GeekMom http://geekmom.com Smart. Savvy. Social. Tue, 02 Sep 2014 15:20:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Cookie Monster and John Oliver Team Up to Give You the News, and It’s Amazing http://geekmom.com/2014/09/cookie-monster-and-john-oliver/ http://geekmom.com/2014/09/cookie-monster-and-john-oliver/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 15:20:15 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=151842 If John Oliver, Cookie Monster, Al Roker, and Nick Offerman teamed up to deliver the news every night, I'd never miss it!

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I’ve already talked about how this new season of Sesame Street is promising to be more entertaining for parents than kids, and after seeing today’s video on Mashable starring John Oliver, I’m officially a bigger fan of the show than my five-year-old.

If John Oliver, Cookie Monster, Al Roker, and Nick Offerman teamed up to deliver the news every night, I’d never miss it!

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3 Ways to Get Your Alan Rickman Fix in Less Than 10 Minutes http://geekmom.com/2014/09/3-ways-alan-rickman-fix/ http://geekmom.com/2014/09/3-ways-alan-rickman-fix/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 12:00:37 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=151757 These three short films provide a quick dose of a master actor's incredible talent.

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Dust, a short film starring Alan Rickman, made its way though the independent and short film festival circuits with enthusiastic response. Last month, this twisted little tale was made available to watch online through sites like Vimeo and YouTube.

Created with the help of the online crowdfunding platform Sponsume, Dust is the directorial debut of lifelong friends Jake Russell and Ben Ockrent. It not only made the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Long List for 2014, the result of Round One voting by Academy members, it was an “Official Selection” at film festivals worldwide.

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Still from Alan Rickman: Portraits in Dramatic Time. Image courtesy of David Michalek.

Rickman plays a silent, creepy trench coat-wearing man who follows a young girl and her mother (Broadchurch‘s Jodie Whittaker) home. After lurking in the shadows until nightfall, the man sneaks into their home, where something unexpected happens.

Any more information will give things away, but the ending will not disappoint Rickman fans.

For those who can’t get enough of this multiple award-winning actor’s work, here are two other short doses of Rickman to enjoy:

First, Alan Rickman: Portraits in Dramatic Time. This mesmerizing piece of Rickman dunking tea, then having a table-tossing fit in hyper slow-motion, was part of David Michalek’s “Portraits in Dramatic Time” project. The project features performers from all genres creating a 10- to 15-second scene in a small space. Michalek filmed the scene with ultra-high-speed cameras, fixed on one angle. The result was what Michalek called in his project description “glacially paced” dramatic narratives condensed down to an essence.

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Courtesy of Igloo Films.

There were other wonderful performances in this series, but Rickman’s “Epic Tea Time,” as it came to be called, was the one that got the most attention with social media viewers.

Stretching this simple, burst of frustration into a 7-minute performance demonstrates how Rickman has more emotional range in a few simple gestures than some actors can achieve in a full-length film.

SecondThe Boy In The Bubble. Rickman narrates this animated story about a classic horror-loving boy who foolishly tries to avoid dealing with a broken heart via a magic spell.

Stylistically, it will appeal to fans of Tim Burton’s macabre and heartwarming stop-motion films like Frankenweenie and Corpse Bride, although Burton isn’t involved in the project. Rickman’s smooth, dark chocolate voice is what brings this charming little tale its enchantment. Despite its monster-laden overtones, this film is also a redemptive tale of how those who endure bullying or heartbreak may be tempted to isolate themselves away from their problems.

Irish director Kealan O’Rourke has won several film festival awards for his live-action and animated films, including The Boy in the Bubble. As the first Irish-made film to use the 3D stereoscopic process, the short won two awards when it premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh in 2011, and won the 2012 IFTA (Irish Film & Television Award) for Best Animation.

According to O’Rourke’s official site, The Boy in the Bubble is currently being developed into a feature-length film. There’s no specific talk on whether or not Rickman will still play a prominent part in the feature film, but it would be a shame if he didn’t.

