Category Archives: Educational

Artemis Fowl: The Series

I have found one of the best books series’ for kids I think is around so I thought I’d share it with you guys. It’s called Artemis Fowl. These books are about a Maniacal Sociopath who is a major criminal. He has stolen and earned through shady deals over 2 million dollars. Did I mention he is 11 years old? One of the reasons I thought it was a good time to write about this book series is that there is a movie coming out in June! On June 12th Artemis Fowl is coming to Disney+ and I am super excited!

This book series is all about this kid who discovered that fairies are real and they have been living underneath us this whole time. Thousands of years ago there was a great war between the Mud men (us) and the fairies and instead of getting wiped out they went underground and were forgotten by history. Until Artemis Fowl decide he was going to prove they were real and rob them blind.

I love these books because they are an excellent mix of fantasy and science fiction that I love. The only thing cooler than a race of fairies that have awesome magic is a race of fairies with magic that are so technologically advanced that you can buy a nuclear power source that lasts forever and is smaller than a battery. 

I love this book series because of its incredible blend of many different genres and the way that it does it seamlessly.

The Creation Crate Mood Lamp!

Creation Crate Mood Lamp


So one day, Mom and Dad called me into their office along with Nerdpie and said, “We got sent this buildable mood lamp from Creation Crate, and were wondering if you wanted to make it.” Nerdpie was like, “Kind of, but if Nerdster wants to, he can!” Of course, to this, I said, “I would really like to make the lamp! Thanks!”


And here I am, a week or two later, and I learned a lot. A couple of things I learned are:

  • I learned about circuit boards.
  • I learned about charges and how they travel.
  • I (surprisingly) learned about programming.
  • I especially learned about inputting circuits and lining them up.
  • And I learned about CHIMICHANGAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This lamp was super fun to make and incorporated a couple of cool features and skills, including:
  1. Circuit boards
  2. Programming
  3. Troubleshooting and Debugging
  4. Wire attachment
  5. Proper care of wires and LEDs (I learned this one the hard way :)C. Let’s just say, there was supposed to be three LEDs.)
All in all, this was really fun to make. I only have a couple complaints.
1)The wiring is a little confusing.
2)It didn’t come with a power source.
But other than that, the lamp was perfect. I really enjoyed learning how to implement the programming to the board, and how to program the timer for switching colors. Arduino programming is like some of the languages I like, such as JavaScript, Es6, or Python, but it also has its own sort from combining languages like JSON, CSS, or C++. It was really interesting and taught me things I hope to use later in life. Maybe I can get a job making supplies for Arduino. That would be fun. This was a super fun project which was very educational and helped me brush up on my programming skills.  Over all, this was a great experience and I can’t wait to see what will come next time. I rate this creation crate… two enthusiastic thumbs up! Comment on what you think would be something cool to make!
NerdMom’s 2 cents:
I love Creation Crate and the idea of it! This is one of the first STEM/crafting kits that I have seen that is actually for kids 10 and up.  It is something you can use as an actual curriculum. They claim that if you do 12 kits you will have more hands on programming experience than 99% of college computer science students. The cost ranges between $22.50 – $29.99 just depending on if you go month to month or a year at a time. It was a great project and my son learned a lot. This would make a wonderful gift because it is very educational and very fun!
(Disclosure: We were given the Creation Crate by the company and this post contains affiliate links. That said, all opinions are ours and ours alone)

10 Fun & Educational Youtube Channels & Playlists

10 fun and Educational Youtube

Youtube is a fun and scary place. There are so many things there that it is hard to sift through the cat videos for something of substance. That is why I did some sifting for you! Here are 10 fun and educational Youtube channels and playlists perfect for any homeschool family or nerd!

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego! Nothing like a great nerdy throw back! A user on Youtube (Bubblebear83) has put together a playlist!!!

TED talks to watch with kids is a playlist that TED has put together.  Some great talks!

Doodling in Math Class by ViHart is one of my absolute favorites! We have been watching her since before she was working for Khan Academy. She is NerdPie’s favorite;). 

Mathemusician Stuff is another great ViHart play list. I love music and math, need I say more?

Crash Course is a series done by the VlogBrothers. It is a ton of subjects and super entertaining. My kids and I really like it. It is probably considered high school level but all my kids watch most of them. 

Crash Course Kids is just like Crash Course but aimed at elementary aged kids. 

Space Time is done by PBS Digital Studios. It is really fun, interesting, and well done. And who doesn’t love space?

PBS Game/Show is obviously done by PBS. It is all about video games and that is inherently cool. It isn’t a review show but actually about gaming and video games. Like things like How old is Virtual Reality.

It’s Okay to be Smart is the last PBS show on my list. Joe Hanson hosts it and talks about science and life. 

Life Noggin is another science in life channel. They talk about things like sleepwalking and science of super powers.

Bonus: This isn’t a playlist but a grouping. Remember Eureka? It was a math series on PBS back when I was a kid. It is cartoony and mathy and awesome! Check it out! 

Yes, Youtube can be so educational! So check out some of these great lists! And what awesome educational faire do you watch on Youtube? Let me know in the comments. 

10daysbutton This is part of the 10 Days of Nerdy Fun!!! Make sure you hop over to see what other great post of nerdy fun that will be shared! 


10 Math Card Games

10 Math Card Games NerdFamily


It isn’t shocking that math skills are built by repetition. It is also well known facts that we remember having fun and if we are learning at the same time, we remember that too! In that spirit here are some fun math games to play with your kids! All you need is a standard deck of cards. You will have learning and quality time! Can’t beat that!

1) Multiplication Math War: Flip cards and who ever yells out the multiplication fact first wins the cards!

2) Guess my number: Basically 20 questions. Are you a factor of 10? Are you higher than 3?

3) Make the highest number: Deal out 4 cards. Who ever can make the highest total (using addition or multiplication) wins.

4) Go Fish Add Up/Subtract Down: This is great for preschool kids. If you have a four you could ask for a 5 or a 3. Teaches number order.

5) Largest pile: Come up with a total goal (say 20) then deal out cards evenly among the players and who ever can get to 20 with the largest amount of cards wins. You can chose addition and/or subtraction.

6) Addition Math War: Flip cards and who ever yells out the addition fact first wins the cards.

7) Factor Family: Deal out 5 cards and the first person who can make a factoring relationship with all 5 wins. Say you get a 2, 3, 5, 10 and 6. You could go obvious and say 1800 (all multiplied together) or go a bit smoother with 60. 10 time 6 is 60 and 5, 3, and 2 are factors. The lowest number wins because that is the best factoring relationship.

8) Skip Series Rummy: Like regular rummy but instead of runs (1,2,3) or groups of 3 you are looking for skip runs (2, 4, 6, or 1, 3, 5).

9) Sum 10 memory: Instead of looking for boring pairs you are looking for pairs that add up to 10.

10) Make up a math sentence: You are dealt a card. You must make up a math sentence that results in that number. Round 2 is to deal out 2 cards. 1 card is the answer to the math question and 1 is in it.

10daysbutton  This is part of the 10 Days of Nerdy Fun!!! Make sure you hop over to see what other great post of nerdy fun that will be shared! 


Fun around the Lego site

Misfortune's Keep(Edited)

Do you like playing with Legos and want more bricktastic action? There is lots of special features, games and videos that I’m going to lay out to you right here right now. This post will tell you my favorite things and why I like them.

1:Watch product videos and mini movies. For almost every product there is a product video. The product animations using the pieces that you get in the sets. Plus it has a descriptions of all the moving pieces. My favorite is set number 70605 Misfortune’s Keep. It has hidden cannons, disc shooters and the pirate jet taking off from the launchpad. It also has four-armed djinn Nadakhan possessing the soul of famed teacher Sensi Wu. 

2:Play different games of different types. There are many games, some I haven’t tried, that go along with the lego stories. My favorite is called Skybound. The evil Djinn Nadakhan is stealing parts of NINJAGO Island to rebuild his realm of Djinjago in the sky. Playing as Jay you must battle him and his gang of SKY PIRATES to rescue Zane, Nya, Lloyd, Cole and Kai to take back the stolen lands and rebuild NINJAGO.

3:Watch short stories on Lego city made by  other kids. On Lego city you can watch Fan Created Videos made by other kids. They make it using the LEGO Movie Maker app. These use Stop Motion Animation to animate the app.

4:Look at the cool sets available. On the Lego site there is information and images for every set. Click on Products, choose an image, look on the top, and click products again. There are so many products to look at. You can also look at Lego sets on Amazon.

I hope this post has filled you in on the fun you can have on I hope you can have as much fun as I always do. 



This is part of the 10 Days of Nerdy Fun!!! Make sure you hop over to see what other great post of nerdy fun that will be shared! 


Finding Free Ebooks

finding freee books

Ebooks are awesome! They are great ways to read on the go and to keep a lot of books at your fingertips. While they will never replace paper books, ebooks are becoming more and more common place. But did you know that there are many, many ebooks that are out there for free? Some are classics but some are quite new and even best sellers! You can find them too but it is all about where to look!

My favorite hub is! They don’t provide any ebooks themselves but link you straight to the sources for many! They also have audio books in addition! They show links to a lot of the big sites but not everything.

Another hub for many is your local library’s website! Here in Fresno the Fresno County Library’s page has tons of ebook resources! Our library (and many others) have free magazines through Zinio that download and are yours. There are also lending agreements with OverDrive, 3M Cloud Library, Bookflix and OneClickdigital. Many of the books provided through these services are a lot of bestsellers and popular books.

I also like going straight to Amazon! They have free collections and often have many sales. I am currently reading  Pinterest Savvy: How I Got 1 Million+ Followers (Strategies, Plans, and Tips to Grow Your Business with Pinterest) that I picked up when it was free!

We are also very fond of the Gutenberg Project! They really are the originator of the free ebook. It was the original place for all the copyright free material. BooksShouldBeFree links to them a lot!

So in this day of ebooks, do you currently read them? What is your favorite kind of book to read on a device?



Spring Break Fun




I was trying to figure out what I was talking about this week on my TV spot for next week. The producer on the show suggested great travel things to do during Spring Break. I had to think about it and then had to confess, we do not and will not vacation during Spring Break;).

If you are a home body like we are you can still find plenty to do over Spring Break!!! Some things are just fun but they all have an element of learning!

1) Visit the library!!! No, not just to check out books but do that while you are there;). Almost every library system has activities for all ages! The Fresno County Library system always has great shows and activities. All you have to do is look on the website and see which branch is doing what when.

2) Get some great books! Ok, we love to read here in the NerdFamily and I cold go on forever extolling the virtues of it. But seriously, get a book with a great story and put on a play with it!!! It helps kids to learn how to fully comprehend the plot line when they are going to stage it in a little production!

3) Have a day of paper airplane creation! Not only is it a great way to use up scratch paper, it is all science!! As they figure out how to manipulate the wings, nose and body they are learning the science of aerodynamics!

4) Color some carnations! Get light colored or white carnations. Then place then in glasses of water that you have added food coloring to. Ask the kids what they think will happen and wait. Not only will you have custom spring flowers, you will also see the capillaries at work!

5) Go cloud watching! You can use this handy cloud deciphering tool that Full of Great Ideas made to go with it. Not only can you make up stories and characters in the clouds but they are learning actual earth science. We learned cloud types in the classroom and due to that I can never remember which one it which;). By learning cloud types in the wild (so to speak) it will be in everyone’s memory for ever!

6) Go to your local zoo! My kids love the Fresno Chaffee Zoo! You see the animals, learn quite a bit and get some exercise!

Of course you should also cook with your kids, watch movies and sing songs too! But hopefully these 6 are a good start!

Ruckus Reader Giveaway

Ok, we all know how much I love my tech with my tablets and apps. Well, I can’t be totally selfish. I occasionally will share with my kids. And if I am going to share my toys they will be learning something (homeschooling mantra;)! But I haven’t found a lot of the reading apps to be very educational. But I love Ruckus Media and their apps so I was very stoked to get a chance to review the Ruckus Reader Apps for iPad with my 5 year old (as of yesterday), NerdPud.

As I said, I am a bit of a reading app cynic. I tend to find them to be extremely easy or extremely hard and neither is something that will actually help my last child to learn how to fluently read. But I thought if nothing else she would have fun. Well, I am very happy to have been wrong. She loves it and she is learning!!!!

The first time we cracked open any of the Ruckus Reader apps was at the dentist. We opened up the My Little Pony level 1 book while we were waiting for the other kids to get done with their cleanings. She starts giggling in anticipation and frankly, who doesn’t love that giggle;)? We chose to have it read to her but she still got an opportunity to do word recognition and a reading too. The art is great and book choices are phenomenal! There are just enough activities for the kids to do within the story so that they never become bored and tune out. And every time we are using any of the Ruckus Reader apps her older siblings (who all read well) want to come watch instead of reading their own books they picked out.

The fact you can choose either to have the app read the story to you or not really helps make this a very versatile app. My 6 year old really enjoyed reading and playing the Transformers level 3 book but didn’t need it to read it to him. I also love the fact that you can record some one else reading the story. I would do more of that if I actually left my iPad when I traveled (but alas, I am not that nice;).

Of course part of the perks of reviewing an app is that I usually get all the paid features. And there are some good ones that come with the paid iLibrary subscription. I really like the Reading Meter reports that I get emailed to me! It means that I can allow the kids to play with the app without having to completely hover over them to see how much they get right or understand. It gives them a little space but leaves me in the position to be fully aware, the best of both worlds. I also like having access to all the books. And both those things come with the paid iLibrary subscription.

A review wouldn’t be balanced without some cons. The one I really see it that I wish there was some books that are a little more simple, like bob books. Because these are all character driven some of the names are hard and even the level 1 books are challenging to a new reader. It isn’t a horrible thing but something I feel the apps could use. Since NerdPud has been reading the Bob books I thought she would do a little better with the level 1 books but with the Transformers and the like, she didn’t do very well in reading along. She did ok at the activities but I was hoping for the actually reading to be easier. It isn’t a deal breaker but not everything can be perfect;).

On the whole if you are looking for a premium app for reading I would definitely recommend Ruckus Reader. And on that note…..

I have some subscriptions to giveaway!!!! The folks over at Ruckus Media have graciously decided to giveaway 1 six month iLibrary subscription and 2 one month iLibrary subscriptions!

To enter you must register for free with Ruckus Reader then come back and let me know that you have done it by leaving me a comment! Make sure you leave your email so I can contact you if you win.

After you register there are some things you can do for extra entries! Leave a separate comment for each one that you do.

This giveaway will close on June 26, 2012 and the winners will have 24 hours to respond.

(Disclosure: I did receive the Ruckus Reader app and iLbrary subscription from Ruckus Media to review. All opinions and words are mine and mine alone!)

Journaling Paradise: A Guest Post

What does journaling have to do with paradise?


It’s common to think of keeping a journal as a place where we can reflect on our experiences. Very often, it’s the place where we do a lot of sighing and moaning about hard times or difficult situations. We can freely complain about other people or rail against society and our fate. The journal is beloved for providing an outlet and a way for us to cope.


But besides reflecting on your past or present, a journal can be useful for creating your future.


Surely you’ve heard the advice to have a plan before you act. We’re taught to make specific plans when we take a trip or begin a project of any sort. It’s best if your planning includes writing out the steps one by one in as much detail as possible. Enumerate all the steps necessary to arrive at your destination or achieve your goal.


Here’s a really curious fact about planning, though. You have to know what you’re going for in order to make a plan. You have to be able to articulate your goal.


So why not use your journal as a planning tool, now and then? Spell out your dream, and identify the steps you can take to realize it.


First, spend as much time as you wish making a clear image of where you want to end up. 30 pounds lighter? Busy at work as a professional? In love? Write the comprehensive description of what that goal looks like. Push to eek out every detail of the picture.


Second, write about where you are now. Do not take so long with this. Let it be a brief post summarizing your current state of mind and body.


Third, list the steps that will be required in order to get from where you are now to your goal. This will likely take the most time. Do not feel pressured. Describe each step carefully, and make note of your emotional reactions to each one as you work through them.


This is all just writing (plus collaging, or doodling, or whatever) so far. You haven’t actually done anything else. But by putting your goal out there so clearly, you automatically bring it far closer to you. If you persevere, suddenly you’ll realize you are already on the road to fulfillment. You’re taking the small steps that are the start of your journey.


Now here’s the real reason I’m writing this post: I would love to interest you in journaling your image of paradise.


Whatever other goals you may have, maybe you should spend at least some time on your ultimate goal. What constitutes your idea of perfection? Consider the question on various levels: what would be perfect for you when it comes to:


  • Your job
  • Your family
  • Your lover
  • Your vacation
  • Your highest achievement


And what about paradise itself? I mean the final paradise? What’s your idea of heaven? If you wish to go there, doesn’t it make sense to make a plan, just as you’ve always been taught?


What does paradise look and feel like? Your journal knows!




Mari L. McCarthy, journaling therapy specialist and author, owns Create Write Now, a website dedicated to all things journaling. The site includes hundreds of journaling prompts, personal journaling stories, interviews, a blog, and many other resources. Mari publishes many ebooks and e-workbooks to help journalers accomplish amazing things. She also conducts online Challenges, and you won’t want to miss her upcoming Start Journaling and Change Your Life in 7 Days Challenge, June 4-10.