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Archive for the 'Kids & Tweens' Category

NOSES, TOESES & Other Body Parts

Little nose (photo by Paulo Gonçalves, StockXchng)
Body parts from toes to noses are the featured topic on KidsHealth‘s cool, just-updated web site, “How the Body Works.” Click on the body parts, then explore articles (everything from “Cerebral Cortex” to “What’s a booger?”), activities, puzzles, experiments, even an animated movie on your nervous system – which, you’ll soon discover, is “large and in charge.” Plus, did we mention our new favorite superheros, Glandman and Col. Lucy Leukocyte, commander of the body’s immune system?

Two thumbs up for educational value and kid-appeal, and if you’re going to let your youngster wile away his spring break online, this is wayyyy cheaper than Webkinz. (P.S. We had trouble loading the site with Firefox,  but it worked fine using Explorer.)

Posted on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
Under: Health & Safety, Kids & Tweens | No Comments »


Birthday Cake (Bob Fila, Chicago Tribune, MCT Direct) Martha Stewart, eat your heart out. There’s a new DIY/reality show out that’s all about children’s celebrations. Fine Living TV’s new “Cool Kids’ Parties” series offers eyepopping ideas for putting pizzazz into birthday fetes and classroom parties. Some of them are ridiculously Martha-esque, and they all include those icky confessionals, beloved by reality show editors, where the viewer gets to hear the same inane thing twice. (Voice Over: “But Tiffany wondered, as a mother, if she’d be able to handle 35 birthday guests.” Tiffany: “I wonder, as a mother, if I’ll be able to, you know, handle 35 birthday guests.”)

That said, there are some great ideas in there. One episode offers ideas for a Mad Scientist party, complete with crazed scientist, cool decorations and amusing activities. (It airs again this Saturday and Sunday at noon.) Our fave was a surprise tea party for a beloved teacher that included the best teacher gift idea ever: ye olde coupon book with a classroom twist. One coupon was for “instant silence.” Adorable. We’re sold.
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Posted on Tuesday, March 11th, 2008
Under: Kids & Tweens | No Comments »

READER SAYS: Girl Scout cookie sales are exploitative

Girl Scout Cookies (Photo by Jessica Mann, Orlando Sentinel, MCT Direct) A reader says:

“As a father of 2 Girl Scouts, I find this program completely offensive. The central GS committee makes most of the money — the local troup makes very little. While the program does help the girls develop sales & interpersonal skills, there are other ways besides exploitation to achieve those goals.”

The comment was posted on a Times story, Girl Scout cookies satisfy more than a sweet tooth.

Girl Scout parents (I’m not one), what do you think?

Posted on Thursday, March 6th, 2008
Under: Kids & Tweens | No Comments »


Happy Birthday, Legos! It was 50 years ago today that the Lego brick was born in all its colorful plastic wonderfulness, and we, for one, would like to say thank you, Big L, for all those sleepy summer afternoons spent snapping together the little onesies and 2x6s to make spaceships, houses and other fantastical creations. Today, there are enough Legos out there to build 10 columns tall enough to reach from the Earth’s surface to the moon. Lego factories churn out 620 new Lego sets a minute, and the population of Lego people will soon outstrip the number of humans. So when we heard about Steve Klusmeyer’s inspirational little tract, “All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned From LEGOs,” we just had to share:

  • Size doesn’t matter. When stepped on in the dark, a 2X2 LEGO brick causes the same amount of pain as a 2X8 brick.
  • All LEGO men are created equal (1.5625 inches tall). What they become is limited only by imagination.
  • There is strength in numbers. When the bricks stick together, great things can be accomplished.
  • Disaster happens. But the pieces can be put back together again.
  • And every brick has a purpose. Some are made for a specific spot – most can adapt almost anywhere – but every one will fit somewhere.

Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2008
Under: Kids & Tweens | No Comments »

FRONTLINE’S ‘Growing Up Online': Reading Romeo and Juliet in 5 minutes

online Check out Frontline’s Growing Up Online, which aired on KQED Channel 9 Tuesday night and repeats several times this week (TV listings). Although the program slipped into the clichéd dangers of the internet at times, it had some interesting nuggets on how this generation is different.

