Category: Blog

Holiday Movies for the Whole Family

Nothing says the end of the year like an influx of new movies, holiday-themed and otherwise. We’ve put together a list of highly recommended holiday movies for all members of the family. We’ve put some for adults, some for the kids, and some for the adults who are really kids at heart.

Holiday Movies at the Theater

None of these are holiday-themed, per say, but they should prove to be fun experiences! 
Poster for Spider-Man a December movieSpider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Release Date: December 14, 2018

Rated: PG

Summary: Teenager Miles Morales suddenly develops superhuman powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. Pitted against Kingpin, Miles must team up with other Spider heroes sucked into his world from their own to take down the hulking villain and return the other versions of Spider-Man to where they belong

 

Aquaman movie poster, December movieAquaman

Release Date: December 21, 2018

Rated: PG-13

Summary: Arthur Curry, half-human and half-Atlantian prince, must step up to lead his people as his half-brother Orm begins to seek the unification of the underwater kingdoms for the purpose of rising up against the people on the surface. Along the way, Arthur struggles between his ties to the sea and his ties to the land.

 

Mary Poppins Returns movie poster December movieMary Poppins Returns

Release Date: December 19, 2018

Rated: PG

Summary: A sequel to the beloved Disney film, now starring Emily Blunt as the titular nanny alongside Lin Manuel-Miranda and Meryl Streep. Michael and Jane Banks are now grown-up with families of their own. However, when Micheal suffers a personal loss, Mary Poppins returns to their lives.

 

The Classics to Watch at Home

Here’s where to find all the good holiday content for movie night at home.
It’s a Wonderful Life

Release Date: January 7, 1947

Rated: PG

Summary: It’s the story of a man named George Bailey from childhood to adulthood, who finds himself in dire straits one Christmas. After being rescued by a guardian angel, George learns the importance of his life and how much he means to his friends, family, and even acquaintances. It’s generally on TV every year and can be found streaming on Amazon Prime.

 
Elf, a classic holiday movieElf

Release Date: November 7, 2003

Rated: PG

Summary: Buddy, a human, was accidentally transported to the North Pole and was raised into adulthood by elves at Santa’s workshop. He begins to realize how he doesn’t fit and decides to head to New York City in search of his real father. However, he has some trouble fitting in with modern society. Elf can be rented from Amazon, or you can catch it on TV.

 

Die Hard is a holiday movieDie Hard

Release Date: July 15, 1988

Rated: R

Summary: There’s a debate as to whether Die Hard is really a holiday movie or not, but it’s definitely a fun ride. Definitely for the adults in the family. John McClane, New York City police officer, must save the day on Christmas Eve. Die Hard can be rented on Amazon, accessed via a Cinemax subscription, or found on TV during the holiday season.

What’s your favorite holiday movie? Do you have one that you watch every year? Let us know and add to the list of recommendations.

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Things to Do Over the Winter Holidays!

Winter break is coming up fast! What can parents do to help their kids stay active over the holiday season? We’ve got a few suggestions for fun and education (and usually both!) that you might add to your plans for the next few weeks. 

Entertainment over Winter Holidays

sledding is just one activity you can do over the winter holidays

The holiday season is the time for sweets! Make some of your own with your kids. If you want to go above and beyond, make it into a bit of a chemistry lesson too. Check out Cookie Science as a place to start. Changing the recipe really is the same as performing an experiment. Learn how to make the perfect cookie.
Movies come out in droves over the holidays. Next week’s post will be about upcoming holidays movies, focusing on a few in more detail, but it’s a great season for family movies and ones with serious Oscar buzz. Check out the schedule of what’s coming out this month.
End the year with New Year’s Resolutions, of course. Make a list with your kids about goals you want to accomplish and things you want to do in the coming year. Here’s a few ideas for helping your kids come up with resolutions they can accomplish. Make some of your own, too, whether that’s taking more time for yourself or taking more time for work. Get ready!

Education over Winter Holidays

Get your students into archaeology with Excavate!

We just put together an entire post of winter-themed STEM activities to do with your kids last week. Take advantage of the weather as you can for fun chemistry experiments and science crafts. If more kids are visiting for the holidays, these can be a great group activity to set up for them.
Of course, if it gets too cold out there, our catalog of educational games are always a great option. Let your kids outside virtually with Excavate! or let them explore outer space with ExoTrex

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A Winter Wonderland for STEM Learning

Winter is a great time of year to get hands-on with STEM activities, science experiments, and more! Don’t let the cold keep you from making discoveries and learning about the way our world works with activities for all different weather and climates.

