Green eggs and ham, anyone? This weekend (March 2) is Dr. Seuss' birthday. Celebrate by reading a few Seuss books and/or watching TV renditions of his fabulous tales.
Our favorite Seuss story is How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but since the holiday season has passed, we'll likely read a couple of his longer tales like Horton Hears a Who or The Lorax and some fun shorter ones as well. Many of these fun rhyming stories are available in cartoon version on DVD, and some have been turned into full length theatrical releases, Horton Hears a Who and The Lorax included.
Also, on Monday and throughout next week, PBS KIDS is celebrating Seuss' birthday with new episodes of the educational show for preschoolers The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That. This educational series stars Seuss' famous Cat in the Hat, who takes his friends Nick and Sally on scientific adventures where they learn about animals, habitats and other types of natural science. Check local PBS listings for exact times. Or, you can also find episodes of The Cat in the Hat Knows a lot About That on DVD and on demand.
While reading is the most obvious and educational way to celebrate Seuss' b-day, watching movie versions of his stories can be educational too. TV time coupled with reading and parent interaction can even help kids develop communication skills and early literacy skills. Extend the learning even further by having kids create their own wacky character and write a rhyming story like Dr. Seuss did.
(Photo © PBS KIDS)
For my daughter's birthday we saw the sing along version of Frozen at the movie theater. Thanks to Disney, we now have a couple more stories to add to our repertoire of funny stories about our kids:
First, after the movie we ate a cake that had snowmen on it. My 3-year-old nephew was ecstatic to get one of the generic looking frosting snowmen. After he ate his cake, my husband asked, "How did Olaf taste?" My poor nephew dissolved into sobs. "I didn't want to EAT Olaf!" he wailed. His mother asked him if he gave Olaf a warm hug before he died. This did not help his emotional state. He was finally consoled by a frosting tree and my sad attempt at drawing Olaf on his napkin. The whole scene was both heartbreaking and adorable.
Second, my daughter now has a new response every time we tell her we're leaving, it's cold out and she should get a coat. She simply says, "The cold never bothered me anyway," and she proceeds to the door with no coat. My husband and I just roll our eyes and let it go.
(Photo © Disney)
I went to see The LEGO Movie last weekend, and I took my 8-year-old daughter with me. When we got to the theater, we were thrilled to see a giant LEGO display that was a LEGO city much like the one in the movie. The display had been created by a local chapter of TexLUG and Brick Fiesta, and it was a huge success. Every kid that walked through the theater doors started gunning for that table as soon as they saw it.
What is it about a LEGO world that is so mesmerizing? It's that way with any little world -- dioramas, models, snow globes, whatever -- creating little worlds is just so whimsical and fun.
Anyway, as we walked away from the table and the crowd of kids oohing and ahhing at the city, my daughter said to me, "Wow, that was some great advertising!" I was so interested that she made that connection. We have worked hard to teach our kids to think critically about advertising, so I was glad to see her applying those thinking skills to this unique campaign.
Now I don't want to raise a bunch of cynics, but I think she was able to enjoy and appreciate the fun LEGO display for exactly what it was: a wonderful display of hard work and creativity, and a way to advertise the movie.
(Photo © CB )
Saddle up partners! Sheriff Callie's Wild West premieres Monday, January 20th on the Disney Channel at 5:00 p.m. ET/PT. If you haven't had a chance to check it out yet, you can catch a few episodes on Watch Disney Junior. The show is a rootin' tootin' good time for preschoolers that pays flavorful homage to Westerns and the Old West.
- Read a full review of Sheriff Callie's Wild West
(Photo © Disney)
And on February 3 at 1 P.M. (ET/PT), you can catch Nickelodeon's newest show for preschoolers, Wallykazam! This series feature mythical characters like ogres, trolls and sprites, and the show has a strong literacy based curriculum much like those we usually see on PBS shows for kids.
- Read a review of Wallykazam!
(Photo © Nickelodeon )
Cloud 9, an all new Disney Channel Original Movie debuts tonight January 17 (8:00 p.m. ET/PT). The movie features a teen romance on the slopes and follows the story of a "spoiled little rich girl" who shreds the stereotype and proves nothing is impossible.
Following Cloud 9, is the premiere of the new Disney Channel series I Didn't Do It. The series is told in an interesting flashback format and follows the zany adventures of fraternal twins Lindy and Logan as they begin their freshman year of high school.
- Read a review of I Didn't Do It
(Photo © Disney)
This week a new DVD featuring episodes of the Disney Jr. series for preschoolers Henry Hugglemonster hit store shelves. The new DVD features 6 episodes of the colorful show about a tight-knit family of loveable monsters.
Between networks like Nickelodeon, Disney and PBS KIDS, as well as others, there are a plethora of educational shows for preschoolers, right? -- math-based, science-based, literacy focused, and especially preschoolers' series that model positive social skills and teach kids "life lessons."
My absolute favorite curriculum for preschoolers' shows is problem solving and critical thinking. I love shows that help kids learn how to think outside the box, because any kid can learn the ABCs, but kids who learn critical thinking skills early have an advantage for their whole lives. Shows that teach math and literacy are awesome too, and I've often used them to help my own preschoolers learn, but teaching kids to think, analyze, question and brainstorm are always skills I try to incorporate.
So that brings me back to Henry Hugglemonster. What is unique about this show, because there are tons of preschoolers' series that teach kids positive social lessons, is that it teaches kids to problem-solve social situations. The show is super whimsical and fun for both boys and girls, and the best part is, Henry talks directly to viewing kiddos and gives them a sort of stream-of-conscience play by play of what his is thinking and the logical steps he's going through to work out issues like how to deal with a sibling conflict.
