October not only brings Halloween fun every year, but the return of Star Wars Reads Day! As Episode VII gets closer and closer, this year’s event promises to be more exciting than ever. With a ton of new Star Wars books to choose from, events nationwide, and spoiler-free activity sheets for The Force Awakens, Star Wars Read Day 2015 will be a blast!
There’s something a little bit magical about turning a piece of paper into a crane, bear, or dragon through the practice of origami. But turning a piece of paper into Batman? That’s being a flat-out origami superhero. Thanks to John Montroll, origami master and author of DC Super Heroes Origami, you and your kids will be making super origami versions of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and more in no time.
The much-anticipated (at least by my six-year-old) new series DC Super Hero Girls kicks off today with a re-designed web site and webisode! The short animated episode introduces us all to Super Hero High, where heroes and villains alike go to school to learn about their powers and make friends.
If you or your kids loved decorating your house more than anything else in previous Animal Crossing games, you’re in luck! With Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, you can put your own style on the inside and outside of homes of over 300 villagers. You’ll also make a school, hospital, restaurants, and more to make your new town feel like your very own.
Before you pick up the game, now available for the Nintendo 3DS, here are seven things you should know. Continue reading 7 Things You Should Know About ‘Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer’
As a veteran of the Seattle convention circuit, I was ecstatic to peruse new-to-me vendors from across Oregon when I attended Rose City Comic Con for the first time.
With booths that feature one-of-a-kind apparel, Minecraft toys, home decor, and more, all of these phenomenal vendors have one thing in common: fantastic wares to show off your favorite geek loves. Take a look at these super shops and check out their online storefronts to snag some goodies for yourself. Continue reading 4 Super Shops Discovered at Rose City Comic Con
When Brett Dalton and Elizabeth Henstridge took the stage at Rose City Comic Con, you would have expected that all of the questions thrown their way would focus on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But a surprising number of audience members asked Dalton about his recent appearance in Until Dawn, a PlayStation 4 exclusive horror game released in August.
Dalton revealed a few behind-the-scenes tidbits about the frightening but stunning game that any fan of survival horror should pick up. Continue reading Let Brett Dalton Keep You Up ‘Until Dawn’
At this year’s Rose City Comic Con, Brett Dalton (Grant Ward) and Elizabeth Henstridge (Jemma Simmons) took the stage to a packed room to talk about the upcoming season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, premiering September 29 on ABC.
Any time a fan took the mic to ask the charming pair about the show, Henstridge would smile like she was waiting for the inevitable question: “What happened to Simmons?” With her fate up in the air after last season’s cliffhanger finale, someone had to ask. Continue reading Henstridge on Simmons’ Fate in ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’: “You Won’t Be Disappointed”
Today, the Star Darlings take the spotlight on bookstore shelves in a magical new series from Disney. Chapter books, toys, and apps will tell the story of the Star Darlings, magical girls who are working hard to achieve their dreams of becoming wish granters.
“The message I hope kids take away from Star Darlings is that no matter where you were born, what you look like, or what your tastes are, you have the power within you to create the life of your dreams,” says Shana Muldoon Zappa, writer and co-creator of the series. Continue reading ‘Star Darlings’: An Empowering New Series From Disney
When my daughter was a toddler, one of our favorite activities was making handprint paintings together. She loved feeling the cool paint as the brush tickled her fingers, and I loved having a small keepsake of her little hands. Add a Star Wars theme to the handprints, and you’ve got a perfect painting to hang on the fridge or paste in a geek mom’s scrapbook.
Here are three Star Wars handprint painting ideas crafted with small hands to make happy memories.
What You Need
- Washable paint (Crayola)
- Paint brush
- Black marker
You might not have known it, but you’ve been training for 30 years to design the most epic Super Mario level ever.
Or to beat it.
Super Mario Maker not only puts all of your game designer dreams to the test, it also challenges all of your Mario skills with a staggering amount of brilliant levels created by players around the world. Continue reading Create Your Own Mario Masterpiece With ‘Super Mario Maker’
Go back to school with the brightest witch of her age by making a Hermione Granger bookmark to nestle in her one of her favorite things: a book.
This bookmark is inspired by the look of the new Pop! Hermione Granger recently released by Funko.