Snow Science!

winter science experiments

For something easy, think about demonstrating molecular structure through melting ice in different forms. STEAM Powered Family has a great experiment which involves packing ice, snow, and liquid water into jars to see which will end up with the most liquid.
No snow in your area? Try making your own to experiment with, even if you can’t make enough to make a snowman or have a snowball fight. Left Brain Craft Brain offers a few different recipes for making snow.
For something a little more decorative, make a snowstorm in a jar or grow some crystals. A Dab of Glue Will Do has all the instructions for the former- it can teach kids how a snowstorm works without bringing them out into one! For crystal making, grab some pipe cleaners or a pine tree branch along with other ingredients listed on Little Bins for Little Hands.

Hot Cocoa and Sweets

Hot chocolate and winter stem

Of course, sometimes it gets too cold to do anything with the snow outside. On those days, try out one of these tasty science experiments that help your kids learn and make them feel like they’re getting a treat!
There are a lot of things you can do with hot chocolate, from having a race to making it bubble up in surprise. You can also make hot chocolate themed slime to play around with.
Candy canes are another one to play around with. Test how fast different types dissolve or how fast they dissolve in different temperatures of water. It’s even possible to re-bend candy canes into different shapes through an experiment.

Stay Indoors with STEM Games

ExoTrex2 screenshot from stem game based learning

Our educational games are always evergreen, making them the perfect STEM activity for cold winter days or any other time of the year! Pick up the ExoTrex series for your kids to explore the galaxy, learning more about the way space works. It’s a great supplement to STEM activities in any season.

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Holiday Gift Guide for Teachers

Holiday break is just around the corner, and everyone at school is likely looking forward to having some time at home to relax. Before students can take their well-earned break, however, think about showing your teachers a little appreciation with a holiday gift. Tell them you’re looking forward to the rest fo the year!
This isn’t just for students! Teachers can offer support to other teachers, or parents can pick something up for their children’s instructors. The important thing is that these gifts show support!

Useful Gifts for Teachers

Gifts for teachers- school supplies is a good idea

1. A water bottle or travel mug
Hydration and caffeination are essentials for keeping a teacher going through the day. Make it a little easier for them with a fun new thermos or water bottle. 
2. Classroom supplies
Have you noticed the classroom running low on tissues, gluesticks, or extra pencils? Bring in a box or a few boxes to help your teacher restock.
3. A donation
Give a gift to a charity that would be important to your teacher, whether that be an education fund or something more specific to the topic they teach. Send them a card to let them know that you made it in their name!

Fun Gifts for Teachers

wrapped presents full of gifts for teachers

1. Tea or coffee
We know we already mentioned the travel mug, but it’s also nice to get a selection of great coffee or tea. Think about offering a sample pack or picking out a few flavors that they might love. Parents may need to help with this one.
2. A small plant
A succulent or a cactus make for good decoration. This gift works especially well for science teachers, and then the best for environmental science teachers. If you know your teacher gardens, replace this with seeds. 
3. A gift card
Pick somewhere that you know your teacher will appreciate. If they really do love coffee, go for the coffee card. If they’re always very stylish, maybe pick a clothing store. A gift card is a good bet for when you’re not sure what else to do, but still try to put some thought into it!

A Gift That’s Both Useful and Fun!

Get your students into archaeology with Excavate!

Think about giving the gift of one of our educational games! Social studies teachers, especially, will love the Excavate! series while STEM teachers may like to  try out Exotrex. Convince them to bring game-based learning into the classroom with just one small purchase!

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Get Excited for Roterra: A Puzzling Fairytale!

Our upcoming game Roterra has been getting a lot of attention recently since we released our new trailer; we’re so happy that everyone seems to be getting excited about the puzzling adventure. Here, we wanted to share just a few of the outlets that have picked up the story on our game. We encourage you to check them out!

You can see our mentioned new trailer below as well!

About the Game

Many outlets have given sneak previews into the mechanics, environment, and story of Roterra. 

Goto.game covers everything about the game, giving a look at our full press release about Roterra. It covers the features, the release date, and everything else you could need to know!

TouchTapPlay comments on our spinning puzzles and the chance to experience Angelica’s story along with other characters.

Flickering Myth includes our CEO’s quote about the game: “After nearly a decade of building critical thinking puzzles, we’re excited to turn our extensive experience to entertainment-focused mobile games…”

Angelica In The Magical Forests of Roterra

 

An Interview

Review Fix took the chance to ask our CEO a few questions about the development of Roterra and the inspirations behind its conception. You can see it in its entirety on their site, but one highlight:

Bottom line, why must someone play this game?
“It’s fun! The core mechanic itself is incredibly fun, and the puzzles are just the right level of challenge: Even when you get frustrated, you know there’s a solution right around the next corner!”

