(847) 485-0000
Find a





Homemade Gifts for Teachers

Many children want to give their teacher a gift for the holidays. While this is a great idea and one that should be encouraged, a “World’s Best Teacher” mug or glass is not always the best choice. Just about every teacher will tell you that they already have several of these. So, what should you give them to show your appreciation for all their hard work? The options may be a little closer to the heart for most.

Gift cards

Starbucks Gift Card

It's hard to go wrong with a gift card. These can be purchased at local grocery stores for just about dollar amount imaginable. And getting one from their favorite stores, coffee shops, or teacher supply outlets will go a long way to show that you care.

Homemade gifts and cards

We have found that many teachers love to receive anything homemade or crafted by their students. Your child’s artwork, a handwritten card, or a crafted Christmas ornament with your child’s name and the year on it are items that teachers can keep year after year to remember their students and all the lives they have touched along the way.

School supplies for all

Another great idea is to get them much-needed school supplies. Many teachers pay for classroom materials like lined paper, pencils, sticky notes, pens, erasers, and much more themselves. So, gifts of this nature are often much needed and will always be appreciated. If you don’t know what to get exactly a gift card to bookstores and teacher supply stores is a great place to start.

Donations in their name

For schools or teachers who aren’t in need of such items for their classrooms, they often suggest giving donations in their name instead. Find out what causes your teacher supports or cares about and donate either time, money, or specific items to that cause using your teacher’s name. This will show your teacher that you care and are willing to help others who may be less fortunate and also gives that teacher an opportunity to be a part of that giving.

Thank you letters or notes

Sometimes the simplest of gifts can be the most precious. The job of a teacher can often be a thankless one that is taken for granted. Writing a letter or short note can be just the thing to brighten their day and make all their hard work this year worth it. A heartfelt “thank you” can say much more even the most expensive gift.

Ask just about any experienced teacher what their favorite gifts over the years have been and they will tell you about ones that came from the heart. The ones that really mean something are ones that were well thought out, painstakingly constructed by little hands, and given out of honor and a heart of appreciation, not from obligation. This year, instead of another coffee mug, give your teacher something that matters a little more.

Read More


Christmas card day

Sending festive Christmas cards of season’s greeting is an age-old tradition amongst millions of families worldwide. We make a list and check it twice, ensuring that no one is forgotten or left out. Whether it’s the classic jingles of Christmas past or modern electronically sent messages, we want to make sure they receive it before Christmas Day.

History of Christmas Card Day

However, this unofficial holiday is not celebrated on this day just make sure you get your cards out to the mailbox on time. On December 9, 1843, Sir Henry Cole of England designed the first commercial Christmas Card. It showed a family raising a toast together. It was produced by J. C. Horsley, who went on to produce many more of Cole and other’s holiday cards. From there, a lithograph firm, Prang and Mayer, started creating and selling Christmas cards by the masses. By 1880, they were producing over five million cards a year.

Many of those first cards are now collector’s items and are sold for thousands of dollars at auctions. The British Museum houses Queen Mary’s early 1900s collection of them. Today, Christmas cards are made in millions of designs and themes. Some are more traditional and include the popular “Merry Christmas” messages with an image of jolly old Saint Nicolas. While others may steer in a more religious direction, quoting bible verses or blessings with wise men standing around a holy child in a manger. Still others, for those who may not celebrate Christmas, are sent wishing season’s greetings and best wishes for a new year.

How to Celebrate Christmas Card Day

Happy Holiday Card

Whatever your preference, today is the day to remember your Christmas card list and work on getting them out to your loved ones. It's always nice to be able to make handmade cards if you have the time. Grab your glue stick, markers, and glitter and get to creating. This can be an amazingly fun activity for your children as well. Maybe start a family tradition of making cards.

If you aren’t that crafty or don’t feel you have the time, there are always pre-made cards to send and even e-cards. These are sent electronically and take hardly any time at all. Plus, you don’t have to worry about missing the mailman or not making it to its recipient on time. However, nothing beats the real thing and this day is the perfect time to get those cards ready and in the mail before the last day of mail service arrives.

