Friday, December 31, 2010

Taking Back Formspring

After doing some research and writing on one of the most popular social networking sites for tween girls, Formspring, it occured to us: could we mount a campaign to "take back Formspring" from the girl-on-girl aggression it enables?

Instead of girls being anonymously and mercilessly bullied on it, couldn't we just as easily mount an anonymous self-esteem building campaign on Formspring? What if people (perhaps initially parents but then tween girls) posted questions that built-up users instead of tearing them down? What if our daughter's got questions like "What volunteer work are you most proud of?" and "What random act of kindness did you do last week?" instead of "I heard you cheated on the last algebra test and always do - what's your secret?"?

Wouldn't it be great if the Formspring tag line of  "Ask me, Like me, Love me, Know me" was put into action in a positive way? Wouldn't your daughter embrace such a platform?

Isn't it possible that kindness can spread just as quickly as cruelty? We think it can - will you join us? Open an account and start posting positive questions to the girls you know. It's time to stop the madness and take back a social network.

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Best Tween Movie Heroines of 2010

We loved this article by former Ms. staffer Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post about the best tween and teen movie heroines of 2010. She writes about the breakout acting performances of several actresses and their roles as positive tween girl influences. We agree with many of her picks including Emma Watson as Hermione in "Harry Potter 7: The Deathly Hallows",  Chloe Grace Moretz in "Kick Ass", and Mia Wasikowska in "Alice in Wonderland".

One might also add to this list: Alexandra Daddario as Annabeth in "The Percy Jackson movie" for playing a tough as nails demi-goddess who can hold her own against some might Greeks, and America Ferrera as the voice of Astrid in "How to Train Your Dragon" for a strong female lead who doesn't back down from her own strengths.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Online Threat or Fun? Formspring and Tweens

Your tween may or may not be aware of a social networking site called Formspring. It's a website that enables users to ask each other questions, but it allows for users to be anonymous. Answers are posted in each user's profile as a timeline, a lot like a Twitter feed. Formspring just celebrated it's first birthday, and it has about 20 million users. (Full disclosure: MsTwixt has a Formspring account and has for about a year now.)
Whether or not your tween participates, with 20 million users, chances are awfully high that she knows someone who does. Formspring is not the only site of its kind, but it does seem to be most popular with tween and teen girls. Said one 15-year old Formspring user from Massachusettes: "I feel like it's definitely a site geared towards girls," admits Christy. "They're looking to have things said about them. I mean, it's why most girls do most things."
CNN Money had a nice write-up on the site and some negative experiences folks have had on it - because users can ask each other questions anonymously, Formspring is often used a tool in cyberbullying. Often times girls will ask other girls prying questions, and questions are often framed in an accusatory manner (e.g. "I hear your mean to other girls - so are you?" - and far worse).
It's too bad that a forum that really could be used to help bridge gaps and open doors is used in such a hurtful way. Our friend Rachel Simmons has done some good research on this topic, and she writes strongly about Formspring as the latest "cyberscourge". We really LOVE Rachel's video chat on Formspring in which she gives tweens options for opting out.
What's been your experience with Formspring? Has it been positive or negative? Should schools actively montior it as part of anti-bullying policies? How have you coached your tween about Formspring?

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sweet! Candy Scented Nail Polish

Perfect for tweens: Bubble Yum, Jolly Rancher, and Laffy Taffy nail polish. Bubble Yum is bubble gum scented and an opaque pink. Jolly Rancher is apple green scented and comes in a metallic green shade, and Laffy Taffy is a strawberry-scented opaque pink.

