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20 educational gifts for all ages: Khan Academy team’s favorite toys, books, and games for learning

It’s the season of giving! We asked the Khan Academy content team to share the gifts they love to give the children in their lives. Find a special and educational book, game, subscription, or toy to add to your shopping list.

Subscriptions kids will love

What’s better than one great gift? A gift that you receive monthly! Our content team loves these subscription-based gifts for children.

Magazine subscriptions

“I highly recommend Ranger Rick (and Ranger Rick Jr) and National Geographic Kids magazine subscriptions.”
Anna Berns,
Program manager, international content / localization community liaison

Kiwi Crates

“I like giving Kiwi Crates, which are great for the five- to eight-year-olds in my life, but Kiwi Co. also has crates for different age groups. I like giving these crates because each one includes super fun, hands-on STEAM projects with associated science and math instruction. I like to give a monthly subscription so they are a gift that keeps on giving.”
Megan Cohn,
Biology content creator

three magazine covers and an example of a kiwi crate

Books

The Khan Academy content team loves to give books as gifts to encourage relationship building and independent learning.

A board book for babies

“I always give board books as part of my baby shower gifts because the first thing a child should learn about a book is that it helps to build relationships.”
Charlotte Auen,
Content creator, math

Pre-K through elementary

The book Lottie and Walter is good for pre-K to third grade—a story about overcoming fear and believing in yourself.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a great book to read aloud to young elementary kids or to give as an independent read for older kids. It’s a beautiful story about how we change for the better if we open our hearts up.”
Allison Leedie,
Content creator, English language arts

“My six-year-old daughter loves Bedtime Math so much she wakes me up in the morning to do more of it. The problems are engaging. Each one has three levels of difficulty, so kids of different ages and math readiness can all engage.”
Vicki Lang,
Senior content manager, math

Middle school recommendations

“I would gift puzzle mystery books! They’re a fun way to stretch your brain and fuel your curiosity. Plus, there’s nothing more fun than solving a mystery before the main character does. My favorites: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein, and Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett.”
Kim Elliott,
Senior content creator, humanities

Graceling is for middle school and up. It’s just a great epic fantasy novel with amazing characters to root for.”
Allison Leedie,
Content creator, English language arts

HIgh school and beyond

Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth is a graphic novel about Bertrand Russell’s quest for fortifying the logical foundations of mathematics. This amazing book brings out the humanity in the most abstract science of them all.
Proofs and Refutations by Imre Lakatos is a harder read and more appropriate for people who have grappled with proving theorems before. Nevertheless, it read like a thriller to me. The book is a Socratic dialogue between a teacher and some students about a proof of a famous theorem and its related definitions, which touches upon the nature of mathematical discovery.”
Tomer Gal,
Content creator, math

the covers of the books recommended

Games and toys

A lot of learning can happen when playing the games and toys picked by our content team. Adults will enjoy these picks, too!

Guess Who? game

Guess Who? is a great educational game for elementary ages and up for practicing categorizing, questioning, and noticing. You can swap out the characters and create new game sheets with historical figures, quadratic graphs, or elements from the periodic table — really anything that has similarities and unique features that you want children to discover. The game, as is or with modified characters, works in any language.”
Charlotte Auen,
Content creator, math

QWIXX and Rat-a-tat Cat

“Both QWIXX (dice) are and Rat-a-tat Cat (cards) are quick to play and a lot of fun. Also, they are great strategic games for elementary-age kids but are fun for everyone!”
Lindsay Spears,
Senior content creator, math

U.S. Presidents Playing Cards and Women Cards

“Most kids can’t name all of the presidents, so the U.S. Presidents Playing Cards are a good way to remember faces and names. They are also organized in order of succession, so kids could memorize the order just by playing with them if they were playing solitaire or something similar. I also really like the Women Cards Tech Deck.”
Leah Marquez,
Content creator, social studies

Perplexus Original

“I love the Perplexus. It is a 3-D puzzle that my kids have spent countless hours on.”
Lindsay Spears,
Senior content creator, math

the games and toys recommended above

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Highlights from our 2019 Khan Academy Language Advocate Convention

We recently hosted our fourth annual Khan Academy Language Advocate Convention, where we were joined by 23 language advocates representing 15 languages—and a whopping eight different alphabets! Our language advocates lead the effort to translate Khan Academy into dozens of different languages. Their work is crucial to achieving the anywhere part of our mission to provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere.