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OtterBox Agility Tablet System Offers All-In-One Protection http://geekmom.com/2014/09/otterbox-agility-tablet/ http://geekmom.com/2014/09/otterbox-agility-tablet/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:00:11 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=151776 The OtterBox Agility System combines multiple pieces that function together to keep your tablet protected while improving its functionality.

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00 Agility

Image: OtterBox

Tablets are wonderfully useful devices, but they’re also expensive so it’s important to protect them from damaging mishaps. The challenge is to find a case that does all of the things you want it to do while protecting your device. This is no small challenge, but the OtterBox Agility System combines multiple pieces that function together to keep your tablet protected while improving its functionality.

The OtterBox Agility System is available for multiple tablets including the iPad 2/3/4 and Air, iPad Mini with retina display, Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy Note 10.1 and Galaxy Tab 3. I tested the system on our iPad 3 so all information and pricing is based on that system. Let’s start with why I keep calling it a system and not simply a case.

There are multiple pieces to the OtterBox Agility System, and they all work off of the Agility Shell ($39.95) which is the foundation for the system. Think of this as the kind of sturdy case you likely already associate with OtterBox. It protects your device soundly by putting a hard, thick, plastic shell around the tablet. It has a lip that extends above the surface, which is wonderful since this means when it gets put down roughly on its face, the screen won’t scratch.

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Image: OtterBox

That last bit doesn’t sound like a big deal, but that’s a make or break feature as far as I’m concerned. Don’t believe me? Just wait until your child decides to put your tablet face down on a driveway or bricks or cement. Better yet, wait until you drop it and it bounces onto the driveway before landing face down. Yeah, that little raised edge is a lifesaver.

The plus side to this case is that it’s solid and protects well, but the drawback is that it’s on the heavy side. If lightweight protection is at the top of your list, then this could be an issue. The weight is due partly to how protective it is, making it a case that feels like it will genuinely give your tablet a fighting chance, and partly to the fact that this is the foundation to a larger, interlocking system.

That system all revolves around a magnet built into the back of the Agility Shell. This is what connects the shell to the other system components and is the heart of what makes the whole system so darn good.

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Image: OtterBox

You could just stay with the Agility Shell, but you can add three different styles of folios that add extra protection, covering the touchscreen and functioning as stands for easier use. The base folio is simply the Agility Folio ($49.95) which is a very lightweight folio with a suede-like finish and two stand positions. It attaches to the magnet on the back of the shell and folds around to protect the touchscreen.

The idea of having just a magnet attaching the folio to the shell might be a little disconcerting, but this magnet means business. I opened the folio, let my iPad dangle from the end of it, and even shook it while it was hanging there and it didn’t come apart. Of course, I’m not recommending you do this every day, but it does add to peace of mind that the folio and shell aren’t going to come apart on a whim.

The next folio up is the Agility Portfolio ($69.95) which has a more professional leather finish and folds completely around the tablet. It looks snazzier and has a multi-position stand and is the one you’d likely want if you’re at a client site and want to make a bit of an impression.

Although this one looks nicer and offers some extra protection and extra stand positions, I preferred the basic Agility Folio. It did the job while still being lightweight and easily slipped into luggage pockets during a summer filled with a lot of travel. The Agility Portfolio likely won’t see as much use, although those who find themselves using their tablets frequently during business situations may prefer its more professional look.

The third folio is the Agility Deluxe Folio (Coming Soon) which I did not test, but is worth mentioning since it is a part of the system. It adds on the other two cases by providing storage for things like headphones, a keyboard, and whatever other random bits you need when you’re on the go.

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Image: OtterBox

The last piece of the system is mounting devices. There’s the Agility Wall Mount ($29.95) which you adhere permanently to a surface and allows you to snap your tablet in place, again with the built-in magnet. Anyplace you want to have easy access to your tablet is an ideal spot for this wall mount. Put it in the kitchen to have your tablet at the ready for recipes, or even a bathroom mirror or office wall.