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Posted on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008
Under: Kids & Tweens, Parenting Issues, Teens, TV | 1 Comment »

TOYS that stay fun

Now that it’s mid-December, the Toy Industrial Complex is fully mobilized, pelting you and your children with relentless pitches for the latest and greatest playthings.

Sure, this stuff has its charms, not the least of the squeals of delight it provokes when unwrapped. But a few days after the big reveal, much of it is destined to be abandoned in the toy box, victim of the old truism: the more the toy does, the less the child does.

And in the long run, that makes the latest and greatest stuff, well — kind of boring.

A few years back, when I wrote for the features section, we polled parents who work at the newspaper to find out which toys in their homes held the most long-term play appeal.

Topping their lists: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, December 10th, 2007
Under: Babies & Tots, Kids & Tweens | No Comments »

K’NEX CHAMP: El Cerrito kid’s fantastical bike takes the prize

That fine bicycle you see above may not win the Tour de France, but it just snagged its creator, El Cerrito tween Kyle Hunt, a $1,000 prize and a perch among the most elite K’NEX toy constructionists. The toy company asked kids ages 6-12 to create an original design using the cool snap-together construction playthings that won Bay Area hearts back in 2003, when K’NEX brought about a million of the little rods, wheels and gizmos to Lawrence Hall of Science for a blockbuster, hands-on exhibit. Unsurprisingly, K’NEX continues to win hearts and awards, including a 2008 Oppenheim Toy Award. (And as a parent, may we say that these toys offer all the creativity and sheer joy of Legos, but K’NEX don’t hurt nearly as much when you step on them barefoot in the middle of the night.) Both Kyle and the bike were honored at ceremonies in New York’s Times Square yesterday as one of 10 finalists. The Grand Prize winner? That would be the 7-ft. tall, dragon-like “Belly of the Beast” roller coaster built by a Washington 10-year-old out of 6,500 K’NEX pieces.

Posted on Friday, December 7th, 2007
Under: Kids & Tweens | 4 Comments »

Mop Boys Boogie at St. Mary’s Basketball Game

Too cute for words – St. Mary’s College’s mop boys, six Lamorinda middle schoolers who swab the basketball courts during college games broke into a hip-swiveling, choreographed dance during a time-out in Tuesday’s upset win over the 11th ranked Oregon Ducks, much to the delight of 3,500 screaming fans. Enjoy!

Jackie Burrell

Posted on Sunday, November 25th, 2007
Under: Kids & Tweens | No Comments »

The Bay Area (hearts) Hannah Montana

hannah montanaIn case you’ve been living under a rock or something, tween pop sensation Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus is in the Bay Area and her fans (heart) her. Big time. Pop music critic Jim Harrington was on hand for Montana-mania Thursday night and he says “The high-pitched screams of pure joy coming from the thousands of preteen girls packing the Oracle Arena arrived in constant waves.” Click here to read his review, then click over here for a teen perspective. Hint: tweens aren’t the only ones who (heart) Hannah. Did you manage to wrangle tickets to the hottest concert in the galaxy? What did you think?
Jackie Burrell

Posted on Saturday, November 3rd, 2007
Under: Kids & Tweens | No Comments »

Five jaw-dropping kids’ costumes

Is it just me, or are some Halloween costumes for kids and tweens pushing the limits of decency? Check out five that had our eyes popping and tell us what you think. Have you seen worse? Do you have pics? If so, share your thoughts in our comment section and send a link to the photos so we can add them to the blog.
toilet1. Maybe this is suitable punishment for a potty-mouth child, but imagine if his name is John.

cop2. Fishnet stockings, short hemline, handcuffs — is she going for the underage stripper look?

whoopebaby3. Oh the humiliation of one day having to answer the question: “And what was your first Halloween costume?”

sumo4. Political incorrectness aside, this costume screams giant heated marshmallow gone bad.

sexyred25. The name on this costume designed for tweens? “Sexy Little Red Riding Hood.” Enough said.

Ann Tatko-Peterson

To see photos of readers’ picks for Jaw-Dropping Costumes, click below.

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Posted on Wednesday, October 31st, 2007
Under: Kids & Tweens | No Comments »