Keep Up With Roterra News

If you’re interested in playing Roterra in 2019, there’s an easy way to make sure you don’t miss anything! Head on over to the game’s page on our site and sign up for the mailing list. That way, you won’t miss a single update for the puzzling fairytale. We’re very excited for more news to come soon!

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What to Do Over Thanksgiving Break?

Thanksgiving is next week, and we’re looking forward to stuffing our faces full of turkey and mashed potatoes. What else can you do during the Thanksgiving holiday?

Spend Time With Family

Thanksgiving break with the family

This one is a no-brainer. If your family is already together for the Thanksgiving meal and Thanksgiving break, see what else you can do together. Sign up to volunteer as a group, brave the cold for some outdoor time, or catch a new movie. For families with kids, Ralph Breaks the Internet is a great option or the Fantastic Beast sequel. For older families, Creed 2 and Widows offer some exciting action-drama.

Offer a few options and figure out what would work for everyone! What’s most important is that everyone has fun.

All About Football

Thanksgiving football games

Watch three full games of football on Thanksgiving! But, if you’re getting bored of just watching, pick up a ball yourself and make it a casual game with the family. It’s particularly good to do if you’ve got some kids who need to get their energy out! After that’s done, you can return to the couch to keep watching the games.

Of course, you’ve got to practice your tackle anyway for Black Friday sales. Just kidding. Please be safe and polite during shopping on Black Friday. Tackling is a foul for sure in that case.

Set Up the Tree

Thanksgiving break to winter break

Finally, it’s socially acceptable to put up that tree! Thanksgiving break, get your tree early and put on your decorations. It’s a nice way to transition from one holiday to the other. You might consider setting up outside decorations too, before it gets too cold to do so! Just pace yourself on holiday songs. Don’t burn yourself out too early on those.

If you don’t celebrate a holiday with a tree, it’s still a good time for decorating or cleaning! Rope your family into helping while you’ve got them there.

Learn Some History!

Of course, it’s important to know the context of Thanksgiving and be aware of our history as we celebrate. Make a small lesson for your kids about the First Thanksgiving or do some research for yourself. 

After that, if you want more check out what Early America was like with Loot Pursuit! Or research another culture with Excavate!

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Ways to Celebrate Veteran’s Day 2018

History of Veteran’s Day

Veteran’s Day was first called Armistice Day. It started on November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I, hence the name. It became an annual observance in 1926 and a national holiday in 1938. Under Eisenhower in 1954, Armistice Day finally became Veteran’s Day. We in the United States now celebrate this every year on November 11 (although, as is the case this year, we sometimes observe it on different days).

Unlike Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day mostly focuses on honoring our living former soldiers who serve the United States in war or peace. Other countries observe similar holidays on November 11: Canada, for instance, has Remembrance Day for the soliders of World War I and World War II. 

The long weekend offers the perfect opportunity to serve and celebrate our veterans. We’ve come up with a few ideas to help you celebrate the holiday!

Ways to Celebrate Veteran’s Day

There are many ways to give back on Veteran’s Day. Operation Shoebox offers many suggestions for giving back to veterans and soldiers on their website. This includes care packages, donating, or even making crafts. 

If you’d like to help out more directly, the United States Office of Veteran’s Affairs has an easy way to find a VA service office as well as a form you can fill out to find a placement. Just being there to talk to residents and make conversation can help out a lot.

Finally, if you don’t have the time, it’s possible to simply write a letter of appreciation. Operation Gratitude accepts letters year round which they include in care packages of their own. Take a few small moments to let servicemen know you appreciate them.

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Moments from History in the Month of November

November 2: First Long Duration Stay on ISS Begins

Expedition 1 was the first long duration stay upon the International Space Station. The 3-person crew lived in space from November 2000 to March 2001, a total of 136 days. The crew consisted of American commander Bill Shepard and two Russians named Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev. To this day, the ISS remains an important part of space research.

November 4: King Tut Day

On King Tut Day, we celebrate the discovery of King Tut’s tomb by archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922. King Tut became ruler of Egypt at the age of ten and died in his teens. Before the discovery of the tomb, nobody knew much about the boy pharaoh as there weren’t many records. Therefore, the discovery was a monumental event in Egyptian history.

November 8: Theodosius Buried

In 395, the Romans bury Emperor Theodosius in Constantinope. During his tenure, he officially declared Christianity to be the official religion of the Roman Empire, Unfortunately, he was not particularly tolerant of those practicing other religions. While he was first only emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, he conquered the other half to become sole ruler for the last few years of his reign. He died of disease.

November 12: First Selfie in Space

In 1966, Buzz Aldrin takes the first space selfie in history. This was, of course, before selfie was a commonly used word. He used the camera using EVA (extra-vehicular activity) equipment to take a picture of himself. While Buzz Aldrin may be known for his trip to the moon, he took many more expeditions into space than that.

Learn More History!

To get into more history, check out our catalog of educational games! There’s stuff there for STEM and social studies, so, no matter your interest, we’ve got a game for you to try!


The History of Halloween and Other Spooky Holidays

Halloween is just around the corner now! We hope your costumes are prepared and your trick-or-treating routes have been decided. But, if you’d like to know the history of Halloween, we’re here to let you know. And not just about Halloween- find out all about several spooky holidays.

Halloween History

Halloween ghosts

You might be surprised to learn, Halloween was not always a time for dressing up and stuffing your face with candy. Halloween began with the ancient celebration of Samhain among the Celts, during which they believed ghosts returned to the Earth. Later, the holiday was combined with Roman traditions as the empire conquered Celtic land.

Finally, Christian leaders decided to combine Samhain with their All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day celebrations. It was common practice to try and overwrite pagan traditions with Christian traditions: the same strategy was used for Christmas! When it moved over to the Americas, however, Halloween slowly lost its religious connection. Many traditions melded together, and the day eventually became the spooky holiday we enjoy in the United States and elsewhere today!

Find out more about its history here!

All Saints’ & All Souls’ Day

All Saints Day Halloween holiday

However, just because Halloween moved away from religion, doesn’t mean the holiday it emerged from went away. Many countries in Europe and South America still celebrate All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day. All Saints’ falls on November 1, while All Souls’ takes place the day after, and they remain a part of Catholic tradition to this day.

All Saints’ Day is meant to commemorate all the saints of the Catholic Church, including those who are “only known to God.” Meanwhile, All Souls’ Day commemorates those who have died and sit in Purgatory. The living pray in order to help them leave. Places such as Germany, Hungary, Austria,and others have specific traditions during this time.

Find out more here!

Dia de los Muertos

Day of the Dead Halloween holiday skull

Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead stems from Aztec ceremonies of around 3,000 years ago. When Spaniards came to Mexico to colonize, the tradition took on some elements of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day, just like Halloween did. Before that point, it was celebrated in summer but moved to align with these celebrations in late October and early November.

The Day of the Dead is a very festive occasion. Families decorate altars to their deceased relatives, offer them food, and clean up the area around their grave. Rather than the scary times of Halloween, the Day of the Dead offers families time to reminisce and celebrate their loved ones who are gone.

Find out more about the Day of the Dead and its history here

Do you celebrate any of these holidays? How are you planning to celebrate this year? Let us know in the comments for this post. If you’re interested in history, don’t forget to check out our deep line of educational games including the Excavate! series, where you can become an archaeologist and discover more about the traditions of ancient cultures.

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National Chemistry Week 2018

Next week is National Chemistry Week 2018! National Chemistry Week is an annual event hosted by the American Chemistry Society across the nation in order to get kids interested in the field. Each year has a new theme: last year’s was Chemistry Rocks and focused on geochemistry. This year, Chemistry is Out of the This World!

To get you started celebrating this event, we collected resources and pulled out a few highlights to get you started on planning the week. Check it out!

National Chemistry Week Events

National Chemistry Week 2018

The ACS has plenty of tips when it comes to organizing events in your area for NCW. From recruiting volunteers to getting access to local venues, and more, the resources on the website are meant to help teachers and interested parties prepare for the week!

The community event for this year is planning a trip to a planetarium or science museum. Find one nearby and bring your kids or students there to learn about outer space! It fits into the year’s theme of Out of This World. Use an established tour, make one yourself, or see if its possible to customize the experience to the age group you’re targeting. You could even scale it down to a visit to the local library to check out books about outer space.

Chemistry Experiments and Activities

If you don’t want to organize a field trip for the event, try out some suggested activities and experiments instead. In honor of National Chemistry Week, the ACS holds an illustrated poem competition. Consider inviting students to join for a full on STEAM activity. There’s even a prize for the first and second place winner. Check out all the requirements here.

If you would rather stick with an experiment, the ACS has you covered on that regard too. Their Celebrating Chemistry packet is full of themed experiments. Students could make their own UV wristband or even create oxygen. They’re all relatively easy to set up, so see what might work for you.

Out of This World with ExoTrex!

Of course, we can’t get through an event about space travel without throwing our own space exploration learning game into the mix. ExoTrex casts players as an astronaut trying to find a new home for humanity in outer space. Chemistry, physics, and more are all included in the experience, so try it out for yourself to see how the game can enhance STEM education in the classroom!

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