Read More


Thanksgiving Games

Thanksgiving is a fabulous holiday. It’s an excuse to get together with your family and friends to eat, spend time with all that you are thankful for. However, most family Thanksgiving dinners are, well, just that. They are dinners and sometimes a little on the boring side. And for those of us with children, it can seem even more boring. This year, why not make it a little different? Here are some family-friendly activities and games for every age and to put a fun spin on your large gatherings.

Traffic Yam

Supplies: metal spoons, uncooked yams, and painter’ tape (or anything to make a straight line on the floor)

Each player is given a yam and a metal spoon. The yam is placed on the floor on one end of the room. The players must then race to get their yam across the room to your tape line and back to the starting line. The yam can only be moved with the spoon. No hands. Whoever gets across the finish line first wins. Players can play defense as well and push other people’s yams.

The Feather Float

Supplies: Small, light feathers

This one is super simple and can be played individually or on teams. Each player gets a feather. Players must blow their feather in the air, keeping it afloat for as long as possible. You could also give a time limit and the players have to keep their feather in the air for that amount of time.

The Mayflower

Thanksgiving Games

Supplies: small corks, fake flowers, Large under the bed containers, plastic straws (optional)

Fill the under the bed container with water. Attach a fake flower to the corks and give one to every player. To play, each person must place their cork in the water at one end of the container and then blow it to the other end. The first boat or cork to reach the other end wins. Players can use a plastic straw to blow if they would like.

Corn to the Copia

Supplies: empty cornucopia, small fake corn, blindfold

This is a team game with two players on each team. One player stands on one side of the room and gets blindfolded and the empty cornucopia. The other stands about ten or so feet away and has a bucket of the fake corn. The player with the corn must hike the corn like a football to their teammate with the cornucopia. The idea is for the blindfolded player to catch the corn as it is hiked.

Try out a few of these ideas for your Thanksgiving gathering this year to make things a little more fun and encouraging for all. From all of us here at Best Brains, Happy Thanksgiving.

Read More


Make A Gift Day

In case you hadn’t realized, Christmas is almost here. A time spent with family and friends, eating your favorites dishes and exchanging gifts. When it comes to those exchanged gifts, the goal is usually to give something heartfelt, something that will be appreciated, and something that shows the recipient just how much they mean to you. Nothing does this quite like a handmade gift. It's also a great way to maybe save some money or make use of old and/or forgotten items. And then there is always that gift you forgot to get and now have to improvise for.

History of Make A Gift Day

This is an unofficial national holiday, which means that it is pretty much celebrated nationally on the same day every year but no one really knows who came up with the idea or when it came to be and no documentation of it can be found in presidential proclamations or congressional records. However, it makes sense for this holiday to be around this time, as Christmas is just around the corner and the gift-giving season is in full swing.

With that being said, handmade gifts have been a huge success for years, especially before the time of commercialized stores and ready-made products. For hundreds of years, people always made their own gifts, not to mention everything else. If you wanted to give your sister a new dress for Christmas or your brother a new toy, you had to make it yourself. This is a day to bring that back a bit and to get in touch with your creative side, even if you don’t think you have many crafting skills. After all, it’s the thought that counts right?

How to Celebrate

Homemade Gifts

There are so many countless ways to celebrate and enjoy this holiday. The idea is to just get out there and try. It doesn’t matter what you make or create. This is also the perfect opportunity to teach your children about the gift of giving to others and how much a heartfelt, homemade gift can mean. So, get together with your children and make something.

It could be as simple as a handwritten card or letter, a cupcake, or a batch of cookies for their teacher or grandparents. Start small and work your way up. Make a collage using some of their art projects from the past year or a personalized mug with their picture or artwork on it. There are so many options and ideas to choose from and the sky is really the limit. Even if it doesn’t turn out to be the most beautiful creation in the makers’ eyes, the recipient of such a gift will absolutely love it.

Read More


World Environment Day

Today is World Environment Day – a Day to keep our planet clean and cool.

What should we do to keep our planet clean and cool, and turn our focus on environmental changes? Though there are many initiatives started to save our environment and make the planet green, how many of us are on it...is the question?

The date comes on June 5th every year; isn’t just a day to read or understand the problems affecting the countryside, but we need at least a small action from your side so that there will be a change in others too. Come on let's bring the change startingfrom today toget upoffyour chairs and help protect and preserve our nature!