What You Need
- Black, white, maroon, gold, brown, and light tan/peach cardstock
- Black enamel dot stickers (like these from Doodlebug, found in craft stores with the scrapbooking supplies)
- School glue
- Black marker
Begin by cutting two black strips the same size, approximately 1.25 inches by 6 inches (or 4 inches for a shorter bookmark). Cut a small oval for Hermione’s face, and a strip smaller than the black strip for her neck and shirt.
Next, cut a small shape for the tie out of the maroon cardstock, and a small strip of gold for the tie’s stripes.
Cut a hair shape out of the light brown cardstock, using the oval as a guide for size. (Remember, this is Hermione, so the poofier the better!)
Now it’s time to start putting it all together!
Glue the oval behind the hair, and then glue the white strip to the bottom of the face.
Then, glue the maroon tie under Hermione’s chin. Cut the gold strip to fit and carefully add two stripes to the tie.
Next, cut a small triangle in the top of one of the black stripes for the front of the robe. Line it up with the tie and glue the robe to the shirt.
Flip the bookmark over, and glue the other black cardstock to the back to finish the robe and give the bookmark a cleaner look.
You can also trace her hair on the brown paper, cut it, and glue to the back of her head to finish the clean look.
You’re almost done! Place two black enamel dots for Hermione’s eyes, and draw a smile beneath.
Finally, to add some texture, use the school glue to draw waves in Hermione’s hair and down the length of the robe to give it some detail.
After the glue on the front dries, flip the bookmark over to add waves to the back of her hair with school glue for the final touch.
Allow the bookmark to dry completely, and Hermione is complete.
Every kid knows their mom is a superhero, even if they don’t have actual superpowers. (Although my daughter has wondered more than once how I always know what she’s thinking.) Power Up from Boom! Studios, a phenomenally fun, new, all-ages miniseries, puts a spin on the magical girl genre by adding a superpowered mom to the lineup. And a dude. And a laser whale.
Power Up, written by Kate Leth with art by Matt Cummings, is the six-issue origin story of an unlikely team of superheroes. The story focuses on Amie Bloom, who works in a pet store and can barely scrape together change for a gallon of milk.
On a day like any other at the shop, Amie and a fish in the store named Silas are bathed in a strange light, immediately followed by a dark creature’s attack. Their superpowered adventures are about to begin!
They’re not the only ones who see the light: Construction worker Kevin and married mom-of-two Sandy also suddenly find themselves with superpowers, although none of them know why. They’re brought together as another monster attacks and realize they need to stick together to get to the bottom of it all.
This is an original and diverse cast of superheroes that I can’t wait to see more of. Not only is Amie adorable with a realistic body shape (and I want her penguin hoodie), Kevin is unashamed of his skimpy magical girl uniform. “It’s my armor,” he says, with a touch of pride. Add to that a mom of two teenagers in the mix, and I’m in love.
There are very few mothers in comics, much less superpowered ones, and I feel like there’s a kindred spirit in the pages of Power Up thanks to the inclusion of super-strong Sandy. I’m just sad that there will only be six issues to see a super mom in action.
If you’ve been to any of the major comic conventions across the country, chances are you’ve spotted the Espionage Cosmetics booth stocked with makeup inspired by various geeky passions. After successfully running two Kickstarter campaigns for nerdy nail wraps, Espionage has moved to the next level with two new endeavors: a subscription box service and and a brick and mortar storefront, Geek Boutique.
The subscription box, Nerd Makeup, is currently in beta testing and not yet ready for public signup. The box, however, inspired the opening of the retail storefront. In an interview with FanBolt, Espionage Cosmetics CEO Jaimie Cordero explains:
So the brick and mortar store is half production for the subscription boxes and the other portion is what everyone has been begging us to do, which is, “Where can I come and pick up the stuff in person? Where can your artists show me how to use these colors if I can’t make it to a convention, if I can’t get tickets, if I don’t have time? Where can I do that?” That’s what we’re starting here.
Cordero promises a storefront version of Artist Alley, and the new store delivers. Featuring not only your favorite nail wrap designs and geek-inspired makeup collections, at the grand opening, products from Geeky Hostess, Optimystical Studios, Throwboy, and more were on hand.
