I know Time for Kids as a staple of my daughter’s classrooms, but they’re also a great publishers of nonfiction with high appeal for kids. They recently sent us three of their books to get our trivia brains fired up.

Time for Kids Big Book of When invites kids on a journey through time, documenting a wide array of firsts, like the first email sent, the first motorcycle, and even the first popcorn. There are events like the sinking of the Titanic, the first Olympics, and the integration of baseball. There’s scientific information like the timing of bird migration, dinosaur extinction, and the way that sharks breathe. The book is not chronological, so it may be best enjoyed by opening at random and learning about something you didn’t know you wanted to know. I love the beginning of the book, which is like a meta-examination of time itself, explaining how and when we first started telling time, how you can “time travel” by passing through time zones, and describing the use of time capsules. You can also find DIY instructions throughout for making things like a sundial and an electromagnet. This books is a bit of a hodge-podge, but it’s a fascinating hodge-podge.


Bet you’ll never guess what Robots is about! Oh, man! You guess robots, didn’t you? Robots is a great book for young makers, packed with pictures and factoids about a wide array of robots: robots that work, protect, explore, fly, help, and play. The section on “Robots that Kids Make” feels a bit like an ad, as it’ll have your kids clamoring for things like Lego Mindstorms. For kids who are just beginning their love of robots, like my 4-year-old, this book is a great way to show them that robots aren’t just stiff-walking cyborgs. The book seems to love all robots equally, but I wish there were jumping off points for conversations about whether robots should be programmed to do the things that they do. For instance, on driverless cars: “Google is road-testing cars that steer, stop, and start without a human driver. Engineers say driverless cars are safer because the computers react more quickly than humans.” See? What could go wrong? In any case, this book does a great job of building a love of robotics.


You know when you’re out with the kids and they ask you totally random questions about the world that you don’t always have good answers to? X Why Z Animals is like that. It’s framed with the kinds of questions that kids ask, like: Why do dogs wag their tails? Why don’t snakes have ears? Why are bumblebees fuzzy? The book gives simply-explained straightforward answers. Your kids can really become a font of animal trivia with this book. Some of the questions even reveal information in the question itself. Why do koalas sleep so much? Huh, I didn’t know that they did sleep so much. Turns out eating eucalyptus is hard work.

As you’re heading back to school, these books are a great way to inspire curiosity.


Making in Queens: What’s New at NYSCI

by Amy Kraft on August 18, 2014


Today we enter the netherworld of summer in NYC. My Facebook feed is full of first day of school pictures, but here in NYC, we don’t start for over two more weeks. But summer camps have all ended as well, so it’s up to us to entertain the kids. Might I recommend the New York Hall of Science?

I confess that all of my visits to the New York Hall of Science have been during Maker Faire, so we’ve only seen a handful of the great hands-on exhibits as our attention was always on the making going on outside. Olive and I went a while back on a quiet day where we got to really enjoy all that the museum has to offer. It’s really packed to the gills with hands-on exhibits that do a great job of explaining scientific concepts. We love the Sports Challenge exhibit, where we can hit, throw, drive, and surf to learn more about Physics.

The New York Hall of Science is also home to one of the best playgrounds in NYC. Kids can explore music and color and sound in the midst of great climbing structures.


In June, the Hall of Science debuted its best exhibit yet: Design Lab, which Olive and I were invited to preview when we were there. Design Lab adds four new areas to its Maker Space, making it the NYC destination for young makers.


In the Studio, museum-goers add to a collaborative projects. When we were there, kids combined art materials and circuitry to add buildings to the Happy City.


In the Sandbox, kids learn simple methods of combining dowels and rubber bands to create giant sturdy structures.


Backstage kids can create projects designed for performance, like shadow puppets.


The Treehouse wasn’t open when we were there, but it’s designed for experiments that require a vertical drop.

And, of course, in the Maker Space, kids can be hands on with power tools.


All summer long I’ve been recommending that people take their kids there. The new Design Lab has helped catapult the Hall of Science to our favorite place in the city. It’s especially good to have a hands-on museum that interests older kids. My 9-year-old loves it.

Don’t forget to get your Maker Faire tickets, on sale now.


Finding New Shows for My Boy: Violence and Sexism Edition

July 26, 2014

Oz: Mom, can I watch this show? BOOM! SMASH! PUNCH! EXPLODE! PUNCH! Minor narrative insertion. PUNCH! PUNCH! Me (to Oz): Sorry, little man. I don’t think this is a show for 4-year olds. Me (to self): Or anyone for that matter. Oz: How about this show? [Watch show for a while...] Me: Are there really […]

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Maleficent: A Complicated Villain

June 7, 2014

  Olive had a day off from school this week and on a whim while we were killing time between appointments we went to see Maleficent. I had shown Olive the trailer a while back and she said she wasn’t interested, but I had been reading about it being a great feminist film so I talked […]

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Prehistoric Funtime Off the New Jersey Turnpike

June 6, 2014

Last weekend the family and I were invited to a blogger day at Field Station: Dinosaurs in Secaucus, NJ. It’s one of those things I’ve heard about and thought, yes, one day let’s get a car and go do that dinosaur thing in New Jersey, so I was glad to get the invitation as a […]

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Interview with a 9-Year-Old

June 4, 2014

It’s hard to believe my wee little girl is now a beautiful 9-year-old. What an amazing age… still so interested in the world around her with little of the snark that goes so week with tweendom. And yet, she gave me answers to my annual interview questions with no interest in expanding on those thoughts. So, […]

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Happy Birthday to Meeeeeeee

May 22, 2014

Six years ago I had an idea to start a blog as a way of keeping up with the world of kids’ media. And while there have been times life has pulled me away from blogging, I love having this platform to share the things that I love. Thanks, as always, to everyone who swings […]

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My Favorite Thing About Zita the Spacegirl

May 21, 2014

I couldn’t be happier to be a stop on the “My Favorite Thing About Zita the Spacegirl” Blog Tour in celebration of the release of the third book in Ben Hatke’s amazing Zita the Spacegirl trilogy. Olive and I have formed a very special relationship with this particular heroine. For the uninitiated, the story begins when […]

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Minecraft: Beginners Don’t Stay Beginners for Long

May 19, 2014

If you’re an average human being who exists anywhere near computers, you’ve most likely heard of Minecraft. Now, if you’re a game designer who works on games for kids, you’d better know it. Until I had a kid who reached Minecraft age, though, I didn’t motivate myself to give it a go. I just faked my […]

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Interview with a 4-Year-Old

May 7, 2014

Unbelievably, my baby turned 4 this week. That means it must be time for a roundup of his favorite things from the past year. Of course, this is still an age of unreliable witness, so I added some family thoughts as well. Favorite Book: Too Many Toys by David Shannon It’s hard to argue with this […]

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