Thursday, March 4, 2010

More Blog Mommunication

After a brief hiatus, we are back promoting PenPal Notes. We are working with a few groups in Chicago to create learning programs and were just featured on the #3 Top Mom Blog-

You can check it out here:

Keep an eye out as we will be popping up on more mom/family blogs in the next couple weeks!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Promotion Redux

Just a little more information about the review promotion that I wrote about in the last post! We will also be offering a $50 Amazon gift certificate to the video review that we judge to be the most creative, or that utilizes PenPal Notes in the most inventive manner. Can't wait to hear from you- please contact me at

Monday, September 14, 2009

Great Promotional Offer!

Have you used a PenPals series with your child? We would love to hear your feedback, and are offering a $10 Amazon gift certificate if you post a video review of our product on our Amazon site. Alternatively, if you would like to write up a traditional review/comment on either the Amazon store or our website, we can offer you a $5 Amazon gift certificate. Not bad for just sharing your experiences using PenPal Notes!

New to PenPals? In that case, we would love to send you a free series of your choice in exchange for your feedback.

Contact for more information!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Taking Shortcuts

Hey all! It's been a little while, but we've been in a bit of a transition mode here- business has been really picking up, and as school has started up once again, I am no longer working full time. I'll still be around, just not in a full time capacity!

Anyway, I thought I'd use this post to talk about taking shortcuts and poor quality work. PenPal Notes recently submitted our product for review with the iParenting Media Awards Program, a subsidiary of Disney and a product evaluation service. We entered PenPals (and paid $250 for the submission!) not to win, but to benefit and improve based upon the reviewer comments. Their website states that submissions receive:
"Three outside evaluations (evaluation sites may include: an expert, a family and a childcare setting);
Review by the iParenting Media Awards Executive Committee;
A snapshot of the evaluator feedback from the three outside evaluator sites."
The description above led us to believe that the feedback would be quite comprehensive, but what we in fact received was three short, careless sentences that showed no real understanding of PenPal Notes- indeed, they did not even look as if they had been proofread. With these concerns in mind, we then attempted to contact iParenting multiple times, and did not receive a response until nearly a week later. Several emails back and forth later, it is clear that they still do not really understand that there was a problem, or that we expected something more than three sentences when paying quite a hefty submission fee!

This tells us that when only minimal effort is put into something, as with iParenting, the results are second-rate. We here at PenPal Notes emphasize diligence and hard work, and hope to pass these lessons on to kids!

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Origin of a Name

Back when PenPal Notes were being created, Pappu and his team had a little debate over what to name the central character. Pappu was pushing the name Tej, after his son, while others argued that the name was too foreign and would lead to difficulties in pronounciation. Well, we all know who won out!

Pappu believed that naming the panda 'Tej' would speak to multiculturalism and diversity. In Sanskrit, 'Tej' means 'radiant' or 'bright'!

We have since discovered that Tej is the name for honey wine from Ethiopia- talk about international appeal! Check it out to the left.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

U of C Graduate School of Business and PenPal Notes!

PenPal Notes is being used as part of a class project for the University of Chicago Booth School of Business! Students in a class called Power and Influence in Organizations are focusing on PenPals to analyze issues of social influence. PenPal Notes put a new twist on education and connection to children- they impart just 1 fact, and are not relegated to what we commonly think of as academic time (indeed, they originated off of the idea of educational notes at lunch- an occasion traditionally reserved for relaxation and leisure!) We are confident that absorbing a single nugget of information at a time is a valuable educational tool. In addition, we believe that there is space for learning at lunch or any other time, and that learning can be made fun and easy.

Keeping all of these issues in mind, the University of Chicago MBA students will be considering how to promote behavioral change- how to get parents to adopt this new method of education! PenPal Notes provide a perfect study for how to change all the ingrained habits that tell us that books are the only medium through which knowledge is gained, and that the longer the book, the better. We know that PenPal Notes don't fit easily into established categories- Is it a book? Is it education or fun?- and we can't wait until they come back with their conclusions!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Quantity or Quality?

The New York Times recently featured an interesting article about the state of museum-goers today. Watching tourists taking in the sights at the Louvre, Michael Kimmelman comments on how few people actually took the time to really examine a work of art. Instead, most people glanced at the wall labels and moved on, trading in quality for quantity. He continues,
"At one time a highly educated Westerner read perhaps 100 books, all of them closely. Today we read hundreds of books, or maybe none, but rarely any with the same intensity."
I believe that this speaks precisely to the premise behind PenPal Notes- less is really more. Originating with the idea of building upon the traditional lunch note, it quickly became apparent that giving children a single fact at a time helped with information retention. This concept has become our guiding philosophy, and children are able to really take their time and digest the information at hand. While books are of course important for any child's education, PenPal Notes provides something different- just 1 fact a day. This means that this 1 fact can be read, contextualized and discussed thoroughly, a practice that is all too often lost amid our busy, modern lives!

Monday, August 3, 2009

New series in the works!

We here at PenPal Notes have some very exciting news! We will be starting work shortly on two new series, Discover India and Discover China, and are looking for some help. First off, and most importantly, we need someone to write either of the two series! Do you know anyone who you think would do a good job? Are you yourself interested? If so, feel free email to for more information. We are also looking to create a new animal friend for Tej- any suggestions? We would love your input, and look forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Check out some of Tej and Pappu's lunch notes!

"do you know when the great spinx was built? Today will be a great day. Do you want to get ice cream tonight. You are just like the great spinx to me and lia. When I am older I will be the spinx to you and papu. Love Tej"

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Video Interview with Tej!

Hey guys, I recently interviewed Tej about PenPal Lunch Notes, and you can check it out below! This was Tej's first video interview, so he starts off a little shy, but warms right up in no time. We talked about his general impressions, his favorite facts and tested him on specific information. Tej completed Meet the U.S. Presidents 3 months ago, and while he had trouble on some questions, I was pretty impressed by what he was able to retain. By relating associated information, Tej could recount specific dates and minute details- George Washington's years in office, Teddy Roosevelt's childhood asthma, Truman's middle initial -facts that I didn't even know!