If you are coming to the Seattle-Tacoma area any time soon and you want to stock up on nail wraps and more, head to 707 Pacific Avenue in Tacoma to visit the new, gloriously geeky Geek Boutique.
Haven’t had a chance to play Splatoon on the Wii U yet? This is your chance to get inked—for free! Splatoon is back as a “global testfire” (i.e. a free demo) during the dog days of summer.
Since launch, Nintendo has consistently been adding new, free content in game updates. New weapons, stages, and game modes have been keeping the game fresh, and a recently increased level cap adds even more fun for the dedicated Inklings out there.
Check out my review of Splatoon for more details about the game; so far it’s my family’s favorite game of the year.
Visit the Nintendo eShop to download the demo now! Free play is available from 3-5 PM PT on August 21-23.
These picture books picks aren’t for the kids this time: They’re for all the parents out there who are unabashed grammar geeks! If you love grammar, writing, and word play, you’re likely to be more entertained than your kids when you read these clever books aloud together. Introduce writing concepts, palindromes, and grammar to your kids with the entertaining books below.
I Yam a Donkey! by Cece Bell
A fun read-aloud for everyone in the family, I Yam a Donkey! is sure to get some giggles. Simple, bold illustrations accompany the story of a yam and a donkey who just aren’t understanding each other.
A simple grammar lesson and a twist of an ending make this book memorable.
Mom and Dad Are Palindromes by Mark Shulman and Adam McCauley
Teach kids about the fun you can have with words in this clever and unique book. With over 101 palindromes to spot, this picture book is an interactive addition to family story time.
Younger kids might have some trouble grasping the concept of a palindrome, but there’s no better introduction to learning to recognize one. As a bonus, parents will love trying to spot them as well. (My favorite has to be “too hot to hoot.”) If your kids enjoy this one, Ann and Nan Are Anagrams by the same author and illustrator is another great picture book to pick up.
Little Red Writing by Jean Holub and Melissa Sweet
A brave little pencil chooses her own adventure in this one-of-a-kind picture book.
Read this ingenious twist on Little Red Riding Hood to the kids to explore ideas like story structure and different types of words (like adverbs and adjectives), and you just might pass on your love of grammar and vocabulary. You might even learn a new word or two yourself, like “bosky,” a new one for me.
GeekMom received a promotional copy of I Yam a Donkey! for review purposes.
Most moms are familiar with the comfort and style of TOMS shoes. If you wanted to add your distinctive geek style to your comfy slip-ons, though, you usually had to take the time to paint them yourself.
But not anymore! Continue reading TOMS Shoes for Gamer Girls (No Painting Required!)
Summer nights are more than ideal for heading outside to stargaze. Every summer, the night sky lights up with the Perseids meteor shower, a perfect opportunity to watch the stars. This year promises one of the best shows yet, with the peak night predicted for August 13 paired with a new moon. Continue reading Summer Science Fun: Shooting Star Party
This summer Dark Horse Comics is bringing a new magical girl team to comic book store shelves, Zodiac Starforce! Zodiac Starforce #1 kicks off the new all-ages miniseries by Kevin Panetta and Paulina Ganucheau on August 26. Continue reading Meet the Magical Girls of ‘Zodiac Starforce’
Get ready to head back down nostalgia road, gamers! King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember heralds the return of Sierra Games’ classic adventure game franchise. Continue reading ‘King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember’ is a Game to Remember
Is your Instagram feed still sadly lacking in gorgeous comic book art? If 11 comic book artists aren’t enough to satisfy you, here are 11 more artists who share their works in progress, peeks from behind their tables at the biggest conventions in the country, and stunning Imperator Furiosa fan art. Lots of Furiosa fan art.
Cameron Stewart (cameronmstewart) – Part of the team that relaunched Batgirl and the artist for the Fight Club sequel, Cameron Stewart is an award-winning artist who has worked with all major comic publishers.
Isaac Goodhart (izgoodhart) – Current artist for Image’s spooky series Postal and the final issue of Witchblade, Isaac Goodhart is an up-and-coming talent to keep an eye on.
