Category Archives: Education

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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Related articles

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
Please pin me.

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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Art and Music Gifts for Children

Gifts That Develop Art and Music Interests Will Enrich Your Child’s Entire Life

Art and music are means of self-expression. They give children a way to release emotions that aren’t easy to put into words. I had a troubled daughter who kept everything inside, but she would sit at the piano and pour it out. I’m so glad I gave her lessons. I have always been glad my own  parents gave me lessons so I could join a band. It opened a door to a life-long interest in music.

Give Gifts that Provide Experiences in Art and Music
My Daughter Playing Piano Alone at Camp to Express Herself, © B. Radisavljevic

Why not give gifts to the children in your life that will develop their talents in the fine arts.  Here are some suggestions for inspiring gifts for the budding artists and musicians in your life. They are in the following categories:

  • Hands-on visual art
  • Music – appreciation and musicianship
  • Art history – giving context to culture
  • Digital art & design – for our “digital natives”

Each section is geared toward an age range, but many of these will also appeal to adults who like to nurture their artistic side.

If you see something your child will enjoy, get it now. Many  of these items are running out of stock. Don’t wait. Sale prices may also go back to  normal prices on some items. Click  through to see current prices. Some may go down even further. 

Hands-On Art Activities

What a Color World Poster from Pirasta

Give Gifts that Provide Experiences in Art and Music

It’s a wonderful world. And this giant coloring poster is perfect for quiet creative time this winter.

The huge poster map (63″ x 36″) gives scale and context to our globe. Details include a delightful celebration of cultural diversity, from traditional dress and historical landmarks to iconic foods and natural wonders. It’s definitely a conversation starter.

You can lay it on the ground and invite friends to join in, hang it on the wall with painter’s tape, or even tape it to the ceiling or under a table to unleash your child’s inner Michelangelo.

Mom, please note: these posters are made in the USA and are printed with vegetable ink on recycled content paper!

Grandkids age 3-15 all coloring together! Asked each to color the [places] they live/lived in or have visited. Great conversations as they learn and share while coloring together.” – Grandma Z.

Just Add Milk Science & Art Carton

Give Gifts that Provide Experiences in Art and Music

Create art using materials from the fridge!

This low-cost art experiment is the ideal stocking stuffer or small gift for extended family members.

Just Add Milk is a kit for all children – boys and girls – and mom and dad, to express themselves in an educational way. Create your own natural science experiments with some at home ingredients. Just add the milk! Learn a brief introduction to surface tension and experiment with other ingredients around the house such as food coloring, soda pop, vinegar, and glue!

Kids love watching what might happen when you add food coloring to milk. Once their creations are complete, they will have a fun story to explain how to create milk art.

Coloring Book Set

Give Gifts that Provide Experiences in Art and Music

Bring coloring to the next level with these beautiful intricate designs!

Coloring isn’t just for kids anymore, it’s for everyone! Let this package of 6 coloring books serve as a generous gift to one artistic child or as 6 gifts to kids and adults in your family or community. While coloring can be a wonderful form of artistic expression, it’s also a great way to exercise brains.  Coloring requires focus, logic, and coordination. This is so much better for the spirit and brain than passively using the time to watch TV.

Kids and families who love to color will rise to the challenge of turning these intricate, black and white sheets of paisleys, mandalas, and zen designs into blooming pages of colorful artworks. The pages are perforated so that each one can be removed for easy coloring. You can frame the completed works.

Inspire your children to explore their creative side, and discover the fun and relaxing benefits of coloring! Maybe you can join them and gets some of the benefits yourself.

The Art (and Sound) of Music

Maestro Classics Complete Set

Give Gifts that Provide Experiences in Art and Music

 

Dive into the depths of music appreciation and storytelling with the Maestro Classics 12 CD Music Collection.

This high-quality collection includes 12 CDs, each with a 24-page activity book, that features classic musical tales such as The Nutcracker, Peter & the Wolf, the Story of Swan Lake, and the Tortoise & the Hare. In the activity books, your child can enjoy solving musical puzzles and games while learning important musical concepts and vocabulary. Good practice for parents, too!

Pair listening to classics with the coloring above for many happy and enriching family times. Gain an appreciation for the arts that will last a lifetime. Plus, get over 50% off on Educents!

“The Maestro Classics are so much better than having some kiddie movie soundtrack while we drive. We can have a mini music appreciation class while we’re on the road and the colored booklets that it comes with are perfect to follow along since it gives some background on the composer. Some run for about 45 minutes to an hour so this classical collection ensures there are no repeats per car ride!” -Sarah

Sounds Like Fun Shake Rattle Roll

Give Gifts that Provide Experiences in Art and Music

 

Let the festivities begin by adding this handcrafted set of musical instruments to your family’s quality time.

