family time

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.

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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.

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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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Canadian-Inspired Netflix Picks For the Family

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. 

In case you don’t know, I’m Canadian. Yup - Canada: land of the moose, home of the loon and the birthplace of the Double Double is where I reside. Granted, Canada is a big ol’ place and I’m not exactly seeing moose or loons on my way to work in downtown Toronto. But I digress.

On July 1st every year, we celebrate Canada Day and in the spirit of this celebration, this month’s Netflix suggestions are - you got it - Canadian!

Whether “Made in Canada” or with a distinctly Canuck flavour, they’re good. You’ll love them and your kids will too. And speaking of kids, here’s my daughter patriotically celebrating Canada Day:

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For my boys, they’ve got their favourites, including Super Why! and The Busy World of Richard Scarry. Super Why! seems to appeal to their desire to be both a super hero and someone who can spell. Richard Scarry is a bedtime story favourite so having the characters come to life is a complete bonus for the kids. Both shows keep them fairly engaged which allows me to do another load or two of laundry, because that’s what I love to do [insert sarcasm here].

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For the bigger kids like my daughter, she’s a huge fan of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days was a big winner.

Wimpy Kid

Another great pic for early tweens and young teens is the Goosebumps series. Check it out - it’s a favourite among many of the kids who are looking for a bit of a scary thrill.

Goosebumps

Now.

Can we just talk a bit about Caillou for a minute?

What’s with the constant whining? Somehow kids don’t seem to hear it - must be something like a dog whistle, where only those with sensitivities to higher frequencies - like parents - are attuned to its constant irritation. The parents on the program don’t seem to notice it. Neither does the Grandma, but then again, her voice isn’t exactly soothing either. Kids love this show. What’s up with this? Discuss.

Caillou cover

A quick overview of Canadian-made shows on Netflix for the kids include:

For the big kids:

  1. Are You Afraid of the Dark?
  2. Johnny Test
  3. Black Hole High
  4. Alpha and Omega
  5. Goosebumps
  6. Erky Perky
  7. Eliot Kid
  8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

For the little ones:

  1. Caillou
  2. Franny’s Feet
  3. The Busy World of Richard Scarry
  4. Super Why!
  5. Animal Mechanicals
  6. Monster Math Squad
  7. Team Umizoomi
  8. Thomas and the Magic Railroad

What are your favourite Canuck shows for kids on Netflix? Tell me about it in the comments section below.

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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.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, the topic of “the good old days” comes up often. Yes, I’ll admit that I’m often wistfully reminiscing about life during a time that seemed much simpler and less frantic. Chalk it up to the fact that iPads, similar gadgets and digital connectivity were not part of the equation, and that “a good time” didn’t involve pixels and download speeds. Entertainment was simple and, believe it or not, there were TV shows and movies that didn’t involve complex 3D special effects or the use of special glasses to be enjoyed.

Take, for example, Spiderman. Remember that show? My twin boys love watching this TV classic and have been enjoying this classic on Netflix. No special effects can be found on this show, just some good, fashioned superhero action and adventure.

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The boys are also huge fans of Curious George, so imagine their excitement when they found it on the rotating Netflix carousel! The antics of the little monkey who is always getting into trouble resonates with my twin boys (I wonder why ;)). We’ve had a great time watching this show and discussing some of the lessons that the episodes provide.

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And keeping on a retro note, my daughter is just discovering some of the great ’80’s shows that I used to watch back in the day. At the top of the list is The Facts of Life, with my daughter’s favourite, Lisa Welchel, who starred as Blair. The series about a group of girls attending boarding school and dealing with life’s challenges was a hit with me, way back when, and now with my daughter.

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In keeping with the ’80’s theme, remember Different Strokes? I still love this show and it stands up against the test of time. There are some funny parts and great laughs, but a lot of good life lessons in the program - great opportunities to talk to your kids about various issues.

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Finally, all of the kids enjoy watching a good flick and Honey I Shrunk the Kids continues to be a favourite around our house. An old school classic for the whole family, I’d highly recommend it.

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Some other shows that are now available on Netflix include:

  1. The Mighty Ducks
  2. Ghostbusters
  3. Heathcliff
  4. The Secret of Nimh
  5. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
  6. The Smurfs

And for the very little ones:

  1. My Little Pony: The Runaway Rainbow
  2. Sesame Street: Classics
  3. The Busy World of Richard Scarry
  4. The Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation
  5. Clifford the Big Red Dog

What are your favourite retro shows to watch with the kids? Tell me about it in the comments section below!

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VIDEO: Huffington Post Live - Kids and Play

by Samantha on March 20, 2014

Parents playing baseball with kids

How much do you play with your kids, I mean really play with them?

I was recently part of a Huffington Post Live segment where this question was posed. Along with some great panel guests including Jason Good (blogger and comedian), Farah Miller (Managing Editor of Huffington Post Parents) and Rachel Cedar (blogger at 28 Days of Play project), we discussed the importance of parents role in their kids’ experience of play.

Watch the full segment here:

HUFFINGTON POST LIVE - KIDS AND PLAY


What are your thoughts? Do you play with your kids enough? Do you think you should play with them more or less?

Image courtesy of www.sheknows.com

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How to Deal With Telemarketing Calls - Top 5 Tips For Parents

April 6, 2013

What type of moron calls during dinner time? I’ll tell you: a telemarketer. Telemarketers don’t care that you’re already stressed, trying to get dinner on the table while your three have kids increasingly horrifying meltdowns because they’re starving. Telemarketers don’t give any thought to the fact that you really don’t want to buy a new […]

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Monday Musings - How to Have a Happy Family

February 25, 2013

  What characteristics are the makings of a happy family? That’s what we all want to know, isn’t it? The question of how to have a happy family is front and centre for most parents. A simple question, for sure, with an answer (or answers) that is anything but. So many of us struggle with […]

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A Young “Survivor” Fan on The Jeff Probst Show

October 27, 2012

  Who would have thought that lazy parenting could result in a national TV show appearance? Some time back, I wrote this post about the 5 things that make me a great parent. Included in this post was a video that I had posted to my YouTube channel that outlined the 5 things noted in […]

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The Top 10 Classic Children’s TV Shows of All Time

January 23, 2012

They don’t make ’em like this anymore. If you’ve watched some of the children’s programming on the tube lately, you may agree that the shows leave a lot to be desired, and then some. Sure, there are children’s shows that are entertaining, but I don’t think that I’m alone in stating that they don’t make […]

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IKEA and Me: A Love Story

November 4, 2011

**DISCLAIMER** This is NOT a sponsored post, I have had no dealings with IKEA and I am not being paid or compensated in any way to talk about my love of the Swedish furniture maker. My boys play “IKEA” at daycare. What? You don’t know what this is? Let me explain. Sadly, my two-year-olds push […]

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