Jorge Jimenez (jorge_jimenez_comicbookartist) – Artist for the Olympus arc of Smallville, Jorge Jimenez is currently working on Earth 2: Society for DC Comics. If you love the characters of Earth 2, check out his feed for frequent updates.
Kristafer Anka (kristaferanka) – Recently announced as the amazing artist of the Captain Marvel relaunch in the fall, Kris Anka has also drawn covers for the House of M Secret Wars series and interiors for Uncanny X-Men.
Marguerite Sauvage (margueritesauvage) – Marguerite Sauvage’s illustration style leaps off the page, especially her beautiful work featuring Wonder Woman. Sauvage is the artist on the new DC Comics digital series DC Bombshells.
Mingjue Chen (mingjuechen) – Mingjue Chen has an animation background that shines through her recent work in Gotham Academy and Batgirl Annual #3.
Phil Noto (philnoto) – Phil Noto is known for his dazzling work on the Black Widow solo series, and was recently announced as the artist on the upcoming Chewbacca solo book. Noto doesn’t update Instagram often, but following him is worth it for the few times he does.
Tak Miyazawa (takmiyazawa) – Tak Miyazawa has worked as the interior artist for recent issues of Ms. Marvel. He’s also teamed up with Greg Pak for crowdfunded picture books The Princess Who Saved Herself and ABC Disgusting.
A rock collection always sounds like a fun collection to start, but most kids invariably stop and ask, “But what do I do with it?” Rock On!, a board game developed by Melissa Weisner, has a new expansion that has the answer: Play with it!
Rock On! is both board game and rock collection in one. There are multiple levels of game play, appealing to kids that are pre-readers all the way through elementary age. The simplest level of game play is a matching game, as kids use the game cards to identify 15 types of rocks. As they play, they learn the rock’s name and properties.
The next levels include answering questions that increase in difficulty about geology. My six-year-old was able to answer the first two levels of questions without much trouble. (The ones with words she didn’t know became an opportunity to chat about science concepts we haven’t talked about before.) With only a relatively small number of questions, she was able to memorize some of the answers the more we played, but she doesn’t consider that a downside to the game. She asks to play time and time again.
I can’t put my finger on the exact reason why, but every time we play Rock On!, my daughter dissolves into giggles. Whether it’s from hearing me trip over some of the rock’s names, or just the joy of playing a fun game together, Rock On! always gets her to smile. She also loves sorting through the 50+ polished rocks that come with the game, and after playing just two or three times, she was able to identify almost all of them.
The newly expanded Rock On! fits the bill of a fun educational game and will spark an interest in geology in every kid that plays it. While $30 may seem like a steep price for a board game, the included rock specimens and accompanying informational cards make it worth it. Pick it up for your next game night and get ready to rock out.
GeekMom received this item for review purposes.
If you’ve ever seen the first two seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, you know that something is just a little bit off about them. Sure, the show was trying to find its footing, but there was also a lot happening behind the scenes of those first two seasons unbeknownst to the fans… Until now. William Shatner dives into the real-life drama and conflict behind the beginning of TNG with a new documentary, Chaos on the Bridge, available now on Vimeo.
The hour-long documentary focuses on interviews between Shatner and members of the Next Generation cast and staff. In addition to being the interviewer, William Shatner also is the writer and director of the film, so that may account for the emphasis on his reactions during interviews. Shatner seems amused throughout the documentary with tale after tale about the difficulty of getting the show off the ground.
Most of that difficulty is focused around the Great Bird of the Galaxy himself, Gene Roddenberry. If you thought that the visionary of the future led a spotless personal and professional life, you’ll be surprised to hear him described by those who worked with him. Opinions ranged widely, but almost every writer agreed that his core belief that there was no interpersonal conflict in his vision of the future made it incredibly difficult to write an interesting story. I’d never realized how little conflict between characters there was in those first two seasons, and this concept continues to fascinate me long after the credits of the documentary rolled.
It doesn’t seem like the documentary was made with the full blessing of Paramount, because there is a disappointing lack of behind the scenes footage, although the illustration style does a lot to highlight the accounts being shared by the writers and producers. It’s a documentary almost entirely comprised of interviews, and the most interesting stories for fans begin when the captain himself makes his appearance.