For less permanent mounting, there’s the Agility Dock ($49.95) and Agility Power Dock ($99.95). I did not test the Power Dock, which powers both your tablet and two other devices at the same time. It looks to be very similar to the Agility Dock, just with the addition of charging. I did test the Agility Dock and this is my preferred method of the various mounting and docking systems.

The magnet locks in securely so you don’t have any fear of it falling off of the dock, and the dock can be adjusted to just the right angle. It’s also portable, so you don’t have to worry about it being stuck to the wall in the kitchen when you need it on your workbench in the garage. Just pick it up, and move it wherever you go.

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Image: OtterBox

The OtterBox Agility System offers a comprehensive system, not just a case, for protection of your tablet. You get a sturdy case, a choice of folios to protect your screen, and a variety of docking and mounting systems to make using your tablet a breeze and not break the bank in the process.

I received these products for review purposes.

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First Day of School: Are You Spock or Troi? http://geekmom.com/2014/09/first-day-of-school/ http://geekmom.com/2014/09/first-day-of-school/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 12:30:46 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=151742 GeekMom Melody has always been more of a Deanna Troi then a Mr. Spock when it came to emotions.

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First day drop-off feelings for parents. Photo: Melody Mooney/Spock and Troi via Wikipedia.

Today, I am sitting here in a Starbucks, surrounded by other coffee drinkers and Wi-Fi surfers. It seems impossible but true that it’s been over three years since I joined other adults in going out to be together alone.

Yesterday was the first day of preschool for my daughter. My husband and I stood prepared for this big day. We did all of the tours. We read her all of the right “going to preschool” books. We practiced walking with a backpack and saying goodbye. We met her teaching team the week before. We even did a dry run to her school to get the feel of traffic and parking. The emotional landscape was covered as well. I was prepared for tears or transitional meltdowns from her.

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When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful, a miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical… But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible, logical, responsible, practical. Photo: Melody Mooney.

What I wasn’t prepared for was my own fallout while saying goodbye. Confused and disappointed, I did the tearful parental walk of shame back to my car. It shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did.

I have always been more of a Deanna Troi then a Mr. Spock when it came to emotions.

Curious about how others managed their first day, I did a Google search for why parents cry when dropping kids off. The first page of results were all articles on separation anxiety in children. I scrolled through more and finally found an article on the topic in TheDailyMail.com. It featured a back-to-school  survey by Fairy Non Bio, (a UK baby detergent brand). The questions for parents yielded some familiar sounding answers.

It was revealed that parents were five times more likely to cry than their children on the first day. The study also found that the pain of letting go has even provoked some to try for another baby. Half of the surveyed parents pined for their children’s company and a third missed the background noise.

Now, I won’t go that far, this being the first break in my SAHM constant care since 2011. Instead, I, like many moms, pine for the solitude to read and take a bathroom break uninterrupted. The findings also showed that many of the parents expressed that seeing their children dressed for school marked an end of an era. My reaction seemed to be falling to a normal area, but I wanted to dig deeper.

Still concerned that we were doing the right thing, the words to Supertramp’s “Logical” song rang in my head all day. My mind told me what Mr. Spock would say, but I was feeling Deanna more.

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First day of kindergarten, first day of pooping alone again! Photo: Karen Alpert, BabySideburns.com.

Sharing from my own pre-parental life experience, I can recall another time when I felt this pain of letting go. As a stage actor, there is this lovely time right before a play opens; a bittersweet limbo that lies between creation and observation. It was always a perfect place for art to live. The gift we as performers were sharing was safe from criticism and judgement there in the Neverland.

The last three-and-a-half years of being a parent felt somewhat similar. The gift I was sharing now with the world was my daughter. Would she be welcomed, understood, and respected for all of her amazingness? Would she be accepted and embraced?  Was I being overprotective or greedy, wanting to keep her safely unschooled and keep her to myself?

