Just Plain Interesting

Four tools for 3D printing your child’s work of art

Four tools for 3D printing your child’s work of art

3D printing is no longer the stuff of science fiction - it's a reality that's becoming accessible to everyone. Our children are growing up in a world in which they are not limited by the bounds of technology when it comes to their imagination. In the 21st century, the possibilities are limitless.

The hard part is figuring out how to even access this kind of technology. It might not be long before 3D printers are as common as inkjets, but that day isn't here quite yet.

Luckily there are some wonderful programs out there that allow people on the outside to access 3D printing, and to let their imaginations go wild with this tech. Read on to learn about four marvelous programs that will allow you to get your child's artwork off the fridge and onto the coffee table :)

3D Printing tools for your children's art:

Kids Creation Station

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 4.28.28 PM  

Kids Creation Station makes it easy for you to turn your child's work of art into a sculpture. All you have to do is upload a picture! All figurines are 4 inches long and cost $100, but they have a big discount if you add a second print. The website is super user-friendly. Just sign up, upload your photo, and checkout. What we love about it is that you can also see galleries of other families' prints, so you can get ideas and save favorites.

Crayon Creatures

Image Credit: Crayon Creatures

This site offers your child's painting to be transformed into a 3D printed sculpture for $130 for figures up to 4 inches long. The company is based in Europe and has a wonderfully whimsical philosophy and a genuine passion for their business. They create a hollow form of your child's image, which translates into a beautiful figure that's got depth and life. Finished pieces are raw and full of the wonder of a child's imagination. The sculptures are truly amazing, particularly of the more abstract art pieces.


Image Credit: Doolydoo

Doolydoo offers you the option to take your child's drawings and have them transformed into three-dimensional pieces of sculpture. For around a hundred dollars, your child's drawing can be transformed into a sculpture of around ten centimeters tall, or for twice that you can get one that's fifteen centimeters tall. The site boasts some fantastic examples of their work that will inspire you and your child. You also have the option of having your child's art printed onto a plaque. The artwork is even viable if it's from a small child, and the sculptures are beautiful.

Doolydoo has a coloring book option as well, in which you choose from a selection of coloring book pages that your child the colors just like a coloring book. These pages are then transformed into 3D sculptures for a discounted rate.


3D Printing

For the more tech-minded kid who just wants to learn about 3D printing and programming, the Tinkercad course from Autodesk does the basics - it teaches kids how to create a 3D model that is actually viable for printing on a 3D printer. With this course, your child will learn the skills that they need to create designs and forms that world with this technology. A different track from the other two options, but one that is nonetheless viable and amazing in its own right. Once your child completes the course and learns how to create a blueprint for their 3D art, you will, of course, need to gain access to a 3D printer. Many community colleges and high schools now have these machines on hand, so if you'd like to start a new family project by printing your child's masterpiece, then you have lots of options!

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Splurge or Save? Get the Most out of Summer

Splurge or Save? Get the Most out of Summer

How can you get the most out of your summer, and get the most value for your money? Summer camps are a classic way to entertain and enrich children during the summer, but there are so many options out there that it can be a little overwhelming. Add to that the question of whether a camp is actually worth the price tag, and it can make you ready for school to start again.

If you haven't booked camps for your kids yet, there could still be time!

Here’s our guide to making the decision about whether to splurge or save on camp this summer.


Classic Day Camp


Splurge: Steve & Kate’s

steve and kate

If you’re looking for a cutting edge, innovative approach to day camp, then you’ll find it with Steve & Kate’s. This is a flexible day camp option, in which you can purchase a chunk of available days and then schedule them however you’d like. The activities are guided by your child’s interest. with a particular eye towards offering kids the chance to try things that they haven’t experienced before. The concept goes even further with self directed learning where children are encouraged to make mistakes and to learn from them. Steve & Kate’s has been around for 35 years and has seen a lot of expansion, and parents and kids love it.

Price: $69-89 per day, or $2415 for the whole summer

Click HERE for more info and to find a location in your area.