From the story of his audition to the tales of how seriously he took his role as a starship captain, Chaos on the Bridge answers the perennial fan question of what it was like to work with Patrick Stewart. If you’re a fan of Stewart, this documentary is absolutely worth an hour of your time. The story of his reaction to Good Morning America‘s set visit is worth the price of admission alone.
Chaos on the Bridge is practically required viewing for anyone who grew up believing in the utopian future of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It also gives you insight into the challenges of a television show trying to get off the ground, even one backed by the power of the name Star Trek.
The documentary is available now to rent or buy on Vimeo, and will debut on other digital streaming platforms on August 1. A DVD edition will also be released in September.
GeekMom received a promotional copy for review purposes.
Kids as young as kindergarteners can easily find an interest in all things Egypt, thanks to the allure of mummies, hieroglyphics, and golden tombs. The reality of mummification and Egyptian rituals can be hard to understand—and a little bit scary—for that age, however. Mummy Cat, written by Marcus Ewert and illustrated by Lisa Brown, is an excellent introduction to ancient Egyptology that appeals to a wide range of kids with a simple story with another tale hidden within.
This beautifully illustrated picture book tells the rhyming tale of a mummy cat who longs to be held by his best friend once again. The loyal companion wakes every hundred years to walk through the tomb of his owner, whose fate is revealed in the murals that adorn the walls.
Younger kids will likely miss the story hidden in the murals, a tale of jealousy and spite told in hieroglyphics, but older readers will love to uncover it thanks to the guide in the back of the book. The last pages also include a primer to ancient Egyptian history and culture in terms elementary age kids can understand.
If your child is interested in ancient Egypt, but you’re wary of cracking open an Egyptology book to see a real mummified face staring at you from the pages, Mummy Cat might be just the introduction to history you’re looking for. It’s touching, a little sad, and a book that can be revisited time and time again to uncover new details in the illustrations.
GeekMom received a promotional copy for review purposes.
All it took was the promise of seeing Stampy Cat on Disney XD’s newest TV show, Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything, and my 6-year-old begged for the free episode currently offered on iTunes. We’re a family that loves to play video games and watches the Disney Channel regularly, so it seemed like a match made in heaven… until we got a sneak peek at the pilot.
Stampy Cat kicks off the episode, as promised, gamely playing the part of an announcer (no pun intended) at the finals of a world gaming championship. No girl gamer shown in the finals, I noticed immediately, but knowing that there was a girl in the regular cast, I was willing to let it slide. But it turned out to be the portrayal of that girl that sealed my opinion: If the pilot is any indication, this is a show that plays on most of the worst stereotypes about gamers.
Ashley shushes the others for loudly saying that she plays video games, bemoaning that her volleyball teammates will think less of her if they find out. In an age where almost every kid, girl or boy, plays games either on a smartphone or in the world of Minecraft, it seems like an out-of-date attitude for a character to have.
On top of that, Ashley could have served as a strong counterpart to pro-gamer Conor, with smarts and confidence in both herself and her own skills as a “gamer.” Instead, the character my daughter could have identified with (as an avid game player herself) is an easily-distracted ditz. The other gamers have problems with social skills and lack common sense. Is making fun of people who play video games really still a thing?
Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything premieres on July 22 on Disney XD. The channel is more directed at appealing to a young male audience, so perhaps that explains the stereotypes and depiction of Ashley. And, granted, this is a kids’ comedy show, so my expectations shouldn’t be high to begin with. But knowing that there are wonderful female characters on Disney XD’s shows (I’m looking at you, Star Wars Rebels), I can’t simply excuse it away. We’ll stick to Stampy Cat on YouTube instead.
A new heroine is coming to the universe of The CW’s The Flash and Arrow: Vixen. At San Diego Comic-Con, CW Seed debuted a new trailer for the online series, featuring some familiar voices.
That’s right, that’s Grant Gustin and Stephen Amell, who lend their voice talents to the animated version of their characters. And, just to make us feel like we’re really in their universe, you can hear Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) give the new “external metahuman” her name.
Fingers crossed that Vixen (Megalyn Echikunwoke) makes her way to their shows on The CW as well.
