movies

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.

Goonies 60000575_tv_sdp_1280x720

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.

Bo on the Go 70230412_tv_sdp_1280x720
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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Everything old is new again on the streaming service

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.

Try to explain the concept of “Saturday Morning Cartoons” to a child who’s only known 24/7 TV, “The Google,” no less than a few thousand satellite channels and unlimited shows online via the likes of YouTube and other sites.

The Good Old Days” exist only in the minds of said child’s parent, who bemoans the fact that waking up early to run downstairs and watch television every Saturday is a memory quickly fading.

How does one explain the growing anticipation of Saturday morning, the countdown to the end of the week, the adrenaline that wakes up kids at the crack of dawn, hours before anyone else in the household would even think of opening their eyes? There was nothing like it and likely won’t be anything like it again.

That is, of course, unless you start a new Saturday morning tradition. With the latest family-friendly additions to Netflix which include some of the classics of yesteryear, everything old is new again.

If you’re looking to recreate your childhood memories of Saturday morning TV viewing, consider introducing your kids to these shows, now streaming on Netflix:

Garfield and Friends

Garfield the Cat and his wacky group of friends were everywhere in the 80’s and early ’90’s. The sloth-like and sarcastic tabby who despised the thought of any type of work was a favourite among both kids and adults.

Garfield and Friends

The Magic School Bus

A great combination of education and entertainment, this program keeps the kids glued to the screen as science was made fun. The Magic School Bus set out on a different adventure every weekend and now your kids can also travel along on an educational journey with the crew.

Magic Schoolbus

My Little Pony

Not exactly rainbows and unicorns, but close. Pastel colours, sparkles and characters with names such as Baby Heart Throb, Baby Cuddles and Sweet Stuff made this show a favourite in the ’80s.

My Little Pony

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

These turtles also double as super-heroes who battle criminals and bad guys, all in the name of justice. Oh, and they have names inspired by Renaissance-era painters. Cool, right?

TMNT

Star Wars Clone Wars

Yup, your favourite Star Wars characters are all here: Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano, and Darth Maul. The Clone Wars follows the Republic’s clone army in their struggle against Count Dooku’s Separatist forces and will keep your kids riveted (if they’re into this sort of thing).

CloneWars

Spiderman

If you grew up in the ’70’s or ’80s, you know the Spiderman Song by heart, and your kids should too.

Spiderman

Scooby-Doo

If only for the groovy music, Scooby-Doo is a must-watch program for parents who want to relive their 70’s childhood and kids who want to get hip with the lingo of a groovy era.

ScoobyDoo

 

What are your favourite “old school” Saturday morning cartoons? Tell me about them in the comments section below.

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The simple pleasures of earlier times are now just memories in the age of technology

It was a certainly a different time, a simpler time, devoid of the constant activity that is part and parcel of life in our increasingly rushed, hurried, 24/7 digital age. With the rapid changes to technology and how we communicate with each other, simple, good-old-fashioned fun seems to have been left in the past.

As a child, “having fun” meant something completely different than what it means now. Back then, the  options that are available to kids now did not exist, which in many ways, was a good thing. We weren’t constantly distracted by an endless stream of text messages, online, video or smartphone games, iPads, the Internet and everything else that signifies life in modern times. Sure -  technology is great (my iPad has saved my kids from a meltdown on more than one occasion), but there’s something to be said for the simpler times that are now just a distant memory.

One of the most popular posts on this blog is this one: Is Your Refrigerator Running?” The Lost Art of the Prank Phone Call. The title of the post references one of the favourite pastimes of kids who lived  before the digital age and when Call Display was a thing of the future. The post discusses how technology as a whole has changed the way that kids have fun (as did this post - Can Kids Still Be Entertained?). It’s interesting that the post about making prank phone calls is one of the most visited on this blog, a fact that indicates that more of us than we may imagine are pining for a time when life was simpler and less frantic.

The comparison between then and now - how kids spend their time these days, compared to children in the past - is startling. With things moving so quickly these days, it’s no wonder that many of us wish we could go back to that time when everything wasn’t so fast-paced, and hurried. There’s something to be said for slowing down and throwing caution to the wind.

Unfortunately, however, we can’t turn back time. A return to the simpler lifestyles of days gone by is unlikely, leaving many of us who grew up in a different world to cherish the memories, because that’s all we have left.

Certainly times have changed and technology has advanced our lives in so many positive ways. However, while it’s great that our kids get to to reap the benefits of the Information Age, it’s equally sad that they’ll never know the joy that was provided by some of the simpler pleasures of everyday life. With not a pixel in site, kids survived and actually thrived without the myriad of options that they have now. Life may have been simple but boy, was it fun. I know I’m not the only one who is saddened by the fact that my childhood experiences of having fun will never be replicated by my own kids. After all - they’re used to a much faster pace, more sophisticated toys and gadgets and have a generally shorter attention span as a result. On a more practical level, it would be almost impossible to bring back some of the simple joys of being a kid during this earlier time as children today have greater expectations about how they want to be entertained.

