Say Hello to Unruly Studios!

You may have jumped, stepped on or whacked some moles on the Unruly Splats, the first product being released by Unruly Studios, at the Boston or New York Maker Faire in September 2017. If not, don’t worry! Unruly Studios will be camping out of the Boston Children’s Museum as part of the Museum’s Tech Kitchen programming.

Unruly Studios creates interactive games to empower kids with critical STEM skills while combining active learning, physical play, intellectual stimulation and social engagement. Unruly Splats, their first product, is the first ever educational technology product that teaches STEM skills through active learning, physical play, intellectual stimulation and social engagement.

This is the product we all have been waiting for! Understanding the importance of physical activity and social interaction for child development while also being mindful of the need of 21st century technical STEM skills, Unruly Spats blurs the line between physical activity and learning STEM. Now, you are no longer the bad cop pulling your kid away from the screen – this product will do it for you. Once the kids ideate new games, they can code these games on tablet or smartphone by changing the lights, sounds, and sensing of the Splats and that is when the fun begins! Once the game is coded, kids leave the screen aside and physically play the games they created with their siblings, friends, parents or even by themselves. They may always go back and change the code of the games and learn through the process of doing. By stimulating creative problem solving and intellectual thinking, Unruly Splats is the one to look out for!

Tech Kitchen at the Boston Children’s Museum provides a perfect platform for companies like Unruly Studios to create their own game zone to prototype, and test with millions of kids and fans of the Boston Children’s Museum. There is no better way to learn than by prototyping, testing and iterating. And that happens to be what Unruly Studios teaches kids to do through their product.

Come check Unruly Studios and many other companies that are part of the Tech Kitchen at the Boston Children’s Museum, from iRobot to Bose. Unruly Studios has a Kickstarter campaign live starting October 3 for 30 days where you can pre-order Unruly Splats for your home, school, library, or after-school program.


Vacation Exploration: Grocery Store Gifts

grocery-store-gifts“I just want something interesting and educational….not just another piece of plastic.  You know?”

“I know they like to do art and science stuff…but the kits are expensive.”

“Help!  I need a present for my 4-year-old niece and I don’t have time to shop.”

These are all things I’ve heard lately as a parent and museum educator as we count down to the winter holidays. All of us have the best of intentions as gift-givers, but not necessarily the budget, time, or inspiration to back it up. The unlikely solution?  Your neighborhood grocery store.

As I strolled down the aisles of our local supermarket recently, I made up a game for myself:  how many cool art or science “preschool activity kits” could I put together using only items available at a typical grocery store?  I was thrilled to concoct several such kits in my head that I knew would thrill my own kids if they found them under the Christmas tree. Below are some of the winners. Notice my recurring suggestion of including a plastic tablecloth with each kit – it’s a lot easier to find time and space to do these activities in a busy household if you know that your table is protected and you can throw the whole work surface in the trash afterwards! Continue reading

Put Your Listening Ears On!

canon-1-aug-83When my older son was four, he begged for Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site at bedtime.

When he was five, it was Magic Treehouse.

But now that he’s six and just started first grade, he can read to himself, and there is a new treat he begs for…a science podcast for kids.  Yes, BEGS!  To the point that we have had to negotiate an allowance of two podcasts per week so that we’re still reading most nights.

A little background: I grew up on a farm in the landlocked Midwest and had vivid dreams of marine biology and ocean exploration.  I devoured all books on the subject that I could get my hands on (that list was short).  Now I’m raising kids in a world where we can watch (and have watched!) a documentary about giant squid tracking anytime we want.  A YouTube video of open heart surgery.  An app about human anatomy, or insect identification.  A live cam on the otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  An animation of primate evolution or chemical bonding.  Suffice to say this would’ve blown my 6-year-old mind.  The access to science and all its wonders is…limitless. Continue reading

Muddling Through the Middle

Muddling 2“I have an idea.  For Mother’s Day next year, can you just get me a t-shirt that says DON’T in huge letters?”