The online animated series Vixen premieres August 25 on CW Seed, and looks like the perfect way to bide our time before The Flash and Arrow return in the fall.
San Diego Comic-Con has been a whirlwind of information this week. The Force Awakens takes Hall H to a private concert! The debut of the new Batman v Superman trailer!
But perhaps the greatest thing to come out of SDCC 2015 is… the Agent Carter vs. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. dubsmash war. Enjoy.
— Clark Gregg (@clarkgregg) July 11, 2015
— Hayley Atwell (@HayleyAtwell) July 11, 2015
— Hayley Atwell (@HayleyAtwell) July 11, 2015
— Clark Gregg (@clarkgregg) July 12, 2015
— Hayley Atwell (@HayleyAtwell) July 12, 2015
There have been a number of fantastic DC Comics books for kids published recently—if you know where to find them! After enjoying Batman Science so much, I wanted to look at some of Capstone’s other new offerings featuring our favorite DC super heroes. How to Draw Batman, Superman, and Other DC Super Heroes and Villains is a step-by-step art book with characters drawn in Bruce Timm’s wonderful style of the animated series. This isn’t a how-to-draw book for young kids or beginners, but the facts included about each superhero and villain make it worthy of being added to a young comic fans’ collection.
As you might expect from a book with this title, How to Draw Batman, Superman, and Other DC Super Heroes and Villains focuses mostly on poses of the first two heroes in the list. Batman and Superman are given the how-tos for their civilian clothes, head and shoulders, fighting in various poses, and even their vehicles and lairs. Having never taken a drawing class and possessing no talent, I was grateful for the head shots, as those simpler drawings are just about the best I could manage.
Wonder Woman is featured on the cover of the book, even if she’s not named in the title, but I was disappointed there was only one full-body action pose included in the book. I would have loved to see the up-close head and shoulders how-to for both Wonder Woman and Batgirl. With the focus on Batman and Superman, it is still nice to see them at least included in the book, along with other heroines like Black Canary, Supergirl, and Lois Lane.
The descriptions and backgrounds of each character, item, and locale make fun reading themselves. This is one of those books that you’ll see your kid curled up with under the covers when they’re supposed to be asleep, memorizing every little fact about the heroes and villains within. With over 50 characters inside, there’s a lot to look through again and again.
How to Draw Batman, Superman, and Other DC Super Heroes and Villains may be best suited for kids age 10 and up who won’t get frustrated when their drawings don’t look exactly like Batman: The Animated Series. But even if your child has never taken an art class, it’s fun to try to draw a favorite character. My 6-year-old and I had a blast drawing a wobbly Wonder Woman and a blobby Batgirl. The drawings may not have been perfect, but we loved laughing and trying together.
GeekMom received a promotional copy for review purposes.
Books about princesses and ballerinas are always fun reads, but it’s also great to find books starring heroines who also enjoy getting their hands dirty and figuring out how things work. Here are three charming and notable picture book picks featuring girls who love to tinker, fix, build, and make.
Interstellar Cinderella, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Meg Hunt
The classic fairy tale meets sci-fi in this lovely and welcome twist on the story of Cinderella. Cinderella doesn’t dream of living in a castle or meeting her prince, but of getting her own ship to fix and tinker with.
All of the familiar elements are there: the unpleasant stepmother and stepsisters, the prince, and the ball, and Underwood’s take on other parts of the tale are both clever and obviously well thought out. Cinderella’s mouse friend is a robot, she comes to the Prince’s rescue, and her response to his marriage proposal makes picking up this book worth it alone. And I’m not certain, but I like to think there’s an intentional nod to Doctor Who in there as well.
Rosie Revere, Engineer, written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts
Rosie loves to build and tinker, but when one of her inventions goes haywire, can she find the courage to keep trying? Not only does Rosie Revere, Engineer include both colorful characters and a great jumping off point to talk about history, the story gives the rare message that it’s okay to fail. In fact, failure can be celebrated, as long as you keep trying.
This important theme and the wonderfully detailed illustrations of wacky gizmos make this a book that we revisit time and time again.
