Proud to Be Your Parent – Dad Style!

Last month we featured some of the dedicated moms from our EI team, who shared why it’s such an honor to parent their children. It’s only fair that we turn the tables and feature a few of the EI dads, just in time for Father’s Day!

Read on for some fun parenting tips, tricks, and insights from Product Managers James Tu and Brent Geppert, eCommerce Marketing Strategist Steven Kim, VP of Sales Scott McCabe, and even our illustrious Chairman, Rick Woldenberg.

Rick Woldenberg – Chairman
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Father to three adult children, Stephen, Ben, and Elana, as well as to two teams of employees at Educational Insights and its parent company, Learning Resources, Rick has always put family first. He’s thrilled that his son Stephen will join the company full time after finishing business school, marking four generations in the family business, but wishes more than anything that his children find happiness and satisfaction in whatever they pursue. He advises new parents to appreciate their families and to never, ever ration hugs! Our leader feels blessed to have a great family with strong values and a sense of direction. We feel very lucky to work and learn with someone like Rick!

Scott McCabe – VP of Sales
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Although the time he spends away from Connor, age 17, and Kyle, age 14, when he’s presenting EI’s newest toys and games to retailers across the country is tough on Scott, his work enables him to give his boys experiences that he hopes will show them the amazing things they can accomplish in life. The boys (and their friends) thought Scott’s toy sample room was pretty cool when they were younger, but now that they’re teens they wish Scott worked for Apple or Xbox. Scott’s best parenting advice is to teach your kids how to find the answers they need on their own, so maybe he can teach them how to find jobs at their dream companies!

Steven Kim – eCommerce Marketing Strategist
There’s an old saying about parenting – “The days are long but the years are short.” Steven, dad to Kaitlyn, 3, and Elizabeth, 8 months, agrees. Adjusting to new experiences, sorting through endless parenting advice, and losing time to himself is all worth it, though, when Steven sees his girls learn something new or overcome a barrier on their own. From rolling over to roller skating, watching his girls grow is a constant joy. Steven knows firsthand how fast the years go by, and advises new parents to cherish every moment of every day.

James Tu – Product Manager
Although James wishes there were more hours in the day so that he could spend more time with his daughter Maya, age 5, and son Elliott, age 3, he says his kids love that he works in toy design. James likes that his kids know that their toys are designed by real people and hopes that they’ll be inspired to create things for other people, potentially affecting the world they live in, too. All of his hard work is rewarded when he gets an unexpected hug or kiss or sees that “Aha!” moment when he’s teaching them something new.

Brent Geppert – Product Manager
Although he sometimes has trouble remembering their names (just kidding), Brent is truly grateful to be a part of his sons Evan, age 13, and Kyle, age 11, lives. He works tirelessly to adjust his parenting to their evolving stages of life, but watching his boys develop their own interests and abilities, excel in sports and school, and become their own people makes it all worthwhile. Plus, his boys are the only ones who truly appreciate Brent’s awesome breakfast burritos.


Together Time Gardening

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping – it’s time to get out in the garden again! Gardening’s not just good for your soul – it’s good for your kids’ souls, too. Kids can help water, weed, plant, and harvest and spending time together, outside, is therapeutic and oh-so healthy! Gardening also teaches things like patience, nurturing, and responsibility. This year, include your kiddos in the fun with the simple together-time gardening ideas below:

Butterfly Blossoms
Itty bitties love insects! Encourage your kids’ love of gardening by planting flowers that attract beautiful butterflies to your yard. Butterflies love to munch on nectar-rich plants like wildflowers and choose to lay their eggs on plants like dill, fennel, and milkweed. The plants butterflies love vary from region to region – a quick online search will tell you what to plant. No matter what you choose, be sure to avoid pesticides and to plant in a sheltered area that will hide caterpillars and butterflies from predators. A water feature or even small puddles will attract butterflies to your garden – they get thirsty, too! Visit your plants every day, checking for butterflies laying eggs, caterpillars, and cocoons. If you’re very lucky, you might even catch a fresh butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.

Worm Hunt
Another note on the creepy crawlies – worms! Worms are squiggly, wiggly, and wonderful. They help our plants root and thrive, they recycle food scraps into compost, and, best of all, most kids love them. Take some time out of your gardening duties to host an earthworm hunt! They love dark, damp places, so check under rocks and logs, turning the dry top layer of soil carefully with a small shovel. Hold them and admire them, then place them back in the damp soil, covering them with a layer of top soil so they don’t dry out.