Here is everything you need to know

World Environment Day

Try and organize a litter picking outing with your friends, hike in your local park and arrange clean-up campaigns, planting trees in your house or in your area, go for a picnic with your family to a beautiful garden, take a good snap or a beautiful shots of the great outdoors and share them online or you can participate in a nature share contest. You can even send good shots to National Geographic Channel; who knows it can be the "editors pick - pic":  and you can grab the good prize for it.  Try to do some good outdoor activities by inviting your friends and family and help your city or your local area look beautiful, teach your siblings to do so.  If you do one tree per person,then not only your area but, you can make the complete city green and beautiful.

What is this year’s theme?

World Environment Day

This year's theme is "Connecting People to Nature"...

World Environment Day

The theme is to invite and encourage everyone to get outdoors and understand the beauty of the planet in a bid to show people the importance of protecting the nature for future generations. However, the theme was selected by this year’s host country Canada – which is going to be the centre for the World Environment Day activities.

What is World Environment Day all about?

World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in the year 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. While there was one more declaration, adopted by the General Assembly on the same day, led to the formation of UNEP. However, it is hosted every year by a different city and commemorated with an international exposition throughout a week of June 5.The World Environment Day is not a public holiday, so public life is not affected on this day.

You can see people around the world planting trees, cleaning-up up their neighborhoods and taking action against wildlife crimes or preventing harm tonature.The day itself is all about raising awareness about nature and its importance of protecting it so, anything that has people taking on the outdoors is a small step towards helping.

We know that; there are many scientific advancements thatcame up on growing environmental problems like global warming and are helping us to recognize the innumerable ways in which natural systems support our own prosperity and well-being.

World Environment Day

Even today Billions of rural people around the world spend their working day connected to nature and being grateful for their full dependence on natural water supplies and how nature provides their livelihood in the form of productive soil. They are among the foremost to suffer when ecosystems are threatened, by pollution, climate change or over-exploitation.

Nature’s gifts are often hard to value in economic terms. Like clean air, it is often taken for granted, at least until it become scarce. However, economists are developing ways to measure the multi-trillion-dollar worth of many and so-called ‘ecosystem services’, from insects pollinating fruit trees in the orchards of California to the leisure, health and religious benefits of a hike up Himalayan valleys.

World Environment Day

Save our planet and make your effort today!!!!

Read More


Astronomers Discover 7 Earth-sized Planets Orbiting Nearby Star

Astronomers have discovered more than seven Earth-like and sized planets orbiting the same star 40 light-years away. These findings were also published and announced at a news conference at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Such discoveries outside of our solar system are rare, as the planets have an exceptional winning combination of being similar in size to Earth and being all element, means they have water on their surfaces to potentially support life. As per Michael Gillon, a lead study author and famous astronomer of the University of Liege in Belgium - This is the first time that so many planets of this kind are found around the same star.

While the seven exoplanets were found in the tight pattern around an ultra-cool dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1. As per the estimates, their mass also indicates that they are rocky planets, rather than being gaseous like Jupiter. Among these planets, three of themare in the livable zone of the star, known as TRAPPIST-1e, f, and g, and they may also even have oceans on their surface.

Researchers say that TRAPPIST-1f;  in particular is the best for supporting life. Compared to other exoplanets; It’s a bit cooler than Earth. It could be suitable for the right atmosphere and enough greenhouse gasses.

However the TRAPPIST-1 sounds familiar, that’s because the researchers announced the discovery of 3 initial planets orbiting the same star in May. The new research has increased the number to seven planets in total.

In words of AmauryTriaud - we’ve made critical investigations in finding if there is life out there. “I don’t think any time till now we had the right planets to discover and find out if there was -life.  Therefore, if life managed to flourish and releases gasses similar to what we have on Earth, we will then know."

Life may begin and develop differently on other planets; so discovering the gasses may indicate life is key. These discoveries can be a significant part of the enigma of finding the habitable environments and places which are beneficial to life. According to Thomas Zurbuchen, an associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate - Answers the question  by saying — 'Are we alone?’ is a top science priority, that is started to find so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step going to forward toward that goal.