Save: YMCA


Is there anything more American than a YMCA Summer Day Camp? Maybe apple pie. What’s great about the YMCA is that local programs are tailored to local interests and needs, not to mention that your kids will likely be around other children that they know and in a place that you can feel confident in. YMCA Day Camps are pre-programmed and very structured. Some weeks are based around a theme like the exploration or soccer. You want to register early for these camps, as they fill up fast.

Price: around $200 per week (varies by location)

Click HERE to find a location near you.


Outdoor Adventure Camp


Splurge: Outward Bound

outward bound

There’s a reason that Outward Bound is the top name in adventure - its expeditions are well planned and staffed with highly trained counselors, offering unique experiences in outdoor adventure. Some Outward Bound courses actually count for college credit for older kids and there are programs that lead all the way into adulthood. With expeditions in everything from sea kayaking to mountain climbing, Outward Bound is truly something special.

Price: $1500 and up for one week expeditions, plus travel costs

Click HERE to view a sample camp and find a location near you.


Save: Local Wilderness Camp

Outdoor camp

The local wilderness camp is a cliche for a reason - it offers the opportunity to create memorable experiences and lifelong friendships. Wilderness camps come a wide variety of flavors to suit your child’s interests, and kids can learn skills from archery to crafts. Another bonus is that these camps can be found within driving distance of most everywhere and that the cost is wonderfully reasonable. To find a great camp, do a little research and look for something that truly matches your child’s interest or sparks their excitement. There are some fantastic wilderness camps where kids can sleep in converted train cars or spend a week mostly soaked in a lake.

Price: $400-$600 per week, depending on location

Check out THIS example and search for others near you!


Computer Coding


Splurge: Youth Digital

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Youth Digital is a leader in teaching kids about the back end of the technology that we all take for granted. There are course in a wide variety of subtopics offered here, from app coding to making movies. The courses are open for a year, so there’s no timetable or real structure. Reviewers consistently say that Youth Digital offers the most detail oriented and comprehensive training online for kids. The instructors are funny, informative and on-call to answer questions as your child moves through the modules.

Price: $179 per course

Click HERE for more info.


Save: Free Online Coding


Backed by an impressive list of public figures like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and President Obama, Code.org is an initiative that’s mission is to help kids learn to code in an effort to improve STEM participation in youth. The “Hour of Code” tutorial series is well designed, engaging, and easy to navigate. You’ll find that your kids can learn to code with the likes of Anna and Elsa from Frozen, or the Angry Birds themselves. This site is really a one stop shop for kids wanting to learn how to create in the digital world. Did we mention that it’s free?

Price: Free

Learn more here.


Fashion Camp


Splurge: Fashion Design Camp

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Many major fashion schools offer summer day camp programs for kids, and most especially for teens. The key here is that unless you’re local to one of these fabulous programs, you’ll have to find local accommodations and stay with your child. That being said, there are some majorly impressive programs in places like NYC and Chicago. If your child is truly interested in fashion design as a career, this kind of intensive, structured and well connected experience could open a lot of doors. And your child will have a truly once in a lifetime experience.

Price: $600 and up

Click HERE to see an example and find a location near you!


 Save: DIY Camps Fashion Designer


One of the most fun things about fashion is that it lives wherever we are. Design is driven by creativity and that creativity is right there inside your child’s head. DIY Camps offers incredibly guided camp experiences right from your home. The fashion design camp includes activities like staging a photo shoot and hacking your clothing. Camps are four weeks long and offer lots of video and activity guides. Kids then post their creations for the community to see, and there is a rich and well developed community over at DIY, allowing your budding fashionista to find new partners in fashion.

Price: $39, $10 for your first camp!

Click here to check out DIY Camps.


Still looking for last minute camp options? Visit Thrively to find out about options near you.



Autumn Robinson is a writer, teacher, martial artist and mom who's pursuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology. Autumn loves her life in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina with her three young boys and loving husband. She is also an advocate for children, who believes that all kids deserve to live out their passion. 



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Kids Activity: Living Room Poetry Slam

Public speaking
Public speaking
Kids Activity: Living Room Poetry Slam

Slam poetry is a free-form poetry that uses poetic devices and tools to tell a story, express a feeling, or convey a message about a specific topic or issue. It's generally performed at poetry slams, and uses spoken word poetry, which is essentially just poetry that's performed.

