Collecting for a Cure – September’s Change It Up! Contribution

Make a difference day!

Alzheimer’s robs seniors of their memories and independence and families and caregivers of their loved ones. And, sadly, it’s the only top 10 cause of death in the U.S. that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed. Today, one-third of seniors will die from Alzheimer’s or similar types of dementia and nearly two-thirds of them will be women.

After witnessing the toll that dementia and Alzheimer’s took on some of the important women in her life and their caregivers, Courtney Wachs, EI’s Director of Marketing, selected the Alzheimer’s Association to receive the team’s charitable contributions in the month of September.

The team’s contributions will help the Alzheimer’s Association conduct research in hopes of developing better treatments for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and, ultimately, a cure. Georgia The group’s research includes exploring how the disease affects the brain as well as investigating tools designed to better diagnose and monitor the disease. Contributions also fund helplines, caregiver services, and community support programs for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association or to make a contribution, visit

3 Spooky Experiments for Mini Mad Scientists – STEM Fun for Little Ones

Recipe for Mad Science

You’re never too young for mad science! This Halloween, set up your lab and share some spooky science with your little one with these easy and fun STEM activities. And for even more STEM learning and fun, check out our GeoSafari® Jungle Crew Lab Set™. Specifically designed for preschoolers, the set includes six animal-themed science tools and 10 awesome science activities.

Spooktacular Slime

What You’ll Need:goo_recipe

  • One 100mL test tube*, or a 1-cup measuring cup
  • Large plastic bowl
  • Large baking tray with lip or additional large bowl
  • ½ Box cornstarch
  • ¾ Cup water
  • Spoon
  • Fork
  • Food coloring in spooky colors like black, purple, green, and orange**

*100mL Lion Cub test tube included in the GeoSafari® Jr. Jungle Crew Lab Set

** Food coloring can be messy – and permanent! – so take precautions with your clothes and countertops!

What You’ll Do:

  1. Pour ½ box cornstarch into a bowl.
  2. Pour ¾ cup water into the bowl
    1. You can use your Lion Cub test tube to measure the water. Fill up the Lion Cub completely with water and dump into the bowl. Then fill him up again—this time only ¾ full—and dump the water in.
  3. Add a drop of food coloring to the bowl and stir the ingredients with a fork
  4. Try scooping the menacing mixture with a spoon—what happens? What about when you try to pour the concoction into a separate bowl or tray?  What happens when you slap the mixture with your hand?
  5. Squeeze the oozing slime in your hands and proclaim, “It’s alive! It’s alive!”


What Your Little One Will Learn:

Ask your mini mad scientists to describe how the mixture changed when you added each ingredient, and what they think will happen when they stop squeezing the mixture. Then share the explanation below:

This goo is a SUSPENSION, in other words, the grains of starch are not dissolved, they are just suspended and spread out in the water. If you let the goo sit for a while, the cornstarch will settle to the bottom of the bowl. The size, shape, and make-up of cornstarch causes it to “lock up” and hold its shape when pressure is applied to it, such as when it’s squeezed. When you let go, the cornstarch “releases” and the solution feels like a liquid again. People have filled small pools with this solution and are able to walk quickly across their surfaces. But as soon as they stop walking, they sink!

Helpful tip: when you’re done, please don’t pour your mixture down the drain!  Simply scoop your slime into a sandwich baggie, seal, and dump in the trash.


Mischievous Moonlight Lava Lamp

What You’ll Need:

  • 750 mL Flask* or pourable container with lid
  • Eye dropper*
  • Two test tubes* or 2 measuring cups
  • Funnel*
  • Clear, smooth plastic bottle with cap—1.5L is ideal
  • 5 Cups vegetable oil
  • 1/3 Cup Baking Soda
  • 5 Cups vinegar
  • Food coloring in a spooky color like black, purple, green, or orange

*750 mL Rhino flask, Monkey eye dropper, test tubes, and Elephant funnel included in the GeoSafari® Jr. Jungle Crew Lab Set

What You’ll Do:

