In 45 minutes, you can spark your kids’ imaginations, solve a world problem, and still have time for a snack.
This is how Suzy Becker’s amazing Kids Make It Better: An Activity Guide begins, and what follows are step by step instructions for running your own Kids Make It Better workshop. The inspiring upcoming book Kids Make It Better dares to ask kids for their answers for the world’s biggest problems and illustrates their innovative solutions. Use the guide below duplicate this fun and thought-provoking exercise with your own children or students.
When I was in eighth grade I bought an 18 oz. bottle of something called “chocolate crème body wash.” It smelled incredible but washing with it was like soaping up with a Jello-O pudding snack; I abandoned the crème after one vile chocolate-y shower.
My mother, however, despite declaring the stuff “utterly revolting,” used that body wash until every drop was gone. Why? Because she couldn’t bring herself to pour a nearly full, “perfectly good” bottle of goo down the drain. Each morning for six months my mother would shower, put on a fancy suit, and leave for work smelling like a stale cupcake.
At the time I thought she was nuts, but 15 years later I find that I truly am my mother’s daughter. April is around the corner and I’ve embarked on some aggressive spring cleaning. For others, that might mean purging, but for me it’s more like shuffling: organizing things I no longer want or need into little shopping bags (which I also hoard) and leaving them by the door to push upon departing visitors like creepy partyfavors.
My inability to throw out anything that I deem to be “perfectly good” has raised more than a few eyebrows (even as they walk away with a nice wine opener and slightly used dish rack), so imagine my thrill when I read the words of How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist author Nicole Bouchard Boles : “The stuff we’ve crammed into the nooks and crannies of our homes has enormous (unfulfilled) philanthropic potential.”
I knew it! I knew it! I was born for this kind of giving.
Behold the bounty that will be shipped off to benefit the greater good.
Look at all this perfectly good stuff!
Clockwise from left: A: Electronic odds and ends, mysterious wires, used CDs, power cords to long lost electronics. For the cost of a $6.99 shipping label, GreenDisk will recycle and safely dispose of all your techno-trash. B: Miscellaneous books. They’re heading off to New York’s Prisoners’ Reading Encouragement Project, a non profit that works in with prison libraries. C: Knitting supplies. I picked up knitting in the spring of 2002 and by the winter of 2003, the love affair was over. These barely used needles and balls of yarn are going to a woman who mentors a group of girls and wants to teach them how to knit. D: A phone I replaced over three years ago. It’s going to Cell Phones for Soldiers, an organization that sells old phones for parts and uses the money to buy prepaid calling cards for soldiers stationed overseas.
Cleaning up, paring down, passing things along to people who can actually do right by them. It’s about as satisfying as tossing an empty bottle of chocolate crème body wash into the recycling bin.
Happy Spring Cleaning!
–Assistant Editor Maisie Tivnan would like to record her knitting legacy for posterity: one third of a red mitten and a mysterious yellow triangle.
Before the holidays (yes, way back in December), a group of us (editor, photographer, photography director, lighting specialists, models, assistants, interns) gathered for three straight days for a photo shoot for Joshua Jay‘s followup book to Magic: The Complete Course–The Amazing Book of Cards. Tricks, shuffles, games, and hustles, plus the history of cards, how to build a card castle (or at least a card condo) and how to make a playing card wallet–even how to send a playing card through the mail.
Josh Jay’s books are easy to learn from in part because of the step-by-step photos that go along with each trick. But what’s not so easy is the process of making those step-by-step photos. Photographer David Arky was practically hanging from the rafters of the studio to get these overhead shots!
There’s our author and card sharp, Joshua Jay, who’s been carrying around a deck of cards regularly since he was 7 years old. Sleight-of-hand closeup card magic is his specialty, and in his new project, he’s game for showing us all a few flourishes that will let people at your weekly poker gathering know that you mean business. Here’s a fun fact from the photo shoot: Josh arrived on set wearing a blue T-shirt–the lighting specialist had him layer a white shirt over it to help reflect the light in the studio off the undersides of the cards. Pretty fancy.
And, lastly, here’s the view from above as Josh demonstrates a very impressive “ribbon spread and flip.” We shot on a royal blue plexi surface for the majority of the shots and then switched to blue velvet for the tricks (like the one shown here) that needed a textured surface to work properly–note the well-placed clamps to keep it taut over the table!
The book is slated to come out this spring, so get ready to impress at the poker table like you never have before. Cascade the cards from one hand to the other, show off a perfect casino riffle shuffle, throw in a few false cuts, and find four Aces without touching the deck — intimidating, no?
