Here’s a collection of general parenting, science & math, toys, and media that I like.
Science & Math
Videos, Books, and Other Media
- My boys love MrBeast, the top creator on YouTube. According to Bloomberg, MrBeast, also known as Jimmy Donaldson, is a 23-year-old from North Carolina who spent his life figuring out how to make the viral videos. It’s like watching a better version of 80s talk shows with highly addictive videos like Anything You Can Fit In The Circle I’ll Pay For, I Ate A $70,000 Golden Pizza, and I Gave My Credit Card To Random People. His most-watched video is $456,000 Squid Game In Real Life which cost $3.5 M to make, more than an episode of the real show. (Added 9/2021, Updated 12/2021)
- My friend Adam Chase is one of these Young Turks of new media. He writes the YouTube channel Half as Interesting (HAI) which has humorous takes on interesting and complicated topics. These videos average 500,000 views. By comparison, Jimmy Kimmel averages about 20% of that for a monologue. When I asked Adam how writing HAI changed him, he said, “I’ve become the most annoying person at any party. Like last week when I was introduced to someone at a party who used to be in the Navy, I could have said something normal like, ‘Thank you for your service.’ Instead, I decided to say, ‘Did you know that Pepsi once had the world’s sixth-largest navy.’” Abigail highlighted a very funny joke with the same idea. (Added 12/2021)
- The Chompers Podcast was created specifically for kids to listen during their morning and night tooth brushing. It’s engaging and exactly the right length to brush their teeth.
- If you want to mesmerize kids with innocuous videos, try dominoes falling down.
- The Kid Should See This is a weekly collection of videos that are inspiring for kids and parents.
- Comic books aren’t just about superheroes anymore. Jim Ottaviani has done a series of graphic novels as science biographies. His Feynman biography is superb. I’ve also enjoyed Primates (about the path-creating female primatologists) with my kids.
- We’ve using instructional placemats at home for years. My favorites are maps of the continents. The placemats all look similar but everyone gets a different continent. I also like the periodic table, the Presidents, and country flags.
- When it’s hard for the kids to get through a book, we bought an audiobook and a print copy of the book (or borrowed them from the library) so they can follow along. One great set is the Ramona Quimby Collection narrated by Stockard Channing.
- The audio versions of Dr. Seuss books narrated by celebrities They are amazing.
- I was watching Fiddler on the Roof recently. When it came out in the 1950s, it was a portrait of life in Russia that was completely destroyed by the Holocaust. I also started watching Brooklyn Bridge, Gary David Goldberg (Family Ties), show about growing up in 1950’s Brooklyn. I realized that since watching the show in my teens, it’s been my vision of the 1950s that my parents grew up in. There are great episodes about interfaith dating (Episode 7: “War of the Worlds”), working (Episode 12: “Get a Job), The Brooklyn Dodgers (episode 13: “Where Have You Gone, Jackie Robinson?”), the Holocaust (episode 28: “The Last Immigrant). Unfortunately, you can’t stream it now, but episodes appear to be available on YouTube.
- What if Millie Dresselhaus, female scientist, were treated like a celebrity. Dresselhaus was the first woman to secure a full professorship at MIT and was awarded the National Medal of Science, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (bestowed by President Barack Obama), the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience, the Enrico Fermi prize and dozens of honorary doctorates. She died earlier this year right after the commercial came out.
- People are Awesome is an amazing YouTube channel compiling amazing things that people do. Here’s the best of 2017.
- The kids and I listened to The Phantom Tollbooth, narrated by Rainn Wilson from The Office. The book is a beautiful fantasy of a young boy Milo who walks through the world of logic puzzles and paradoxes. It’s one book that speaks to the science nerd through literature.
- I was at the school book fair and saw, Emmy in the Key of Code. It’s one of the strangest books I’ve ever seen, trying to combine poetry, music, and coding into a novel. The author, a Silicon Valley coder, manages to pull it off and it comes off like a bit of kids version of Goedel, Escher, Bach.
- Brainpop is a wonderful site that provides 5 minute learning videos on Math, History and every other school subject followed by a series of multiple choice questions. My kids (6 and 3) have been using BrainPop Jr. which is targeted for K-3
- Powers of 10 is a fantastic video by Charles and Ray Eames on how big and small the universe is. It’s great for kids as well as adults.
- The first season of Sesame Street is (as of 2016) available on Netflix. It’s quite compelling and interesting to see. You can also see the original Sesame Street pitch reel which includes the Muppets acting as part of the pitch. I also found a compilation of my favorite bit, the man falling down stairs with baked goods. There’s also some very interesting and old videos of the Muppets before Sesame Street like TV Ads, Kermit meeting puppets of David Brinkly and Chet Hutley, and Cookie Monster’s predecessor staring in an IBM training video.
- Square One is a math based TV show for 8-12 year olds created by the Sesame Workshop. I remember it fondly as one of my favorite educational programs as a kid. I was able to find some episodes online recently.
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White has a couple of great audio versions. There’s an interesting parenting theme in the middle of the book that I, of course, missed as a kid. (Added 7/20)