  1. Fill ½ of the Lion Test Tube or cup with baking soda (or measure 1/3 cup of baking soda)
  2. Using your funnel, pour the baking soda into the bottle. Rinse your funnel.
  3. Pour your 5 cups of vegetable oil carefully through the funnel into the bottle.Stop pouring when your bottle is about 3/4 full with vegetable oil.
  4. Fill your flask or pourable container with vinegar (3.5 cups should do it) and add 3-4 drops of food coloring. Put on the top and shake the mixture thoroughly.
  5. Use your eye dropper to add about 5 drops of the colored vinegar to the bottle.
  6. Discover what happens as the BOO!bles—er, bubbles!—move around in the bottle.

What Your Little One Will Learn:

Oil and vinegar don’t mix! The oil floats to the top because it’s lighter than the vinegar. Ask your child how the bubbles are moving and what will happen when they pop.

Frightful Flowers

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 Tall cups or glasses
  • Stirring spoon
  • A few white flowers (such as Carnations or Gerber Daisies) with long stems
  • Food coloring in spooky colors like black, green, orange, and purple
  • Scissors

Dyeing flowers with food coloringImage courtesy of Allison Murray 

What You’ll Do:

  1. Fill each cup or glass half-full with water.
  2. Add a few drops of food coloring to each cup and stir with your spoon (one color per container).
  3. Trim the stems of each flower at a sharp angle and place one flower in each container so that the stem is immersed in the colored water.
  4. Observe the flowers over the next few hours. It may take up to 24 hours for the color to appear on the petals.

What Your Little One Will Learn:

Flowers absorb water through their stems. Ask your kiddos why they think the petals turned such creepy colors and what parts of the flower helped the petals change.

Which was your child’s favorite freaky experiment? Comment below to let us know! We’d love to see your mini mad-scientists in action, so please be sure to share photos on our Facebook page.







Acting Out: DIY Costume Masks Perfect for Preschoolers  

Just in time for Halloween, add two favorite friends to your preschooler’s role play repertoire with our DIY Pete the Cat® and Shelby the pug mask templates! Follow the directions below and let the creative pretend play begin, OR add the optional costume pieces for trick-or-treat-ready costumes!

  1. Choose your mask—or make both!—and print it out. Click here for the downloadable Pete the Cat mask template or here for the Shelby mask template.
    PTC_Mask Shelby_Mask
  1. Use crayons and markers to color the masks.Coloring Pete Mask
  1. Cut out the template. Older kids can try this themselves, using child-safe scissors, for a bit of fine motor practice. Don’t forget to cut out the eye holes!
  1. Snip the side holes, measure a piece of elastic string to fit around your child’s head, and string the elastic through the holes, securing it with a knot.

Pete the Cat Mask

To complete your Pete the Cat costume, add:

  • A blue sweat suit or blue leggings/pants and long-sleeved blue tee
  • Red or white high top sneakers
  • Optional: yellow coat with four colorful buttons

To complete your Shelby costume, add:

  • A tan sweat suit or tan leggings/pants and a long-sleeved tan tee
  • A blue collar with faux diamond studs
  • A pin-on, curly cue pipe cleaner in tan or brown
  • Optional: white bone cut from construction paper

We’d love to see pix of your Halloween honeys in whichever costume they choose – let us know below what your kiddos plan on dressing as this year and be sure to share photos on Facebook!

Download DIY Pete the Cat Mask TemplatePTC_Mask

Download DIY Shelby Mask Template


Making the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent Teacher Conference Tips

The kids have been back in school for several weeks. The backpacks are full; new friends’ names are sprinkled in conversation; and (surprise!) lunch in the school cafeteria is a hit! The school year has been successfully launched, and now it’s time to check in with mission control in that annual fall ritual—parent-teacher conferences.

Parent-teacher conferences are scheduled two to four times a year. Think of them as a kind of academic ‘check up.’ To help you make the most of the 15 to 20 minutes usually allotted, we’ve assembled some hints below and two handy downloadable tip sheets.


