Gift some fun and educational books from National Geographic Kids this holiday season


Are you still looking for gifts for your child?

I know that many parents try and get the “it” toys of the season for their child (or grandchild). That is fine and all, but there is a type of gift that is ideal for gift giving, whether it’s for the holidays, a birthday, or “just because” – BOOKS!

When I was a child I LOVED books. I could not get enough of them. I loved receiving books as a gift. I amassed a nice collection of books, many of which I still have. I kept a lot of my favorite books from my youth to share with my own children, and someday, my future grandchildren.

I loved to read all types of books – fiction, non-fiction, horror, comedy, drama, book series – you name it. I even enjoyed reading educational books. One of my favorite types of books to read were encyclopedias. I know that might sound a bit unusual, but I honestly enjoyed it.

Educational books are not boring. It just depends in the book that you read. Take for example National Geographic Kids books. I have been a fan of their books for many years. Not only are they filled with a lot of great information and facts about just about everything on Earth (and even space), but they are also filled with a lot of great facts.

I’m a smart person. I do very well when we watch Jeporady. That is because I know a little bit about a lot of things. Many National Geographic Kids books are a great way to let your child learn a little bit about a lot of things (that is a GOOD thing).

If you are considering gifting a child books this holiday season, here are some suggestions from National Geographic and National Geographic Kids.

I was sent a few of these books to review.

Nerd A to Z: Your Reference to Literally Figuratively Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know (ages 8-12, $14.99)

“You don’t have to be a nerd to be captivated by this combination of Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and short form encyclopedia…..the info blurbs are fun to know and in many instances educational.  A bushel of inviting, idiosyncratic subjects” – Kirkus

“VERDICT A treat for visually oriented and information-hungry browsers.” – School Library Journal

This super-stuffed alphabetical compendium of must-know facts from science, pop culture, history, and more is perfect for kids who already know the names of every single dinosaur or want to understand exactly how the Millennium Falcon works. It’s a book for grammar gurus, science snobs, music geeks, and history buffs. In short, it’s a book for nerds. Inside, you’ll find browsable, info-packed blurbs that’ll give you the lowdown on everything from augmented reality to zydeco, with larger features that dive deep into fascinating topics like UFOs, pirates, artificial intelligence, and daring circus acts. And you’ll hear from the world’s most notable (and quotable) Nerds of Note from history and today.

As I mentioned earlier, I know a lot about a lot of things. This book is the prime example of ways your child can be the same way.

This book covers a huge assortment of topics on just about everything you can possibly think of.

There are even fun tests you can take to find out what kind of “nerd” you really are.

I’m an adult, and I found this book extremely interesting. I learned a lot from it myself.

The book is filled with colorful photos and illustrations that bring this book to life.

The Book of Bling: Ritzy Rocks, Extravagant Animals, Sparkling Science and More! (ages 8-12, $19.99)

“Bling is all around us,” the author writes. Maybe so…but rarely is the razzle-dazzle this cranked up. Should come with a cautionary note: sunglasses a must!” – Kirkus

From upscale splurges to flashy fun in nature, this treasure trove is filled with wonders that will dazzle and delight. Read about how nature struts its stuff with tantalizing tidbits about animals, including a few that literally glitter with iridescence to confuse predators. Or maybe you’ll strike it rich after reading about Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas, U.S.A., where anyone can go hunt for sparkling gems. Dig into info about the world’s mysterious minerals, gorgeous geodes, and ritzy rocks. Discover extravagant expenditures like Canada’s million-dollar solid gold coin. Learn all about the splendid science of diamonds that rain from the sky in space. Get the secret behind glowing bio-luminescence. And go back in time to uncover palatial palaces, the riches of royalty, and other ancient treasures. To show off the lush content in proper fashion, readers will be dazzled by hundreds of fun flashy photos throughout.

This is a fun book about everything that glitters, shines and costs $$$.

I love the sections on the world’s richest animals, as well as the section on “cursed” jewelry that you should never touch. The section on gems and jewelry is pretty extensive.

The cat, “Grumpy Cat,” made it into the book as one of the world’s richest animals.