I was over-thinking this. I mean, it was just the first day of preschool. My anticipation was probably no different from the thousands of parents posting backpack pictures on Facebook.

Looking just a bit more online,  I found a post by Karen Alpert on the hilarious Baby Sideburns Blog. Karen is a fellow mommy blogger and the author of I Heart my Little **sholes.

This amazingly funny picture of Karen and her own daughter brought my deeper musings into perspective. It provided the laugh I needed to get over myself.

Today is the second day of school. Already, it seems much less loaded. Somewhere between tears and laughter, I realized something important. I needed to give myself a bit of a break. I had practiced understanding when my daughter was feeling overwhelmed. I encouraged her to cry and to get out her feelings. If it was good advice for her, it was good advice for me and for you readers, too.

It is okay to feel these big milestones. Go easy on yourself. Get yourself an iced Earl Grey. Accept a Troi-like virtual hug and a Mr. Spock “live long a prosper” from this GeekMom.

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Review: OtterBox iPhone 5s Cases http://geekmom.com/2014/09/otterbox-iphone-5s-cases/ http://geekmom.com/2014/09/otterbox-iphone-5s-cases/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 12:00:43 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=151694 Testing out two Otter Box cases for the iPhone 5s.

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OtterBox, iPhone 5s cases, wallet case

OtterBox Commuter Wallet case, image via OtterBox

I admit, I’m vain about cases for my iPhone. I could easily spend hundreds of dollars tricking it out.

I have a nice collection for my iPhone 4s, including cases featuring Batgirl, Wonder Woman, a wallet case, a hardy survivor/hiking case (my youngest son has that now), and protective cases in various colors, able to be swapped out depending on my mood.

All those became instantly useless when I finally traded up to the 5s this month. It was time to try out new cases.

A wallet case was the first order of business because I found it incredibly useful to have my debit card handy with my iPhone instead of having to dig into my purse for my wallet. The next was a case that reflected my personal taste, something I hadn’t tried before. I ended up with the OtterBox Commuter Wallet series and New England Patriots-logo version of the OtterBox Defender series. Taking them one at a time:

The OtterBox Commuter Wallet case

What I liked:

The credit cards are tucked inside the case and won’t slip or fall out, always a possibly with my old case.

The case itself is rugged and offers excellent phone protection.

It comes with alpha glass to protect the screen.

What I didn’t like:

The slider mechanism for the hidden compartment is tricky to open.

The hidden compartment only holds three cards, maximum. It’s not a substitute for a purse or even a wallet, though it would come in very handy for certain situations like trips to the theme park, where carrying around a purse is a pain, or at an airport, when the phone is out and the wallet is stashed away.

The alpha glass that came with the case was easy to install but I found I didn’t like the look of my screen after putting it on.

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NFL Defender case by OtterBox, image via OtterBox

Defender Series case with New England Patriots logo

What I liked:

The case goes together in stages, with a screen protector, a polycarbonate inner layer, and a harder silicone outer layer, plus a belt-clip holster. This is solid protection. The belt clip-on can be placed over the touchscreen, offering extra protection even if you don’t have pockets.

NFL logos became available just in time for the start of the NFL season.

What I didn’t like:

The belt clip-on offers the extra protection but using it means you can’t access the phone.

Other than the Patriots logo, it is plain. No bells and whistles.

It’s on the bulky side for just a case. That is the flip side of having added protection. OtterBox does have another line with slimmer cases though these may offer less protection.

OtterBox, iPhone 5s cases, smartphone case

Defender case with clip over touchscreen, image via OtterBox

I’m sure these two cases are just the beginning for my 5s. For instance, it’s definitely time to purchase the ever-elusive Black Canary case.

Disclaimer: GeekMom received these items for review purposes. 