Whether you’re a seasoned musician, or there is a just a spark of musical interest in your family – this set of musical instruments will be fun for the entire family. The wooden set includes seven pieces: A bucket drum with a natural skin head, a pair of drumsticks, a single jingle stick, a handled castanet and a pair of mini maracas. It also includes a parent-friendly activity guide with fun ideas on how to use the instruments to encourage child development.

eMedia Play Piano Deluxe
Give Gifts that Provide Experiences in Art and Music

 

 

For beginning pianists wanting to become more skilled and confident players, the eMedia Play Piano Pack Deluxe is an amazing value!

This package not only includes a high-quality, full-size keyboard, but it also comes with two full piano courses containing over 450 lessons taught by instructors from the Julliard School of Music. The piano course software contains videos and interactive feedback technologies to help your child learn quickly and understand lessons more easily. Before your teen knows it, they’ll be proficient at playing piano chords, reading sheet music, and performing solos!

My daughter and I decided to learn the piano together, and we love this! The keyboard is a good size, with good sound. The software is very extensive. It provides a full curriculum of over 300 lessons, end-of-chapter tests, and lots of videos. Someday we might try lessons, but this is a great way to start!” –Leslie

Violin Starter Set

Give Gifts that Provide Experiences in Art and Music

 

It’s easy for anyone ages 5 and up to learn how to play the violin!

Mastering  an instrument takes years and hours of practice, but kids can’t always start out that way. Many children have very short attention spans. Luckily, the computer-based violin lessons included in this Violin Starter Set are just a few minutes long, an ideal length for those days your family is in a time crunch or the kids just can’t sit still.

In the lessons, an animated character named Val the Violin guides students through lessons by New York City Ballet violinist Sabina Skalar. eMedia My Violin guides you through the core elements of violin playing in over 160 lessons. It covers such basics as proper violin hand and finger position, the elements of correct bowing technique, tuning the instrument, and playing rhythmic tunes. Games make learning fun, and your child will learn songs that they can share with friends!

“My daughter wants to learn the violin but I didn’t want to shell out a fortune to pay a teacher or buy an instrument–this is perfect for the price. It’s beautiful, comes with extra strings, and comes with everything you need to learn to play and take good care of it. Really like the case and the presentation. My daughter was thrilled when she opened it and excited to start using it!” -Celena

eMedia Teach Yourself Acoustic Guitar

Give Gifts that Provide Experiences in Art and Music

 

 

Empower kids to create music!

Does your child dream of taking center stage to share their art with the world? Gift the tools of artistic expression for the holidays. This Guitar Starter Set has everything your child needs to start learning the very musical instrument  played by visionaries like Santana, Taylor Swift, and Jimi Hendrix.

In the Guitar Starter Set, kids get a quality beginner acoustic guitar with a resonant, bold sound. The computer lessons allow kids to learn at their own pace. The lessons use video instruction to illustrate proper technique and guide your child through how to tune a guitar, how to play simple guitar chords, and all the guitar basics. Guitar lessons are fun when kids practice with the 70 songs across a multitude of styles with hits made famous by Bob Dylan, Steve Miller, the Rolling Stones, and others.

Perfect for beginners. My daughter has been wanting to learn to play the guitar but unfortunately, we’re unable to afford lessons. So, I purchased this Teach Yourself Guitar pack and it’s great! My daughter has had it for a few weeks now and is really starting to pick it up….all by herself! The included DVD and other helpful media are awesome.” -Kristen

Electric Guitar and Lessons

Give Gifts that Provide Experiences in Art and Music

 

This electric guitar starter kit is the complete package designed to let first-time musicians start rocking.

At some point in their life, no matter how briefly, everyone dreams of being a rock star. Performing in front of thousands, selling out huge stadiums and touring the world are just a few of the draws. But even the biggest names in music started somewhere.

Lesson plans and music tutors can cost a ton of money, time, and energy and might not even work, but here is a solution that does. The Alfred Music Electric Guitar starter set is the perfect starting place for any aspiring rock legend to begin a musical journey. For one reasonable price, your child will get a high-quality 3/4-size Firebrand™ electric guitar, portable amplifier, gig bag carrying case with straps, Firebrand™ portable electronic tuner with batteries included, a set of Firebrand™ guitar picks, and the Alfred’s Kid’s Guitar Course (Book, CD, DVD and Software).