I like that angle this book takes. Would would have thought about writing a book all about rich, fancy, sparkly things around the world.

Treasury of Bible Stories written by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Christina Balit (ages 8-12, HC, $24.99)

“Napoli brings her literary eye to yet another ancient tradition.  Balit’s bold illustrations accompany each tale and feature a diversity of skin tone that reflects the many lands from northeast Africa to the Middle East where the drama unfolds… Sidebars throughout add historical and scientific context to the stories presented while backmatter includes maps, timelines, and brief biographies of the major players. A worthy cultural treasury with appeal to both the faithful and irreligious.” — Kirkus

Noah’s Ark, Moses, David and Goliath, the ten plagues, Daniel and the lions’ den, Jonah and the giant fish, and many more of the Bible’s most powerful stories — 27 in all — are compellingly retold in this beautifully illustrated treasury. Readers will be fascinated by the ancient people and events they encounter, surprised by some of the lesser known accounts revealed, and inspired by the lessons these tales impart. Stories cover important ground beyond religion, such as culture, history, and geography, and they touch on issues that remain relevant today–faith, loyalty, kindness, violence, generosity, greed, jealousy, and more. These accessible, readible stories give kids a rich picture of biblical times, which encourages them to think about our role in the world and to learn more.

Dream Journal by Dr. Allan Peterkin (ages 8-12, $12.99 )

This stocking stuffer is what dreams are made of — literally!  Professor of Psychiatry Dr.Allan Peterkin helps readers uncover the power of their dreams and better understand the science of sleep. With lively text, vibrant imagery, and plenty of space for writing, it’s the perfect tool to help kids remember, record, and reflect on their nighttime adventures.  Catching Z’s has never been so much fun!

Brain Candy: Seriously Sweet Facts to Satisfy Your Curiosity – (ages 8-12, $8.99)

This offbeat, “stocking-sized” book is like a sweet treat that will satisfy any reader’s fun fact cravings. Cranium “cavities” will be filled to the brim with 500 fascinating knowledge nuggets about numbers, fun facts, and cool trivia on all kinds of topics.  With features that dive into why potatoes and tomatoes are a dynamic duo, amazing animal tongues and how they are used to ”lick” their competition and dental care through the ages, Brain Candy is a tasty approach to feeding kids tantalizing tidbits about the world.

This is another fascinating book filled with interesting facts.

I like how the facts are grouped by subject, such as size, heat, speed, numbers and more.

As with all National Geographic books, this book is overflowing with interesting and useful information, as well as beautiful, colorful photos and illustrations.

Any of these books would make a great gift for that special child in your life. To be honest, I think even grown-ups would appreciate these awesome books.

You can find these great books and more on the Shop National Geographic website. You can also find these books at book retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Does your child/grandchild own any National Geographic and/or National Geographic Kids books?

Do you think your child/grandchild would like any of the books mentioned above? If so, which one(s)?


*I received free product samples to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Movie Review: A Reindeer’s Journey


Opening in select theaters this Friday (November 15th) in New York City, and On Demand November 19th, is the beautiful documentary, A Reindeer’s Journey. I believe the film will be available on DVD on November 26th.

The film is narrated by Donald Sutherland, and was directed by Guillaume Maidatchevsky.

With the holiday season fast approaching, A Reindeer’s Journey would make for a delightful movie to usher in the season. After all, the film is about a reindeer, and as you know, Santa needs his reindeer to pull his sled to deliver presents around the world. However, this film is about a REAL reindeer, and his name is Ailo.

I really love watching nature documentaries, most especially ones like Planet Earth, Blue Planet, Frozen Earth and Disneynature films (Bears, Oceans, Chimpanzee…). I had no doubt that I would enjoy this movie just as much.

Growing up, I always wanted a pet reindeer. Of course, I was hoping it was a magical one that could fly. I still wouldn’t mind a pet reindeer. I think they are beautiful creatures.

This film takes place in Lapland (Finland), at the edge of the arctic circle.

Ailo (eye-ee-low) was born early, before his mother was able to make it down to the spring pastures from the snowy mountain tops. Thankfully he is born perfectly healthy. Sadly, half of the reindeer born in this part of the world will never make it to their first birthday.

Did you know that a reindeer has 5 minutes to learn how to stand when it is born, 5 minutes to learn how to walk and another 5 minutes to learn how to run and swim? They have to. It’s a matter of survival. It takes me longer than give minutes just to get out of bed in the morning.

Along Ailo’s perilous journey to survive into adulthood, he meets many of the creatures native to that part of the world, such as a snowy owl, arctic fox, lemming and a stout (it looks like a weasel), as well as more common creatures like a squirrel, bear and wolves. There is even a wolverine. Those things are SCARY!

The film does go off from time to time and focuses on the other critters in the film, but eventually the film goes back to Ailo and the other reindeer in his group.

There are some spectacular shots of the northern lights too. It’s on my “Bucket List” to see them in person.

This film has a run time of 86 minutes (just shy of an hour and a half).

A real reindeer’s life is not filled with candy canes and sugar plums. It’s a daily life or death struggle to survive. They face so many challenges, from out running predators, to finding food, and trying to survive some of the harshest weather conditions on Earth. Reindeer are amazing creatures. They deserve to be praised for their survival skills. How they can live through the winter is incredible.

After you see this film, you will have new found admiration and respect for reindeer. I know I do.

For the most part, this film is endearing, with shots of adorable creatures. On the flip side, this movie also documents how scary it is when predators are on the hunt to collect their next meal. I prefer looking at cute creatures. I’m not a fan of watching animals being hunted down and killed. I know it’s the circle of life, but at the same time, I don’t like to think about it, let alone see it in action. I literally close my eyes so I don’t have to watch it all play out.

There are plenty of gorgeous nature shots throughout the film, from trees engulfed in snow, to breathtaking fjords. The cinematography is outstanding.

This film is not a ho-ho-ho Merry Christmas film. In fact, it has nothing to do with Christmas except it’s about a reindeer, and people often associate the two.

If you are interested in learning more about this film, click here. If you are in New York City, look for it at a theater near you, otherwise you can look for the film On Demand, or on DVD (coming soon).

Below is the film’s trailer for your entertainment.



*I received a free online screener link in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Movie Review: Fantastic Fungi – Now showing in select theaters


When you see mold, fungus or even mushrooms, what do you do? Are you grossed out by the sight of them? Are you curious about them? Do you want to eat them? Chances are most people are not exactly fans of fungi.

My entire family is grossed out by the thought of fungi. As for me, I love mushrooms. I love to order mushrooms when we eat out at restaurants. At our local diner, their balsamic chicken dinner comes with mushrooms. My husband doesn’t request that they eliminate the mushrooms. He intentionally gets them just to remove them from his plate and give them to me.

Have you ever tried a portebello mushroom? I swear they could pass as meat. It’s a healthier alternative to meat, that is for sure. Plus it would mean less cows, and less methane gas destroying out atmosphere.

Did you know that you need fungi to make many of the things you enjoy eating and drinking, such as bread (yeast is a fungi), beer and cheese. If you saw mold on cheese, chances are you would never eat cheese again. But it is made using fungi.

If you enjoy blue cheese, you enjoy eating blue mold, because that is what is used to make the cheese. Personally, I’m not a fan of blue cheese. Not because of the mold, but rather I don’t like the taste.

If you have ever had a shot of penicillin, then you have had fungi injected into your body. Penicillin is made from mold.

There is a documentary that is now playing at select theaters across the country called Fantastic Fungi. It’s narrated by Brie Larson, and directed by Art by Louie Schwartzberg.

Some people, like my husband, thought the documentary would be either boring, or gross. Just the thought of fungi grosses him out, so there is no way he’d give a documentary about fungi a chance. Thankfully, I enjoy learning and I love mushroom, so I was curious about the film. I was sent a screener to review.

Fantastic Fungi gives viewers and in-depth history about fungi, and how it pertains to life, and by that I mean ALL life – from the soil to humans and everything in between.

There are over a million different types of fungi. That is more than the different types of plants on Earth. That to me was mind-blowing.

If you believe in the idea of evolution, human beings came from fungi. Not right away (of course), but over millions of years. Fungi is responsible for all life on Earth.

I love that this documentary provided viewers with an eye opening look at this amazing thing. Who knew that fungi was such a vital part of our lives, and we weren’t even aware of it.

Fantastic Fungi provides detailed information about how fungi is used today, including it’s medicinal purposes.

Fungi can even help save the bees (which is extremely important right now) and provide an all natural, safe “pesticide” to kill things like termites, ants and bed bugs.

Scientists and doctors are exploring how a single use of “magic mushrooms” can help with depression and anxiety, and give users a clearer, and happier, outlook on life? More so than taking drugs on a daily basis. That to me is sounds pretty amazing. I would much rather take natural substances than man made medications any day.

There is a whole community of people across the country, and around the world, that revere fungi. They have get togethers where they search for fungi, talk about fungi and even enjoy eating fungi.

I learned A LOT about fungi from this film. So much so that I am honestly curious about fungi, and I am interested in learning more about it.

I know a film like this might seem boring to most people, and perhaps it’s not your “cup of tea” (you can make tea out of mushrooms too!), but if you have the opportunity to see this film, I”m sure you will find it equally as interesting. It is truly an eye opening experience.

If you are interested in learning more about this film, or to find out where it’s playing near you, visit the film’s official website, FantasticFungi.com. The film can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Those links are found at the top of the official website.

Below is the film’s trailer for your enjoyment.

Are you a fan of fungi? Do you think that you would be interested in seeing this film? Why or why not? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.



*I was sent a free screener in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Check out how your kids can benefit from the PYP Curriculum


If you’re already a parent, then you know as much as I do that deciding which school to enroll our kids in is an understandably difficult task. Making the right decision requires research and commitment. The goal is to put them somewhere where they’ll have a good path toward lifelong learning and a successful school. The wrong choice opens up a world of trouble.

Today, we’ll talk about the PYP curriculum in a way that will easily describe why it can be a worthwhile choice for your child and your family, which is especially useful if you’re in Singapore or any foreign country as an expat looking to enrol your kids in IB schools Singapore. Here we go.

PYP Curriculum – just the important bits

  • Child-centred approach. IB PYP makes use of inquiry-based approach in learning that allows students to engage in the knowledge gathering process. All included activities under PYP are created in an environment that will keep students the core of the process, which encourages them to have active participation. Teachers then act as facilitators to observe this learning process.
  • Collaborative learning. IB PYP is also focused on giving tasks, projects and assignments to students that readily teaches them to work in groups, to join another to share information to improve their knowledge. Learning becomes fun and interactive manner and students learn the importance of both teamwork and discussions to work on problems.
  • Transdisciplinary approach. This approach allows students to know answers to important questions like “who am I, where do I belong, the importance of my environment”. This weaves a story that moves every subject to teach the students the importance of each topic.

Other benefits of The IB PYP framework

Apart from the above, PYP also focuses on a child’s development as an inquirer, both within the school and beyond. Improved by research into how students learn, how teachers perform, and the practice and principles of effective assessment, PYP puts a powerful emphasis on inquiry-based learning.

The program also makes use of local and global issues to add to the curriculum, asking students to check out related, interdisciplinary themes as well as consider the connections between them.

Making the Move: First Steps

If you’re here looking to change schools for your child, then there is a lot to think about. To help you make your first move, consider scheduling a visit to some IB schools Singapore has if you’re here. You need to find a perfect fit in both quality of education and quality of school life as much possible.

In conclusion

PYP is taught in over 109 countries around the world, so if you’re still unsure whether it’s the right choice for your child, you can rest assured that the PYP curriculum framework is uniquely adaptable to state and national standards, which makes schools like the Global Indian International School (GIIS) a great choice for your child and your family.

It’s also wise to choose one that merges modern teaching through technologies with holistic education approaches as you look for school. Lastly, you can also visit parent or school forums to get ideas on the school you’re considering. Best of luck!

Reasons why Home Education is Important

** THIS IS A GUEST POST. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect my own. 

Education has grown over the past few decades into many forms and varieties, including the traditional public school, charters, magnets, private, religious and home education. The latter has surpassed many of the others in overwhelming involvement because of the benefits that parents have found outweigh the concerns. This is not limited to just the Christian community, although they are at the forefront of the movement, but is being adopted by families from all walks of life and perspectives.