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PAX Prime: Hyrule Warriors Brings Zelda Fans Together http://geekmom.com/2014/08/pax-hyrule-warriors/ http://geekmom.com/2014/08/pax-hyrule-warriors/#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 18:32:02 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=151777 Nintendo brought together hundreds of The Legend of Zelda fans in a PAX Prime event to celebrate the franchise and check out Hyrule Warriors.

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Link vs. Dark Link

Link takes on Dark Link at the PAX Prime event. All photos: Kelly Knox

PAX Prime in Seattle is a yearly gathering of some of the biggest video game fans. On Saturday night, Nintendo brought together hundreds of dedicated The Legend of Zelda fans in an event to celebrate the franchise and check out the new game, Hyrule Warriors, coming this fall.

Hyrule Warriors is a departure from the typical Zelda game. If you’ve ever played a Dynasty Warriors game, you’ll know what to expect, as the same team takes the helm to create a unique Zelda adventure. The action is bigger, louder, and more explosive, with the rare chance to take control of a Legend of Zelda character other than Link. That means you can not only play as Link, but also as some of your favorites from other games, including Zelda herself, Impa, Midna, and Fi, and some new characters introduced for this story. At the PAX Prime event, Zelda fans got their hands on Ganondorf, eager to take on the hordes of monsters threatening Hyrule.

Hyrule Warriors

Link takes control of Ganondorf.

Hundreds of Zelda aficionados arrived for the fan gathering event, with a large number of them in costume. It was easy to see how much these fans love The Legend of Zelda! Not only were they happy to share in their common fondness for the games, everyone in the room was buzzing about the exciting gameplay of Hyrule Warriors.

Hyrule Warriors will be released September 26, 2014—stay tuned to GeekMom for a full review! In the meantime, check out the happy fans celebrating The Legend of Zelda at this year’s PAX Prime.

 

Click to view slideshow.

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Korra: Why You and Your Kids Should Be Watching http://geekmom.com/2014/08/the-legend-of-korra/ http://geekmom.com/2014/08/the-legend-of-korra/#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 12:00:05 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=151706 The Legend of Korra brings quality and equality to entertainment for all ages.

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Image By Nickelodeon

There are many reasons to enjoy The Legend of Korra. It’s full of action: stunning martial arts, elemental power fights, speeding car chases, airship rides, and flying bison. There’s comedy in every episode: Bolin’s silly and frightening romance with Eska, one-liner brilliance from Varrick, and various cute animal antics. There’s romance too. The plot keeps moving and moving. The characters grow and change. And the world itself is artistically creative and engaging.

But there are other, very important reasons to watch The Legend of Korra, and I will give you a brief description of some characters to prove the first one:

1. A trainee who will never let a friend down, but is quick to fight and lacks patience.
2. A ruler who keeps order with cruelty, and steals from the people.
3. A stylish and good-looking engineer who likes fast cars and planes.
4. A thoughtful child who struggles with Dad to take on responsibility.
5. A captain of the police force who doesn’t crack a smile, but is clever and self-sacrificing.

These characters may not be anything you haven’t seen in a show, but in this case they are all female and in the same show- sometimes even the same episode! Gasp!

Like its predecessor, Avatar: The Last Airbender, the female population is represented in an equal and diverse way—the way it should be in every story. I wrote a post awhile back called “Great Heroines for Boys“: “Why should you encourage your son to read books with heroines? That’s easy. You want your son to grow up knowing that a strong female for a friend, wife, or boss is normal and good.”

Korra is the lead character in the show, but she is far from the only interesting girl and woman to watch. When first watching, you may think it is female heavy in its speaking and side characters, but don’t be fooled! We have been trained to see mostly males on screen, even though our real world is half and half. When seeing something in entertainment that is closer to reality, it seems odd. That’s a good reason to watch Korra with your kids. Make seeing women and girls as part of the “normal” storytelling world. Regardless if they are good, bad, speaking, or in the background—just make us be there!

Are there awesome boys and men? Absolutely! The cast is full of great male heroes, villains, and some that play both sides too.

