it’s friday i’m in love

Happy Friday, kids! Here is your weekly dose of random awesome things from the internet.raspberries

1) First of all, a shout out to my friend Nils’ amazing band, Future Folk. Did you guys see the movie The History of Future Folk? If you haven’t, you should totally watch it. It has goofy but lovable aliens, banjo music, a charming romance plot, and saving the Earth. What more do you need in entertainment? The band, consisting of two helmeted, folk-music playing spacemen, are currently on a US tour, so if you have the chance, go see them play live – you won’t be sorry:

2) How cool are these little ceramic mugs by Creature Cups with a secret sea creature at the bottom? I have a birthday coming up this month for my ocean-obsessed son, and I’m thinking one of these might be just the ticket. Now to decide, shark or octopus??

3) Check out this super simple and – this is the awesome part – COLLAPSIBLE cardboard playhouse

My kids would love this, and it looks so easy to make, and to store when they’re not playing in it! Could be the perfect thing to pull out for a rainy day, and let them go to town decorating it with markers.

4) Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables.

French supermarket chain Intermarché recently launched this campaign (there called Les Fruits et Légumes Moches, but I rather love the translation “inglorious” for moche) to combat food waste. Basically instead of farmers throwing away all the produce they grow that doesn’t look like a textbook perfect specimen, Intermarché bought all the reject fruits and veggies and sold them to the public at a discounted price. Brilliant. Why doesn’t every supermarket everywhere do this. It’s unbelievable that farmers have to throw away so much unsellable food , yet there are people going hungry, or struggling to afford fresh produce. A perfect solution.

5) My Milk Toof

This insanely cute blog by California artist Inhae Lee is basically like a photo-comic that follows the adventures of two baby teeth who go around having adventures, trying on underpants, and experiencing the anxieties of modern life. I LOVE IT. There is even a picture book. Might have to get that for when my three year-old starts losing teeth, which, if she follows in her brother’s footsteps, should be in about 12 months… GULP!

6) You always hear about “the summer slide,” where kids lose their academic and reading skills over the months away from school. I’m not really worried about that right now, since my kids don’t even go to school yet, but we did sign up for our local library reading program just for fun. (Though since neither of them know how to read, perhaps we should call it our summer listening program.) One thing they both can do on their own, however, is math. I credit this 10% to the abacus my mother-in-law gave them, and 90% to Bedtime Math.

It’s this great website and app that each day posts awesome factoids and related story problems, inclusively geared toward various levels of math competence from preschoolers counting on their fingers on up to mid-elementary and beyond. The idea is to make it part of your bedtime routine and slip in a little math practice before lights out. Since I eliminated room cleaning and getting in their own beds from the routine this week, we have plenty of time for doing math. Win-win.

7) Speaking of bedtime, the wonderful Cosmic Kids Yoga posted a really sweet bedtime yoga routine for kids recently, called “Twilight the Unicorn of Dreams.”(Not to be confused with Twilight Sparkle the Unicorn of MLP) If you’re not familiar with Cosmic Kids, it’s this kooky British lady, Jaimie Brodie who makes yoga videos for young children that all involve an animal story for kids to act out through various yoga poses. My kids absolutely adore them and there is nothing more sweet and hilarious than watching them do “namaste” together at the end.

They also recently launched a meditation series for kids called Cosmic Kids Zen Den. I am so, so bad at meditating but I really aspire to work it into my life. I think these beginner meditation lessons meant for kindergarteners might be just my speed…

Namaste, guys, and have a great weekend!

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unusual creatures

What do you get when you mix an endearingly nerdy Brooklyn musician, an infographic designer, two Dutch screenprinters, and 50 of the animal kingdom’s most bizarre members?

ImageYou get Michael Hearst’s awesome book, Unusual Creatures, which my librarian friend Eileen turned us on to. In fact, it’s my son’s very first book checked out on his own account at what will soon be his elementary school library. Sniffle! Now that I think about it it’s probably way overdue – is that a bad omen for his grade school career? Or is it a good omen for his career as a passionate reader… One thing is for certain, he is head over heels in love with this amazing book.

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It starts off with a brief explanation of biological classifications, and offers the following helpful mnemonic: “Kids Place Candles on Foot Gravy Sausage,” which is a pretty good indication of the silly yet informative tone of the book. At the least, it’s much more PC for a rising kindergartener than the one I learned in Freshman Biology: “King Phillip’s Children’s Only Friends Got Slaughtered.” At any rate, mnemonics are probably wasted on a child who can’t read, but my kid got really into shouting out the Kingdom, Phylum, and Class of each animal. In fact for his bedtime story tonight, he chose to “read” us two of his sister’s board books, which he re-titled “What are Mammals and What Are Not Mammals, Volume 1 and 2,” and then proceeded to classify the animals on each page.

ImageBut that is just the beginning of the fun in Unusual Creatures; each page offers beautiful drawings (though the subject matter is often quite hideous) and a dryly humorous description of each animal’s unusual features, as well as quizzes, factoids, and poetry inspired by the animal in question.

ImageSpeaking of beautiful illustrations of hideous subjects, this drawing of a wombat’s cube-shaped poop was hands-down my kids’ favorite part of the book.

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But the magic doesn’t end with square poop, my friends. Unusual Creatures, the book, was inspiration for an entire album titled Songs for Unusual Creatures, composed by Hearst and featuring the Kronos Quartet as well as people playing a bunch of kooky instruments like the tubax, daxophone, theremin and xylobotImage

With a book and companion songs under his belt, Hearst couldn’t stop there, and went on to create a whole series of fun videos about the creatures, which I just discovered tonight while writing this blog post. These are basically the kid-appropriate version of Ze Frank’s True Facts About videos, of which True Facts About the Sea Pig is a family favorite. I can’t wait to wake up my kids on the first day of summer vacation and show them this: