Fun and Interesting Stuff for Kids of All Ages

1. The Best Android Apps and Games

After trying out thousands of Android apps and games over the years, these are the best ones that I've found in the Google Play Store and in other places around the web.

2. Cool Science Tricks

My kids and I had a great time trying out all kinds of cool science tricks and other fun things to do at home.

We hope you'll enjoy them too!

3. Easy Card Tricks for Kids of All Ages

This website contains dozens of easy and fun card tricks. Most of them don't require any sleight-of-hand.

4. How to Listen to and Appreciate Classical Music

On a whim in January 2014, I started listening to a classical music radio station in my car. Some of the music was nice, but I just didn't "get" what classical music is all about.

To me, classical music always sounded like notes rapidly wandering up and down all over the place, seemingly at random. I always wondered, when people love classical music, what are they hearing that I'm not hearing? What do they "get" that I'm not getting?

I began reading books and articles and listening to a lot of classical music in order to learn all I can, and this website is my way of capturing what I've been learning.

5. How to Master the YoYo Basics

My kids and I have been having fun trying to learn how to do yoyo tricks. There are lots of videos which make yoyo tricks look easy, but we quickly discovered that it's quite a challenge to master these tricks.

When you're a beginner, all of the yoyo moves feel awkward and sometimes frustrating. But if you work on mastering these basics, it will be a lot easier for you to learn how to do all kinds of cool tricks!

6. KnotMaker

Years ago, Derek Smith wrote a clever program for drawing knots. We began collaborating on it, and I eventually re-wrote the program from scratch in order to add a lot of new features and functionality.

7. Create Music with Ableton Live 11 on Windows 10/11

Play Music with the Novation Launchpad (Or Other MIDI Devices)

The Complete Beginner's Tutorial for Both

After I bought my Novation Launchpad Pro and installed the Ableton Live software on my laptop, I started watching video tutorials to learn how to use these things. However, it was difficult finding useful videos to get me started.

In this complete beginner's tutorial, I'll show you step-by-step how to get started making music with Ableton Live 11 Lite with Windows 10, building up to some of the more advanced features. This also includes a complete beginner's tutorial for using the Novation Launchpad.

8. Make Your Own Juggling Sticks

These juggling sticks are fairly quick and easy to make, plus they're a lot of fun to play with!

9. The Most Useful Rope Knots for the Average Person to Know

Kids of all ages find knots to be fun and fascinating, and this website provides step-by-step instructions for tying dozens of useful knots.

This website also offers a lot of useful information about how to tie knots properly, and which knots might be the best or safest for different situations.

10. Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs (Almost) Every Time

In 2015 I went on a quest to find the best way to make hard-boiled eggs because I was tired of ripping the eggs to shreds trying to get the shells off. I tried all kinds of methods that I found online, but then I had one of those happy accidents which did the trick.

This method is the easiest of all the ones I've tried, and usually most of the shell wants to slide right off of the egg (except for the occasional uncooperative egg).

11. Visual Baseball - A New Method for Scoring Baseball Games

If you enjoy watching baseball games, then using a scoresheet can add an extra dimension to the game. Scoresheets enable you to look back at what happened in previous innings, and they allow you to keep various statistics if you desire, and so on.

If you don't care much for baseball, then using a scoresheet can make the game more interesting and enjoyable. It gives you something to do to pass the time, and you might find that suddenly you're the "expert" when people start checking with you to see what happened earlier in the game!

Many people have created some nice scoresheets (see, but most of them are variations on a standard method of scoring baseball. Visual Baseball is a different concept which I invented, and it provides more information "at a glance" than most other scoresheets.

12. Casterboard Reviews and YouTube Videos

If you're looking for a fun outdoors activity to do with your kids, here are some casterboard reviews that my kids and I wrote on, followed by some YouTube videos of us playing a casterboard game that we invented:

This is a description of most types of boards based on the experiences of my son (15), my daughter (9), and me (48):

Skateboards - Fun for jumping tricks (grinds, board flips, etc.). Casterboards are more maneuverable and fun than skateboards on a street, but less fun at skateparks. Soularc Skateboards have one curved deck on top of another for a springy carving feel. Flowboards have 7 wheels in a semicircle in front and 7 wheels in a semicircle in back for a snowboard feel. Sole Skates are small, three-wheeled skateboards. Longboards are longer and wider skateboards.

RipStiks - Like skateboards but with two small decks connected by a crossbar, and two inline casterwheels which swivel 360 degrees. Seems safer than skateboards because RipStiks don't easily shoot out from under you (they just flop onto their sides). The wheels might show some wear fairly quickly, but even with flattened wheels they're way more fun than skateboards for zipping around on the street. We're able to take apart our RipStik casters and clean them, but not our Wave Board casters, giving RipStiks an advantage over Waves. RipStik Gs have metal crossbars for doing grinds. RipStik Airs are molded into a single piece of plastic, and feel stiffer than RipStiks. Ripsters are smaller to fit younger kids.

Wave Boards - Like RipStiks, but with shorter crossbars. Makes more of a "clatter" noise than our RipStik. Wave Ripples are smaller to fit younger kids. ExBoards, X-Boards, EssBoards, VigorBoards, Cudas, Freeriders, and eXtreme boards are similar to RipStiks/Waves.

WhipTides - Like RipStiks, but with four inline casterwheels. The crossbar bends up-down and side-to-side, unlike RipStiks. Can do tighter turns and slaloms than RipStiks. Can't do jumps or lift one wheel off of the ground. There's a slight "wiggle" motion as you go faster. I'm more aggressive on RipStiks since they don't wiggle, but my daughter prefers the wiggle because it helps her get moving. Shred Sleds and Alive Boards are similar to WhipTides. Hurricane Boards and Cycle Force Swingboards appear to be WhipTides with only two inline casterwheels.

Xgliders (Xliders) - Have two separate (unattached) casterboard decks, so they're a bit tricky to learn and easy to lose your balance or do the splits. Can do different tricks and tighter turns and slaloms than RipStiks/Waves/WhipTides. You can't just step on and go, like with RipStiks. Instead, you place the two decks onto the ground, carefully step on one at a time, then go. RipSkates are like Xgliders, but with a removable crossbar. I made a RipSkate clone by bolting a crossbar between our Xglider decks, and it's very fun because it allows you to do tight turns (even better than a WhipTide) without the danger of your feet going in different directions. RipSkates provide two different riding experiences for the price of one. Freeline Skates are similar to Xgliders, but the wheels don't spin 360 degrees. OrbitWheels have separate decks as well, but your feet are *inside* the wheels.

PowerWings - Have safer features than RipStiks (two casterwheels in back plus a wheel in front for stability, and handlebars with brakes). You face forward and move your hips side-to-side, but on casterboards you face sideways and use a twisting movement with your hips. It's easy to lean too far back and flip over, but with practice this allows doing wheelies. Some PowerWings have safety bars at the back to prevent flipping over. Rip Rider 360s are similar, but they have a big plastic wheel in front with pedals, and kids ride them sitting down. Trikkes and "Slider The Unscooter" are also three-wheeled, but with unique methods of propulsion.

Bladeboards - Like RipStiks, but the casters are designed differently. We cleaned and lubricated the casters, and put in new bearings, but it still feels sluggish and noisy compared to RipStiks. Bladeboards don't appear to be sold anymore.

PumpRockrs - Skateboards with one casterwheel in front. Can't make tight turns like casterboards can. T-Boards are skateboards with two casterwheels, but don't appear to be as maneuverable as RipStiks. OBoards appear to be PumpRockrs.

TimberWolf XtreeMs - Similar to RipStiks, but the casters are designed differently. My kids and I are experienced riders, but we felt cautious at first because the TimberWolf is quite a bit faster and more maneuverable than RipStiks/Waves/WhipTides. The casters can go forward or backward, so you can swap ends as you ride, and do 360s. RollerSurfers have different casters, but they also allow you to swap ends and do 360s.

Streetboards - Like skateboards, but the decks are in three sections. Your feet rotate the outer sections to propel the board, and you can strap into bindings on the footplates (optional). Good for jumping tricks (grinds, etc.), but not as maneuverable and fun as casterboards on the street. Snakeboards are shorter versions of Streetboards. It took us several days to figure out how to ride our Snakeboard because the movement is different than with casterboards. Our RipSkate clone is everything that I had hoped the Snakeboard would be. Alterskates had a similar rotating mechanism to propel the board, but no-one at their website responds to emails. LandSharks are kneeboards which you propel similar to Streetboards (using a handlebar).

Bottom line:
We own a skateboard, RipStik, Wave, WhipTide, Xglider, RipSkate clone, Bladeboard, TimberWolf, and Snakeboard, and we've ridden a RipStik G, RipStik Air, PowerWing, PumpRockr, Flowboard, and LandShark. Our favorite boards are: RipSkate, TimberWolf, WhipTide, RipStik, and Wave (in that order). To do carving/twisting/turning/spinning around the street, casterboards are best. To do jumping tricks, skateboards and Streetboards are best. At skateparks, skateboards are best.

About the wheels:
We replaced our worn-down RipStik wheels with two good wheels from our Xglider, and put the flattened RipStik wheels onto our Xglider. Strangely, we didn't notice much of a difference in the feel of the RipStik or the Xglider. After 20 minutes, the rear wheel on the RipStik had worn down a bit, but RipStiks/Waves are fun even when the wheels are flattened (until it becomes excessive). The wheels on our other boards don't seem to wear down very quickly.

For some videos of my kids and me playing a casterboard game that we invented, search for "Caster Soccer" at YouTube. Another fun game is playing "tag" on casterboards. We wear protective gear when trying new boards or tricks. Skate safely!

Here are the videos that we made and uploaded to YouTube:

"Fun and Interesting Stuff for Kids of All Ages"

Modification History
11/08/2023: Renamed my website called "Making Music with Ableton Live 11 and the Novation Launchpad - The Complete Beginner's Tutorial" to "Create Music with Ableton Live 11 on Windows 10/11 and Play Music with the Novation Launchpad (Or Other MIDI Devices) - The Complete Beginner's Tutorial for Both."
07/07/2023: Renamed my website called "Launchpad Tutorial with Ableton Live 11 Lite - Become a Music Producer" to "Making Music with Ableton Live 11 and the Novation Launchpad - The Complete Beginner's Tutorial."
12/12/2021: Updated my website called "Launchpad Tutorial with Ableton Live 11 Lite - Become a Music Producer" for Ableton Live 11 Lite.
08/11/2019: Added my new website called "Launchpad Tutorial with Ableton Live 10 Lite - Become a Music Producer."
05/06/2016: Added my new website called "Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs (Almost) Every Time."
06/29/2014: Added my new website called "How to Listen to and Appreciate Classical Music."
03/30/2014: Added my new website called "Make Your Own Juggling Sticks."
12/15/2012: Added my new website called "Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Android Smartphones."
08/19/2010: Added my new website called "How to Master the YoYo Basics."
11/05/2009: Added some YouTube videos of my kids and me playing a casterboard game that we invented.
04/28/2009: Added my new KnotMaker website.
10/29/2006: New page.

Dave Root