family movie night

Animals, Planets and Kids - Oh, My!

by Samantha on September 12, 2015

Netflix provides a variety of family programming that allows kids to learn while being entertained

DISCLAIMER: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I will be providing monthly thoughts and suggestions about movies currently showing on Netflix. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own. 

The summer holidays are over and the kids are back in class. Some are happy about this jolt back into reality, others - not so much. For many kids, the thought of a return to the rigour and structure of the school day is more than they can bear. After all, reading, writing and arithmetic are not usually the first things that kids would name as their activities of choice.

The kids are likely learning all about the three “R’s” - reading, writing and arithmetic - during the days, and working on homework assignments at night. That fourth “R” - “relaxation” is a state that is keenly awaited by school-aged children who can When the weekends finally roll around, it’s fairly safe to say that the kids are ready for some rest, relaxation and entertainment.

From a parent’s perspective, there are worries that the weekends will be spent watching shows that have no educational value, with the real fear that the programs chosen for viewing by the kids will turn their minds into proverbial “mush.”

Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case.

Kids can get their entertainment fix via Netflix, and you can rest easy knowing that there is programming that provides just the right amount of entertainment and education for curious minds.

This is a great opportunity for not only the kids to learn about the world around them, but a chance for parents to learn as well.

For the young and curious mind who is looking to learn about the earth and its inhabitants, there’s BBC’s Planet Earth, which explores the beauty of both our home planet and its inhabitants.

Planet Earth

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If the physical landscape is not exactly what you’re child is looking for, how about a program that goes way back - as far back as during the times when dinosaurs roamed the earth. BBC’s Walking With Dinosaurs” is a great program that makes the various prehistoric exciting and interesting.

Walking With Dinosaurs

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For your younger learners, Netflix provides a variety of entertaining programming that will not only keep your little ones engaged, but will teach them a few things as well.

Curious George, the monkey who is known for getting into mischief, stars in a great show for elementary school kids that provides a basis for discussions about behaviour and consequences.

Curious George

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Zoboomafoo is a great preschool series that is aimed towards younger kids who are just starting to learn about the animal world around them. The program teaches children how to respect and care for various animals. Zoboomafoo is the name of  the star of the show, a lemur, who hangs around Animal Junction with co-hosts Matt and Chris.

Zoboomafoo

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Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman is a PBS program with a reality-game show format. Hosted by Ruff, the game show provides challenges to real-life contestants and provides both entertaining and educational fare for young viewers.

Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman

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Based on the Russian folk tale, “Mash and the Bear,” this program follows the adventures of a young girl named Masha and her friend who happens to be a bear. Masha is a happy and mischievous little girl who manages to get into trouble, while The Bear acts as a fatherly figure and friend who tries his best to keep Masha out of trouble.

Masha and the Bear

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And for me? Well, I really believe that you’re never too old to learn so I, too, will be watching some of Netflix’s latest releases. In keeping with the “animal theme,” here’s what’s on my list for the next while. A bit more serious than the previous suggestions but important nonetheless:

Cowspiracy

We hear a lot about sustainability, the planet and our food sources, but how much do we really know? From the official website for the movie:

“Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and is a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean “dead zones,” and virtually every other environmental ill. Yet it goes on, almost entirely unchallenged.”

This synopsis alone raises curiosity, if anything, about the food we eat and the effects of factory farming on our environment.

cowspiracy_cow

Blackfish

If you’re a fan of Seaworld or similar aquariums, this film will make you think twice about visiting ever again. Blackfish recounts the story of Tilikum, the giant Orca whale that entertains the crowds daily. Though the visitors to the venue seem to enjoy the whale’s activities, it’s clear that this creature is not happy in its environment. The film is disturbing, eye-opening and thought-provoking. It’s definitely worth a watch. I’ve seen it before and though it’s unpleasant, it’s equally compelling.

Blackfish-poster

What are some of your favourite Netflix pics for both yourself and your kids? Tell me about them in the comments section below.

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Dragon Tales and Other Adventures on Netflix

by Samantha on August 1, 2015

Netflix features feed young kids' imaginations



DISCLAIMER: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I will be providing monthly thoughts and suggestions about movies currently showing on Netflix. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own.