Besides being diverse with gender roles, I have never seen a show that has strong characters of so many different ages—this is truly a family show where everyone can see themselves in a cool role. There are children to kick ass, teens that kick ass, mid-lifers that kick-ass, and a couple of grannies that made me laugh. When Lin Beifong had a big scene at the end of Season One, I found my new hero—and she was an older woman with gray hair. In season three we meet her sister (with curly gray hair!).

Working through relationships is a huge part of the plot lines between siblings, friends, children and parents, and romantic interests; even the spiritual essence of GOOD and EVIL had a relationship to balance out. One of the overall plot arcs is a romance with Mako, the angsty, fire bending teen boy. Within the first two seasons (or books), Mako alternately is dating the main character Korra, and/or Asami. They all make mistakes, and by the third season Mako isn’t dating anyone. Asami and Korra become friends, and it’s an important relationship for both of them. And although it’s awkward with Mako for awhile, eventually the need to work together overshadows everything else, and he is able to be friends with his exes. Rarely do series show the normal ups and downs of dating, such as how time is needed to heal, and how to handle it all in a mature way.

I recommend The Legend of Korra because it proves that bringing quality and equality to cartoons only adds to the fun and entertainment. We need more shows like this!

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35 Ways To Make Summer Linger http://geekmom.com/2014/08/35-ways-make-summer-linger/ http://geekmom.com/2014/08/35-ways-make-summer-linger/#comments Sat, 30 Aug 2014 15:33:40 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=151686 Mix up burp juice, fence with cardboard tubes, make zucchini gummy fruit, go backyard camping, and much more.

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family fun, outdoor fun, family traditions,

Summer isn’t over till you say it is! (CC by 2.0 Ano Lobb on flickr)

Summer is NOT over. Oh, it may feel like it now that school has started and Halloween accouterments are on store shelves. But it’s officially still summer until September 22nd.

There’s still plenty of time to fit in summer-y pleasure for your family. Not pricey get-your-ticket, wait-in-line amusements, just the sort of fun that stretches a barefoot, carefree feeling well into autumn’s first chill.

 

Do something messy outside.

1. Take a meal outdoors and sit on the grass to enjoy it. In our family, at least once every summer, we eat directly from the plate without hands or utensils. We call this “trough feeding.” Bet you can’t do it without laughing through the whole meal.

2. Designate an area of the yard where kids can play right in the dirt. They might want to use it to build mountains and valleys for their toy dinosaurs, cars, or action figures. They might want to dig holes, perhaps looking for archaeological finds using Hands-On Archaeology: Real-Life Activities for Kids as a guide. For a real mess, give them enough water to make a mud pit. Your status as an epic parent will linger (so will the stains).

3. Mix up some washable paint, then let the kids paint designs on the driveway.

4. Make drip castles at the beach or in the sandbox.

5. Throw a BYOB party. This is cheap, imagination-driven fun. Guests are charged with one simple task: Bring. Your. Own. Box. Together kids can construct a fort or spaceship or whatever they please out of the boxes, then spend hours playing in it. There are plenty of other ways to amuse kids with cardboard boxes too.

6. Roast or boil fresh corn at your next picnic, tossing cobs over your shoulder as you finish. When it’s time to clean up, offer a prize for whoever picks up the most cobs. (A great prize is offering to read a few extra chapters aloud in the book you’re doing together.)

7. Form bubble snakes using old mismatched socks.

8. Make sponge bombs out of household sponges, then soak and use for tossing games. Unlike water balloons, these are reusable. They also make a lovely smacking sound when dropped on an unsuspecting sibling from the top of a slide. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

 

Get some exercise. 

9. Make foam swords. For peace of mind you may also want to make foam-covered shields, foam body pads, and operate on a no-running-hits/no-face-hits rule. Any violation and parents get to use the swords. Or simply fence with cardboard tubes. The Cardboard Tube Fighting League rules are worthy indeed.

