National Geographic Kids Daily Planner Helps Busy Kids
Get Creative and Organized in a New Old-Fashioned Way
Now that my Nerds are back to school, everyone’s hectic schedule has gotten even more so. Managing my girls’ Tae Kwon Do schedules was tough enough over the mostly relaxing summer. With the fall session in full swing, we’ve now added soccer practices and games, PTA meetings, choir performances, ice cream socials, fall festivals, field trip/permission slip deadlines, birthday parties, play dates, Brownies and Girls Scouts, ad infinitum.
For my rising 3rd and 5th graders, that’s a lot to keep up with while also remembering their new class schedules and other related activities. I don’t know about the kids, but the corner of my brain that can recall such data is already tapped out. And it’s still only September.
If only there was some kind of, I don’t know, kids’ daily planner that might help my Nerds – at least my 5th grader RocketteGirl – keep everything straight. Mainly because it would help me in my attempts to do the same.
Well, guess what, Nerd nurturers? I’ve got good news for you. National Geographic KIDS has created just such a resource for overwhelmed students and their parents with its Weird But True Daily Planner: 365 Days to Fill With School, Sports, Friends, and Fun!
With its irresistible brand of awesomely wacky STEM facts, this addition to Nat Geo KIDS’ popular Weird But True book series can help make it easier for your Nerds to get organized. And with fun exercises, pop-quizzes, and other handy features to spark kids’ creative thinking, cover to cover, kids are more likely to stay engaged with this planner throughout the school year.
Kids Organizer Main Features:
- Publisher recommended age level: ages 8-12, grades 3-7
- 365 days of space for school and other activity planning while learning cool facts
- Spiral-bound, 4-color portable/lightweight calendar with durable pages
- In addition to most of the majors, the kids’ daily planner denotes other special “holidays”
- Homework Help and Weights/Measures sections with useful report formatting and research tips
- Price: about $10 on Amazon.com
What Nerd Parents Will Love:
- Fun and Functional. The kids’ daily planner includes the usual interesting and often funny weird-but-true facts and beautiful photography you and your Nerds have come to love and expect from Nat Geo KIDS’ series of books. So, this planner is a great way to provide students with some structure and teach them organization without nagging them. At their own pace and in their own ways, kids can plan out their daily/weekly/monthly activities coming up before, during and after school. In addition to engaging trivia and activities, the planner prompts kids to set monthly goals at the top of each month’s page.
- Creativity. Is functional while also stretching kids’ imaginations. There is an abundance of creative activities throughout that encourage your Nerds to not only think but also DO: to draw, invent, design, and doodle! For instance, one exercise asks kids to invent their own animals and then draw them.
- Stokes curiosity. The many weird animal and cultural trivia tidbits will prompt Nerds to go find out the “why?” and “how?” behind it all.
- Added social component. The majority of the included activities encourage them to invite their friends to participate with them, to compare each other’s answers, inventions, ideas, and drawings.
- It’s evergreen. Because this planner maps out 12 months without linking those months to any particular year, your Nerds can begin using it, no matter what month or year you buy/they get it and they’ll still get a full 365 days of use. The days of the week are presented as check-boxes so that kids can adapt each week/month’s days to the exact date depending on the year of use.
- Inclusion of STEM-oriented “holidays!” Highlights include World Oceans Day (June 8), Pi Day (March 14), and Earth Day (April 22).
- The Homework Help section. Great section on evaluating info and sources, especially those found online. The subject is presented by first discussing how Nat Geo KIDS finds, verifies, and ultimately selects all the weird and wild facts it stuffs into every volume of its kid’s book series. This is a discipline not focused on enough and a skill kids should develop and exercise early so they know the difference between quality and unreliable sources – fact vs. fiction – when doing their own research, whether for school or on their own!
What You Won’t:
- Where’s that holiday I was looking for? The calendar highlights both Flag Day (U.S. June 14) and Canada Day (July 1) but we were sad to see that it neglects Star Wars Day (May 4)!? We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume this is due to licensing issues rather than an oversight by the publishers. Guess a Nerd can’t have everything.