Safety concerns are at the top of the list with the growing violence and bullying that exists at all levels in schools today. Parents want to protect their children without sacrificing the quality of their education, so they are turning to professional online platforms that specialize in providing standard curriculum, approved course work and tools for parents and students. Kids can learn in the safety of their home from professional instructors, complete and submit work on the computer and don’t have to worry about what the student next to them is going to do.

Bullying is a national problem that has become prevalent on social media and in the classroom but,m by removing them from the environment, kids can focus on their education and setting themselves up for success in the future.

Families that homeschool spend more time with their kids whether they are the full-time teacher or only do part-time with the online instructors providing assistance. This allows them to get to know their kids intimately, which can make the difference between a child feeling alone and depressed, and reaching out in unhealthy ways or feeling part of the unit and being able to communicate freely. Moms and dads involved in the education process label this as one of the best benefits because they are developing relationships that will last long after they leave home and start families of their own. In addition, kids have the opportunity to ask questions as they come up during their studies which is not always possible in a classroom environment.  This ensures a faster ability to grasp a concept which is exciting for students and helps keep them motivated to study and complete the lessons.

There are different home education options to choose from but online homeschools have become a popular option for families because it provides a foundation of biblical faith values that are applied to all subjects in the curriculum. Students are often required to complete a Bible course as part of their graduation credits. They are also taught from this perspective in science, history, economics, social studies, etc. Parents should review the curriculum and the platform to ensure that both meet expectations, standards and follow similar beliefs for what they want their children to be taught about faith. The benefit is that children grow up having a solid base incorporated within their quality education that allows them to go to college and still hold on to their understanding of faith.

Flexibility is the number one benefit that all families are consistent about because it allows them to operate in their own unique way with each other and with their schedules. Parents who work shifts have time to see their kids because they aren’t at school and students can modify their studying to take place anytime.  The flexible nature of homeschooling and online classes allows families to take advantage of when their kids are able to do their best work which might be in the afternoon instead of first thing in the morning or late in the evening because they prefer to sleep in. For kids to be successful they need to have the best possible circumstances and environments which online homeschooling provides while also challenging them to develop self-study, self-discipline and time management skills which are beneficial in high school, college and the work force.

It is not only parents who are taking a harder looking at keeping their kids’ home but students are starting to voice their opinions about being exposed to environments where the socialization does not outweigh the negatives any longer. There are other ways to get them involved in the community that align with their specific interests so they can develop necessary skills and enhance their experiential education along with the book knowledge. Whether you choose a online homeschool for your child, or well-known curriculum-based platform, the goal is to provide them a quality backed education they can use to do whatever they want as adults.

You can experience the benefits listed as well as knowing that you have direct input into what your child is learning and trust the teachers on the other side of the computer. Make it a family discussion and see whether this approach to education is the right solution for you and your family in all aspects.

About the author:

Ashly William is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. Her content is published on many national and international publications. She has expertise in writing about Beauty, fashion & Lifestyle and Education, she has written many content for a Christian Online High School (NFC Academy – FFCAcademy.com). 

Activities designed to engage and inspire young minds


If you are a frequent reader of She Scribes, you’ll probably recall that I work with children. I used to work with Kindergartners during the day, then K-3rd graders in the afternoon. This school year I was transferred to a different school. Now I work with 4th – 6th graders. They are much different than the little ones. It hasn’t always been easy, but I enjoy working with this age group too.

The little ones are easily entertained by toys and games, and they are eager to learn. The upper elementary kids tend to get bored more easily (they rather be on their smartphones, sigh…) and they often see learning as a “chore” rather than something that is fun.

For a while now I have been entertaining the idea of doing STEM activities with the kids. If you are unfamiliar with the term STEM is stands for;

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Math

There is an after school club for STEM activities at the school I work at.

Some of the kids I work with participated in the STEM club. Others I think secretly wanted to join, but felt like it was “uncool” to join an after school club.