As we continue through the summer months, it’s all about mythical creatures and superheroes. My boys are enjoying the great weather and thankfully, have been able to spend a lot of time outside. After all, the warm climate is in short supply around here and we have to make hay while the sun shines!

Summer is also the time of the year around our house where the household rules are relaxed a bit. With the long, holiday weekends and vacations, the kids have been known to stay up past their bedtimes on family movie night. With popcorn and treats in tow, we settle in to find a program that is both appropriate and entertaining for both the parents and the kids.

My boys are typical in that they’re always looking for the next great adventure provided through the pursuits of superheroes, monsters and mythical creatures. Oh, and let’s throw in cute, cuddly animals as part of the mix. For these reasons, it’s been great catching up on some of the newer selections on Netflix. Unleashing their imagination during the dog days of summer is complimented by their ability to live out their fantasies that include dragons, daredevils and dinosaurs in front of the tube at night. Family movie night has never been more action-packed.

At a recent screening presented by Netflix, the kids had the chance to watch a preview of the first few episodes of the new series “Dragons: Race to the Edge.” Along with participating in various fun and games and - of course - eating lots of treats, the kids were pumped to continue watching the series at home. The afternoon was a hit and got them excited about what was to come.

Netflix screening

 

 

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Dragons

As fans of the original “How to Train Your Dragon” movie, my boys were thrilled with the news that “Dragons: Race to the Edge” was now showing on Netflix. The 13-episode series, exclusive to Netflix, introduces some of the most exciting dragons yet. Each of them possess their own amazing abilities, including shockwaves, cannon balls and fire blasts, to name a few. The series does a great job keeping the kids engaged and excited, wondering what’s going to happen next. The best part about having this show now streaming is that there are no more fights over what we’re going to watch for movie night.

VIDEO-Dragons: Race to the Edge Trailer

Other Family-Friendly Flicks Now Streaming on Netflix

Goonies

For the kids who are into a retro-type adventure, this summer, let them check out an ’80’s children’s classic - “Goonies.” Pirates, ancient treasures and adventure are the name of the game here. Your kids won’t be disappointed.

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Penguins of Madagascar - The Movie

Remember those scene-stealing penguins in the Madagascar movie? Well, now they’re the stars of the show in their own feature, “Penguins of Madagascar - The Movie.” Embarking on their own adventure, these adorable characters will keep your kids engaged and entertained.

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Bo on the Go

For the younger set, Bo and her dragon, Dezadore, are faced with numerous challenges and adventures that will not only entertain your kids, but will teach them valuable lessons as well.

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What are your favourite adventure-themed movies to watch with the kids? Tell me about them in the comments section below.

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Kids' selections provide a variety of ideas for young imaginations

DISCLAIMER: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I will be providing monthly thoughts and suggestions about movies currently showing on Netflix. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own.

“What will I be when I grow up?”

Way back when, kids would dream of being a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker. These desires seem quaint now, as children have much more lofty goals for themselves, fuelled by active imaginations. Whether they dream of being an astronaut, a nuclear physicist, a writer or otherwise, the sky’s the limit when you’re a kid with a dream.

As parents, we strive to foster independent, happy and successful children and do our best to support them in whatever choices they want to make regarding their future careers. Of course, these plans tend to change often, as kids fantasize about the numerous options that they’ve heard about or, more likely, seen on TV or in the movies.

If your child is still trying to make up his or her mind about their future career, you’re not alone. When the sky’s the limit, why stop at just one profession? Netflix has a number of features that will both entertain your kids as well as help them figure out what they really want to be when they grow up.

As the mother of young boys, I’d be lying if I said that they didn’t profess to want to be firemen or construction workers. If you’re in the same boat, Netflix provides a number of shows that will keep your junior firefighters and hardhats engaged.

Fireman Sam is a great show for kids who have big dreams of putting our fires and saving lives.

Fireman Sam Pic

 

Bob the Builder is a favourite in our house as my boys get to  follow the construction adventures of Bob and his crew.

Bob the Builder pic

Or perhaps your child dreams of living the high life, where work isn’t part of the equation (one can only dream!). Let the kids fantasize and check out the Netflix original, Richie Rich.