Slam poetry can be off the cuff, in the moment. It often occurs at Poetry Slams, which are essentially competitions. Think of it like a dance off with words. 

When kids begin to access slam poetry, it's generally prewritten. It's a fantastic way for kids to learn to express themselves and also to exercise their intellect. You can have your own poetry slam right in your living room - here's how.

How to Have a Poetry Slam in your Living Room

  1. Introduce your kids to slam poetry by sitting down together and watching some! There are tons of videos on YouTube of kids doing slam poetry. The Leaf Festival has some incredible videos of their slam poetry with kids. (Warning, sometimes slam poetry can address sensitive topics that might not be appropriate, be careful to filter before you watch together!) Kids of all ages can participate, just keep in mind that it will be on whatever level is their own.
  2. Choose a topic. Things you're grateful for, things that challenge you, something that makes you happy, something that makes you angry, etc. Whatever your topic, everyone will write a piece about the same thing. That gives your slam a theme and helps everyone to focus their work. Don't forget to write your own!
  3. Set a date for your slam, a week is a good timeframe so everyone has time to prepare.
  4. You don't have to be too formal in order to make a home poetry slam work. You can just let your kids flow with it. Here's a fantastic guide from the folks at TED to help you create.
  5. Make snacks and enjoy some incredible quality family time that's teaching your kids self expression, confidence and passion!

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The billion dollar reason to make sure your teen’s college is the right fit

The billion dollar reason to make sure your teen’s college is the right fit

TL;DR? This is a post about how Admittedly can help your teen pick the right college. Check em out, sign up for free, and tell 'em we love 'em, wouldja?

You fantasize and agonize over your child’s first day of school.  Will she be an enthusiastic learner or fade into the background like an academic wallflower?  Will he find his tribe and make several lifelong friends or become a lonely misfit?  Will she rule her new environment or wish the time away until she comes home?

No, it’s not the first day of kindergarten parental jitters, though the anxiety attack feels strangely familiar.  Looking back, it’s easy to feel ridiculous about putting yourself, and your child, through such needless worry.  Sure, he was shy for the first few days.  But one plate of cookies shared with all of his new "friends” at recess made his social stock go up overnight.  And somehow academics and playground politics fell into place, which is how your child arrived at this milestone of applying for college.  So why stress now?

Because the stakes are higher this time.  Much higher.

We’re talking writing-a-check-for-tens-of–thousands-of-dollars-and-she-may-boomerang-back-home-permanently-and-be-perpetually-unemployed-higher.  It happens for a variety of reasons - some preventable and some unforeseen.


College-dropout-rates Click the image to expand the infographic and see the full financial impact of dropping out, which can amount to billions of dollars in lost wages and subsequently, tax revenue.

After hyperventilating over that possibility, check out Admittedly.  While high school seniors are anticipating responses from colleges and universities, high school juniors are revving up for an overwhelming college search.  Even sophomores and freshman who enjoy the luxury of a little more time can benefit from early exploration of high learning.

Like finding the right mate, there are so many factors that go into ensuring the right “chemistry” between a school and its students.

With thousands of options, it’s impossible to visit every potential college or university.  GPA, SAT or ACT test scores and extra-curricular activities like sports and the arts will narrow your options.

But how do you weigh student compatibility with the less tangible characteristics of a school?  Does your son or daughter prefer a school that emphasizes Greek life?  How do they feel about college sports dominating the campus culture?  What if you send your liberal student to a conservative campus?  Will it be a clash of values?  Is your son or daughter at home at a faith-based school?  Will he or she relish a school that emphasizes research participation and co-op programs over community service and social activism?

The founders of Admittedly, Jessica Brondo-Davidhoff and Emily Cole, with respective backgrounds in College Planning and Psychology, created a gamified, student/college matching algorithm.  Admittedly’s task is just as ambitious as the over 100K college-bound students it serves.  But it handles the challenge deftly, casually querying users about personal preferences like the weather, how they like to spend their free time, campus vibe, student body size and affiliations, and faculty engagement.  Admittedly churns out a match list with feasibility rankings attached to each college or university, based on each student’s GPA and test scores.