10. Go hiking. Before leaving, decide what each of you will keep your eyes open to see. Your son might decide to look for things that fly. Your daughter might decide to look for the color red. You might keep an eye out for poison ivy. It’s interesting how much more cued all of you will be to your surroundings when really looking.

11. Set up a bike, trike, or scooter obstacle course. Mark the course with sidewalk chalk or masking tape. The course may lead them around cones, through a sprinkler, under crepe paper streamers hanging from a tree branch, and on to a finish line. Next, encourage them to set up their own obstacle courses.

12. Find out how advanced hooping has become and how to get your kids started. You’ll want to provide a good example of hula hoop enthusiasm. Here’s how to make a hoop that will fit your, ahem, grown-up hips.

13. Take  after-dark walks. Kids enjoy this even more when they are in charge of the flashlights.

14. Set up relay races. It’s a great way to get your loved ones to hop in sacks and crawl with laundry baskets. When summer is gone you’ll want those photos.

15. Go on a camera scavenger hunt. First choose a theme, like Ten Things That Move or A Dozen Yellow Things. Then send kids out with cameras (disposable, digital, or cell phone cameras) to grab some images. Encourage them to find creative, funny, and unusual ways to interpret the theme. Pop the photos up on the computer screen or take disposable cameras to a one-hour processing shop.

16. Set up backyard bowling. Save 10 empty plastic bottles, set them up in a triangular pattern, then roll a ball toward them. This makes a satisfying clatter on the driveway. For a bigger challenge, fill the bottles a third to half full. Teach older kids how to keep score.

17.  Ask the oldest people you know to tell you about games they played when they were growing up. Then play them. Better yet, play them with those elders.

 

Make something tasty together. 

18. Anything cooked outside tastes better whether on the grill, over a fire pit, or over a real campfire. Slice a few inches open on an unpeeled banana, stuff in a dollop of peanut butter and a few miniature marshmallows, then grill till it becomes a warm pudding in its own banana container. Bake brownies or cake inside hollowed out oranges over a fire pit.  For more ideas check out Campfire CookingScout’s Outdoor Cookbookand Easy Campfire Cooking

19. Stick pasta salad on a skewer.

20. Make homemade, corn syrup-free marshmallows.

21. Write a message or draw a picture on the skin of a banana using a toothpick or pencil. It’ll darken within an hour.

22. Make ice cream in a bag.

23. Keep fruits like bananas, mangoes, pineapple, strawberries, and peaches in separate containers in the freezer. On different days let each child take a turn concocting a smoothie for the family by blending his or her choice of fruit with juice and/or yogurt in the blender. Serve in tiny cups for taste testing. Encourage the creator to come up with a name for the frozen delight,

24.  Make burp juice. Show kids how to mix a quarter cup or so of juice concentrate (undiluted) into eight ounces of unsweetened seltzer water. Adjust to taste with more juice or seltzer. Add ice cubes, then drink. It has the same carbonation level as soda without sugar or food coloring. We call it burp juice in our house because quick gulps bring on burps.

25. If you’ve got a food dehydrator and some monster zucchini, make zuke gummi fruit. Surprisingly tasty and surely a zillion times healthier. Remember, when kids help they’re much more likely to eat the results.

 

Engage in some science. 

26. Make rock candy that actually works.

27. Create your own eclipse.

28. Engage in some nephology.

29. Draw the solar system with sidewalk chalk.

30. Do some ice cube experiments.

31. Race balloon rockets.

 

Make it an adventure. 

32. Camp out in the backyard. Tell stories, play hide and seek in the dark, let kids use flashlights as they please.

33. Get retro and experience a drive-in movie with your kids. You can search this database to find one nearest you. If there’s no hope of finding one remotely close by, set up a backyard movie theater. You might want to invite the neighborhood for an 80′s film fest. To give it that drive-in vibe, kids can make their own cars out of cardboard boxes. That way during the movie they can sit with their feet up on a cardboard dash and spill popcorn all over the cardboard interior without anyone bugging them about it.