From FredFlare.com, $5/apiece.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Latest Stats on Tweens and Social Networks

The latest study on tweens and how they use social networks (like Facebook and MySpace) came out today, and there are some surprising figures about how tweens spend their time online:
  • 28% of tweens use Facebook (be sure to check out our tips on protecting them against unwanted photo tagging)
  • On average, tweens spend 1.9 hours online a day
  • More than half of tweens watch videos online (you have to screen YouTube as carefully as t.v. - check out our channel on YouTube for fun, age-appropriate videos)
  • 78% of tweens play online games, and this ranks as their number one activity online
On cell phones:
  • 34% of tweens have a mobile phone, and 18% of these own a smartphone (this is up from 26% three years ago)
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Monday, December 27, 2010

Tween New Year's Eve Countdown: PEEPS Fest!!

OMG! The 2nd Annual PEEPS Fest is happening on New Year's Eve in Bethlehem, PA! (Makes sense, given that the company that makes PEEPS is headquartered there.) We may need to make a New Year's Eve roadtrip with the tweens.

PEEPS Fest begins December 29, goes through New Year's Eve, and culminates in a PEEPS Chick Drop at midnight. The 3-day extravaganza includes a Peeps diorama contest, Peeps crafts, Peeps s'mores making, a local dessert contest, and a 5-K run (to burn off all that sugar!). Sounds like heaven for us marshmallow fans!

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Tween New Year's Eve Countdown: Making Fuzzy Flower Rings

As our tweens plan their New Year's Eve sleepover party, we are stocking up on crafts for the girls to do while waiting for midnight. Crafting fuzzy flower rings out of pipe cleaners fits the bill perfectly: these are inexpensive, independent, and fun!

'Turns out there's a Pipe Cleaner Lady who was on the Martha Stewart show showing folks how to make them. We put a copy of her how-to video on our YouTube channel - click here to see it.

Our tweens are heading to the craft store to pick out all manner of sparkly pipe cleaners for this project. Let us know if you try it and send us photos - we'll post them (removing, of course, all tweens' personally identifiable information)!

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Adorable Hello Kitty Hat and Gloves

We just saw this super cute set of Hello Kitty hat and gloves for tweens on FredFlare.com. $36 for the set. How cute is that?

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Designing a Bright, Beautiful Bedroom for a Tween

We just stumbled across an article about interior designer Eileen Kathryn Boyd's own home and were struck by how she had done her tween daughter, Emma's, room - it was bright and colorful and featured Marimekko designs. We thought her approach is a great model for ever-changing tween whims: a bright white interior marked with accent colors with pillows, lamps, and one accent wall.

One idea we particularly loved was using bright grosgrain ribbon along the wall as trim in a tween's room. Take a look here.


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Happy National Candy Cane Day! A Candy Cane Manicure

Today is National Candy Cane Day! Our tweens are are inside during today's snow storm in Washington and celebrating by doing candy cane manicures. We found this cool post by a French blogger with instructions (if you liked this, check out our candy corn manicure post from Halloween).

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Tween New Year's Eve Countdown: Holiday and New Year's Eve Pillowcases

Our tweens started a new holiday tradition this year: making custom pillowcases.
We bought plain white pillowcases from Target and fabric paint from the craft store, and the girls painted holiday themes onto them. They had a great time working on this project, and it was a nice alternative after opening presents and in between all the eating.

Even our eldest tween thought this was a cool project, and all the girls have asked to do this for New Year's Eve too. Let us know if you try it.

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We Hope You and Your Tween Had a Happy Christmas!

We hope that she got everything she wanted!
We spent the day hanging out with our tweens, painting Christmas pillowcases, watching the Transformers movie marathon and "The Grinch" on t.v., and decorating a gingerbread house. A sign of the times: our tweens all got a flurry of text messages when it snowed in D.C. on Christmas morning, and later in the day they all checked in with their friends and cousins on Facebook to post their favorite gifts.
How did you spend the holiday with your tween?

Photo from chasing fireflies.com - how cute are these tees and pettiskirts? (The tees are now on sale for $19.99)

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Cool Christmas Morning PJs for Tweens

Tweens have almost outgrown the tradition of Christmas morning PJs - but not yet. Treat her to a comfy, fun and hip pair of PJs by beePosh. We love the Becky print - talk about visions of sugarplums!