- Where’s that holiday I was looking for – Part 2: While one of its positives, having this calendar be evergreen (i.e., not linked to any specific calendar year), means a few major holidays not pegged to a particular numerical day, have been left out, such as Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Easter. Your Nerd will have to write those in themselves.
What Your Nerds Will Love:
- It’s Weird But True – duh! As always, this kids daily planner is packed with fascinating facts and images from Nat Geo KIDS’ research team. The high print and production quality of this handy planner is consistent with all of Nat Geo’s publications.
- Oddball holiday reminders. Includes: Talk Like A Pirate Day (Sept. 19), Chocolate Covered Insects Day (Oct. 14), and World Toilet Day (Nov 19).
- Fun imagination-stretching exercises. All the activities relate to on-page facts in the kids daily planner. For example, two of July’s weird-but-true facts state, “Some frogs glow when they eat fireflies” and “a frog uses its eyeballs to help it swallow.” On the same page, kids are prompted to think about “What would it be like to be a frog?” and then “Write about your hopping adventure here.”
- Homework Help section. As noted above. Some younger Nerds (3rd graders) may find the how-to on report writing especially useful. The included world map and trivia are also a nice bonus.
What Our Nerd Had to Say:
Here’s what RocketteGirl, my 5th-grade safety patrol had to say about the usefulness of the Weird But True Daily Planner:
- Confidence and…Status?: “Makes you feel kind of like an adult to have your own planner…”
- Remembering patrol meetings: “They don’t tell us about them in advance because last year when they did, people forgot. I guess with one of these, it wouldn’t matter if our teacher tells us or not. Kids wouldn’t forget!”
- Keeping track of important “items”: “And after patrol meetings, there are some other important things that people might forget – like which kindergarteners they need to pick up and take to the bus, and remembering their patrol belts. A planner might help with that kind of thing too.”
- Easy to carry: “It’s smaller than the other Weird But True/Nat Geo KIDS stuff. Some of my friends check out as many as eight books at a time from the library, and those can get pretty heavy in your backpack!”
- Everyday reminders: “It’ll help me remember my math homework.” *
*[NOTE: In our school, the 5th graders are given their math homework assignment at the beginning of the week and then must finish everything by the due date several days later. They must plan their time wisely so they can do a little each day and turn everything in on time.]
What Nerds Won’t Like:
- Volume. While what the planner does include is fascinating, funny, and high-quality Nat Geo KIDS content, this entry into the Weird But True series will definitely leave kids wanting more. While it’s understandable that the publisher left ample space for kids to write, draw, and exercise their creative muscles, the planner didn’t have nearly the amount of trivia and facts that the larger Weird But True volumes contain.
- Maps. This is mostly an issue of size and unfortunate binding. While it’s great that the portable planner includes a full world map in the Homework Help section, the map is so small that many of the country names are almost impossible to read, particularly in Africa and Europe where the map is split and the spiral binding creates an even wider gap between the two halves than the usual bound atlas. If they really want/need to learn the names and location of most countries, you’ll want to look into buying an actual kids’ atlas (Nat Geo KIDS makes those too!) rather than relying on the one provided in this planner.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The Weird But True Daily Planner is a convenient, fun introduction to kids daily planners for 3rd to 6th and maybe 7th graders. You might think of it as a “Franklin Covey for kids.” The book has everything you and your Nerds have come to love about Nat Geo KIDS’ series of books: fascinating and often funny facts, great photography, and high-quality production value.
The biggest question is whether or not your Nerds will return to this hard-copy planner when there are other technology tools available to many kids, including iPads and smartphones. RocketteGirl is still carrying it to and from school in her backpack. I’m just not sure whether she’s using it every day. In addressing that question, the Weird But True Daily Planner does have one big thing going for it: kids universally love Nat Geo KIDS books! They will still enjoy the awesome facts, if not the organization.