Thus, viewing kids not only have a blast watching these adorable episodes, but they also see examples of how to think about and analyze social situations. Check out the show if you haven't already, and if your preschooler has difficulty with a social skill like sharing or having patience, you can use Henry's tactic of thinking out loud as well to model positive thought processes for him.
- Read a full review of Henry Hugglemonster
(Photo © Disney)
It's a tough question! My kids can't wait for the sequels to some of their favorite movies like How to Train Your Dragon and Rio. I am looking forward to those as well, but I think I'm most excited for The Boxtrolls and Big Hero 6. I love something new and different.
Check out the upcoming animated films of 2014 and see which ones you and your kids are most looking forward to...
(Photo © Focus Features)
As the new year gets off to a busy start, January is usually a dull month for new movies, TV specials and DVD releases. This year, however, we do have a couple of movies that kids will be looking forward to.
Get ready to warm up, because the Disney Channel is airing a new original movie on January 17 (8:00 p.m. ET/PT), and it features a teen romance on the slopes. Cloud 9 follows the story of a "spoiled little rich girl" who shreds the stereotype and proves nothing is impossible.
In theatrical releases, we have the intriguing The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, based on the book series by G. P. Taylor, opening January 10. This one's a real suspense thriller for kids. It's rated PG, but if you are thinking of taking kids under about age 11 read our parent review of The Adventurer first. There is one scene that could cause some serious nightmares for young or sensitive children.
Also opening January 10 is The Legend of Hercules. The PG-13 action/adventure film will likely attract tweens and teens, but you can use it as an excuse to have them read up on a little Greek mythology if you want to make it educational.
And on January 17 we have the opening of the first animated movie of 2014: The Nut Job. I have to say, when we saw the previews for this it was eye rolls all around. Well, except our 5-year-old who will get excited about anything animated. The good thing about that? I'm rarely ever wowed by films I expect to be great. More often than not, they don't live up to the hype. But the ones I expect to be painful to watch can be a pleasant surprise, so here's hoping The Nut Job falls into that category.
As far as DVD/Blu-ray releases, the biggest January kids' title is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, and that hits store shelves on January 28. Scooby-Doo: 13 Spooky Tales: For the Love of Snack comes out January 7th, and there are also a number of TV series releases on DVD including:
- Octonauts-Here Comes the Octonauts
- Tickety Toc: The Unstoppable Unpoppable Bubble
- Dinosaur Train: I Love Dinosaurs
- SpongeBob & Friends: Patrick SquarePants
- The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! Let's Celebrate!
- My Little Pony: Classic Movie Collection
Also look for a number of new DVDs from the preschoolers' series Jakers! this month.
And with that, Happy New Year! At my house we are dreading back to school next week, but excited for everything 2014 might hold.
(Photo © Disney)
Until now, I managed to keep my kids happily away from tweeny series and sitcoms. They do all love the cartoon Phineas and Ferb, but due to after school activities, family nights and weekend events, they just don't have a lot of time for TV.
Enter late stage pregnancy and eventually new baby. Mom hasn't felt like doing all the usual things for the past few months. So a while ago, finding themselves bored, they explored available shows to stream on one of their various electronic devices and stumbled upon Disney's Good Luck Charlie. As you might predict, they loved it. They've been watching episodes here and there for the past several months, and I'll admit, the occasional Good Luck Charlie marathon.
At dinner one night I asked them to "review" the show, and I was surprised at how much their reviews sounded like my own. They all agreed that the show is really funny, and that's why they like it so much. But, my eight-year-old cautioned, "Teddy lies and does a lot of things her parents tell her not to do." They also pointed out the rivalrous relationship of the brothers which leads to pranks that are hilarious on TV, but that the way they treat each other would not be good in real life.
I was happy that the kids had taken time to think about the show and the underlying themes and messages. I was also happily surprised when my oldest took a positive cue from the show and began making a video diary of her new little brother's life. It's so sweet to hear her filming him and talking to the camera about him and our family. She has done lots of creative things to make the videos fun, and she has captured some moments that will be very special to watch one day when he is older and we've forgotten what those crazy newborn days were like.
- Read our review of Good Luck Charlie
(Photo © Disney)
They won hearts in the first Despicable Me movie with their silly language, crazy antics and fun-loving natures, but the Minions stole the show in Despicable Me 2. Kids love these little yellow creatures. Around Halloween time, I saw some amazing purple and yellow Minion pumpkins and costumes. You can find chic Minion wear in stores, and they are even set to star in their own film.
The Minions also take center stage in the Despicable Me 2 Blu-ray and DVD release. If you have a 3D set-up, this is a good movie to invest in. Minions know how to have fun in 3D. The Despicable Me filmmakers aren't afraid to throw in some of those eye-popping 3D effects that critics call gimmicky but kids love, and it's all artfully done and in no way over used.
Our family's favorite thing about the new Blu-ray is the three mini-movies. In and of themselves, the mini-movies are fine and add some value and new content to the movie purchase. But what made them so great for us, is the accompanying bonus feature that introduces viewers to the directors of each mini-movie (they are up and coming filmmakers who get a shot at proving themselves in the director's seat with these shorts).
Each director talks about the inspiration and ideas behind the short movie. My kiddos were fascinated by this, and it inspired them to choose one mini-movie as their favorite and explain why. They used some of the terms and insights from the bonus feature to make their case. They had a lot of fun doing this, and it was a great exercise in analytical thinking -- they had to assert which one they thought was best and then cite concrete examples and reasons why. They all chose the same favorite: "Training Wheels."
The DVD or Blu-ray makes a great stocking stuffer or holiday gift. If you haven't seen the movie yet and are wondering whether or not the movie is appropriate for your kids, check out our Despicable Me 2 Review for parents...
(Photo © Universal Pictures)