Now if we could just find the perfect pair of bunny slippers . . .

PJs are $35 at beePosh.com

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Best Places to Be a Kid on Christmas

Did you see this? The University of Toronto has compiled a list of the top cities in the U.S. to be a kid on Christmas morning. The listing is based on four criteria:
  1. the number of children under age 14
  2. toy and game stores per capita
  3. candy stores per capita
  4. the probability of having snow on Christmas Day
Our tweens agree that these are great criteria. Did your town make the list?

Top 20 Best Places to be a Kid on Christmas
1. Logan, Utah
2. Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
3. Fairbanks, Alaska
4. Billings, Montana
5. Ogden-Clearfield, Utah
6. Niles-Benton Harbor, Michigan
7. St. George, Utah
8. Pocatello, Idaho
9. Denver, Aurora-Broomfield, Colorado
10. Anchorage, Alaska
11. Colorado Springs, Colorado
12. Rapid City, South Dakota
13. Salt Lake City, Utah
14. Appleton, Wisconsin
15. Flagstaff, Arizona
16. Reno-Sparks, Nevada
17. Provo-Orem, Utah
18. Bend, Oregon
19. Joplin, Montana
20. Spokane, Washington

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Protecting Tweens on Facebook: Prevent Photo Tagging

While school is out for the holidays, tweens will spend a lot of time online catching up and staying in touch with their crowd via Facebook. Here's a new Facebook change that's coming out soon and how to keep your tween's privacy protected online - the new feature has to do with photos and tagging other Facebook users via photos.

Facebook's newest feature will use existing facial recognition software to scan uploaded photos and suggest other Facebook users to tag. This means that even if your tween doesn't upload photos or if your family has a policy against Friends tagging her in photos (as our family does), she can still be tagged by others in photos and found by those tags. The new feature will likely result in a lot more tags than before because it will be automated - before, tags had to be assigned person-by-person, photo-by-photo.

Here's how to prevent automatic tagging:
  • Go to "Privacy Settings" under "Account" (the upper right corner of the page)
  • Click on "Customize Settings"
  • Un-select "Suggest photos of me to friends" (this won't stop a Friend from tagging you on purpose, but it can prevent a rash of automatic tags)
To "un-tag" a photo that your tween has been tagged in, just click on the name in the photo tag.

Finally, to prevent others from seeing that your tween has been tagged in a photo:

  • Go to "Privacy Settings" under "Account" (the upper right corner of the page)
  • Click on "Customize Settings"
  • Click on "Things others share"
  • Select "Edit settings" next to "Photos and videos I'm tagged in"
  • Select "Customize" on the drop-down menu
  • On the "Custom Privacy" screen under the "These people" drop-down menu, you can select "Only me" or add individual Friends
Check out our report on tweens and online safety here. Stay safe!

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A Twist on Candy Rings - Perfect Stocking Stuffer for Tweens

From one of our favorite confectioners, PapaBubble in NYC, gorgeous candy rings for her stocking.

Too late for Christmas? Our tweens will be sporting theirs on New Years' Eve.

$20/each from PapaBubble

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Smart Cookies: Young Tweens' Study of Bees Published in Scientific Journal!

This is so cool!

From Wired Magazine:  "A group of British schoolchildren may be the youngest scientists ever to have their work published in a peer-reviewed journal. In a new paper in Biology Letters, 25 8- to 10-year-old children from Blackawton Primary School report that buff-tailed bumblebees can learn to recognize nourishing flowers based on colors and patterns.

'We discovered that bumblebees can use a combination of colour and spatial relationships in deciding which colour of flower to forage from,” the students wrote in the paper’s abstract. “We also discovered that science is cool and fun because you get to do stuff that no one has ever done before.'"

The study took two months to complete and was a collaboration between a neuroscientist at University College London, Beau Lotto, and Blackawton Primary School teacher Dave Strudwick (Professor Lotto's son, Misha, is a student at Blackawton).

