Free Rice: Increase Your Vocabulary and Feed the Hungry.

There is a wonderful site that I go to now and then to challenge my vocabulary.  It’s called Free Rice.  Not only are there levels of difficulty to help develop vocabulary skills, every time you successfully define words, grains of rice are added to your account.  This number quickly adds up.

Where does this “Rice Money” go?  To those in need.  For each answer you get right, they donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.

We spend so much time on social media and computers.  Why not take a few minutes to help ease hunger while doing it.  Here’s the link to the site:

Over 96 billion grains have been donated to date

WARNING: This game may make you smarter. It may improve your speaking, writing, thinking, grades, job performance.  It also makes you feel good.


#BOOKWEEK2020atHOME: Make a Book To Keep or Share.

There are many ways to help your kids make simple books to record their poems, sketches, stories, and doodles. Here is a simple one that requires only a sheet of paper or card stock and a scissor.


Take a standard sheet of paper. Fold in half LENGTHWISE.   2

OPEN. Fold in half WIDTHWISE. Bring each side up to the MIDDLE so you now have EIGHT RECTANGULAR sections.    3

Holding the paper so the LONGEST PART of the rectangles are top to bottom, use scissors to cut a slit through the TWO MIDDLE SECTIONS as shown in the photo above.

FLIP the book upright so it stands as shown in the photo below, with the creased side facing UP and open edge facing DOWN.


Bring the open edges toward the middle:

6That’s It! You’ve made a small book to use for whatever you like. You can decorate the cover, and use them to send special messages, wishes, hopes, dreams, or whatever catches your fancy.

HINT: If you staple TWO BOOKS  – one inside the other – you will have more pages to use for your story.  HAPPY BOOK MAKING!

For more ideas of how to make simple books, visit:



Author Theanne Griffith Presents: Boom! Snap! Whiz! Zap! Getting Kids Excited About Science Through Reading.

Today it is my pleasure to feature fellow children’s book author THEANNE GRIFFITH who is here to talk about her exciting and kid-friendly series of science-themed books called THE MAGNIFICENT MAKERS. The first three books in the series are debuting this year.

The Magnificent Makers #1: How to Test a Friendship and The Magnificent Makers #2: Brain Trouble, May 19th, 2020.

makers 1


makers 2







The Magnificent Makers #3: Riding Sound Waves, September 8th, 2020. 

MM#3 Cover 11320

What led you to the field of writing science-themed books?

I’ve always had two passions: science and storytelling. I’ve spent the majority of my life pursuing my passion for science. I graduated from Smith College in 2008 with a dual degree in Neuroscience and Spanish. I then went on to get my PhD in Neuroscience at Northwestern University. But it was in 2017, during my time working as a postdoctoral scientist at Columbia University that I decided to officially pursue my passion for storytelling as a children’s book author. I’ve always been an avid reader and loved writing. I’m also a staunch advocate for science education and increasing accessibility to science for young learners. Needless to say, it was a natural progression for me to finally combine my two passions by writing science-themed books for kids, like The Magnificent Makers.

Were you a science kid in school? 

 Definitely! Science has always intrigued me. And I always had a knack for it. I loved playing outside and investigating the world around me, whether it be watching tadpoles and crayfish swim in a creek or collecting bugs in jars. I was a naturally curious kid (and I’m still a naturally curious adult!) and science was a way for me to turn my curiosities into testable questions.

What three things do you want readers to know about the books?

The first thing I want readers to know about The Magnificent Makers is that they should get ready for out-of-these world adventures. Literally! Each book follows best friends Pablo and Violet as they make their way through an alternate reality makerspace called the Maker Maze. Every time they visit the maze, they complete a science challenge that is made up of three different levels. And the eccentric maze scientist, Dr. Crisp, guides them on their journey. It’s a lot of fun…but there’s a catch. They need to complete the challenge in one hundred twenty Maker Minutes. If they don’t, they won’t be able to come back for more fun science adventures. Needless to say, it’s always a race against time! Second, they should get ready to learn some cool science! Each book covers a different science topic and is filled with fun and entertaining facts. Finally, readers should know that the fun doesn’t stop when the book is over. Each book includes instructions for two “do it yourself” maker activities in the back matter!

What surprising thing/s did you discover in researching the topics/content?