Violet the Pilot, written and illustrated by Steve Breen
Violet is a mechanical genius who loves disassembling and reassembling things to see how they work. When she turns eight years old, her dreams turn to the sky. She works hard to make her own airplane, even as the other kids avoid her or tease her. Her parents support her, which I loved to see in the story, and she and her best friend Orville never give up in their work to reach the clouds.
Violet the Pilot has a vintage feel with soft illustrations, and can even begin conversations about life before selfies and social media.
A new Reading Rainbow DVD is out now, ready to give parents all the nostalgia of sitting in front of the TV and singing along with the theme song. While the show itself may be outdated, Reading Rainbow is moving ahead into the age of the internet with the robust online app Skybrary. Skybrary puts a library of hundreds of books and educational videos new and old at children’s fingertips, making for another great way to get in some invaluable reading time this summer.
Reading Rainbow: Animal Café
This affordable new collection features four classic Reading Rainbow episodes from the 1980s and 1990s. As time has passed, “Animal Café,” the titular episode, has turned into a historical look at the New York City of the 1980s, complete with a synth electronic soundtrack and glimpses of parts of the city that aren’t there any longer. The always entertaining Martin Short reads the picture book of the same name. The one-of-a-kind Gilda Radner narrates the book on the second episode of the DVD.
Classic Reading Rainbow episodes may be too slow and quiet for most kids of this generation, who are accustomed to the frenetic pace of current cartoons and the bite-sized entertainment of viral videos. But if you’re looking for some quiet time with a healthy dose of nostalgia, Reading Rainbow: Animal Café is a great reminder of life in the 80s along with all the enthusiasm about literacy you’d expect from the show.
Skybrary, the app for Reading Rainbow, also includes classic clips from episodes of the past along with new, current educational videos starring LeVar Burton. I came across a gem of a clip, a behind-the-scenes look at Star Trek: The Next Generation.
More importantly, Skybrary features hundreds of quality picture books, which kids can read to themselves or hear narrated. True to Reading Rainbow‘s style, the narration is slow and clear and some illustrations move with simple animations. Kids can turn the pages at their own pace, giving them time to work through words on their own or look longer at the pictures. Some books even include a discussion question for reading comprehension and a glossary for more difficult words.
There is definitely a varied, robust collection of books, with new content added weekly. Use of the site does require a subscription, starting at $9.99 for one month, but you can check out the site for 14 days at no cost. You’re also not limited to the computer screen to use Skybrary; you can even download the app to your tablet or smartphone and access the content on the go.
If a digital library at your kids’ fingertips appeals to you, or you’d love to share the magic of Reading Rainbow you experienced as a kid, give the Skybrary trial a try.
GeekMom received a promotional copy of the DVD and access to Skybrary for review purposes.
When I spotted this ingenious coaster DIY on the Sharpie blog, I just had to make it for myself—with a geeky twist, of course! Sharpies and alcohol turn the ink into a gorgeous, galactic mix. Pick up a few inexpensive tiles from the home improvement store, grab some Sharpies, and you’re ready to get started on your one-of-a-kind Doctor Who tile coaster.
What You Need
- Ceramic tiles
- Rubbing alcohol
- Black, blue, and purple Sharpies
- White acrylic paint
- Painter’s tape
- Eye dropper
- Clear acrylic paint / varnish
- Felt (optional)
- Paint brush
- Glue (optional)
Begin by cutting and sticking the blue painter’s tape to make a TARDIS shape anywhere on the tile.
Next, use the black, blue, and purple Sharpies to draw outer space all over the tile. Be sure to cover the edges of the painter’s tape for a clear TARDIS shape.
Next, use the eye dropper to drip the rubbing alcohol on the Sharpie ink. The ink will run, blend, and form interesting patterns. You can move the tile slightly to help it mix together.
Allow the tile to dry completely.
Next, use the paint brush to splatter stars on the tile. Allow the paint to dry completely. (If there is still wet rubbing alcohol on the tile, it can create a glow effect with the white paint splatter.)
When the ink and paint are completely dry, remove the painter’s tape.
Next, spray the tile with clear acrylic paint or varnish to seal the ink.
Allow the clear acrylic paint to dry completely, and your coaster is complete! Feel free to add a felt backing to protect your coffee table from accidental scratches.