Sunday, December 7, 2014

AuthenticMe Elements: A Fun and Engaging Self-Discovery Project with Craft for Girls

It can be a real challenge to find a great gift for tween girls.  I know because I have one and she has lots of friends. A tech gift would be an easy way out at a dime a dozen but how long does it really hold their interest? Not too long. I have shelled out plenty for lots of tech that gets burned through quickly. Furthermore, with all this endless tech are we really doing the kids any favors? I don't think so.  I have really worked hard to rein in the tech and have always spent time emphasizing reading and crafts as much as I can. AuthenticMe Elements is a unique option that stands out as something different, educational and fun at the same time. It is a diary, a self-discovery project and a fun craft all rolled up in one.

The AuthenticMe Elements book has 10 chapters that gives plenty of time for tween girls to read, think and respond to the interesting activities that make them look inside themselves. The activities are fun but get them to really explore how they feel about lots of issues and decisions. It gets them looking around and thinking about themselves, their family and their friends. Thinking about what is REALLY important and vital. The book gently reminds girls about healthy habits in this hectic world too.  Healthy eating and how to manage stress in their lives is a big theme which I thought was wonderful.

I mentioned a craft which is actually woven into the concept of the book.  The girls create this cool bracelet as they work though the different activities. They add a special bead for each activity that they complete which serves as a reminder of the life lessons. I like that this book reinforces the smart life skills which I have spent years teaching but I know sometimes I repeat myself so many times before the message sinks in. You can't have too many positive messages for tweens these days. I love that aspect of the book.

The book shows girls different ways to see how others may be feeling and how to best respond. They show girls that you need to put yourself in another girls shoes and practice kindness and acceptance. I talk about this a lot to my daughter.  Just this past week they had a new student start in her class and we talked about how she can be included and made to feel welcome in the class, at the lunch table and out on the school yard in recess. My daughter knows that everyone is new somewhere sometimes including her whether it is a theatre class or sleepaway camp so it is kind to be inclusive because what goes around, comes around.

The authors worked closely with teen girls to create the book concept and make sure that it was on target. It shows through clearly in the subject matter and activities.  My daughter likes that it lets her unplug and learn a little about real life and herself.  The book has different categories where you complete tasks about yourself to earn a bead. She was kind of surprised by some of the questions and how they made her think about things a little bit differently. It made her think about decisions she has made in the past and how she can make alternate choices in the future that might be healthier for her. She likes how it is page by page so it is not overwhelming. She can pick one activity to do each night or a few times a week and really think about it.  She has decided to keep it by her bed to work on at the end of the day when she has time to contemplate the questions and really give it some good thought. She likes how the beads symbolize different areas of discovery and looks forward to completing her bracelet to remind her of the journey.  It will be nice that she will have a little diary of this period in her life. 

The book project was written by two women who work closely with tween girls on a regular basis. Mary Ellen Young is a founder (and current President) of Helping Girls Navigate Adolescence (HGNA), a Downers Grove, IL based non-profit organization that provides a variety of supportive programs for girls and parents. Sandra McDonnell has worked as a Public Relations Director for two Girl Scout Councils and two universities, and served as a Girl Scout troop leader for six years. Mary Ellen Young and McDonnell’s three high school and college-aged daughters helped the authors with different aspects of the book.  Mary Ellen's daughter, Sierra created all the original doodle art.  Nora Young helped with the bracelet designs, and Emma McDonnell researched and selected many of the beads.

The book comes with a kit to make the bracelet with beads that represent the theme of each chapter. The AuthenticMe Elements book and bracelet, priced at $29.50, are available at online at and on Amazon.  This is a wonderful and wholesome gift idea for any tween for Christmas, Hanukkah or a birthday.

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary AuthenticMe Elements in order to review it. All opinions are my own.

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