The Magnificent Makers series is geared towards kids ages 7-10; therefore, given my background I didn’t really learn any new science facts. I’m quite familiar with the science topics covered in the first three books (food chains, the brain, and our senses). But I definitely learned a lot about writing science that is accessible for children. It is quite difficult to write about complex topics such that they are understandable (and exciting) for young, recently independent readers. I went through several drafts of the first book in the series before I finally found the right formula. Additionally, I learned that despite the fact that these are science-themed books, the story and characters must come first. Science isn’t what is moving the plot forward. Instead, the science serves as a backdrop for the adventure that the characters embark upon.

What’s next?

I hope to continue writing The Magnificent Makers series for years to come. Additionally, I have a Caribbean/STEM mashup draft of a picture book that I’m polishing, which should be ready soon. It’s also a dream of mine to write a novel. I have an idea for a contemporary middle grade story that incorporates science themes, as well as an exciting outline for a speculative fiction young adult novel that would involve a dash of neuroscience. The challenge is making time to write! My job as a full-time researcher and mother of a 3-year old and 1.5-year old doesn’t make it easy. Nevertheless, I’m very excited to see where my author journey takes me! 

Theanne Griffith 39

 THEANNE GRIFFITH is a neuroscientist and the author of the STEM-themed chapter book series, The Magnificent Makers. Since she was a little girl, she’s loved both storytelling and science. Her books blend these two passions, taking young readers on out of this world adventures they’ll never forget. Theanne received her BA in neuroscience and Spanish from Smith College, and earned her doctorate in neuroscience from Northwestern University. She currently works as a researcher at Rutgers University and resides in New Jersey with her partner, two beautiful daughters, and three cats. Theanne is represented by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency.

You can buy these books at any of the following:

IndieBound Target Amazon Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million Hudson Booksellers


Can’t Go To The Zoo? Let The Zoo Come to You!

With all of us sheltering in place and most outdoor venues closed to the public, we might not think of zoos or aquariums. But, If you want to give your kids an extra boost to their online learning, many zoos and aquariums are providing online curriculum and classes for kids of all ages to learn more about animals.

Here are some you might want to check out:

ADVENTURE AQUARIUM, Camden, NJ is providing printable word searches, coloring pages, and home craft ideas.


CAPE MAY COUNTY ZOO AND PARK, Cape May Courthouse, NJ is hosting “Zoo School”. Monday through Friday at 11:30AM  they feature a short clip on a different animal and teach about it. They will also answer questions at noon on their FB page.

sleeping leopard

Like watching penguins? JENKINSON’S AQUARIUM in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ, has a webcam on it’s website for you to observe their antics:

MYSTIC AQUARIUM, Mystic Connecticut also does a live Facebook program at 11AM each day featuring a different animal.  jellyfish



PHILADELPHIA ZOO, Philadelphia, PA has a new series “Philly Zoo at 2” where you can get an insider look at the zoo and virtually meet and interact with the animals and staff.

You can also check out the local zoos and aquariums in your state to see what programs they are offering during this stay-at-home learning.



Stuck Indoors? Get Your Craft On!

I know we’re all at the point where we’re getting itchy from “sheltering in place”. Tired of videos and online learning. But, there is one sight out there that can provide hours of crafting fun for kids of all ages.

I’ve mentioned RED TED ART on this blog before, and it is still one of the best craft sites out there. Origami crafts, recycled object crafts, paint, pencil, clay,  paper mache, you name it, there’s a craft for it. Here is a sample using newspaper:

How about Newspaper Easter Bonnets?

Eco & Thrifty, but still GORGEOUS. Fun ways to craft with Newspapers this Easter. Inexpensive craft ideas for Easter. Find Easter Crafts with Newspaper ideas. Great Easter inspiration for all ages. Love newspaper diy crafts and ideas!

Newspaper flowers?

Eco & Thrifty, but still GORGEOUS. Fun ways to craft with Newspapers this Easter. Inexpensive craft ideas for Easter. Find Easter Crafts with Newspaper ideas. Great Easter inspiration for all ages. Love newspaper diy crafts and ideas!

Newspaper Flower Headbands.

Each craft comes with easy step-by-step- instructions on video so everyone can follow along.

For another way to get your kiddos engaged and learning while having fun and creating something unique, check out Red Ted Art.

Cooking With Kids 101.

Since we’re all indoors and the kids are virtual students, one skill you can teach them now that you have some time is cooking. Cooking is a life skill and something important we can share with our children. From my experience as a parent and teacher, kids love to mix, stir, beat eggs, chop, slice, and dice vegetables and bake muffins and cookies. Children are also more likely to eat foods they’ve helped make.