  • Schedule an appointment. Arrive on time or a few minutes early. Don’t overstay your time.
  • Make childcare arrangements for younger children, if possible. They can be a distraction.
  • Be positive and open-minded. You and the teacher are on the same team—your child’s.

BE PREPARED: Your child’s teacher will prepare for the conference and so should you.

  • Review your child’s work in advance including class work, homework assignments, tests, projects or reports, and reading material.
  • Ask your child about class work and routines, what happens at lunchtime, recess, or in special classes such as art and music. Use the downloadable My Learning Report to get the conversation started.Parent Teacher Conference_Page_2
  • Gather information from family members especially if they are unable to attend the conference.

ASK QUESTIONS: That’s what school is all about, right?

  • Make a list of key questions that you want to cover with the teacher. Choose from our list to help you get the most from your appointment.  Download listParent Teacher Conference_Page_1
  • Prioritize your concerns so that you’ll be sure to cover the most important ones before your conference time is up.
  • Take notes!

FOLLOW UP: Express your appreciation and plan for the future.

  • Agree on a specific action plan for any behavioral or academic issues.
  • Determine how to best keep in touch with one another: e-mail, phone, in person, written notes.
  • Confirm how frequently contact should take place: weekly, monthly, as needed.
  • Offer your support. From volunteering in the classroom to prep work you can do at home, teachers really appreciate your involvement and help.

SHARE WITH YOUR CHILD:What did my teacher say?

  • Talk to your child about the conference as soon as possible.  He or she will likely be curious.
  • Describe the visit including observations, such as what you liked about the classroom, and what you learned.
  • Explain any plans you and the teacher made to help your child with his or her class work or behavior. Solicit your child’s feedback and any suggestions he or she might have.


Parent-teacher conferences are part of an on-going collaboration with your child’s teacher. Teachers are busy professionals, but most will welcome you as a partner in your child’s education and will appreciate your involvement.  Have a great school year!


AUTHOR BIO: Marcia Gresko leads the Product Development team at EI. She was a teacher for 15 years and has written extensively for teachers. For the last 10 years, she has volunteered in a local literacy program, working with at-risk students.

Sneak Some Learning Into That Candy Sack! Counting Candy and Other Tasty Halloween Lessons

Halloween… trick or treating, endless candy, super-cool costumes, and… math? Yes! Halloween is a great time to introduce some real-life math skills. Try the activities below on Halloween night and trick your treater into snacking on some STEM learning!

1. Elapsed Trick or Treating Time

  • For younger ghouls and goblins:If Bobby starts trick or treating at 7:35 and stays out an hour and 15 minutes what time will he be back?
  • For older spooks:If it takes 4 minutes to visit a house, and there are 6 houses on your block, how long will it take to hit each house on the block? How long to cover 3 blocks? 6?


2. Take a Guess – When you’re heading home, have your child take a peek into her candy bag and estimate the number of pieces of candy in the bag. Count them at home and see how close she was! Take it a step further by counting a small scoop and making an educated guess about how many scoops are in the entire pile. Multiply for a closer guess. Then count.


3. Sweet Candy Sort Out – Who doesn’t remember the great candy dump? Emptying your bags on the carpet to admire your haul? This is the perfect opportunity for younger kids to practice sorting, a key early math skill. Sort by color, shape, candy type – then count the contents of each pile.

Candy Dump

4. Colorful Candy Graph – Create a visual of your child’s trick or treat bounty – with a colorful candy graph! Once the candy is sorted into piles, count them and create a graph by listing the candy types across the bottom of a page and quantities in 10’s up the left side of the page. Use a different colored crayon to color in a bar representing each candy’s quantity.


 5. Candy Rainbow – Introduce some STEM vocabulary while creating a candy rainbow! Sing the rainbow song as you sort your candy into color piles – then line the pieces of each pile up end to end to create each arc of the rainbow. Use words like above, below, left, right, middle, next to, and pattern while you design. Use those leftover lemon Starbursts to make a sun! Make your rainbow even more musical with Magic Moves® Rainbow Jam™– touch Rainbow Jam to a colorful candy in each pile to hear a fun song about that color!