• The Smart Walnut Archive

    If you’ve been putting off trying to find a gift for the tween/teen in your life, we feel your pain. Gone are the days of cuddly stuffed animals,¬† fashion dolls and action figures…now it seems like all your kid cares about is his phone! If you refuse to resort to a token gift card (good for you!), but don’t exactly want to go to the end’s of the earth either, consider this creative choice that just begs to be played¬†with. Seedling’s Design Your Own Marble Maze gets big points in our book. First, it takes the puzzle concept to another level (literally) by letting kids construct and design their own tabletop-sized maze. They can position walls, add traps and designate stop and start points to [&hellip

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    The clock is ticking, and you still haven’t found that perfect gift for the kid in your life. (Yes, it’s officially time to give up on those Hatchimals arriving any time soon.) If you’re looking for something unconventional, that doesn’t involve batteries and that you don’t even have to wrap, we’ve got the gift for you. Introducing Little Passports Science Expeditions, the all-in-one curiosity kit that will intrigue and fascinate budding scientists on a regular basis. Available as a monthly subscription, this series provides all the tools necessary for kids ages 9 and up to perform themed experiments right in their own home. For starters, they will receive a science case and lab notebook to keep tabs on their experiments in progress. Then, each month, [&hellip

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    As I watched a cascade of wet leaves swirling around outside my window earlier this morning, it dawned on me: Thanksgiving is next week. If you find yourself staring mindlessly at grocery store displays of cranberry sauce and canned pumpkins, you’re not alone. It seems like so many people are walking around in a daze, feeling like they’d much rather fast-forward past the holidays this year. A strange time though it may be, I can’t imagine skipping the one day of the year when families and friends come together to celebrate and give thanks for all they already have. Pardon the expression, but forgoing Thanksgiving would seem to be un-American…and that’s definitely not the message I want to share with my kids. For those of [&hellip

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    I remember that Christmas like it was yesterday. I had asked Santa for the Barbie Dream House, but instead received a Barbie Townhouse. I wasn’t entirely disappointed that I didn’t get exactly what I had written in my letter to him, but more because the house didn’t seem to work as I thought it should. The elevator didn’t go up without banging from side to side, and my dolls kept falling out. Some of the furnishings weren’t three-dimensional, but instead were printed onto the walls (seriously, how’s a girl supposed to hang up her sparkly evening gown without a real closet?). That might have been the very year that I began to lose interest in playing dolls, but looking back, I don’t begrudge Barbie for [&hellip

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    If you have a theater kid, then you must know all about Hamilton. In our house, it’s the perennial soundtrack that my 12-year-old lives and breathes–and she hasn’t even seen the show…yet. While it can be a bit much sometimes, it’s great to see how this musical theater obsession can easily pique a child’s interest in U.S. history. Such is the thinking over at Cobblestone magazine which is hosting the Rap Into History Challenge. To determine what other figures in American history might inspire future Broadway lyricists, Cobblestone is inviting kids ages 9-12 to create and submit original raps that intrigue them. Selections will be judged by a panel of Broadway producers and Cobblestone editors, and winning selections will be featured online and in print. [&hellip

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    TGIF! With the first week of school under our belts, the weekend can’t come soon enough. After figuring out how to make umpteen binders fit in one backpack without busting the seams, working out the kinks in an illogical bus route and filling out all that bloody paperwork, I’m ready to head back to the beach and pretend that it’s still summer vacation! No one ever said navigating the long and winding road of parenthood would be easy, but wouldn’t it be nice if you had some sort of road map to get you over some of those bumps all the way? Since that won’t be happening anytime soon, we think we’ve found a handy ‘cheat sheet’ of sorts that can cover some of that [&hellip

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    Blame it on Jaws. Ever since that blockbuster hit movie theaters back in the summer of 1975, it spooked novice and seasoned swimmers alike and made otherwise confident boaters look over their shoulders a little bit more often. Even 40 years later, the eerie music still freaks me out every now and then while swimming. So it’s no wonder sharks in general have gotten a bad rap, and why so many beachgoers stay ashore when they think they might have spotted the telltale fin emerging from the water. Seeking to remedy this comes Please Be Nice to Sharks, a full-color children’s book that celebrates this ocean creature by zeroing in on the different species and their individual characteristics. Right from the start, readers will learn [&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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    Have you noticed it is getting darker, earlier? As summer reaches its half-way mark and the daylight hours are slowly dwindling, nighttime seems to set in sooner than we’d like. Anxious to take advantage of those lovely nights before they’re out of our grasp, my husband and I happily sat down to dinner al fresco last Friday night…only to be greeted by some unwelcome guests. Enter the ever-pesky mosquitoes (what would summer be without them?). Because we were determined to eat without having them ruin our meal, I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to try out the new Stinger All-Natural Mosquito Repellent Lantern. At first glance, it looks like an ordinary outdoor light you’d have on your deck or patio. But underneath its [&hellip

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    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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