This was the request I made of my husband a couple mornings ago as I sat on a stool in our kitchen, once again lamenting the fact that seemingly 90% of the sentences that come out of my mouth on any given weekday morning are directives, most of them in the negative, aimed at my son.  “Stop bugging the dog, you’re supposed to be putting your jacket on.”  “Please don’t eat jelly right out of the jar, it’s gross.”  “It’s not funny when you put your shoes on the wrong feet when we’re trying to get going.  Mommy doesn’t want to miss her train.”  “Please don’t stack up the blocks right where we’re trying to walk.  Thank you.”

Somewhere, in a parallel universe, I am the Fun Mom.  Continue reading

Family Fest Preview: On Keeping an Open Mind

FF final logo“You should really come to the Lunch and Learn next week,” said my coworker, who works in the Development department, “I think it’s going to be a good one!”

“Really? Who’s speaking?” I asked.

“Rick Weissbourd!” she said excitedly, “He’s the author of a couple of great parenting books and he’s talking about raising moral and happy children.  He’s from Harvard.”“Hmmm….I’ll think about it.  I’ll look him up,” I replied, a bit skeptically.

Now, time for a true confession.  The stated topic of “raising moral and happy children” was a bit off-putting to me.  I’m not sure I can articulate exactly why, but somehow the keywords “moral” and “happy” were hot buttons for me.  First off, an expert telling me how to raise moral children sounds political.  Or religious.  Or both.  Who’s this guy from Harvard to tell me about my family’s morals?  And as for happy, well, like many folks in this field I’m a bit burnt out on watching parents push happiness on their kids.  Do I want my child to be happy?  OF COURSE.  Who doesn’t?  But like morals, every family’s definition of happiness is a little different, and discussions thereof are almost always a minefield. Continue reading

Family Fest Preview: Learning about Learning

FF final logoOn Saturday, April 6th, as part of our Centennial Family Fest celebration, we will be offering parents the chance to attend presentations by parenting and child development experts, who will discuss some of the hottest topics in parenting today.  Because we know from talking to parents that navigating the bewildering world of digital media with their young children is a relevant concern, we wanted to bring in someone who works in the field every day, creating digital media experiences for young children, their parents and their educators.  Thanks to our partnership with WGBH, we’re fortunate to host Jillian Orr as one of these speakers.

Jillian Orr is a Digital Associate Producer in the Digital Kids Group at WGBH. She holds a Master’s degree in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a B.S. in Mathematics, and a B.A. in Theater, and she has worked extensively with children. As part of the Digital Kids Group at WGBH, she has worked on digital production (websites, games, and apps) for popular PBS series such as “Curious George”, “Arthur”, “Martha Speaks”, “Design Squad Nation”, and “Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman”.

In anticipation of this exciting event, I asked Jillian to tell us a little about her work and what motivates her.  This is what she said: Continue reading

Cabin Fever

cabin feverDear Diary,

Today we woke up to a fresh snowfall and refreshing 8-degree temps. Since all three kids are in robust health this winter and we finished all of our weekend chores (and grocery shopping! and laundry!) last night, we had the whole Saturday stretching ahead of us to enjoy the weather, sing songs from favorite musicals, and spend quiet time reflecting on the beauty of our spotless and spacious home. The kids couldn’t wait to get outside and dressed themselves in all their outdoor gear with no assistance and no lost mittens! Sledding was a blast and nobody got cranky. Then we all agreed on a 500-piece puzzle to do when we got home. Hope Sunday is just as much fun.

……wrote no actual mom, ever.

Yes folks, it’s that time of year again…when the dreaded cabin fever strikes in concert with actual fevers.

Continue reading

Snapshots from Modern Parenting

IMG_1781“Does he know how to use your phone?” the man asked incredulously, “how old is he?”

I couldn’t tell whether he was appalled or impressed, and he didn’t seem entirely sure of which tack he was on, either.  It was a humid, stuffy morning on the #36 bus and our somewhat bedraggled, but seemingly well- intentioned fellow passenger gaped at my two-year-old son as he followed Dora the Explorer’s prompts to trace letters on the screen of my iPhone. Keep reading, there’s more!