Khan Academy staff and language advocates exchanged best practices on everything from raising funds to raising awareness of Khan Academy through social media. Language advocates also shared translation tips and tools with each other and presented to the entire Khan Academy staff about their efforts to make Khan Academy available around the world. Last but certainly not least, each language advocate brought a tasty treat from their home country so everyone could share in a delicious, international buffet.

Our language advocates work hard to make sure Khan Academy content isn’t just translated into different languages but made applicable to each country’s local context. For example, an English math problem about Susie buying apples may turn into a problem about Hélène buying grapes in French or Fatima buying mangoes in Hindi. In 2019 we introduced functionality for language advocates to curate Khan Academy content to match their local curricula, and a focus of this year’s convention was sharing best practices for aligning Khan Academy to each country’s curricula and implementing Khan Academy in schools.

Finally, language advocates met with Sal Khan, our founder and CEO, to discuss the future of Khan Academy as well as the similarity between their efforts to create and launch Khan Academy in new languages today and Sal’s effort to create and launch Khan Academy 10 years ago.

Here’s to continuing to work together with translators around the world toward making a free, world-class education available to anyone, anywhere!

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Our new offering for school districts empowers teachers by quickly and easily differentiating instruction for every student who takes MAP Growth

by Sal Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy

Teachers know that meeting the individual needs of each student can accelerate learning. They’re heroic in their efforts to differentiate instruction in classrooms of 25 or more students at various learning levels. But it’s challenging for even the most dedicated teacher to meet the diverse needs of every student. Differentiation is time consuming and intensely manual. 

That’s why I’m delighted school districts can now choose MAP Accelerator, a new tool that does the hard work of differentiation for teachers. MAP Accelerator uses MAP Growth scores to automatically generate a personalized, mastery-based learning plan for every student, while keeping the teacher as the instructional decision maker.

We’ve partnered with NWEA, the creator of MAP Growth, to introduce this new resource. Khan Academy and NWEA are excited to empower teachers with a new way to deeply connect interim assessment to actionable classroom learning. Our goal with MAP Accelerator is to reach the children who need our help most. 

With MAP Accelerator, we import MAP Growth RIT scores into Khan Academy to automatically place students at their learning edge:

Teachers review the learning plan that MAP Accelerator recommends for each student. Teachers can adjust suggested goals in the learning plan as they see fit or accept all goals with a single click. 

Students take ownership over their learning as they progress through their personalized plan using Khan Academy’s mastery learning system. We foster student agency because students can move ahead or change directions. 

  Districts get an easy-to-implement solution with classroom, school, and district-level reporting; professional learning for teachers; and priority technical support.

We recommend 30 or more minutes per week of student learning on MAP Accelerator. As students advance, teachers can use real-time data to make decisions about classroom instruction, form small groups, and provide one-on-one coaching. 

Research shows that use of Khan Academy is associated with greater than expected growth in mathematics. Completing 60% or more of grade-level math on Khan Academy is associated with 1.8 times expected growth on the mathematics portion of MAP Growth.

MAP Accelerator includes math content aligned to MAP Growth for grades three through eight in both English and Spanish. Our mastery learning system is aligned to Common Core State Standards and includes practice exercises with worked solutions, quizzes, unit tests, instructional videos, and articles.

We launched a pilot of MAP Accelerator four months ago with five school districts: Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jefferson County School District in Louisville, Kentucky, and Madera Unified School District, Pajaro Valley Unified School District, and Glendale Unified School District in California. Nearly 180,000 students and thousands of teachers are using MAP Accelerator today. We’re heartened by their progress so far and look forward to great things to come.