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From there, the real fun begins, as any high school senior (or their parents) will tell you.  There’s an art to applying to multiple schools.  A student applying to half a dozen or more colleges can easily have a to-do list of 25+ critical deadlines.  It’s an overwhelming project, even for the most organized students and hands-on parents.  That’s why private college consulting is a booming industry.  Admittedly’s Application Manager takes the wheel and creates your student’s college app to-do list.  Even for families working with a college consultant, having an interactive roadmap feels reassuring.

Grown-ups feast on algorithms, linear to-do lists and probability rankings.  But again, what about the starry-eyed students who will be force-fed the real world in less than a year?  Admittedly has something to relieve their anxiety attacks too – peers and mentors. Admittedly’s hyper-social users have fielded nearly 5M Q&A’s, with empathetic students doling out well-timed advice.  College students also rank each school on multiple categories (dorms, food, weekend life…) and overall campus personality.

High school seniors will soon learn, like their wise and weathered parents, that there are no certainties in life.  But good guidance can navigate some of the uncertainty, and help place you on the right path.

Try Admittedly for free and get your kids on the college track.



Amy von Kaenel is a highly enthusiastic Thrively Amabassador. She’s been a veteran of the tech industry for two decades, wearing dual hats in market intelligence and marketing strategy. Amy’s co-authored industry reports on Smartphone Enterprise and mHealth technology. Her organization, Tech Coast Consulting, has served Global 2000 and start-up organizations in both the tech and healthcare industries. Amy holds a BA in Economics and an MBA from the University of California Irvine. 

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Kids Activity: Make Your Own Snow Globe

Kids Activity: Make Your Own Snow Globe

snowglobe2 There is just something absolutely magical about snow globes. They have this ethereal quality to them that brings joy to anyone who sees one, and can instantly transport you into a little winter wonderland fantasy. And um, it’s almost impossible not to shake one!

These snow globes are inexpensive to make, mostly relying on materials you already have around the house. Plus it’s easy to put a unique unique twist on them, making these homemade wonders that much more special and relevant to your child’s interests. Fill them with soccer trinkets or ballet shoes, or whatever waterproof trinkets you have around your home. Even if you don't live in a wintry climate, you can bring a bit of the winter fun right into your home. They're so easy to make, you'll find that your kids want to make them out of everything!


  • Small jars like baby food jars or mason jars, cleaned thoroughly and the label removed
  • Little plastic toys to put inside, and other decorations - artificial greenery is nice!
  • Mineral oil or unscented baby oil
  • Fine glitter and/or crumbled styrofoam
  • Heavy duty glue or epoxy

How to:

  1. Glue the toys to the inside of the lid and let dry completely. It’s nice to let a few items float around as well! With your hot glue gun, put a little hot glue on the bottom of your top to anchor some pieces in place. This is where imagination and resourcefulness can run wild!
  2. Fill the jar ¾ of the way full with oil. Add a generous amount of glitter or crumbles styrofoam.
  3. Put beads of glue around the edge of the lid and screw it into place. Allow the glue to dry for the amount of time recommended on the instructions.
  4. Shake it up and enjoy! It’s that easy!

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Celebrating Peace: The Christmas Truce of 1914

Celebrating Peace: The Christmas Truce of 1914


It’s a little known moment in history but an incredible example of how the holiday spirit can have an impact even in the most dire of situations. War doesn’t generally stop for the holidays - but one hundred years ago it did.

the power of peace 1914 credit Diana Overbey - Presently in the Past

It was Christmas Eve 1914, and World War I was raging fiercely in Europe. British and German troops were battling in the trenches of the Western Front near Ypres, France. Of course the trenches of World War I were more than mere holes in the ground - they became home to the soldiers who fought from them day in and day out. As evening fell on Christmas Eve, the soldiers in both the British and German trenches were singing Christmas carols.

With dawn breaking over the horizon on Christmas day, several German soldiers peeked out of the trenches, and with hesitation called out “Merry Christmas” in English. Of course the British at first thought that this must be a trick. They discovered however that the Germans were unarmed, and then they climbed out themselves and shook hands with their enemies.

