T-shirts, Dresses and Handbags that Power your Smartphones

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 05:  The Atrix 4G smar...

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Once you own a smartphone, it soon becomes the center of your universe. I don’t know about you, but I feel lost when my phone is charging, or worse yet, when it is out of batteries. However, someday soon, smartphone deprivation may become a thing of the past. Take a look at these 3 fashions that can also charge your electronics.

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Banana Toothpicks and Other Creative Ways to Get Kids to Eat Healthy

toothpicks

Image by C R via Flickr

One of my kids is an adventurous eater, while the other is choosy. My older son will gladly take a taste of anything our family serves. Well, almost anything. He did tell my mom, in a non believing voice, “Grandma, we don’t eat food out of a can!” when she tried to serve him a bowl of Beefaroni. My younger son, on the other hand, won’t eat anything colorful. That is, with the exception of lollipops, candy and other not-so-healthy choices.

In order to get my younger son to try fruits and vegetables, we experimented with lots of things – renaming foods, bribing him, testing different cooking methods…and so on.  While renaming tofu to “cheese” seemed to work for miso soup, we hadn’t found any foolproof ways of getting him to eat fruits and vegetables until we stumbled on the power of sticks. Turns out, kids love eating food on sticks. My son loves to say, “Mom, anything tastes good on a stick!”

Rather than eating bananas from the peel, we slice them and eat them using toothpicks. Voila, the birth of banana toothpicks. We also make kebabs, or “meat on a stick” and order terriyaki when we get take out. It seems the unexpected nature of eating food with sticks turns the focus from nutrition to fun.

Just what the kids need!

 

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The Global Innovation Index 2011 is Out

Coat of Arms of Switzerland.

Image via Wikipedia

Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore lead The Global Innovation Index 2011 as #’s 1, 2, and 3 respectively. Interested in seeing how the 125 countries stack up? Read more. Beware, the report is a beefy 381 pages.

While I haven’t read the entire report cover to cover, I have made it as far as the framework. Here is a synopsis of the measures The Global Innovation Index used to rate each of the countries. Each of the pillars below capture elements of the country’s economy that enable innovation.

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Letting Kids Win at Games Builds Creative Thinking Muscles

View of a game of Strange Synergy, a card and ...

Image via Wikipedia

My 5-year old loves playing board games. He also loves creating his own rules and ways of playing which drives my 7-year old crazy because he views this as “cheating.” Recently, rather than playing board games or card games with both kids at the same time, I’ve been playing with each child individually. This gives my 5-year old time to stretch his creative thinking muscles and my 7-year old a chance to enjoy an age appropriate playing environment.

In separating play time between the two boys, I’ve gained some insights. My oldest son tends to be more literal, by-the-book, and logical. To him, it doesn’t make sense to create your own rules. He sees right and wrong…and there are never any gray lines. My older son loves building things, math, science, IT class and sports. On the other hand, my younger son tends to be more imaginative. He enjoys divergent thinking. With him, there’s always lots of gray. My younger son seems to be drawn to coming up with ideas, inventing things, creative story telling and art.

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Creativity and Getting into Flow

Sparrow Paper Airplane

Image by bre pettis via Flickr

For Father’s Day, my husband and I went out for dinner. We invited the girls down the street watch our boys. When we came home, both boys were happier than you could imagine. For, after running around and playing outside, their sitters suggested they try their hand at making paper airplanes. After making a few “expected” airplanes, the four experimented with making the “coolest” airplanes possible. All of the airplanes (a half ream of paper worth) were proudly displayed on our coffee table when we returned home.

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How an Arts Education Improves Academic Achievement

4-year-old boy starts painting Revell model of...

Image via Wikipedia

One of the biggest differences between my oldest son’s preschool education and his elementary school education lies in the arts. When he was enrolled in preschool he brought home fantastic art projects. Every year our family looked forward to the art open house where we were invited to the gallery (i.e. transformed classroom) for a showing. Many of the students would dress up in formal attire to proudly walk their parents through the gallery. On the long awaited day, the teachers would hand out index cards with open-ended questions parents could ask to start a dialogue about their child’s work. And, at the end of the year, each grade would put on a play. One year my son was in the Wizard of Oz and the next year he was in The Sound of Music. I treasure these memories and proudly display my son’s artwork in my office.

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Creative Problem Solving and Trash Collection

Big Belly Solar Compactor in Lytle Park

Image by elycefeliz via Flickr

Last week, I stopped by a local food truck for lunch. After eating, I looked around for a trash can to toss the rubbish. Typically, it is easy to spot the receptacle because it is overflowing with trash. Not this time though. As I looked around, I found a Big Belly Solar Compactor. I didn’t think much about what a solar trash compactor was because I was running late for a meeting.

Then, over the weekend, my son and I had a picnic at our local park. When we were finished with our picnic, I looked around for  someplace to throw the trash. In the distance, I spotted a trash can with piles of wrappers and food debris. Sadly, we couldn’t jam another bit of trash into the can if we tried. Rather than adding to the growing pile forming around the receptacle, my son and I looked for another trash can. We found a pristine Big Belly Solar Compactor. Problem solved.

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Retailers Tap into Creativity to Drive Revenue

grocery aisle

Image by The Consumerist via Flickr

More and more retailers are turning to private labeling and exclusive products to drive revenue. With this move comes an investment in building internal product development functions. It is estimated that by 2013, 40% of retailers will generate half of their revenue from private labeling and exclusive products. At FEI11, Michael Kitz, of OfficeMax, talked about this model in his presentation, Retailer Driven Innovation – A Powerful New Business Model.

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Failure Leads to Innovation

There’s been quite a bit of talk lately in the innovation world about the importance of failure. In thinking about failure, I’m struck by the negative connotation. Though many of us consider failure a bad thing, sometimes there is an unintended consequence to failure. Namely, failure can lead to new thinking and innovation. I was reminded of the beauty of failure by my son.

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Popsicle Sticks as Toys? Really?

Color The Snow

Image by Joe_Andrews via Flickr

Article first published as Popsicle Sticks as Toys? Really? on Technorati.

My youngest son came home beaming last week. He had a wonderful day at school and was even chosen to be “Star of the Day.” At the dinner table, he showed us his prize for being the star. Sitting next to him were 6 popsicle sticks that he had arranged into a pattern. We oohed and ahhed as my son manipulated the popsicle sticks into stars, planes and birds.

Watching my son playing with the popsicle sticks brought back memories of my childhood. As a child, whenever I went to the pediatrician, he would give me a bunch of tongue depressors as a treat for being good. I shared this memory with my family. My oldest son said, “Really?!? That’s all he gave you? What kind of prize is that?”

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