Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

This blog, Caterpickles

Why a blog on curiosity?

Over the many years I worked as a professional technical writer, people paid me to explain how everything from genetic testing to networking security works (with a subset of people paying me to explain how to do things like manage an access point for a wireless network or use a Christmas tree to regulate the flow from an oil well).

Then I had a child. She never wants me to tell her how to do anything, but she does ask  a lot of questions. In fact, on an average day, my daughter’s question-to-declarative sentence ratio clocks in at a healthy 5:1.

This would be overwhelming, but it turns out that she asks really interesting questions. Some are easy to answer, but others are real stumpers. Especially for an English major like me. This blog explores what happens when “I don’t know” is followed by “Let’s find out!”

What you’ll find here

So many questions

Caterpickles was originally started to chronicle the wildly imaginative questions of a curious child (and the experiments that naturally follow from them), so of course you’ll find lots of entries about life in our world, past and present.

It turns out, curiosity is infectious. While researching my daughter’s questions, I realized I had a lot of questions of my own. Why not answer those too? Today, the questions on the blog are about half mine and half my daughter’s.

I add new question posts about twice a month.

Here are some of our favorites to get you started.

If you saw this in one of your books, wouldn’t you want to know why not? This warning from Loralee Leavitt’s book, Candy Experiments, was directly responsible for two Caterpickles posts: “Why can’t you heat a jawbreaker?” and “What happens in a microwave that makes jawbreakers explode?”

Mini-book reviews

Our family loves to read, so of course we talk about books on Caterpickles too. About once a month, I post reviews of some of our favorite books from that month. Some months, our book review post is actually a collection of short reviews about several different books, like this post: “What’s the Eleven-Year-Old reading this week?” But sometimes a book review will focus on a single book, like this post on the audiobook version of James Howe’s Bunnicula. In all cases, I only take time to write about books we enjoyed reading (hey, it’s my blog), so if the book is featured here on Caterpickles, it’s a safe bet someone in the house loved it.

I’ve been writing about children’s books on Caterpickles since day 1. I have featured more than 300 books on this blog so far.

Going through seven years’ worth of Caterpickles to find a good book to read with a child is frankly a bit of a slog at this point. Which is why I set up a Caterpickles Goodreads page. The page includes all of the books featured here on Caterpickles, along with a summary of what we thought of them at the time. The books are shelved according to the age my daughter was when she read them.

So if you are looking for a book for a child aged 3-11, check out the Caterpickles Goodreads page.

Family-friendly public art installations

Not every child has the stamina to walk through an art museum. I know my child didn’t. She much preferred to be outside.

You know what else you’ll find outside? Public art.

My daughter, then five, inspects Totem by Martha Taylor and SarahJane Cassie at Riverside Park in Dedham, MA in August 2012. Click the photo to read our interview with the artists who painted Totem. (Photo: Shala Howell)

The wonderful thing about public art is that it is all around us, sparking your child’s curiosity and prompting conversations. The best thing about talking with your child about public art is that he or she doesn’t really need you to know much about it. All you have to do is say, “I don’t know. Let’s go find out.”

I wrote What’s That, Mom? to equip parents with 15 accessible practical strategies for using public art to spark conversations with children between the ages of 3 and 10 — no artistic talent or insight required.

Since writing What’s That, Mom?, I’ve become fascinated by the many ways local towns use public art to foster community. Whether used to educate, fundraise, or simply decorate, public art is woven into American life. Every once in a while, I pick a town somewhere in the U.S., and write a quick post about how that community uses public art. In my posts, I try to highlight public art projects that might appeal to families with younger children or at the very least, prompt interesting conversations.

Here’s a sample: “50 States of Public Art: Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, South Dakota.”

Thanks for stopping by Caterpickles! Leave a comment and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you.

7 Responses to “This blog, Caterpickles”

  1. The Magnolia Cafe

    I love this!! You are a great mom, who has the best interest of her child at heart. Have fun, I am glad you like Too Much Butter and The Magnolia Cafe. Stop by soon.

    Much Love,


  2. AIR MAX

    Dude, you’re f’n hilarious. Love the sarcastic sense of humor. I found a link to this post while doing some research on bhw and i let this page sidetrack me for a good 10-12 minutes just because of your personality. Haven’t check out the rest of your site, or anything else about you but If it’s more of this I’m lovin’ it. nike free 5.0



What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: