“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the world of amateur astronomy, you’re never going to be able to get anything near the majesty of images taken by the Hubble space telescope, if that’s what you’re looking for, lower you’re expectations Danny or stay inside on the internet. Nay, the benefit of a home telescope (though teenage boys may disagree) is being able to gaze at the stars and know that is the actual light created on the back of nuclear fusion from those stars, having traveled thousands of light years only to interact with the atoms in your retina, sending a chemical/electric current into your brain where under a majesty of parallel/analog computation it is interpreted as an point of flickering light, you’re hippocampus floods your brain with chemicals that you understand as awe.
Continue reading ““The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson”

Writing and Drawing

If you think buying a kid something to write with as a gift is stupid, YOU’RE STUPID and you don’t understand kids! I love to be so blunt and it’s true. If you think only colorful, flashy, “toys” with no function what-so-ever is the funnest kind of toy, you should do some soul searching. Now of course there is significant benefit to playing with toys, even annoyingly loud ones, and imagination. Studies show when kids make up stories for themselves they grow up to have better math skills. (Causation/correlation unknown to me, it supports my bias so I assume it has to be right). But guess what? Kids love DOING things, including writing, doodling, drawing. If you present a kid with writing in the right light and the right time, you can teach them the entire alphabet in a few days, they have sponge brains. And you should probably start earlier than you’d think, around 6 mo to a year is perfect (though they won’t pick it up so quick at 6 months). Continue reading “Writing and Drawing”

A word of smaw fings

This is a pretty crummy microscope, but its a pretty decent kids toy microscope. If you want to buy your kid a $300 microscope, more power to ya, I just don’t think that’s my target audience. This will do enough, feel real enough, and when your kid breaks it you won’t commit seppuku in shame. Continue reading “A word of smaw fings”

Epic electronics and engineering

If you’re not into electronics, they may seem a little advanced or silly or you might just “not get it”. Doing things with electronics, for some people, are one of those obsessively fun things kids can end up doing that could lead to a career, sometimes without collage of any kind if they’re public enough about their projects. It doesn’t have to be expensive and the internet is rife with information on projects with differing difficulty. Electronics only seem hard when you don’t know, the principles of electronics are really very simple and even a 3 year old can start learning the basics. I’ll rank these kits simplest to more complex and put age recommendations on them so you can kinda get an idea of which one to buy, I’d still play with them all so don’t worry too much about them being too simple.  Continue reading “Epic electronics and engineering”

How to grow a little green thumb.

Kids love to do things with people they love and admire. There is an evolutionary drive for them to mimic, an emotional NEED. If you garden, this is the perfect thing to keep them entertained. Give them there own little patch of ground (a few feet by a few feet will be plenty) and allow them to try, and succeed or fail, as their own independent person. Let them know you’re available for help and advice, but the fate of their plantings are in their hands.

Or, if you’re not much of a gardener, or don’t have much ground to speak of, growing plants in a window sill is quite educational and even valuable.

There are many things around the house for your kid to plant if their first planting fails and you don’t have seeds. Here is a list of things that will usually sprout. Continue reading “How to grow a little green thumb.”

Spy kids!

When I was a kid there was a company called spy tech. Honestly for most of my childhood they were the coolest thing ever! They had periscopes, big ears… ok thats all I remember, but it was awesome! Now tech is sooo much better, and MUCH cheaper. With spy tools, chores become missions. Math becomes … Continue reading “Spy kids!”

When I was a kid there was a company called spy tech. Honestly for most of my childhood they were the coolest thing ever! They had periscopes, big ears… ok that’s all I remember, but it was awesome! Now tech is sooo much better, and MUCH cheaper. With spy tools, chores become missions. Math becomes code-breaking. Your kid leaves you alone with you’re mimosa for hours. Continue reading “Spy kids!”

You’re a tool

I’ve always been a fan of age appropriate real tools, but when my daughter sat on my lap and patiently took apart a DVD player at age two (I loosened the scews) while we watched a movie, that belief turned more into a dogma. Not only does it boost a childs confidence to be productively helping their parents, using tools at a young age (with appropriate supervision), is excellent for hand eye coordination. Unfortunately I’ve never found a decent “My First Toolkit” so unless you’ve found one (please leave it in the comments) we’ll have to build out own. Half of having the toolkit is litterally (don’t you hate that… litterally) just to have it while you work on something your kids have their own tools to work with. Continue reading “You’re a tool”

Playing Doctor

Playing doctor with your kid is a good way to address concerns and alleviate fears about going to the doctor, and its fun! You can talk about how shots hurt, but only for a little bit, and play giving shots with a syringe. A cheap plastic doctors kit only barely represents the items they’re supposed to be… to an adult, how is a kid whose never seen them supposed to recognize them? They’re going to learn a stethoscope is a cheap piece of plastic that only barely works, if at all. Continue reading “Playing Doctor”


This is a shameless ploy for money, some people call that a business. Blogs for money kinda feel swarmy to me, I don’t know why. Originally I was going to do an independent website with listings and search and everything, but along Noah Kagens philosophy of test everything it made more sense to start cheap and simple. I’m interested in figuring out how to teach kids better. Kids spend half their day in school for most of their adolescent life and in return they learn to hate school, not understand math, think the world will end tomorrow, be self entitled, and no functional life skills. I “homeschooled” from 8th grade, after the first year I frustrated my mom so intensely she said to just turn in a report once a week on what I was doing, I turned in 2 reports before I got my GED and one of them was on Star Trek. I scored above average on my GED, but my brothers who homeschooled their whole lives nearly maxed the test (though they had abysmal hand writing, good thing the essay portions were computerized). My mom accidentally falling on “unschooling” out of frustration allowed us to keep our love for learning and learn skills naturally and practically. I did have holes in my education, history was pretty sparse and many of the “facts” came from history channel shows… like Ancient Aliens. Thank you for Dan Carlins: Hardcore History, I am  starting to fix that hole. I also wasn’t very good at algebra, never figured out why. I did computer programming a lot so I understood orders of operation, but every time I did a problem I got a different answer, this problem I started fixing with Khan Academy and finally with collage courses. Aaaand I’m pretty bad at spelling, yay spellcheck. I understand computer programming, calculous and basic quantum mechanics, AND I enjoy them. I learned them without school.

WTF was the point of all that??? Why I’m interested in blogging about toys for kids. REAL toys. Why would you spend $5 on a fake plastic tool set when a REAL tool set is $12? My wife wanted to get a doctors kit for my 3 year old daughter, a REAL stethoscope and blood pressure cuff was only $30 and they ACTUALLY work, one of her favorite toys.

Through functional education and real conversations you kid will be way ahead of the curve before school age. Why? Because kids are smart and capable and curious, if you let them. These affiliate links are suggestions for real, function, affordable gift ideas. I’ll try to add value to each one by adding a PDF “manual” of game ideas to playducate with your kid, or maybe I’ll just post the game ideas in the comments… or something.