this wristwatch boasts a miniature camera for taking photos and making videos, four games to play on the go, and (our favorite) a voice recorder with five voice changing effects (bet Inspector Gadget would have loved that). Kids will love to dress up their pix with personalized picture [&hellip

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    “Tempus fugit,” my grandfather used to say. For those unschooled in Latin, the expression means time flies, with the implication that you’re having fun, of course. I wish I could say this is the case for my 6-year-old, but she’s already crying the boredom blues…and it’s only the second week of summer vacation! When I tell her we’re heading to the beach, she reminds me that we “did that already.” To the library? “I already have enough books.” (Not a phrase I could personally ever relate to.) Well, since this kid has her eye on the clock more than any summer-loving child every should, the least she could do is learn to tell time….and I don’t mean the digital way! Later this month, Maple Landmark [&hellip

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