Richie Rich pic

For older kids, there are a number of selections to get their minds going.

If your child dreams of finding their bliss through winter sports such as snowboarding, the Art of Flight series is a great selection.

Art of Flight pic

Does your son or daughter enjoy cooking and helping out in the kitchen? If so, foster their inner chef by watching The Mind of a Chef, narrated by Anthony Bourdain.

The Mind of a Chef pic

What does your child want to be when they grow up? Help them figure it out with these and other Netflix selections. Leave your selections about your favourite shows in the comments section below as well!

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Family Halloween-Themed Viewing Ideas From Netflix

by Samantha on October 10, 2014

Halloween.

The one day of the year where kids and parents alike can live out their inner fantasy of being a superhero, ghoul or rock star.

It’s also an opportunity to enjoy some of the creepy day’s more appropriate entertainment fare.

This year, Halloween falls on a Friday, allowing for a full weekend of dress-up, trick-or-treating and movie watching. For those of us with little kids, the big costume parties may take a backseat to some family entertainment such as a movie-night marathon featuring appropriately scary or ghoulish themes.

This year, add to the fun by watching some shows that pay homage to your kids’ costumes.

For the little ones who are burgeoning spies and sleuths in the making, there are The Busytown Mysteries and I Spy and Inspector Gadget Capers among others:

I Spy

 

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For the older kids, Spy Kids is a popular favourite, along with Black Hole High and House of Anubis:

Spy Kids

 

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Dim the lights, add some popcorn and tuck into the treats (of course) and have a ghoulish family movie night with these picks.

Happy Halloween!

 

What are your favourite Halloween-themed movies or shows that you like to watch with the family? Tell me about them in the comments section below.

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Learning With Netflix

by Samantha on September 15, 2014

Family entertainment can be used as a learning tool

DISCLAIMER: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I will be providing monthly thoughts and suggestions about movies currently showing on Netflix. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own. 

The kids are back to school and hopefully, they’ve have settled into a routine by now, at least to some degree. Sure, there are bumps along the way (sorry teacher, the forms are not signed on time) but the day-to-day craziness of getting kids off to school, then managing the evening whirl of dinner, baths, homework and bed has hopefully become somewhat manageable (somewhat?).

And speaking of homework, it’s likely part and parcel of the evening mix. I know it is in my family - heck - even my twins who are in Senior Kindergarten have work to do. With all of the kids, learning is a priority in our household and we try to support any opportunity to teach them lessons that they can use in life.

One thing I’ve realized is that oftentimes, learning doesn’t need to take a traditional form. There are many ways of teaching kids lessons without having them

a) Whine about having to do homework or

b) Roll their eyes when you suggest yet another round of spelling/math/writing/[insert subject here]

Sometimes, learning can occur under the guise of relaxing, which suits this lazy mom just fine 😉

Cue up Netflix and the kids are primed. They think that they’re getting some “fun time” and “entertainment” - which they are - but little do they know that they’re also learning as well. There’s a method to this parenting madness after all!

For my little guys, there are some great shows where they can both learn and be entertained.

The Lorax is a favourite and my boys have watched it repeatedly. Lots of good lessons in this one, beyond the obvious ones. And the colourful landscapes and lively characters keep the kids engaged as well.

lorax

For younger kids just learning to read, Super Why is another fave. My boys love the superhero aspect of the show and willingly make attempts to spell and read - just like the main character.

Super Why pic

Sometimes we just want to chill out and watch the tube as a family and during those times, it’s important to find a movie or show that the kids of all ages can enjoy. For family movie night entertainment a couple of good bets are The Pursuit of Happyness as well as The Karate Kid. Both have some great life lessons that can be uses as discussion points for the kids as well.

Sneaky mom - I take it as an opportunity to let them learn while watching tv. Smart, huh?

The Pursuit of Happyness

 

Karate Kid

Sometimes learning takes on different forms and it doesn’t always have to be through the conventional means such as reading, writing and studying. By choosing an educational program that the kids will enjoy, you’ll kill two birds with one stone: your kids will be engaged and entertained and they’ll learn something new. Sounds like a “win-win” situation to me!

What are your favourite educational Netflix shows to watch with the kids? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

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