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Great Books for Tweens this Holiday Season

Here are some great books to put under the tree for your tweens this Christmas:


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Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Music-Loving Tweens - Selena Gomez, Silly Bandz, and Justin Bieber

As we count the days to Christmas, the parents in the Ms.Twixt household are stalking the stores for the coolest stocking stuffers for our tweens. Here's one idea that we had to share for the Selena Gomez fan in your life: Selena Gomez Silly Bands. They're just $4 on the star's official website.

Or, there's the Justin Bieber Silly Bandz and his line of nail polishes from OPI that just came out that we blogged about earlier.

The biggest hit in our tween's Christmas stockings last year? Easy, that was the candy-themed earphones and along with iTunes gift cards.

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Tweens and Ugly Dolls - Cool Holiday Gift Ideas

Ugly Dolls are, with the possible exception of BeePosh critters, one of the only plush that are still cool with tweens. We stumbled upon this great "Tween Talk" gift set from Ugly Dolls (this one is pink, so perfect for the girly-girl tween in your life): a 2011 calendar, a pink Flatwoodsey doll, and a REALLY cute knit skull cap all in a sweet tote bag. $65 from Ugly Dolls.

Or for a great stocking stuffer, check out the IceBat figurines from Ugly Dolls for $8. Like the popular MiniSweets from Japan, these critters come in a blind box (so you don't know which figure you'll get) and are collectible. We like the glow in the dark ones.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tweens and Texting: Key Findings from the FCC Forum with Glee's Jane Lynch Today

Today we had the opportunity to attend the FCC's forum, "Generation Mobile", on tweens and texting at McKinley Tech High School in Washington, DC. This event was headline by Glee star Jane Lynch who is also the spokesperson for LG's new Text Ed campaign to educate parents and kids about texting responsibly. We tweeted extensively during the day - you can view our entire transcript on our Twitter page here (look for our tweets with the #genmobile hashtag).


We met some old friends (Rosalind Wiseman) and some new ones (SafetyWeb's Michael Clark (they offer a kind of reputation monitor for kids) and Marsali Hancock from the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (an international non-profit)).

Some tidbits from the forum on tweens and texting:
  • "The future of security online has to start with the individual. Safety means reputation, privacy, and identity." - Michael Clark of SafetyWeb
  • Teaching "digital literacy" is shared responsibility among parents, schools and kids (they have things to teach us too!) - Dane Snowden of CTIA-The Wireless Association
  • "It's important for parents to teach kids that no digital communication is private - it is all public because regardless of your own privacy settings, others can save and forward anything online." - Marsali Hancock of the Internet Keep Safe Coalition
  • "When you delete something on Facebook, it is deleted from your profile (but photo tags are NOT), but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be careful with what you post." - Tim Sparapani of Facebook
  • 42% of parents opt not to use parental controls on mobile phones - is it because they don't want to or don't know how?
  • "Make sure you know what apps are on your kid's phones - that way you know what information is being shared." - Michael Clark of SafetyWeb
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fun Holiday For Tweens - National Cocoa Day!

We just learned about National Cocoa Day, and given the blanket of snow on the ground here (it rarely snows before Christmas in Washington), we couldn't help but celebrate with our tweens.

We think that the best cocoa in D.C. is at Kafe Leopolds here in Georgetown (conveniently across the courtyard from our old store location). It's not too rich and topped with a suitably large dollop of whipped cream.

Do you have a recipe for the best cocoa? Do you top it with marshmallows or whipped cream?

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Another Taylor Takes on Cyberbullying: Say It 2 My Face

We love this: a University of Southern California teen is taking on cyberbullying. A former victim herself, Taylor Audette had enough. She's put together this very cool online movement to address the anonymous bullying that happens over social networks like Facebook and FormSpring called (appropriately) Say It 2 My Face.