The pilot is just the start of an exciting new era for classrooms that use MAP Growth. With MAP Accelerator, teachers can not only see where students are in their learning journey but also pinpoint where they need help and generate a personalized learning plan quickly and easily with the click of a button. Students take ownership of their learning as they progress through Khan Academy’s mastery learning system. We think MAP Accelerator equips teachers to unlock student potential like never before. 

To learn more about MAP Accelerator, please visit our partner NWEA’s website.

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Got test anxiety? Sal Khan shares tips for reducing stress before your exam

Are you stressed about a test you have coming up? You’re not alone! A couple of weeks ago, Sal Khan shared his advice for managing exam anxiety.  We got lots of amazing responses to his suggestions, and we’d love to share them with you. 

“Listening to Sal’s tips just reminds me that I am not alone. Thank you so much Khan Academy.”
—@alexiawpyisnow on Instagram

“I appreciate this more than you can imagine. It’s been rough. I wish every kid on earth could see this video.”
—Umar on Youtube

“I need more Sal in my life. Can he just be there and coach us through all of life’s challenges?”
—@ferenstein on Twitter

“Today, your words made me cry … This Friday I have another physics exam, and I’ve been stressing pretty hard. Your reminder that we, as people, are not defined by test scores really struck a chord in me. I needed to hear that. Thank you for all you do for people everywhere and all you’ve already done for me. You rock, Sal!”
—Beautiful on Youtube

If you’ve already watched  Sal’s test jitters video and taken his advice, then you’ve been busy! In the weeks leading up to an exam, Sal recommends three strategies:

  1. Build a habit of practice—take practice tests, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and work on your weaknesses on a regular basis.
  2. Share your feelings—talk about your insecurities with people you trust and find people who can support you.
  3. Keep a bigger perspective—remember that a test score does not define you and that real happiness is knowing who you are.

So now that it’s the night before your big test, what can you do to set yourself up for success tomorrow? Sal Khan is back with three more tips to help you put your best foot forward on test day.

Take Sal’s advice and turn off your device, go spend some time with your family or close friends, watch a show, and laugh a little.

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Three Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Sal Khan

Did you know Sal Khan will be in Spain this week accepting a prestigious award from the Princess of Asturias Foundation? The team here at Khan Academy is very proud of Sal, and we’ll all be cheering for him on Friday, October 18 during the award ceremony! 🎉

You might think of Sal as the founder of Khan Academy, but we know him as the approachable, down-to-earth guy who we work with every day—and we want you to know that Sal too! Here are three facts about Sal you might not know!

Sal Khan wears shorts and a polo shirt and poses with a teacher. Text: Three things you probably didn't know about Sal Khan.

Image: Sal Khan and Khan Academy Ambassador Crystal Famania

1) Sal often wears shorts to the office.

You’ll probably see photos and video of Sal wearing a suit and tie accepting his award this week, but our Sal is often in the office wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Sal knows that people learn and work better in a variety of settings and at different times of day, and the culture in our office embraces that mindset. We enjoy a relaxed and casual dress code and are encouraged to work when and where we’ll be most productive. And, of course, Sal started Khan Academy by recording videos in his closet after work, so it’s always been casual for him.

2) Sal loves to conduct walking meetings.

If you have a meeting with Sal on your calendar, chances are you’ll be going for a walk with him outside the office. These walk-and-talk meetings are great for getting more physical exercise and experiencing a change of scenery. Plus, recent research found that walking can lead to increases in creative thinking!

3) Sal’s favorite book is Pride and Prejudice.

When Sal was forced to read Austen, Huxley, and Dickens in school, he hated these classic works of literature. But, when he reread Pride and Prejudice for fun in his twenties, he realized he loved it. What book from your childhood have you reread as an adult and now realize you actually love?

Follow the hashtags #PremiosPrincesadeAsturias and #PrincessofAsturiasAwards on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on Friday, October 18, to see pictures from the awards ceremony. You won’t be fooled by the suit now—you know the real Sal!

Onward!

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