LEGO Minecraft Food and Potions

Minecraft has been compared to playing with virtual LEGO pieces. Both games are based on cubes and block shapes. It is fun to see physical objects from the Minecraft world, built from LEGO bricks. I’m not talking about the official Minecraft LEGO sets, although those are wonderful, too. These are Minecraft food objects and potion shapes, built from assorted LEGO pieces.

YouTuber ZaziNombies LEGO Creations has built some perfect replicas of Minecraft foods with real LEGO pieces. His creations include a cake, bucket of milk, red apple, golden apple, and assorted potions.

Building Minecraft objects with LEGO bricks would be a fun snow day activity, or a nice break from electronics and screens.

Printable Minecraft Diamond Invitations

Here’s a new free printable Minecraft-inspired birthday invitation! I made two variations of this invitation so you can choose the design that fits your needs. Both invitations have a diamond ore patterned border with a white space in the middle for your party details.

This invitation design says “You’re Invited” in a Minecraft-style font, and has places for you to write in your party information, such as where, when, and how to RSVP.

Minecraft Diamond Invitation
Minecraft Diamond Invitation

This design says “You’re Invited” and leaves the rest of the space open for you to add your own message.

Blank Minecraft Diamond Invitation
Blank Minecraft Diamond Invitation

Feel free to download and print these as needed. If you enjoy them, give them a Pin or Share! Thanks!

Hour of Code: Start Learning Now

Hour of Code

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week (December 8-14, 2014), is sponsoring and promoting a worldwide Hour of Code. (Hour of Code is organized by, a public 501c3 non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color.)

Hour of Code
Hour of Code

In the first year of Hour of Code, over 52 million students completed an introduction to programming! US President Barack Obama recently joined the Hour of Code and wrote his first lines of JavaScript. Hour of Code events are planned all over the world, and this year’s goal is to have 100 million participants.

Where to Sign Up

To try your first Hour of Code, visit to choose a fun game-based tutorial (featuring Angry Birds and Disney’s Frozen), or find a tutorial app to download. There’s even a way to learn code on paper if you’re unplugged.

Want more choices? take a look at for an introduction to drawing with JavaScript, HTML/CSS for web pages, or SQL databases. The tutorials are easy to follow, and free of charge!

Feeling especially motivated to help? Organize a local Hour of Code event or camp. Sign up and start planning here.

Continue with Free Coding Lessons

Of course, the whole idea behind Hour of Code is to cultivate desire and enthusiasm for learning programming. So if you love your first hour, there are plenty of next-step code lessons available at Khan Academy, and they’re all free.

Geeky Gift Ideas

You may be shopping for some special nerds this Christmas, and it can be hard to find a great gift that suits those geeky preferences. I have a couple of ideas that might be useful for you.

Recently, I had the opportunity to review a couple of products from Uncommon Goods, and learn about the company and its philosophy. Uncommon Goods has an interesting selection of crafty products that appeal to a wide variety of interests. And if you like the idea of supporting US artisans, being good to the environment and animal-friendly, you’ll feel good about shopping Uncommon Goods. Half of their products are handmade and 30% include recycled or upcycled materials.

Periodic Table Building Blocks
Periodic Table Building Blocks
And besides all of that feel-good and politically-correct stuff, these gifts are just plain cool! See all kinds of Christmas gifts here.

For the mini-geek in your life, check out these lovely periodic table building blocks. My daughter is nine years old, and she broke these open and starting sorting them by color, and then built them into pyramids and towers. The blocks are well-made, and the faces are lovely and smooth. The 118 elements of the Periodic Table are represented on the blocks, and their names and atomic weights are printed in non-toxic inks.

For more geeky gifts, visit this page:

Wooden Arithmetic Puzzle
Wooden Arithmetic Puzzle

For a more mathematically-advanced recipient, take a look at Aristotle’s Number Puzzle. It’s kind of like a sudoku puzzle, where you arrange the numbers so they add up to the same sum in every row. It’s a challenging brainteaser, and it looks pretty on a table. I love that kids and grandparents can work on this together without batteries or screens. Math is fun!

If you’re interested in more unique gifts, browse some more great ideas here:

Have fun checking out these products, and if you have other suggestions for geeky gift ideas, please let me know! I’m always interested in new toys and games that make learning fun for everyone!

Amazing Water “Printer” aka the Waterfall Swing

I don’t know how I haven’t seen this before, but this Waterfall Swing is amazing! The video is from the World Maker Faire in 2011, and it is beautiful and mesmerizing. Take a look and see how this programmed waterfall “prints” shapes of water in the air.

What a great demonstration of science and art! I’d like one of these for my backyard, please.

For more information, including additional videos, photos, and technical specifications, check out the Waterfall Swing site.

How to Get Kids to Wash Hands the Right Way

keep-calm-wash-hands-400x400Now that school is back in session, kids are exposed to bacteria and viruses more frequently. Just three days into the first week of school, my fourth grade daughter came home with a fever. I was annoyed, but not surprised, at how quickly she had gotten sick.

When illnesses make the news, reporters always share advice from doctors on how to keep yourself and your family healthy. Hand washing is always on the list of things to do. It’s the easiest way to prevent illnesses from influenza to diarrhea. Wet, lather, scrub, rinse, dry.

Handwashing Guildelines from the CDC:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

We all know that kids don’t always wash. They may skip it completely, or just wet and wipe their hands on a towel or their clothes.

To encourage my kids to wash their hands properly and for the recommended amount of time, I tried putting new words to the “Happy Birthday” tune. The CDC recommends scrubbing for the length of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday to You” twice.

To get started, wet your hands, get a squirt of soap, and start singing! Here are the words to go with the washing:

Sing to the tune of “Happy Birthday to You”
Fronts and backs and in-between.
Fronts and backs and in-between.
Fronts and backs and in-between.
Fronts and backs and in-between.

Sure, it’s repetitive, but it’s easy to remember, and includes all of the important information. Scrub those hands! Palms, knuckles, and between the fingers.

I hope this little song is helpful for you and your family. Have a healthy school year!

For more information and instruction, check out these printable handwashing posters from the CDC:
How to Handwash
Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands
One Trillion Germs Can Live in a Gram of Poop

Is “Like a Girl” an Insult?

I think the phrase “like a girl” is used as an insult, not as a compliment, almost every time it is spoken. Here is an interesting video by Always, that looks at what we think when we’re told to do something “like a girl,” and how we might change what it means.

I like the idea of changing the meaning of “like a girl” to something empowering and strong, especially since my daughter is now in that almost-a-teenager stage. I know that the next few years will be important in her physical and emotional growth. I want her to make it through puberty feeling positively about herself and her future.

Some girls never recover from the things they experience and feel during their early years. I want to do whatever I can to help my daughter feel good about growing up.

What do you think about the message in this video?