In her own words: "Our campaign encourages everyone to think about what they type, what they post, and what they spread online. The 'Say It 2 My Face' slogan helps people understand that what they say in the cyber realm is very rarely what they'd ever say to someone's face."

We think she's onto something. Encourage your tween to read about the movement and sign the pledge.

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Happy Birthday Taylor Swift!

Happy 21st Birthday to Taylor Swift! We wish this positive tween role model the best and look forward to seeing her at the Verizon Center on her next concert tour August 2-3, 2011.

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Glee Star Jane Lynch To Speak in DC About Tweens and Texting

The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is holding a public forum on the mobile culture, tweens, cyberbullying, sexting, and more this Tuesday at McKinley Technology High School. The forum is called "Generation Mobile" and will feature Glee star Jane Lynch, tween parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman, and one of our favorite media site, Commonsense Media.

According to their site, the FCC is hosting the forum to bring "together teens, parents, educators and experts" to talk together about commonsense and responsible uses of technology. The forum will be split into two parts: FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will hosting the first panel “Generation Mobile Speaks” featuring teens, parents and educators. The second panel, “Ask the Experts About Generation Mobile” will feature experts from SafetyWeb, Facebook, Sprint and other major mobile and technology players.

Youth and media has been in the news a great deal this year, and Washington has seen its share of such events (including Geena Davis speaking earlier this year at the "Healthy Media for Youth Summit"). This event is open to the public - for details, see the FCC website here and also streaming live at www.fcc.gov/live. You can also follow the event via Twitter using the #genmobile hashtag.

Photo credit: LG Text Ed via www.fcc.gov

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Tween New Year's Eve Countdown: Glow in the Dark (Organic!) Nail Polish

We're known for our tween-focused New Year's Eve celebrations, and this year, we thought we'd share our list of all things fabulous for tweens on New Year's Eve a bit earlier than usual.

Our first fun find: eco-friendly glow-in-the-dark nail polish! Made by Piggy Paint, their Radioactive nail polish is part of their new line for tweens called Project Earth. We think this would be perfect for mani-pedis during a fun girls-night-in or New Year's spa party.

$9 from PiggyPaint.com

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Really Cool Hannukah Video For Tweens; Riff on Taio Cruz's Dynamite

Your tween, whether your family is Jewish or not, will love this music video take on Taio Cruz's "Dynamite" - this one is for Hannukah and is done by a Jewish/American/Israeli a cappella group, The Maccabeats. Check out the video below or on our YouTube channel.



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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Crafty Holiday Presents for Tweens

Crayola has entered the tween market with their Pop Art Pixies line. It's actually a pretty cool website with tween characters who love art. You can download project instructions online and purchase art kits that will appeal to tweens - our fave is the Bento Box Stationery Kit (pictured above). Tweens can also upload images of their projects to the site to share, create their own avatar, and post messages to other avatars online (their privacy policy nicely spells out the ways they protect tween's identities online).

These would also make great holiday gifts!

Bento Box Stationery Kit $9.98 from Crayola  (plus a $2 coupon here)

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New Tween Creative Writing Site: Figment

We stumbled upon a new site that showcases creative writing by tweens: Figment. Developed by former Conde Nast editor Jacob Lewis and a NewYorker writer, Dana Goodyear, they say it's "a sort of literary Facebook for the teenage set."

It's a free site, and its goal is to encourage young people to read and write fiction. The New York Times did a great piece on it here.

If your tween is into writing (did she apply to join Tavi in the new Sassy mag?), this site could become a regular hangout for her.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Perfect Tween Stocking Stuffer or Hanukkah Night Gift!

How CUTE are these marshmallow candies from Harajuku Girls?!? As hip as only Gwen Stefani can be, this set of five treats is packaged with a Harajuku Girls chopsticks set.
$8 from Dylan's Candy Bar

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Friday, December 3, 2010

New Study on Tween Bullying

Time magazine has just released a new study about bullying amongst 10-13 year olds. The study finds that bullying is largely overlooked when popular kids bully less powerful kids.