So, roll up your sleeves and get started with some of these kid-friendly sites filled with recipes and tips for every taste.  Make some cooking memories!

easy recipes for kids to make


Save Seeds…Save Life…Spread Some Beauty

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the critical importance of SEEDS.  It’s not something we think much about, but our very lives depend on seeds.  Without them, we have no food.  And we all know how important food is.  If you hold seeds in your hand…you hold life.  Monsanto and other companies hold patents on seeds.  Think about this: THEY CAN CONTROL THE WORLD’S FOOD.  If we want to ensure biodiversity and ample food for future generations, we need to preserve seeds and all the abundant varieties of foods they represent.  How can we do it?

Saving seeds was common practice for our ancestors, to ensure that there would be food even during lean times.  As mechanization and hybridization took over farming in the 20th Century, the practice was lost….but thankfully, not forgotten.

SEED BANKS are popping up in an unusual place…your local library.  There are more than 600 seed libraries in North America.  These collections will provide a free packet of seeds, information on gardening and seed saving techniques.  SEED SAVERS is responsible for much of today’s seed library stock.  It has 25,000 varieties – many of them rare or exclusive – dating before WWII. These seeds belong in the public domain and cannot be patented. The goal is to get these seeds into as many people’s hands as possible.  Why not visit your local library and plant some seeds?


For more information on this important program visit:

You can spread some beauty in your own backyard by making some wildflower SEED BOMBS.

For more garden crafts visit:

Go Treasure Hunting!

If you’re looking for a different family trip or activity this summer, why not give LETTERBOXING a try? Never heard of it? Letterboxing combines hiking with treasure hunting for a fun and unique experience for the entire family.

Letterboxers put small, weatherproof boxes in public places like city parks, campgrounds, state forests, and the like. Then they post clues online for adventurers to follow. The whole family can get involved in puzzling through the directions while visiting new places.

All you need to get started: a notebook, pen, ink pad, and rubber stamp.


1. Visit  or for tips on how to find a hike near you. Then crack the code or follow clues to find the letterbox.

2. When you discover a box, there will be a logbook and a Rubber Stamp. MARK YOUR BOOK WITH THE BOX’S STAMP, SIGN THE BOX’S BOOK, AND STAMP IT WITH YOUR OWN STAMP to prove your family found the treasure.


3. KEEP IT GOING by looking for letterboxes on trips and vacations or by making your own letterbox for  to find.

Happy Treasure Hunting!

To Honor the Memory of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King…Help Your Neighbor.

Many of us have the day off from work or school today to honor the memory of a great man: Revered Dr. Martin Luther King. It can be a day to shop or goof  off, to laze in bed or do nothing. But, is that the message we want to share with our children? To really honor the memory of a man who stood for peaceful protest and equality for all people, why not do something to show kids we can make a difference?

There are so many ways we, as humans who share this wonderful planet, can help one another without costing anything but time. Here are some suggestions for things you and your kids can do for MLK Day and beyond:

  • Visit nursing home residents. So many lonely people would welcome a visit.
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen or food bank.
  • Volunteer for Meals ON Wheels to deliver meals to those unable to leave home.
  • Play with pets in a local animal shelter.
  • Foster a dog or cat.
  • Use to organize meal delivery for a family going through hard times.
  • Go for a walk with a bag to pick up litter for recycling or disposal.
  • Help your kid’s school start a garden.
  • Read to people with low or no vision.
  • Gather some friends to clean up a local park or schoolyard.

Kindness and a helping hand are not something to practice only one day  a year. Every time we reach out to others, we honor the memories of those who spent their lives promoting peace and understanding. Acts of kindness can be contagious. Let’s spread them far and wide.

helping hands


Easy Peasy Party Pumpkins + Wheelchair Costumes.

Last year I volunteered in a Kindergarten classroom for a Halloween party and the room mother made these simple, festive snacks to celebrate the season.  You know your kids will get tons of candy.  So these CLEMENTINE PUMPKINS  are a welcome break from all that.  Better still, kids love easy-to-peel-and-eat clementines.

pumpkinYou can have a clementine decorating party of your own.  Be sure to use WASHABLE NON-TOXIC markers.  Happy snacking!

I came across an amazing article in the October 2016 issue of Family Circle Magazine that featured a dad who makes wheelchair costumes for his son.  He decorates the entire wheelchair to look like a pirate ship, dinosaur, or superhero. When his son went trick or treating, people saw past the wheelchair to the boy  in it.  Since then, Ryan Weimer launched a Kickstarter program with chapters around the country to build costumes for other children each Halloween.  Magic Wheelchair now has chapters in 10 states.

For more info or to donate to this worthwhile cause check out:

Check out some of the amazing costumes here: