Is FotoJet the Right Online Photo Editor for You?

FotoJet Is a Flexible Online Photo Editor

I had been using FotoJet’s free version for about two months when Angela from FotoJet approached me about writing this review. I had told her I was happy with my paid version of another editor and didn’t think I could fairly assess the difference unless I tried the paid version.

About three weeks ago Angela activated the paid version for me at no charge so that I could experience all the great features in FotoJet for a fair comparison.  I will still give you my honest review. FotoJet doesn’t currently have an affiliate program, and I do not profit from any links to  FotoJet if you decide to sign up. I’ve been playing with the full-featured FotoJet since then, and I like what I see. All images used in this post were edited in FotoJet.

Normal Photo Editing

When you upload a photo to FotoJet for editing, it will immediately change the size to 3200 x 2400 pixels by default.  I decided to upload this photo to play with, further resizing it to 800×600 pixels for use here.

Is FotoJet the Right Online Photo Editor for You?
All I did here was resize my image and add my copyright .

Here’s how I got this done. I’m including this screenshot to refer to.

Is FotoJet the Right Online Photo Editor for You?
Screenshot from FotoJet for Text Editing
  • I copied my copyright information from my word processor.
  • I clicked the TEXT icon on the left.
  • I clicked the orange ADD TEXT box at the top left to put my text box on the photo.
  • I selected the default text in the box and pasted mine on instead
  • I clicked on the minus sign at the bottom of the pop-up text editing box to make my text smaller.
  • I changed the Open Sans font to Shadows into Light with the drop-down menu you see on the text box
  • I changed the text color to one that contrasted with the black and was close to one of the shades in the sky by using the color wheel on the lower right side of the box.
  • I used the handles to move my text to the bottom  right.

 More Text Options

There are many other options for making my text stand out. I could have used one of the drop-down styles on the left menu as is. Let’s do something different to this photo. Let’s make it a photo to share on Pinterest .

First I will upload the same photo as before, same size, to the editor. Then I crop out most of the left side to make it  tall. The cropped size was just a bit taller than I wanted so I cropped a bit more off the top and then resized it to 735×1117. Not perfect, but close enough.

To add the text I’ll choose something from that left menu to make the title of this post. I chose the seventh sample on the drop-down list. Then I played with the color wheel in the text editing box to get a color I could live with. Voila!

s FotoJet the Right Online Photo Editor for You?
Making a Pinterest Image on FotoJet

Now that I see this enlarged here, I see I could have toned that blue down a bit by adjusting the opacity.  Does this improve it? I could  have changed that color to anything.

Is FotoJet the Right Online Photo Editor for You?
Adjusted Color on Pinterest Image

FotoJet Design Templates

I will confess that I usually hate templates. I’m a control freak who likes to put my own images on designs and put my text exactly where I want it. I consider it more work to use a template for anything than to start from scratch. So this section is informational. FotoJet has three kinds of design templates.

Classic

  • Poster
  • Flyer
  • Invitation
  • Card
  • Custom

Social Media Headers

I’m going to try a template for a YouTube Banner. It may not work because YouTube just changed the size, but I’ll try.  First I tried the template supplied by FotoJet and found it frustrating, as I find most templates. This is what I wound up with. I left that top left corner blank because that’s where YouTube puts the profile photo.

Is FotoJet the Right Online Photo Editor for You?
YouTube Channel Header Using a FotoJet Template, © B. Radisavljevic. I have resized it to fit here.

When I plugged this into my YouTube channel it was a disaster because I have a desktop. It looked sort of like this because this size is designed to display full size only on a TV screen.

Is FotoJet the Right Online Photo Editor for You?
How the Header Looked on a Desktop in YouTube. It was also cut off on Mobile Devices.

This would not do, so I used the custom size (no template, paid version only) to create a simple header at 2048 x 1152 pixels, which YouTube said would not be cut off.  Here is that header.

Is FotoJet the Right Online Photo Editor for You?
New Simple Header on Custom Size Canvas

YouTube didn’t tell the truth. Here’s how it looked on my desktop.

Is FotoJet the Right Online Photo Editor for You?
How New Header Looked on my Desktop When I Viewed It on YouTube

The vineyards that were so important were cut off. I’ll leave this on YouTube for now, but will be replacing it with something that looks better on a desktop.

 

The Social Media Templates Available

  • YouTube Channel Art
  • Facebook Cover
  • Google + Cover
  • YouTube Thumbnail
  • Twitter Header
  • Tumblr Banner
  • Email Header

Playing with Photos: Part 1

Let’s experiment with a photo I took this afternoon for part of a blog post on Blogger. When I uploaded my photos I noticed there was a problem with this nativity set in my neighbor’s yard. First I resized the photo for the post.

s FotoJet the Right Online Photo Editor for You?
The original photo, resized only.

Next, I cropped the photo to get rid of parts I didn’t want to include. I also added an unobtrusive watermark.

Is FotoJet the Right Online Photo Editor for You?
Cropped Photo of Nativity Set, © B. Radisavljevic

Then I started to play with the effects. There were many black and white choices. Some are premium. I can’t remember if this was free or premium.

Is FotoJet the Right Online Photo Editor for You?
Nativity in Black and White

Then I tried one of the premium sepia effects, Sepia 4. There are many different Sepia effects to choose some, but many are part of the paid plan. You may have noticed I keep changing the watermark  color to adjust to my different effect colors.

Is FotoJet the Right Online Photo Editor for You?
Nativity Photo in Sepia 4, part of the FotoJet paid plan. © B. Radisavljevic

Here I tried Lomo 3, one of the free Lomo variations. Are you as confused about what Lomo is as I was? Learn more about Lomography here. Lomos might be considered “happy accidents” — the kind of photos many of us have thrown away. They were more common with cheap older film cameras.

Is FotoJet the Right Online Photo Editor for You?
Nativity Photo in Lomo 3, © B. Radisavljevic

 Lomography : Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Lomography and the LOMO LC-A

 

 

Want to try Lomography for yourself? Here’s help. Most of these cameras use film.

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 Lomography Diana F+ Medium Format Camera Lomography sp400cy Point and Shoot Film Camera , Bronze Lomographic Fisheye Number 2 Camera

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In this next example, I started playing with clipart. FotoJet has oodles of clipart, but a good portion of it is only available in the paid plan. The one I chose is a paid one.

Is FotoJet the Right Online Photo Editor for You?
Nativity Scene Photo with Clipart, © B. Radisavljevic

You will notice the talk bubble has a border. I turned it into a very narrow one. I used a different font here than in my other examples, and I changed all the colors in the bubble. This is very easy and the interface is intuitive. You just play with it until you’re happy. See how I used the finished product in my blog post. 

Playing With Photos Part 2: Making a Collage

It’s getting late, but I did want to try one more template. This is a premium template for three photos.

Is FotoJet the Right Online Photo Editor for You?
“December Day” Using a FotoJet Premium Collage Template

I was going to make a grid collage to show many of the different frames and effects available, but none of the grids was up to the job. So I’m just going to show you some of the many variations of frames, effects, and overlays you can use. I used a lot of premium features, and sometimes I used an overlay with a frame or an effect. I’ve barely scratched the surface with this sample.

Some of the Frames I Played With

This is a slideshow of some of the frames I tried. You can use the arrows to navigate or just wait for them to change.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some FotoJet Effects and Overlays

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There were many options for each effect. Where there were borders you could change the colors and thickness. You can add a frame, an effect, some clipart and an overlay, but I’d be careful not to overdo it. You are in control

Using the Grid Collage

I was working on another blog post yesterday and found a way to utilize the grid collage to make make a point it was hard to make any other way.  Click the image to see how I used this in my blog post.

Use MalloMe LED Camping Lanterns When Lights Go Out: A Review

My Recommendation

If you are a blogger this photo editing program will probably be all you need. It’s easy to resize and crop photos and add text. You can design special items like flyers, cards, and collages, with oodles of template choices. There is also a great selection of special effects and overlays you can add along with a collection of clipart to use. You will have more options if you go for a paid membership. If you need help and directions, visit the support page.

If you are trying to edit photos for upload to a print on demand site like Zazzle, you will need a program that will let you upload larger images and specify exact resolutions. I recommend Adobe Photoshop Elements as a program that will do what FotoJet cannot do. Photoshop Elements does not have as high a learning curve as Photoshop itself and it’s cheaper. FotoJet is intuitive, has a free plan,  and the learning curve is short.

For another review of FotoJet that covers the basic steps on how to get started, please visit FotoJet Free Photo Editor Review. It was written by a fellow contributor on  Review This!, Dawn Rae.

Now, why not go play with FotoJet?  Please come back to comment and let us know what you think of it. Please feel free to use the comments for asking questions.

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Meet Beryl Reichenberg and Her Picture Books

Beryl Reichenberg: From Teacher to Author

I became aware of Beryl Reichenberg while reading an article in The Paso Robles Daily News. It announced a Halloween craft class she was going to teach. I’m always  interested in local authors, especially those who write for children. I decided to try to get acquainted.

I emailed Beryl, and she was gracious enough to grant me an email interview. She told me most of her books were for sale at Studios on the Park in the Up Front Gallery. It was open and I found them. They were spread between the top cubbies under a craft display. I read every one of them on display (with her permission) so to better frame my questions.

Meet Beryl Reichenberg and Her Books
Beryl Reichenberg Books on Display at Studios on the Park in the UpFront Gallery. They are near the back underneath a display in some storage compartments.
Meet Beryl Reichenberg and Her Books
Up Front Gallery at Studios on the Park. Find Beryl’s book in the back left corner in the gray display.

 

If you’d rather go straight to Beryl’s author page on Amazon before reading more about Beryl and my reviews of her books I liked best, here’s a direct link to all Beryl’s titles. 

Some Background Information on Beryl Reichenberg

Beryl Reichenberg has lived in California for most of her life. She now lives in San Luis Obispo County. We both attended UCLA for part of our education. Beryl is a retired high school English teacher, as am I. Unlike me, she is a talented artist and published author. She still uses her teaching skills, but with younger children. Her specialties include paper crafts and fiber art.

Below she is teaching a class on paper craft at a bookstore.

Meet Beryl Reichenberg and Her Books
At Granada Bookstore teaching Paper Craft and Bookmaking Class, used by permission.

I will let Beryl speak for herself now, in as she answers the questions I had.

My Interview with Beryl Reichenberg

Education and Teaching

In this interview, I asked two kinds of questions. Some were about her background and inspiration. Others related to specific books I wanted to know more about. I will integrate the book questions as I review her books.

Barb: What ages did you teach? What did you like best and least about teaching? 

Beryl: I taught high school English and Social Studies. I always enjoyed working with the students and seeing them become engaged in what they were learning. My classes were less lecture and more open discussions, encouraging the students to think for themselves and ask questions.

In a sense, I am still teaching but now to a younger age group, children under eight years old. Most of my stories are full of subtle lessons. I also teach paper craft and bookmaking classes for kids. I enjoy this age group and like to watch them problem solve as they work on their creations.
 Minecraft Papercraft – Minecart Set, Over 48 Piece

Do you want to try paper crafts yourself? These products can get you started.

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 Paper Craft American Crafts Paper Pad, 6 by 6-Inch, Dear Lizzy Lucky Charm Klutz Paper Flying Dragons Craft Kit

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Why Beryl Started to Write

Barb: Did your teaching experience motivate you to create any of your books because you thought they might be good teaching tools to stimulate awareness and class discussions?

Beryl: Actually, I started writing children’s stories about ten years ago when I became a grandmother. I fondly remember my own grandfather telling me his made-up stories about the Three Jolly Fleas when I was young.

At first, I wrote mainly for my grandkids and found it so fulfilling that I continued writing story after story. I enjoy the whole creative process of writing, illustrating and setting up the books for printing.

Meet Beryl Reichenberg and Her Books
Reading “Hopping to the Moon” at Los Ranchos School Library. Photo supplied by Beryl Reichenberg and used with permission.

Interest in Nature

Barb: Nature plays a big role in most of your stories. What made you so interested in it?

Beryl: I ‘ve always have been interested in nature and science and I find that children like stories about the natural world. They relate to animal characters in a personal way particularly, and my animal characters are often stand-ins for the children themselves.

Beryl’s Experience with Publishing with Create Space

Beryl has used Create Space to publish some of her books. So I asked her about it.

Barb: Do you have any advice for writers who are contemplating self-publishing with CreateSpace?

Beryl: Publishing with CreateSpace is relatively easy, although some computer skills are needed. The website offers assistance when necessary. When publishing a story, I always set up my complete files myself, both text and illustrations.

Most important is to proof your files carefully and to order proof copies to ensure there are no glitches and that the illustrations print properly. These copies are fairly inexpensive and are delivered promptly. I usually order several proof copies as I make changes and corrections to make sure everything is to my liking.

Unfortunately, CreateSpace does not print hardcover books and their soft cover books do not have a printed spine. But the copies are inexpensive and the service is print-on-demand, so I only order the books I need at any one time.

The book below was published on Create Space.

Meet Beryl Reichenberg and Her Books
Open Pages of A Real Dragon by Beryl Reichenberg and Elise Hudson (Illustrator)

I have a regular publisher, Oak Tree Press, and they have published six of my books. I find that It is easier to use CreateSpace. Also, the wholesale price is less expensive. If I order a number of books at a time, I can also reduce the shipping costs. Cost is important when I sell wholesale or on consignment.

Reviews of Beryl’s Books

Since Beryl has written and illustrated at least 35 children’s books, I don’t have room to review them all here. So I have picked some I liked best. She has illustrated most and  had others illustrate a few of them.  I asked her about a technique I saw in some illustrations in a few of her books

Barb: Why did you decide to insert photos of human characters into the drawings in the book instead of drawing them? Were there special children in your life who wanted to be in your books?

Beryl: Drawing children is much more difficult for me than drawing animals. Pictures of my grandchildren seemed to be a natural solution. Besides, they like seeing themselves in my stories. I find that other children respond positively as well. They like to see actual children pictured in my books. 

If you’d rather go straight to Beryl’s author page on Amazon before reading my reviews of the books I liked best, here’s a direct link to all Beryl’s titles. You will also find links to all the books at the end of this post.

 

Books Featuring Monarch Butterflies

Meet Beryl Reichenberg and Her Books
Monarch Caterpillar and Butterfly

When Caterpillars Dream

In this story, we meet Cathy Caterpillar as she sleeps in her chrysalis and dreams. She dreams of taking trips with the monarch butterflies and then getting lost. A friendly frog tells her to just trust her instincts. When Cathy woke up we watched as she “wiggled and squiggled” to get free of her chrysalis and fly away as a monarch butterfly.

At the end of the book, young readers learn about how the monarch butterflies migrate. There is also an introduction  to words that may be unfamiliar.

Meet Beryl Reichenberg and Her Books
When Caterpillars Dream, by Beryl Reichenberg

Butterfly Girls

This fictional story also features monarch butterflies.  Sisters Ashley and Becky find a chrysalis in their yard.  One day the “sleeping” butterfly emerges and the  girls name it Beauty. Beauty is hungry and  flies off to eat,  but she promises to come back the next day.

Meet Beryl Reichenberg and Her Books
Review of Butterfly Girls by Beryl Reichenberg

The girls have butterfly costumes, and your little girl can have one, too.

 Rubie’s Child’s Costume, Orange Butterfly Costume-Small California Costumes Monarch Princess Costume, One Color, 3-4 Morris Costumes Wings Butterfly Soft Child Ora elope Antenna Headband Orange Monarch Wings

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The sisters put on their butterfly costumes. Beauty kisses the girls’ heads, and suddenly the  girls can use their costume wings to fly with the butterflies. Flying with the butterflies becomes a frequent activity until Beauty and her friends  are gone one day. Then Mom explains that the monarch butterflies have gone south for the winter.

I asked Beryl how she became interested in the monarch butterflies. Here is her answer.

Monarchs are part of our local wildlife. I enjoy watching them as they winter-over at the Butterfly Grove in Pismo Beach. I decided to write a couple of stories about these butterflies, teaching kids something about their fascinating life cycle and the long, incredible migratory journey they take each year. Rather than use a straight clinical approach, I used fiction.

Dancing with Leaves

Most of Beryl’s books contain subtle messages that children will pick up. Parents can always ask clever questions to make sure their children “got’ them. This book, like Butterfly Girls, has human characters in the drawings.

The plot: Mary is a little girl who loves to dance. She wants to “whirl and twirl and swirl” to her favorite music. When on a beautiful autumn day she looked into her yard and saw colorful leaves dancing in the wind, she wanted to join them. As Mary danced with the leaves, the wind lifted her into the air and then gently put her back on the ground.

Meet Beryl Reichenberg and Her Books
Review of Dancing with Leaves by Beryl Reichenberg

After that first experience, Mary often danced with the leaves. One day, though,  an especially strong wind carried  her far from home and dropped her gently into a forest tree. She had no idea where she was or how to get home. You’ll need to read the book to find out who helped her.

At the end of the book, there is an explanation of why the leaves change color. The subtle message is “I’m glad I know where I live.” You can  help your children see why this is important and make sure they know what to tell someone about where they live if they are ever lost.

When I asked Beryl what inspired this story, here’s what she said: My granddaughter was dancing one day to some lively music, and I began to take quick pictures of her as she danced. Thinking of how children love of jumping into a pile of Autumn leaves and also of how much fun it would be to fly on the wind, I combined these story elements. I also wanted to include a small lesson to encourage children to remember their address and where they live.

 

I’m a City Bear

 

Meet Beryl Reichenberg and Her Books
Cover of I’m a City Bear by Beryl Reichenberg

 

I have to admit the cover art by Gini Griffin made me choose this book to read first. I live in San Luis Obispo County just like Beryl does, and so we both hear about the bear sightings in the city of San Luis Obispo and even in the North County.

The bear in the story moves from the mountains in search of food and discovers he’s been missing an abundant food supply in the city.  He keeps a diary of his experiences with garbage cans, swimming pools, vicious dogs, noisy children, and more. Even when he is sighted and reported and removed, he finds his way back to the city once again. After all, he has become a city bear.

A note at the end of the book talks about wild animals  children may see in their yards. The author warns that even if they are cute, they are still wild and possibly dangerous.

I asked Beryl if she had ever seen a bear outside of a zoo or in her yard. I was curious about her inspiration for this books. Here’s her answer:

Bears are fascinating animals, and I have written a couple of stories with bear characters. My inspiration for “I’m a City Bear” came from reading several stories in the newspapers about bears that visit inhabited areas searching for food and water. One bear in particular caused quite a sensation in the Los Angeles area. He was nicknamed Meatball, because that was his favorite food. Someone set up a Facebook page for him, and he acquired quite a following. I thought his adventures in the city would make an interesting story that children would enjoy.

Lost in a DarkForest

 

Meet Beryl Reichenberg and Her Books
Cover of Lost in a Dark Forest by Beryl Reichenberg

Doesn’t the art on the cover make you want to open the book to find out why this baby possum looks so sad? Young readers will discover Peter Possum has fallen off his mother’s back. He has been left behind, lost in the forest alone. Or is he really alone?

Ariel, the forest fairy, leaves him with Sammy at the forest Lost and Found while she tries to find his mother. She can’t find any possum mother who lost a baby.

Meanwhile, the mother possum goes back every night to the spot where she believes she lost Peter. She can’t find him, and she worries. How will little Peter and his mother finally be reunited?

I asked Beryl what inspired her to write this book. Here’s her answer:

A friend of mine took care of baby possums that had fallen off their mother’s back until they could be returned to the wild. I turned this into a lost and found story realizing some children have had brief experiences of being lost. I wanted to let them know that there are helpful people around who can assist them in finding their parents or their way home.

Clowning Around

Meet Beryl Reichenberg and Her Books
Cover of Clowning Around by Beryl Reichenberg

Even though I was unfamiliar with the Clownfish, this is one of my favorite books by Beryl Reichenberg. Maybe that’s because I’ve been a teacher and met quite a few class clowns. Charlie the Clownfish captures the attention of most children who walk  past the aquarium tank in which he lives. He does tricks for them, and they give him so much attention that the other fish get jealous. One day they get so jealous that the shark locks Charlie in the chest at the bottom of the tank. They thought with Charlie out of sight, they’d get more attention from the children.

Their plan backfired. When the children discovered Charlie was missing, they stopped coming to see the aquarium. Finally, the octopus unlocked Charlie and explained why  the other fish had wanted him out of sight. He suggested ways the other fish and sea life in the tank could participate in Charlie’s act and also get noticed. At the end, the information about clownfish explains that they are really very shy.

I asked Beryl if Charlie the Clownfish was inspired by any particular visit to an aquarium. Here’s her reply:

One day, I was thinking about clownfish and what a funny name this is for a fish. I thought it might be fun to write a story about a fish that actually was a clown, entertaining children at the aquarium. The story evolved from there with the other fish becoming jealous when Charlie received all the attention. Again, there is a lesson to be learned in this tale about how to cooperate and work together.

Ants on a Log: A Story for Finicky Eaters

Meet Beryl Reichenberg and Her Books
Cover of Ants on a Log by Beryl Reichenberg

Jack is a young rabbit who likes to enjoy life, but who does not enjoy vegetables. He only willingly eats fruit and nuts. His mom caught him dropping the hated vegetables on the floor so they were out of sight. His mom tried both persuasion and punishment, but neither tactic helped. He would even throw or trade away his lunches at school.

One day at school he had the opportunity to taste “Ants on a Log” (Celery stuffed with peanut butter and covered with raisins.) This completely changed his attitude, since he loved Ants on a Log. He still loved this treat even after discovering celery was a vegetable. Then he also discovered that vegetables tasted good on pizza. He learned that vegetables were OK when mixed with other things. Perhaps the lesson in this book is more for the moms than the children.

Camouflage: Puzzles in a Book

 

Meet Beryl Reichenberg and Her Books
Cover of Camouflage by Beryl Reichenberg

This was one of my favorites among the books because it challenges young readers (and parents reading to them) to find camouflaged animals.   On each page, there is an illustration of each creature to find, accompanied by a verse to introduce it. Then readers look for that same creature where it is hidden in plain sight in its habitat. The next page shows you a smaller chunk of the picture with the answer, making it easy for children to go back to the big picture and spot the animal. Without that help, I never would have found some of these camouflaged animals. I suggest you look inside this book on Amazon to see how this works.

Readers will look for a stick bug in a tree, a lizard in the desert, a clownfish in coral, a crocodile in a swamp, a bear in a forest, a zebra in the grass with its herd, and a bird in a nest in a tree. The last page of the book explains words young readers may not know. For ages four and up. I strongly suggest that you buy the paper version of this book for easier to see illustrations than you would see on, say, a Kindle Paperwhite.

Who Should Buy Picture Books by Beryl Reichenberg?

Beryl’s books can prompt natural discussions of issues between parents or teachers and children. Is a child afraid of getting lost, or getting lost again? Lost in a Dark Forest or Dancing with Leaves naturally opens the door to a conversation about knowing one’s address. Either book also reassures children that others can help them find their parents again if they get lost.

If a child resists eating vegetables, Ants on a Log can help children learn that vegetables come in many forms.  It opens the way for parents and children to discuss new ways to prepare vegetables that the child might like. These vegetarian cookbooks for kids can help find these new recipes.

When Caterpillars Dream and Butterfly Girls can help introduce the habits of butterflies —  and monarch butterflies in particular. This might lead to curiosity about other insects’ habits. Teachers and homeschooling parents may  find them useful in unit studies on insects.

Educators can make good use of Camouflage in  studying animals and their habitats.  Camouflage also is fun for parents and children to read together and see who can find the animals first.

Clowning Around can  help teachers open discussions about how a child who insists on taking center stage all the time can alienate others in the class. This can lead to trying to understand why some children try so hard to get attention and suggestions for better ways to get it. Teachers can also lead discussions about the importance of teamwork on class projects and in sports.

I’m a City Bear can help parents explain why it may not be a good idea to try to pet or get too close to a wild creature that happens into one’s yard.  I will never forget the time my husband and son (then  about 12) were with a  group hiking on Catalina Island. Somehow my son managed to escape Hubby’s not watchful enough eye and  pet a wild bison near the trail. Not really safe, but fortunately no harm came of it. My son loved all animals and maybe the bison sensed it. It might not have turned out so well had the bison felt threatened.

Meet Beryl Reichenberg and Her Picture Books

Both parents and teachers can use these books to introduce common problems and difficult subjects for discussion in a non-threating way. Or they can just read them to children as enjoyable stories with colorful and engaging illustrations. It’s up to the adult to make use of any opportunities the books present for deeper discussions. See also When You Read Aloud, Ham it Up!

 Ants on a Log Clowning Around Lost in a Dark Forest I’m a City Bear! Dancing with Leaves Camouflage Butterfly Girls When Caterpillars Dream

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Special Education Teachers are Special

Special Education Teachers Have Blessed my Children

Both my adopted children were in special education classes when they came to live with us as foster children. So, of course, they had special education teachers. I made it a point to meet and get to know my children’s teachers, and the special education teachers impressed me. Their job was not easy, but it was evident that they cared for their students and wanted to help them develop the potential they had.

The special ed teachers I met deserved to have an ornament like this on their tree or hanging where they can see it every day.  Special ed teachers who care make a great difference in the life of a child. Why not get this for your favorite special ed teacher?

 Teacher Appreciation Gift Ceramic Ornament

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Why My Children Were in Special Ed Classes

My daughter, who came to us as a foster child when she was nine was entering third grade. Sarah could not read or do any math. She had already been in special  education before she came to me and they just kept her there, even though she was entering a new school district. She had an excellent and caring teacher.

My son probably didn’t need to be in special education. He was referred because his kindergarten teacher thought he needed to repeat kindergarten. We knew he was bright and thought it was just too early for him to be in school. He’d only been with us for two weeks and was probably still adjusting. His social  worker had labeled him as non-verbal, but I knew better. He started the first conversation we ever had. (Find out more about how I met him and decided to become his parent. )

We had him tested because the administrators were so eager to keep him in school instead of  letting me take him home to allow more bonding time. He tested high, but they still thought he was too distractable and they persuaded us to put him in the special education program.  Although we fought it, we were very glad later we had done it.

 Teacher Tribute Gifts Coffee Mug

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 Jason’s First Experience in Special Ed

Jason’s first special ed class was the second semester of kindergarten. The teacher was great, but the school was far away and my children had to take two different buses.  Jason excelled in his work because he got individual attention and wanted to please his teacher.

At the end of the year, they wanted to mainstream Jason and put him back in his neighborhood school and we fought it. We knew he had a 50/50 chance of getting a teacher who hated little boys and favored girls.

Other parents told us how their little sons would come home in tears every day. We also had personal knowledge of that teacher’s character and it wasn’t good. We weren’t about to chance it. Jason had already been through enough in his five years of life.

We appealed to the district’s head of Special Services who also happened to be our daughter’s  therapist.  The very next day it was settled that Jason would not only stay in special education but would also be transferred to the same school my daughter was attending. Now only one bus had to come and the children could go together to Walnut School.

 

Special Edudation Teachers are Special

A Special Ed Teacher Who Cared Enough to Do More than Her Job Required

She Motivated with Personal Attention Rewards

At Walnut School, my son was fortunate enough to have Mrs. Nann Lovejoy as his special education teacher. She had a very special way of motivating her students. She knew that her students thrived on personal attention since most came from broken families. When students reached certain goals, she would invite them to have lunch or dinner with her and her husband in their home. (Her students were in grades 1-3.) She also let them chose the menu.

You had better believe my son wanted to be at her table. So he reached the goal. A couple of months later he reached a new goal. Although he was only in first grade, he had learned all the words on the third-grade reading list. He was very proud of it.

Mrs. Lovejoy called me to ask if she and her husband could take Jason to a movie as his reward. We weren’t big on him going to movies, and asked if there might be some alternate activity, such as a hike. She liked that idea and even told Jason he could invite his sister along. Both children had a wonderful time and the Lovejoys also liked hiking.

Non-Academic Issues Made Us Change Schools

After that, Jason would have done anything for Mrs. Lovejoy. But by the second semester of that year, Sarah’s wonderful teacher left on sabbatical and we had a not so wonderful long-term male substitute in her place.

Special Education Teachers are Special
Sarah at Ten Years Old

That left Sarah the only girl in her fourth to sixth-grade class. Her male classmates were propositioning her at recess and the principal said she really couldn’t do much about it.  After that year we moved on to private schools before finally choosing homeschooling three years later.

Let’s Appreciate Those Who Teach Special Education

All teachers have a difficult job, but special education teachers have even more challenges. Most of their students are in their classes because they already  find learning difficult. Usually, it’s because their students are physically or mentally impaired to the extent that they can’t learn in a larger class setting. Teachers need extra training to know how to help them.

Special Education Teachers are Special
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Most of these students also come from broken families and bring emotional baggage with them. I realize other teachers also deal with that kind of emotional baggage, but special education teachers have to deal with both learning disabilities and emotional baggage. As we learned, sometimes once the baggage is gone, the learning disabilities also disappear.

Yet the special education teachers I’ve known have shown great patience and acceptance. They have given their students encouragement and attention that their parents often didn’t. They have probably kept many children from moving into gangs or the juvenile justice system.

Why not give a special ed teacher something special for Christmas this year to show them your appreciation.


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Little Passports Makes Learning Science and Geography Fun

Little Passports Encourages Children to Explore Their World

Parents and educators will find Little Passports gifts a great way to get children interested in the world around them. Homeschooling families will especially value the hands-on activities for science and geography. Any parents, though, who want to encourage their children to learn more about the world, will find Little Passports a helpful resource.

Little Passports Makes Learning Science and Geography Fun

Although Little Passports is best known for its subscriptions (see below), you can also find one-time gifts for children. Some of them are part of subscription packages, but you can also buy them separately to address a child’s special interest.

Children are naturally curious about their world. When they are young they want to understand their closest surroundings — the bugs they see, animals, their neighborhood and the people they see in it, etc. They may also wonder about where their food comes from. They like to experiment with art and music.

As they get older, they become more interested in the wider world and what they have not yet seen. Little Passports introduces children from ages 3-5 to World Landmarks, Music, Animals, Food, Art, Natural Wonders, Oceans, World Coins, Space, World Discoveries, Dinosaurs, Science, Celebrations, Habitats, Transportation, Insects, and Sports.  The Little Passports packages provide fun hands-on learning that children enjoy.

The Little Passports products pictured below are just some of the possible choices if you want to give a child an enjoyable learning experience. You can find something appropriate for any child from preschool to elementary school age. The best gifts stimulate a child’s curiosity and help him or her to satisfy it.  Click on any product for more details about it.

 

 My Crafty Animal Mask Kit World Coin Collection Dino Pals Backpack

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What Else Should I Know About Little Passports Products?

Little Passports is a subscription service that sends monthly educational packages that help children explore geography and science with hands-on activities. You choose the length of the subscription. The children get to anticipate receiving a new package of educational fun each month.

There are age-appropriate packages available for children ages three to preteen. Curious children will appreciate the wide variety of topics they can explore as the thematic packages arrive each month.  See what’s available for ages 3-5 here.  Besides the monthly packages to introduce preschoolers to the world, you can find single kits to build a tugboat, create animal masks, and much more. There is also a darling dinosaur backpack little tykes will love.

Little Passports Makes Learning Science and Geography Fun
Little Passports Global Adventure

For children six through eight chose between world and USA exploration subscriptions. For a smaller gift, choose between A World Coin Collection, A Coral Reef Kit, A Weather Lab Science Kit, and more. Once children turn nine they are ready for the Science Expedition subscriptions in addition to all the other kits previously mentioned.

Why I Believe These Subscriptions Make Good Gifts

There’s nothing quite as exciting to a child as getting a package in the mail — especially when he or she knows there will be one coming every month. One can anticipate the arrival of a subscription gift each month long after the excitement of getting lots of presents for a special occasion is gone.

A Science Expedition Kit or Travel Adventure Package does more than entertain. It helps a child explore the world. It widen’s a child’s  horizons. These science and geography packages tap into a child’s curiosity about the world and about how things work. They inspire children to keep learning and show children that learning can be fun.

 

**The links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

 

Science Gift Subscriptions for Curious Children

Gift Subscriptions Keep on Giving after the Holiday or Birthday is Over

When I was a child, about the only  gift subscriptions one could receive were magazines . I did look forward to getting my copies of Wee Wisdom, Humpty Dumpty, and other children’s magazines every month. (That was sixty years ago.) My own children enjoyed getting their monthly dose  of Ranger Rick, Boy’s Life, and Cobblestone.

Do you live far away from the children you want to gift?  Why not give a subscription to presents that will keep coming as long as you wish? Let your favorite children experience that same anticipation I had waiting for my favorite magazines to arrive. They will really get excited about getting a new box of science adventures each month.

Exploring  Science with Little Passports Gift Subscriptions

How I wish Little Passports had been around when I was homeschooling my children. My son loved science. He was terribly curious and enjoyed hands-on activities. Now that he’s gone, I can only imagine how excited he would have been to get a package in the mail every month that gave him a new science topic to explore and experiment with. He would have thrived on science activities such as these.

We had read an Alan Pinkerton biography together and he liked to believe he was a little Alan Pinkerton . He would have been ecstatic to find the forensic science package in our mailbox.  See it here: Little Passports Science Expedition Packages.  How much better is this for a family trying to encourage a child in science than just a book? This Forensic Science Package is the first to arrive with a new gift subscription to Little Passports Science Expedition packages.

The very first month of a subscription your child will get a carrying / storage case and a lab notebook. Every month, including the first, there will be a comic book with a new mystery to solve with Sam and Sophia, an eight-page experiment guide, some equipment needed for the experiments, and an achievement badge to  display in the lab notebook for the completed activity .

As a mom,  I really appreciate the completeness of the package. Most of the experiments I found in books when homeschooling sent me scurrying around trying to find all the equipment my children would need. Little Passports includes the necessary tools in the packages.

Little Passports Science Expeditions are for children nine and older who like to  find out how things work. In the blog post Why We Developed Science Expeditions, the developers and producers explain what they wanted to accomplish in getting children inspired to learn science.  The company uses a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) approach to learning.

Groovy Science Labs in a Box Also Offers Gift Subscriptions

12-month subscription is a $144 savings - that's 4 FREE SINGLE BOXES with FREE SHIPPING!

Groovy Science Labs in a Box Inc is sold in association with Popular Mechanics Magazine. Like Little Passports, it uses a STEM approach to interest students as young as eight in science, technology, engineering, and math. Each package encourages children to think, question, inquire, and create. Gift subscription orders ship free to  a child’s door at the end of each month. See your subscription options here. 

Science Labs in a Box is different from other science labs or kits in this respect. A Science Lab in a box contains detailed instructions for most of the investigations, but not for the Engineering Design Challenge. Children have to  figure out the design themselves using what they’ve learned while doing the investigations and the free online resources that are included with each subscription.

Each package offers new explorations. This is part of the Waterworks package, which you can also get as a single gift. And remember, when your child gets a package, everything needed to do the activities is in the box except your child’s brain.

Water Works - A Lesson in Hydroponics
Water Works – A Lesson in Hydroponics

 

This short video shows a time exposure of one of the Waterworks investigations.

Other Science Packages You Can Buy as Single Gifts

I've lived in California for over seventy years, and I've had my share of earthquake experiences, including a very bad one. The Shake it Up package helps children understand what causes earthquakes and how engineers can build to withstand them. See what's in the Shake it Up package. 

Another popular package is It's Electric.

Contents of the It's Electric Package

See what children will be able to design and build with the contents of this package as they learn about electricity. As in every package, all the child needs is in the box.

Besides the three packages featured above, there are eleven more choices for single packages presently available. These are handy for those who want to gift a child who has one burning area of interest, like space or circuits or birds. Maybe once a child sees that first box he or she will be begging for another one.

Child enjoying his Science Lab out of the Box

Single boxes are also good for those who want to give a gift to a child far away but can't afford an entire subscription. Other options for those who can't give a year's subscription are shorter gift subscriptions of three or six months. When you give a gift subscription, you can print out a gift announcement right from the site to mail to the child you are gifting.

You Can Still Get a Magazine Subscription!

When I was a child there weren't many magazines published for children.  Now there is a huge selection you can see here.  Some of my and my kids' favorites are still in print and available for discounted prices. They include Ranger Rick, Boys' Life, Highlights, Zoobooks, Humpty Dumpty, Cricket, and Cobblestone. They are ideal for children who like to read and solve featured puzzles. At Magazine-Agent.com you will get discounted prices on gift subscriptions and a wide variety of magazines to choose from.  As I write this there is a terrific sale going on. Get a gift and pick up your favorite magazine while you're there.

Science Gift Subscriptions for Curious Children
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A World of Reading Choices