"In particular, they looked at how the usually negative relationship between relational aggression and peer liking held up among kids who were socially dominant (the popular kids) and those who were not (those who had ever been victimized by peers). The researchers found that, when a popular student bullies other kids, he or she doesn't get stigmatized. Victims who turn aggressive and bully other kids turn out to be the least liked kids in middle school. Worse, the findings suggest that no one cares when these kids are bullied."

Definitely worth a read.


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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Gifts for (Younger) Tweens: Barbie Video Girl

We admittedly have mixed feelings about Barbie, but lately she's been making progress. This includes the latest Barbie item: Barbie Video Girl. It's a Barbie doll with an actual video camera built-into the doll's necklace. Tweens can make their own videos and edit them using free and simple software. We were intrigued and liked that this toy concept bridged the virtual and physical worlds. We cannot vouch for the video quality as yet as we have not purchased this product (as a reminder, there is no pay-to-play here; Ms.Twixt is strictly editorial) - but let us know if you did and what you think - we'd especially love to post a tween's review (we remove all personally identifiable information from tween's posts and do not share our subscriber lists).

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Cool for Tweens: The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker!

Debbie Allen, of F.A.M.E. fame, has created a brand new Nutcracker: the Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. It's an urban take on a classic, and tweens will surely relate to this update. The story is narrated by three wise-cracking mice, one of whom is played by Ms. Allen. The Gala performance is even headlined by former tween-queen, Raven Symone (who's still a tween fave with her hit show, "That's So Raven" on Disney Channel and "The Cheetah Girls" series - and BTW, she's got a new show coming out soon - "The Great State of Georgia" will air on ABC Family).

We're disappointed that this will be showing only in L.A., but send us your review if you go - we'll post it!

The show runs December 9-11 at UCLA's Royce Hall, and proceeds benefit the Debbie Allen Dance Academy.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

HP7 New York Premiere Night

The tweens and even the parents in our house are breathlessly awaiting the Thursday night midnight showing of the 7th Harry Potter movie, "The Deathly Hallows, Part 1". (Checkout the movie's official Facebook page for some great video.) The cast attended the U.S. premiere of HP7 last night in New York City at Alice Tully Hall. In attendance were the three stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson (sporting a gamine new haircut), Rupert Grint, and Tom Fenton.

Emma Watson discusses Hermione's style and her Free People clothing collaboration in a nice interview here.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Attention Tweens Who Want to Work For a Magazine!

Tween fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson is partnering with Jane Pratt (former editor of Sassy - check out our list on the right for books we're reading now) to a launch a new magazine for tween girls! And she needs your help! Tavi writes on her blog, " . . . a great advantage to creating a magazine today is the access to talent and voice. This is supposed to have a "for the people, by the people" kinda vibe. We want to find the best possible group of people for this project, and a wide range of ages, styles, etc."

If you want to be a part of Tavi's new 'zine, email her at MagazineSubmissionsAreFun@gmail.com. She asks for samples, specifically: "A sample -- whether you would put the specific sample in the magazine or not -- of your writing of all and any kinds, photos, artwork, whatever you're good at and think would be at home in a feminist, creative, moody-teenage-girl magazine. Be sure to include the sample of your work, your age and location, and some kind of something about yourself. Talk a lot about yourself, please."

Work fast: the deadline is this Friday, November 19th!


Photo from www.thestylerookie.com, taken by Ella.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Local Tween Parenting Expert Rosalind Wiseman Live Chat on Friday, Nov 12

Don't miss this! Tween parenting guru Rosalind Wiseman will be on a Live Chat at WashingtonPost.com today at 11am EST. She'll be discussing how parents and tweens/teens can communicate without strife. We are HUGE fans of Ms.Wiseman - check out our interview with her here.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Fabulous Way to Engage Tweens During Dinner

I just stumbled upon a new book by Laurie David (over-achieving mom and producer of "An Inconvenient Truth" - yes, THAT "Inconvenient Truth" - the Academy Award winner) called "The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect With Your Kids One Meal at a Time". I haven't yet read the book (hey, I just learned about it this evening), but I have devoured her blog.