I think there is a lot that can be learned by STEM activities. I’m not in any way a teacher, but I do think that anyone can learn from these types of activities. I’m college educated and I find STEM activities very interesting. As someone who works with children, I find that these types of activities lead to great teachable moments.

I am always searching the Internet for easy to do activities I can do with my “work kids.” I am also always on Pinterest looking for ideas.

The Catapult Challenge teachers kids how catapults were used by ancient and medieval militaries. Kids also love to shoot things through the air. LOL!

I was recently sent to review a book filled with easy to do STEM activities. The book is called 15 Minute STEM. It’s written by Emily Hunt.

This book features STEM activities geared towards 5-11 year olds, which is great for me since I have worked with the little ones, and now I work with the older elementary kids (the oldest is 12).

Here is a brief synopsis of the book from the publisher;

This innovative resource has been designed to reassure parents and teachers that they don’t need to be experts to deliver high-quality STEM education. Each of the 40 activities includes step-by-step instructions, takes just 15 minutes to complete and can be resourced from everyday materials found at home or in the classroom. This means that, with minimal preparation, parents and teachers can slot these cross-curricular activities into an otherwise busy day.

The activities make connections to real-world scenarios, helping children to understand how their learning is relevant to their future, and have been linked to conceptually similar STEM-related careers – all of which are individually profiled in a glossary at the back of the book. The practical, problem-solving element of each activity offers a great way for children to develop important soft skills such as creativity, critical thinking and spatial awareness.

I was impressed that this book has forty activities in it. At first glance the book is rather unassuming. It’s thin and only has 60 pages. Once I opened the book, I knew immediately that this was going to be my “go to” book for many great activities to do with my “work kids.”

This is just one of the activities found in this book.

Many of the STEM activities that I have pinned on Pinterest or bookmarked on my computer require a lot of materials to accomplish. Our organization does have a budget it needs to stick to, and I honestly don’t have the time to drive all over town looking for the materials to complete an activity. I was super pleased to see that the activities in this book don’t require a lot of fancy materials, and many of the items needed we already have, I have at home, or I can easily get locally.

Take for example the Tinfoil Cargo Boats activity. It requires tinfoil, coins, water, a bowl or sink and a scale (optional). Who doesn’t already have these things around their home?

In the Water Color Carnival activity you need large clear bowls, beakers, a spoon, food coloring, water and a mirror (optional). The beakers might not be as readily available, but I’m sure you can substitute them with measuring cups or something similar.

If you don’t have the items needed for each activity, I”m sure you can find almost all of what you need at your local dollar store.

Each activity includes the necessary equipment (as explained above), easy to follow step-by-step instructions, what exactly the activity is going to accomplish (this information is found in the “Investigate” box) and an brief explanation for WHY things happen in the activity.

I am a firm believer that children learn better when learning is fun. With these activities, children are definitely learning, even if it doesn’t look that way. Not only that, these activities are fun and would work just as well as a “rainy day” activity for children, without any emphasis on the “why” and “how” of the activity. They don’t have to be done to learn something. They can be done just for the fun of it.

Here is a photo of the table of contents so you can see for yourself the types of activities/lessons found in the pages of this book.

As far as the 15 minutes aspect is concerned, yes, these activities don’t take that long to set up and implement. I guess it all depends on the children you are working with. Younger children might take a wee bit longer than older children.

I have “dog earred” several pages in this book of activities I want to do with my “work kids.” I am finishing up taking inventory of what we have at school and what I need to pick up from the dollar store (or take in from home). I’ve been a bit busy lately, and we’re currently on winter break, so I haven’t had the chance to try any of activities – yet. Even if I did, it’s not easy to take photos at school. I don’t want to get any of the children in the photos for safety reasons (plus they are not my children, so I am not allowed to distribute their images).

Whether you are a parent, educator, scout leader or even a babysitter, there are plenty of fun activities in this book that make it worth checking it out for yourself.

If you are interested in the book, or would like to learn more about it, I found the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other book retailers.

Check out this brief video (below) of the author, Emily Hunt, talking about the book. She is from the United Kingdom, which explains her accent.



*I received a free product sample to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.