Astronomers Discover 7 Earth-sized Planets Orbiting Nearby Star

The planets are so close to each other and the star. The seven of them are within a space five times lesser than the distance from Mercury to our sun. This closeness allows the researchers to study the planets in detail as well, in advance insight about planetary systems other than our own. Starting from the closest to the star and moving out, these planets have respective orbits from one and a half to just about 13 Earth days. The orbit of the furthest planet is still not known.

If you stand on the surface of one of the planets, then you would receive 200 times lesser light than you get from the sun, but you would still receive as much energy to keep you warm since the star is so close. It would also give some striking views, as the other planets would also appear in the sky as big as the moon; or even double time big.

On TRAPPIST-1f, the star would become visible three times as big as the sun in our sky. And because of the red personality of the star, the light would be a salmon shade.

Based on a preliminary climate model, the researchers believe that the 3 planets closest to the star may be too temperate to support liquid water, while the farthest planet, TRAPPIST-1h, is most likely too far-away and too cold to hold water on the surface. But the researchers need to do further research in order toknow more for sure.

TRAPPIST-1 hardly classifies as a star at half the hotness and a tenth the mass of the sun. It is red, not bright and just a bit bigger than Jupiter. However, these tiny ultra-cool dwarf stars are familiar in our galaxy. They were largely unnoticed until Gillon decided to study the space around one of these dwarves.

While the researchers used a telescope called TRAPPIST to watch its starlight and changes in clarity. The team also saw shadows, like little eclipses, occasionally interrupting the steady outline of starlight. This is called transiting and the shadows indicated planets and more observation confirmed them.

Read More


National Plant a Flower Day

Spring is just around the corner about to arrive and we have National Plant a Flower Day coming up. So how many of you are ready to participate in this day? As we all know that March 12th is the National Plant a Flower Day; look into some of the places around you which might conduct competitions and celebrate this day. Every year this day is dedicated to the planting of flowers and looking forward to the spring season. Flower gardening has been a good hobby to many of us for years, and National Plant a Flower Day is a good start to the new season each year. Planting flowers can make you happy and proud when you see the buds start to develop in the plants you've planted. If you cannot participate in Plant a Flower Day, you can pick some other day to plant flowers in your garden. If you don't have one yet; then start making a garden by yourself. As this is a great activity which will make you active and help you learn how important plants are.

Knowing the importance of Earth and taking care of it will always help you grow. Start this great activity which can inspire your siblings, friends, parents and neighbors.

Before you grab your favorite flowering plants or seeds, it's always important to know your zone that you live in; as this helps you to determine which flowers you can grow inside and outside. You have to know the difference between perennials and annuals; perennials are the plants that grow back or come back by themselves every year in your region and annuals are the plants that require planting every year.

Once you do this research you can buy the seeds. Again there is a small strategy in buying the flowering plant seeds also, but don't worry it's going to be a simple task for you.  Ask for the seeds that can be started inside and can also be set in a sunny window, make sure to move them in and out according to the weather. Try to keep the soil moist, do not wet them; do follow the instructions on the seed package for proper germination of the seedling; only then can you see your plants flowering up. Remember waiting will be always rewarding.

If you are in a warmer climate; then it’s time to bring out all your gardening tools with good gardening gloves and start making your garden by adding some new soil.  Once you arrange everything, sow some new seeds, bulbs or plants and take care of those that blossom into a luminous blaze and let the entire neighborhood enjoy!

You can make it this day more interesting by sending a flower or a themed gift to a loved one. This could be a gardening gift basket with flower seeds, plants, bulbs, or more. Or, you could choose for an attractive exhibit of flowers that illustrates just why we all need to keep planting flowers and taking care of them.

  • Begin with a potted garden. If you are not ready to tear up a scrap of lawn; as this requires less care
  • Share your ideas with your peers, this may help you to get free plants, advice and have a budding friendship

Let’s all work together and start this wonderful day by looking beautiful by planting a flower and make the Earth happy.