An amazing idea from her blog is called "The Special Bowl of Treasures". The idea is to set out a large bowl at the beginning of the week and let your kids fill it up with tiny treasures they find. At the end of the week, you set the bowl in the center of the dinner table and take turns hearing about each treasure. For reticent tweens and teens whose daily response to "how was your day?" is "fine", this tactic seems very cool. We're going to test drive it next week - I'll report back on how it goes.

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The Sweetest Countdown for Tweens

Dylan's Candy Bar has created their first Advent calendar to help countdown the days until Christmas. If you and your tween celebrate Christmas - this is the coolest, ONLY age-appropriate Advent Calendar we've seen in years.

$10 from Dylan's Candy Bar

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tween Girl Scouts Take Action to Solve Homelessness

We just read this post in a local Chicago paper and HAD to share this great story:

In preparation for National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (Nov. 14-20), four local Girl Scouts have launched a new Participation Patch for Junior Girl Scout troops in Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park and parts of Chicago. Clare Darnall, Caroline Hesterman, Jennifer Martenka and Bria McNeal, all 8th graders at Percy Julian Middle School in Oak Park, created the "There's No Place Like Home" program to raise awareness for local solutions to homelessness. This "take action" project concludes three years of work toward earning the Silver Award, the highest award for Girl Scouts ages 11-14.


What a great project!

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

First Tweens and the White House on Halloween

Halloween at the White House this year welcomed hundreds of tween-age kids from the Tubman and Bancroft Elementary Schools in the District as well as military families. Students ages 6 to 14 trick or treated at the White House that was re-done in orange and purple for the evening.

The President, First Lady, and First Grandmother handed out bags of organic sugar cookies (made with honey from the White House bees), and guests were treated to face painting, pumpkin carving demonstrations, and a dress-up booth.

First Tween Sasha Obama dressed up as a turkey this year, and Malia Obama's choice was a Sour Patch Kid. Neither girls were present for the White House event this year; both were trick or treating in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Does your tween have extra Halloween candy? If so, she might consider donating some to a good cause: Treats 4 Our Troops is collecting donations of excess Halloween candy to send to our brave men and women serving overseas. This local non-profit collects the candy and handles all the packaging logistics. Contact information is on their website, and there are drop-off points throughout the Washington metro area.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bring a Tween to Vote With You Today

Election Day is today! Bring your tween daughter or another tween along to vote with you. Students begin studying about American Government in middle school, so chances are this will coincide nicely with their school work.

Here are some great stats from Girls Inc.:
  • Research shows that exposing a young person to the polls is one of the best ways to ensure they will vote in the future. Take your sister, daughter, niece, friend or neighbor with you when you go to the polls to vote. 
  • Although women are 51% of the population, they only make up 14% of the U.S. Congress (women of color are only 3.4%). It's important for women to exercise their political voice and power, and voting is the first step! Talk with the tween girls in your life about voting. Research shows that personal contact is the best way to motivate someone to vote.
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Monday, November 1, 2010

What's Cool for Tweens in November: MsTwixt's Calendar

Ms Twixt's Calendar

  • Nov 1 Hello Kitty's birthday
  • Nov 1 Hilary Knight's birthday (illustrator of "Eloise")
  • Nov 2 Kendall Schmidt's birthday
  • Nov 2 Cookie Monster's birthday
  • Nov 4 Eloise's birthday
  • Nov 5 Kevin Jonas' birthday
  • Nov 7 "Shake It Up" series premiere on Disney Channel
  • Nov 9 Kay Thompson's birthday (author of "Eloise")
  • Nov 10 Lilly Pulitzer's birthday
  • Nov 10 Sesame Street's anniversary
  • Nov 10 Emerson Rose Tenney's birthday (Teri Hatcher's daughter)
  • Nov 12 Anne Hathaway's birthday
  • Nov 12 "Avalon High" movie premiere on Disney Channel
  • Nov 13 National Gallery's outdoor skating rink opens on the National Mall
  • Nov 13 Monique Coleman's birthday
  • Nov 15 "Harry Potter 7: The Deathly Hollows" U.S. movie premiere in NYC - ticket info here
  • Nov 18 Mickey Mouse's birthday
  • Nov 18 "Harry Potter 7: The Deathly Hollows" movie midnight opening!
  • Nov 23 Miley Cyrus' birthday
  • Nov 24 "Tangled" movie opens
  • Nov 29 Louisa May Alcott's birthday (author of "Little Women")
  • November Big Time Rush tour (locations TBD)
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Friday, October 29, 2010

National Candy Corn Day is October 31st

We love candy corn, and Halloween is, of course, National Candy Day. We stumbled upon this fun cookie recipe for Candy Corn Cookies - it is super easy and a great after-school project or Halloween-day project for tweens:

You'll need:
- one batch of sugar cookie dough (your favorite recipe or mix)
- orange paste food color (if you use the liquid drops, add a tad more flour to the dough)
- 2 squares (2 oz.) of semisweet chocolate melted.
  1. Line a loaf pan with waxed paper, extending paper over sides of pan.
  2. On work surface, place 3/4 cup dough. Knead about 4 slashes of orange food paste into dough until color is well incorporated. Press this orange dough evenly in bottom of loaf pan.
  3. Divide remaining dough in half. Gently press one half of remaining dough (un-colored) into pan on top of orange dough. 
  4. On work surface, knead chocolate into remaining dough until the dough is well mixed and looks like chocolate throughout. Press this chocolate cookie dough over the plain dough in pan, pressing gently to edge of pan. 
  5. Refrigerate 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until firm.
  6. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove dough from pan. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut each slice into 5 wedges. On ungreased cookie sheet, place wedges 1 inch apart.
  7. Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are set and edges are very light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet. Cool completely. Store in tightly covered container.
Photo and recipe adapted from Betty Crocker.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Back by Popular Demand: Taylor Swift on Halloween

Tween singing superstar Taylor Swift says her mantra for Halloween is NOT to be sexy, but to be scary. Ms. Swift gave an interview to MTV sharing, "I felt all the girls in our school kind of used Halloween as an excuse to take all their clothes off and parade around." She added, "They would tan weeks in advance so that they could bare it all on Halloween. I'm like, 'That's not the point.' You're supposed to be scary." Last year, Ms. Swift dressed up as Chewbacca along with her best friend explaining, "Abigail and I have always been sort of anti-teeny-tiny, little costumes."

It is refreshing to see tween celebrity favorites voice common-sense and independence on such topics and to treat their positions as tween role models responsibly. Ms. Swift is to be commended on her stance of not bowing to peer pressure and demonstrating how going one's own way doesn't detract from the festivities.

There have been several news stories recently about the sexualization of tween girls on Halloween, and it can often be difficult to find age-appropriate costumes. Thankfully, girls this age are creative and resourceful, and many opt to craft their own unique looks for Halloween. As a parent of three tween girls, I am thrilled to have another example of a high profile tween celebrity reinforcing a spirit of independent thinking and resistance to peer pressure.

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Perfect Non-Sweet Treat for Tweens on Halloween

We saw these and flipped! Twixt has always sold these cool Lego-like Zip Zip drives, and customers love them because they're fun and perfect for storing homework files.



Now Zip Zip has come out with a glow-in-the-dark version just in time for Halloween - so cool! They also work as light up keychains, and with Day Light Savings Time around the corner (next Sunday, November 7), these are great for our tween's backpacks. Ms Twixt plans to include these in our tweens' ghost gift baskets.

$35 for 2GB from MyZipZip.com

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