34. Give the kids a budget and let them plan what they family will do next Saturday.

35. Most important of all, leave time for make-believe, daydreams, and on-the-spot fun.

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Giveaway: Product Protection Is Now SIMPLR™ Than Ever http://geekmom.com/2014/08/simplr-product-protection/ http://geekmom.com/2014/08/simplr-product-protection/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:08:06 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=151653 Protecting production just got easy thanks to SIMPLR™ product protection plans for all your prized possessions.

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01 SIMPLR™

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf SIMPLR™.

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Board Game Hacks: Games to Play in a Classroom http://geekmom.com/2014/08/board-game-hacks/ http://geekmom.com/2014/08/board-game-hacks/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:30:37 +0000 http://geekmom.com/?p=150540 When asked to break-up a boring day in the classroom the day before a big vacation, GeekMom Cathe performs board game hacks to use games in the classroom.

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Classroom Board Game Hacks

Need a game to play with your classroom full of kids? Try hacking rules to these favorites! Image: Cathe Post

When asked to break up a high-energy classroom the day before a big vacation, I take games. But sometimes it is difficult to find games that can be played with more than ten players. Hacks need to be made to the rules. I taught art in four different second-grade classrooms last year, and all of them asked me to bring in games on multiple occasions. The teachers would dread that final day before spring break/winter break/summer vacation. Teachers appreciated the educational choices that could be played with 20+ students at a time. The kids liked most of the games, with a few exceptions. The ratings below represent how many classes liked the game.

Happy Birthday cards are silly! Photo: Cathe Post

Happy Birthday cards are silly! Kids will take the time to read the text of these fun gifts. Image: Cathe Post

Happy Birthday: Happy Birthday is a game similar to Apples to Apples. The game revolves around the idea that you are going to a birthday party and only have some crazy, strange gifts in your closet to take. The judge (or the birthday person) picks their favorite and least favorite gift. The players who brought those gifts to the party get points. Classroom Rule Adjustments: The kids already sit in groups of 3-5. I had each table be a “team.” Each team would get a set of cards and would have to work together to pick the gifts they thought the judge would think was awesome and awful. This was great for building teamwork skills. It also allowed kids who played the judge/birthday person to read the gift cards aloud in front of the class, which they enjoyed. Additional games of the same type would work: Dixit, Apples to Apples, or Apples to Apples Junior Grade: A+ (All four classes loved it and wanted my copy to keep in their classroom. Adults probably will not enjoy this game as much as the kids.)

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With an overhead projector, 20 Express cubes can be easily seen by an entire class. Image: Cathe Post

20 Express: This is a math and number-line game disguised as a guessing and party game. Classroom Rule Adjustments: None needed to be made. Grade: C- (One of the four classes tolerated this game. Since they had been working on their number line during the year, it felt like I was teaching them instead of playing a game. Of course the teachers LOVED this game.)

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Using all three sets of Story Cubes in a class means there are enough for 27 people to play. Image: Cathe Post

Rory’s Story Cubes: These cubes have been written about extensively by GeekMom Jenny. Basically, these dice have little pictures on them. When you roll the dice, you can make up stories using the pictures as prompts. Classroom Rule Adjustments: If you only have one set of cubes, you can split the kids into groups and have each group take turns rolling a die and come up with a story in their little group. If you have enough cubes to give one to every student in the class, the kids have time to come up with possibilities of what their cube’s function could be in a large story. Additional games of the same type would work: Rory’s Voyages Cubes and Rory’s Actions Cubes Grade: A- (The kids liked this game, however, the story often turned into who ever the “character” was picking up a bunch of items or finding them, and then blowing up or dying.) Honorable Mention: Bane! (which isn’t on Kickstarter yet, but would be a great start-of-year game to play) The social game is basically Rock, Paper, Scissors played with cards instead of hands. Look for the Kickstarter hopefully in November.

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