There isn’t a better value out there. You get the book, CD, DVD, Software, beautiful 3/4 size electric guitar for kids, padded carrying case, amp, tuner with batteries included, guitar picks – everything.

Art History Buffs

Welcome Box + 1 Month History Unboxed

Give Gifts that Provide Experiences in Art and Music

 

This gift will immerse your child in history and help bring context to modern life.

History Unboxed is perfect for any family that wants to help kids relate more to history. Recipes, crafts, art, myths, and details of everyday life enable students to experience history with many of their senses and form a lasting and meaningful bond with the past. And the best part? Everything ships right to your door. All you have to do is open the box and start learning.

The adventure begins when the first box arrives on your doorstep. As your child completes the art activities in the box, they will be time traveling with brother and sister duo Zane and Ava.

Zane and Ava magically travel through time, and their adventures will present the time period to your child through the activities in the box. Each month will feature a different time and place with hands-on crafts, activities, and art so that your child can learn about history in a memorable and exciting way.

Comprehensive and perfect! Our favorite thing in the box was truly amazing. We filled the terracotta bird with water, blew into it, and the song was as lovely as any songbird! I wish I could have all of their past boxes!” -Celena

Artists of the World Kit

Give Gifts that Provide Experiences in Art and Music

 

Add history to art projects for hands-on learning!

This complete ‘experiential’ enrichment learning kit for children offers over ten hours of hands-on learning. The kit contains all resources and materials required for the program – making it easy for parents to get kids started with limited hand-holding.

This kit introduces kids to 6 world famous artists through activities, multimedia interaction, games, and puzzles. Through this program, your child will begin to appreciate art, recognize the work of top artists, recreate his/her own masterpieces and enjoy the engaging lessons. The kit covers Van Gogh, Da Vinci, Monet, Michelangelo, Picasso, and Warhol.

“I’ve seen other art programs teach things like lines and composition while others take more of an art history approach. This does a little of both! I would say it leans more toward the history side of things but with real hands-on application.” -Amanda

I’m using this with my 4 children whose ages range from 8-11. We love it! The workbooks are colorful, the lesson plans are incredibly easy to follow, and the durable box came packed with absolutely everything we need, down to the glue and pencil sharpeners. The variety of artists (6 different ones) and mediums is great. Highly recommend it!” – Celena

Famous Artists Study

Give Gifts that Provide Experiences in Art and Music

 

Help your young artist “de-code DaVinci” and different kinds of visual expression from the greats.

In this online course, art students will study 10 renowned artists and discover 10 art movements in history. The Famous Artist Online Unit Study is all tied together by creating art exhibits about each artist in a virtual art gallery. Watch videos and visit websites to learn about the artists’ lives and styles and create masterpieces inspired by each artist. No downloads, books or papers are needed. Everything is just a click away.

“Not only have we been introduced to some great ideas and discussion, we’ve also learned to use some new digital/on-line tools! Beth has put a tremendous amount of time and love into this course and it is well worth the cost to enjoy this experience with your kiddos!” -Lynna Brooke

These unit studies are phenomenal. Beth has perfectly blended technology and the much-loved unit studies together to make a hard-hitting learning tool.” -Forest

Photography & Design

Design Your Own Fashion Portfolio

Give Gifts that Provide Experiences in Art and Music

 

Fashion-oriented kids will love this Fashion Design course, and you will love that your child is learning a unique and applicable skill!

While your children create their own fashion collections, they’ll be learning important graphic design skills that can be used in a variety of careers, gaining fashion business knowledge, and working within a professional design program. Parents will love that this is a safe learning environment where kids design age-appropriate garments.

It’s $100 off, too.

“What a unique, fun, and educational course! My daughter loved everything about this course. She is so proud of her fashion portfolio! More importantly, she learned how to use professional software – a skill she can use in the future.” –Annie

Shutter Teacher Photography Lessons

Give Gifts that Provide Experiences in Art and Music

 

Photography is a great way for students who lack the ability to draw or paint explore their creative side. From the great outdoors to food, to machines – no matter what your child is interested in, there is a way for them to explore it through photography. This downloadable lesson is great for students who want to be able to work on their own time at their own pace.

Included in this package are 15 downloadable pages of lessons covering the history of photography, the photographer’s toolkit, exposure, camera settings, lighting, composition, and careers in photography. Lesson plans and  instructor notes explain how to structure the class/course. Also included are  a printable card game one can laminate and use as a learning game, a printable sheet of photographer badges, and much more.

Plus, it’s over 60% off. Beautiful. Better grab it while the price is so low.

GIVE GIFTS THAT PROVIDE EXPERIENCES IN ART AND MUSIC

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