One of author Randy Sarafan’s favorite, and flashiest, projects from 62 Projects to Make With a Dead Computer is the RAM Money Clip. It keeps you organized, it’s stylish, and it’s fun while still being sleek. Follow the directions below to make your very own!
I know we’re all smitten for kids books over here–there’s even a “Philadelphia Chicken” featured on one of the office’s bathroom doors. But Raquel’s Good Egg post got me thinking…are there others out there on YouTube with their own unique tributes?
In short…yes! Here is one of my favorites–a “re-mixing” of Sandra Boynton’s Snuggle Puppy that’s especially useful if you want to teach your kids beatboxing at an early age! Please excuse the giggly introduction–things get going around the 15 second mark.
All those Tupperware containers stacked up in your fridge with leftovers, you can’t throw them out, but you also don’t feel like eating the same meal over and over. Why not reinvent them to make a fresh new dish, while at the same time using what you already have in the kitchen. With these tips from Pia Catton and Califia Suntree’s upcoming book Be Thrifty, you’ll never look at leftovers the same way again.
Upcycling Your Leftovers and Odds and Ends:
Soups, stews and other “mixed-up dishes”: Resuscitate them and change the flavor by adding a different liquid—clam juice instead of tomato juice for example. Or add a new herb for freshness.
Casseroles such as rice pilafs and baked bean dishes: Add stock, toss in an additional ingredient, and serve as a hot soup.
Stir-fries: Refry with a new ingredient; add salad dressing and eat chilled or at room temperature; or mince, thin with a sauce, and toss over a bowl of pasta, lentils, or grains.
Poultry, veal, pork, and fish: With leaner flesh, it’s best not to reheat. Small amounts of leftovers can be chopped and gently warmed in soups, stews, or pasta dishes where texture doesn’t matter as much. Use them cold in salads or as sandwich stuffers. Use leftover seafood within a day.
Red meats like beef and lamb: Chop into pieces and reheat in soups, stews, casseroles, and stir-fried dishes; use in salads and sandwiches; or mince into burrito or taco fillings.
And don’t forget celery!: Chop and mix into green salads; slice into matchstick sizes; serve with hard cheeses; use in vegetable broth; chop and toss with carrots, garbanzo beans, scallions and olive oil for a quick salad; as a side dish braise in the oven with parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and two tablespoons of vegetable stock or water.
Ever have those moments when you think your work isn’t as meaningful as you expected? Does it have any impact on others or make a difference? There can be any number of factors that make us question what we’re actually doing—an uncertain economy, endless meetings, or simply feeling disconnected and disengaged from our jobs. But in steps Michael Bungay Stanier with his new book, Do More Great Work, which helps readers find their own individual “Great Work,” the work that stretches you, plays to your strengths and matters. If you’re looking for a challenge, check out his “Six Great Work Paradoxes,” and get going in a different direction…
1. You don’t need to save the world. You do need to make a difference.
The desire to do more Great Work is not a call to abandon your everyday life and become a martyr to a cause. You don’t need to quit your job, stop earning money, give up your friends, or cease wearing regular clothes. But it is a call to do more meaningful work.
2. Great work is private. Great work can be public.
It can be nice to get the applause, win the medal, or receive the pat on the back that says, Well done! And sometimes Great Work generates that kind of recognition. But not always. Because it is a subjective matter—Great Work is what is meaningful to you—often its reward is a moment of private triumph.
3. Great Work is needed. Great Work isn’t wanted.
What calls you to do Great Work is often a feeling of I can’t take it anymore. I’ve got to do something different. It’s a personal sense that something needs to be done, that the status quo can’t be tolerated any longer, and that you need to be the one to adjust it. But Great Work is often not wanted. It might be talked about as wanted. Corporate leaders, in particular, are experts in proclaiming some sort of Great Work as the next quest for their organizations. But most organizations are rooted in delivering Good Work and sustaining the way things are, so there’s minimal interruption to that Good Work.
4. Great work is easy. Great work is difficult.
Sometimes when you’re doing Great Work it’s a glorious thing, you’re in that flow zone where things come easily. But there are times when doing Great Work will test you. It will call on not just your skills and talents, but your resilience and ability to manage yourself through the dip.
5. Great Work isn’t about doing what’s meaningful. Great Work isn’t about doing it well.
Great Work is often new work at the edge of your competence, work that tangles you up because you haven’t done it a thousand times before. You’re unlikely to be able to do it perfectly.
6. Great Work can take a moment. Great Work can take a lifetime.
Great Work can happen in a single moment. It’s a time when you feel at your best, achieving a personal triumph, the culmination of days or weeks or years of practice. Great Work can also be a project that develops over time, something that you’ve started and seen through.