The soldiers exchanged simple gifts and shared food and songs. And unbelievably, it’s documented in some places that the soldiers indulged in soccer! Historical accounts tell us that the kickabout happened with a ration tin for a ball, but no one quite agrees on whether the Germans or the British won the match.

Troops during an intense war found a few hours of peace through thanks to the holiday spirit! How amazing is that?


Unfortunately, fighting continued the following day, with the same men who broke bread and sang songs together shooting at each other again.

But one hundred years later, we can perhaps take solace in fact that peace is possible even in the most dire of situations. And maybe that can inspire us to create opportunities for peace in our own lives.

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What do you get the kid who has everything? [+giveaway]

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thrively giveaway
What do you get the kid who has everything? [+giveaway]


Seriously. Between tech gadgets, LEGOs, video games, and clothing, what do you get the kid who has everything?

Or a better question may be... do kids really need more stuff?

I'm not saying don't give any gifts. I'm saying consider the fact that our kids might not need more stuff just for stuff's sake. For a minute, consider incorporating a new kind of gift: an experience.

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You know what they say... Give a toy, play for a day; Give an experience, make a memory that lasts a lifetime.

OK so I just made that up. But it's true, right? My daughter will not be able to list the number of dolls she's outgrown since she was younger. But she will most definitely be able to describe every piece of clothing she created in her Fashion Design camp last summer. My son only wears one of the five pairs of sneakers he owns, but he can recall every pitch he threw to help bring his baseball team to the playoffs last year. Of course they enjoyed the dolls and the sneakers at the time, so it's not like I'd go back in time and deprive them, but I'm just thinking about how all the experiences they've had are the things that have really settled into their hearts. I want to give them more of those.

But... what if those two things could come together in perfect harmony?

This year we are doing something different. The kids' "big" gifts are going to be activities. My daughter wants to take an immersion Spanish course this summer, my son wants to do some kind of outdoor adventure, and my youngest daughter - well she wants to do everything under the sun :)

I use Thrively to get recommendations for them. Thrively is a strength-based activity finder for kids. It helps me find unique and highly rated activities, plus filters for what's going to be a good fit for both their strengths and interests. I entered "Backpacking" as an interest for him, and "Spanish" as an interest for her. Thrively then scans the thousands of activities in the directory to find the ones that match those interests as well as their strengths from their Strength Profile.

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Here's the recommendation that popped up for my son (umm can I go too?):

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Perfect. Now don't tell my kid. Here's where the "stuff" comes in. I went to AfterSchool.com and found:

The "stuff" here is not the experience in itself; but it facilitates the experience. My son may not remember the shoes themselves when he gets older. But he will remember the way they stood up to mud, he'll remember cinching them tight at the start of a long day on the trail, and he'll remember taking them off after a week of exploring the outdoors and looking at stars.

I plan to print a little framed card of the camp and tie it with a ribbon to his new boots. I can't wait until he opens it :)

Join us on this adventure. 

Sign up for Thrively.com and find that perfect adventure for your kids, whether it's a class or a camp. Then enter to win one of eight $50 Gift Cards from AfterSchool.com, so you can get the right gear to match the perfect activity you find through Thrively.

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Fine print: giveaway ends 12/14 at 11:59pm. Open to United States residents only, age 13 or up. No purchase necessary. 

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Movie night! 7 movies to keep your family thinking

Movie night! 7 movies to keep your family thinking

Looking for a way to enjoy the calm before the holiday storm this weekend with your family?

Here are seven movies to get your family thinking and talking. As a bonus, they’re all available right on Netflix, though not all in the kids section. All of these are appropriate for tweens and up.  Fire up the popcorn!