Read More


Sneaky Venus Flytraps use Prey for Nutrients and Energy

The best known of the insectivorous - insect-eating plants, is Venus flytrap also known as Dionaea Muscipula which exhibits a unique system by which it absorbs, attracts, kills and then it digests its prey. Being a plant it can make its own food through photosynthesis, while the Venus flytrap does not eat and digest its prey for the non-plant objectives of harvesting energy and carbon. As an alternate, it mines its victim primarily for essential nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous; which are in short supply in its boggy, acidic habitat. This is the proof that the Venus flytrap does have a proper digestive system of sorts, but it serves a somewhat special purpose than any animals does.

How does a stationary organism manage to attract its victim then kill and digest it? It lures its prey first with its sweet-smelling nectar, which is hidden on its steel-shaped leaves. Unwary of this, the prey lands on the leaf in search of a return. But by then the thick trigger hairs on the leaf awakenand they find themselves imprisoned behind the interlocking teeth of the leaf ends. There will be between three and six trigger hairs on the surface of every leaf. In case the same hair is touched twice or if two hairs are touched within less than 20-second interval, then the cells on the outer surface of the leaf will expand and the trap snaps shut immediately.

However, if the insect secretion, such as uric acid, stimulates the trap, it will fasten down further on its victim and form a hermetic seal. Once the trap is closed, the digestive glands that line in the interior edge of the leaf secrete the fluids and dissolve the soft parts of the prey, then kill the bacteria and fungi, to break down the insect with enzymes; and then finally it extracts the essential nutrients. These nutrients are engrossed into the leaf, and in 5 to 12 days following the capture;  the trap will again reopen to discharge the leftover exoskeleton.

This process is followed for only three to five meals, as the trap will no longer capture the victims but it will spend more two to three months simply photosynthesizing before it drops off the whole plant. After around 10 unsuccessful trap closures, the leaf will stop to respond to touch and will serve up only as a photosynthetic organ.

Where Do We Find These?

You will find the Venus flytrap in a very limited range in sandy shrub-bogs. Venus flytraps are seen in coastal North and South Carolina, where it is listed as a scarce species. The ecological unit that supports Venus flytraps experiences common fires to clear out the competing plants and volatilize nitrogen in the soil. Hence, Venus flytraps have a bend on the nitrogen market instantly following thefire, when they get three-quarters of their nitrogen supply from insect prey. If the fire does not reoccur within ten years, however, competition with other plants restrict the Venus flytraps contact to light and insects, and populations start to decline. Venus flytraps give a fascinating example of how organisms acclimatize to stressful circumstances, in this case behaving as predators to make up for the nutrient deficiency in the surrounding soil.

Read More


Otters The Size Of Wolves Once Roamed The Earth

This ancient species was approximately twice the sizeof present day Otters and had features similarto an otter and a badger. It also had powerful jaws to crush large shellfish and freshwater mollusks which would have their main food inside of them.

The Otter is named Siamogalemelilutra and lived in the wooded marshlands of China’s Yunnan Province about 18 million years ago. It belongs to an ancient ancestry of extinct otters. While, Xiaoming Wang, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, and her team arrived at a conclusion that after a broad study of fossils found in the 6.2 million-year-old remains of the Shuitangba coal mine in Yunnan, China in 2010 and in 2015.

Previously the only examples were isolated teeth recovered from Thailand until paleontologists found additional fossilized remain at the Shuitangba in the Yunnan Province.

While the investigations revealed a complete cranium, mandible, dentition and a variety of skeletal elements sheds glow on the progress of the little-known fossil genus of the otter family. However, the keeper and Head of Paleobotany and Paleoecology department, Dr. Denise Su at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History said that “Otters (subfamily Lutrinae) are semi-aquatic predators in the family of Mustelidae.

The modern otters have a universal distribution but their fossil record is very poor with the consisting and fragmentary jaws and teeth. There are multiple lineages developed bunodont dentitions with enlargements of molars. These molars are usually for cracking mollusks or other hard foods. Some lineages have evolved pester-like teeth and as a result were often mystified with timelines. While from the vegetation and other animal groups found at Shuitangba, the researchers know that it was a marshy, shallow lake with quite dense vegetation.

Though the team unearthed portions of three skeletons from the new species,it was a discovery of the mammal’s skull that shined the most light on the prehistoric creature. However, extracting information from the fossil was not an easy task given to the team asit had been flattened during the fossilization process. Dr. Denise Su from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History says, the bones were so delicate that they are not ableto physically restore the cranium.

Read More