Hanging Garden
If you’re short on backyard space or just looking for a fun, self-contained project, try a vertical bottle garden! Start by cutting a rectangle of plastic out of one side of a clean, empty soda bottle. Punch a small hole on the same side as the opening, near the base of the bottle, and a few small holes on the underside, opposite the rectangular opening. Then, with the cap on, place a shallow layer of gravel or pebbles, followed by a layer of soil. Plant anything from small, leafy veggies to herbs and hang, stringing twine from the hole on one end and just below the cap on the other. Pick a sunny spot and watch your vertical garden grow!

Garden Labels
Add a touch of arts and crafts to your outdoor gardening fun with handmade labels! Your kids can write each plant’s name in marker on a craft stick or collect small rocks and paint the name of the plant – and a picture of the final product – on the rocks. Let your kids place the labels in the appropriate spots, helping them learn what’s what in the garden.

Gardening doesn’t have to take place outside and it doesn’t even have to require dirt! Teach your kids about the amazing properties of hydroponics with a kit like the GeoSafari® Hydroponics Kit. Hydroponics involves the growing of plants in water, which provides a crystal clear, magnified view of the entire root structure. Keep your rooted plants in the kitchen or near another light source and check on their growth daily.

For more fun ideas about gardening with your kids, visit our Pinterest page (don’t forget to follow us!). Do your kids garden with you? What’s their favorite part? Let us know in the comments below.


Teachers Are Truly Tops

Let’s be honest. Teaching is a pretty tough gig. Most teachers wouldn’t do it if they didn’t truly love it. So, whether you were a Front Row Frannie or an I Hate School Hannah, odds are you encountered at least one teacher who truly made a difference in your life. You know, that one teacher who inspired you to try something new, encouraged you when you needed support, challenged you to be or do better, or introduced a new idea or method that proved to be pretty important, in the long run. YOUR Jaime Escalante. In honor of those teachers, and since tomorrow is National Teacher Day, we’re sharing the stories of a five awesome teachers who’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty to make a difference in their students’ lives.

1. A Colorado P.E. teacher is helping her students get fit and healthy in a very different way! When high school teacher Jen Sculley discovered that her kidney was a perfect match to one of her students who was suffering from kidney disease, she didn’t hesitate to make the donation. Talk about going above and beyond! But Sculley isn’t the only teacher giving an arm and a leg, so to speak. Teachers in Ohio, New York, and Texas have all donated kidneys to save students’ lives or the lives of their loved ones. Guess teachers just can’t stand to see their students suffer.

2. One Washington D.C. Kindergarten teacher has got his kids’ toes tapping to a different beat. A devotee of Latin dances, particularly salsa, Mr. Sorto, is not just teaching his Kindergarteners to read and write in English. He’s also teaching them to read and write in Spanish – and to dance traditional Latin dances, too! His 5-year-old students have mastered salsa, merengue, and even the toe-tangling bachata. Mr. Sorto finds that dance keeps the kids engaged and the followers of his classroom Facebook page can’t get enough of his kids dancing. Encore!

3. When one of his students lost both parents within three years, Oklahoma high school football coach Chris Roberts made good on his promise that the team was really a family. Roberts and his wife took the student into their home and became the student’s legal guardians, proving that a teacher’s care extends far beyond the four walls of the classroom (or football field). We’re not crying. You’re crying.

4. It doesn’t take life-saving actions to make a great teacher, though. Mrs. D-B, a fourth-grade teacher in Miami, FL, works tirelessly to ensure that her lessons are not just educational, but fun and engaging, too. And it must be working, because her class nominated her for NPR’s 50 Great Teachers project, citing activities like Spelling Baseball, Writing Idol, and the classroom mascot, Chewbacca the humpback whale (plush, please) as proof.

5. Jones, an 8th grade English teacher in Tennessee, took special care to help assimilate one of her ESL students. Working tirelessly on his grammar, buying him a book of idioms to study, and checking on his progress throughout high school really paid off. The student went on to earn a college degree – in journalism! – and work in the communications field. Guess Ms. Jones really went the extra mile!