 7 movies

  1. The Iron Giant - This movie is a great conversation starter about the role of government and standing up for what you believe in.
  2. First Position - Follow dancers training for the Youth America Grand Prix, one of the world's most prestigious ballet competitions, where the stakes are high. This documentary is compelling and thrilling, and not just for girls.
  3. Duck Soup - The classic Marx Brother’s comedy that’s both hilarious and wonderful conversation starter. A warning - you have to be silent and pay really close attention to get many of the jokes. Fantastic, must see film.
  4. Super Size Me - This one is a real challenge to watch with your kids, but worth watching and all of the conversations that it brings. It might just cause your whole family to rethink a healthy lifestyle.
  5. Stand By Me - A warning that this film is rated R and contains some more adult content that is really only appropriate for older kids or teens. That being said, you’ll have a hard time finding a movie that will push your children more. A wonderful way to engage with your kids.
  6. The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec - This is a true kids movie, but one that will get you talking about gender roles and how women can make their way in the world. Fun and frolicking, a great film!
  7. Remember the Titans - This thought provoking film is more than just a football movie. A PG rating means that it’s perfect for the whole family, and it’s a great place to begin a dialogue about race relations.

Like this this? Pin it here --> http://www.pinterest.com/pin/371687775470975940/

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Fear and statistics – taming the ebola monster

Fear and statistics – taming the ebola monster

A lot of people are concerned about ebola right now. It’s on the tip of seemingly everyone’s tongue, from lawmakers to the folks in line at the grocery store. We have people refusing quarantine, town meetings being held and one of the hottest Halloween costumes this year is a hazmat suit. I must admit, I briefly considered how many gallons of water we could store in our basement. If your kids aren't the "ah, whatever" type, they may be just as susceptible to the panic as adults, and its important that you know how to calm those fears.

Here are some reminders/facts to calm your child’s fears and head off any uneasiness that might be setting in. Kids don’t have to be afraid! And um, neither do parents.

Acknowledge the Fear

  • If your child is freaked out, don’t fuel the fire by feeding into their fear. Acknowledge their fear, even if it seems irrational to you. Then help them break it down.
  • Turn it into a lesson! Research the origins of the disease, what led to the spread of past outbreaks, how it spreads and prevention methods. A little bit of knowledge can ease the tension of uncertainty.


  • Only two people have died in the United States from Ebola. Two. Though nearly a dozen have been treated domestically, the only casualty as of this writing has been the man from Liberia who came to Texas with the disease already growing inside his body, and a doctor who died in Nebraska who also came directly from west Africa. Their treatment came unfortunately late in the cycle of the disease, and is often cited as the reason they did not survive.
  • U.S. medical care, for all of the problems that it has, is still among the best in the world. A large part of the reason that the disease is so deadly in West Africa is because of the dire lack of good care.
  • Standard medical care like oxygen, fluids, blood pressure monitoring and treatment of secondary infections have been the most effective treatment for the disease - even more than super drugs. That standard of care is easily available here in the U.S.


  • No one has gotten the disease in the United States who wasn’t a healthcare worker who had direct contact with a patient. So unless your child is a healthcare provider in an Ebola ward, they’re unlikely to be at risk.
  • West Africa is far away. It just is, and the disease isn’t coming from the sky - it comes from contact with things like vomit and human waste. Those are gross facts, but will help your child to understand the reality of the spread of the disease.

Things that are more likely than getting Ebola:

  • Winning the lottery
  • Getting hit by a baseball
  • Slipping on the soap in the shower
  • Being cast on Survivor
  • Catching dysentery
  • An IRS audit
  • Getting struck by lightning
  • Marrying a prince or a princess
  • Being attacked by ninjas

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11 Witty Halloween Costumes for Brainy Families (with pictures)

11 Witty Halloween Costumes for Brainy Families (with pictures)

Halloween is a time when we can lose ourselves in a world that is far outside of our own experience. We can become anyone or anything. We can also have a lot of fun doing something out of the box and super memorable. Costumes can make you think!

Especially when younger and younger kids are being sold costumes like these (seriously?!), with a little elbow grease parents can help kids come up with something clever.

Here are 10 fun and easy Halloween costumes for brainy families that will have everyone talking.

1. Plato (playdoh)

2. American gothic

3. Ceiling Fan

4. Girl with the Pearl Earring

5. Formal Apology

6. Frida Kahlo

7. Nancy Drew

8. Pig in a Blanket

9. Social Butterfly

10. Snakes on a Plane

11. Identity Thief

Have fun this Halloween!

“The wind outside nested in each tree, prowled the sidewalks in invisible treads like unseen cats. Tom Skelton shivered. Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows' Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked.”

― Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree

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