“With not a pixel in site, kids survived and actually thrived without the myriad of options that they have now. Life may have been simple but boy, was it fun.”

Here are 10 childhood loves that my kids will never know:

1) Saturday Morning Cartoons - The days of waking up at the crack of dawn to watch a few hours of TV that only occurred on Saturday mornings are a thing of the past. DVRs, YouTube, downloading and streaming at will has ended this ritual forever.

The Jetsons

Image courtesy of http://www2.warnerbros.com

2) Metal Slides and Concrete Playgrounds - Ouch! They hurt our backsides and the backs of our legs when we were brave enough to slide down them on a hot summer’s day. Now, the plastic is much safer (and more comfortable) but we don’t whiz down quite as fast.

metal slide

Image courtesy of www.dailymail.co.uk

3) The Dewey Decimal System - Searching for information pre-Google was quite the feat, but one that was oh, so rewarding as well. Those small index cards, the beauty of Dewey’s categorization and the process of systematically tracking down that book or piece of information was a thrill in its own strange way.

Library cards

Image courtesy of www.businessinsider.com

4) Movie Anticipation - Waiting months or sometimes years for your favourite movie to be aired on TV made it oh, so much more special. The annual showing of the Wizard of Oz or The Sound of Music merited weeks of planning, from the snacks and treats that would be eaten while viewing down to the pyjamas that would be worn, along with the special stuffed toy who would also have a chance at viewing the movie, just this one time. Somehow, that act of waiting for the show that would only be seen once a year made us cherish it so much more.

1950s TV

Image courtesy of www.jerseymomsblog.com

5) Prank Phone Calls - “Is your refrigerator running?” If you know the answer to this question, you too are old enough to feel sad about the fact that these words are rarely uttered to strangers on the other end of the line like they once were.

rotary phone retro

Image courtesy of www.etsystatic.com

6) Test Patterns and the National Anthem - When these two items flashed across your black and white TV, you knew that it was time to hit the hay. There was no choice but to go to sleep, as nothing was on once the anthem was sung and the colourful test pattern (with the annoying, unending “beeeeeeep”) hit the air. No 24/7 TV, satellite, internet, YouTube or downloaded shows for all-night distraction.

Test Pattern 1

Image courtesy of www.wallpapermaven.com

7) Playing Outdoors and Long, Lazy Summers - With the increased fear of strangers and “Helicopter Parenting” becoming the norm, the days of kids wandering aimlessly or playing outside for hours with one’s friends are long gone. “Stranger danger” is the phrase du jour and many parents feel that it’s better to be safe than sorry, resulting in the reality that children are missing out on some of childhood’s greatest experiences.

kids 1970s

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8) Sugar, Butter and Non-Organic Food - It’s great to be healthy but, let’s face it: sometimes the things that are the worst for you are the ones that taste the best. Enter sugar, butter and other foods that have been deemed unhealthy in recent times. Not too long ago, children (and adults, let’s face it) savoured the creamy richness of butter on bread, sugar in cereal and fruit that was not deemed “organically-grown, guaranteed.” It’s hard to believe, but people survived after ingesting food that is now considered unhealthy, sadly.

Tang mix

Image courtesy of www.cbsnews.com

9) Seatbelt and Carseat-Free Car Rides - Bette Davis may have warned us to “fasten our seat belts” but the act of being safe, not sorry, didn’t occur very frequently not too long ago. And baby car seats? Fuggedaboutit. (Fun Fact: The back of the station wagon was always the best place to be, preferably lying down, no seat belts in sight!).

1970s station wagon kids

Image courtesy of www.yummymummyclub.ca

Fasten Your Seat Belts - Bette Davis

10) Board Games and Kids’ Activities - Before Google, smartphones and the Internet took over our lives, kids found more creative ways to have fun. An exciting round of Monopoly with the family or more independent creativity via games such as Spirograph can’t be replicated. Sure, we have the updated versions of these favourites but somehow they’re just not the same. After all - the risk of poking yourself with the pins that came with the Spirograph set was half the fun.

70b-toys-spirographImage courtesy of http://motleynews.net

 What things from your childhood do you miss? If you could let your child experience one thing from your childhood that they have never done, or could never do, what would it be? Tell me about it in the comments section below.

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Lies, Lies, All Lies

by Samantha on April 30, 2015

Netflix offers a variety of shows that highlight untruths, tall tales and deceptions


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.
Pinocchio's nose

We all know that kids lie.

Parents have been known to tell a little fib now and then, as well.

The question is: what do we do when our kids are less-than-truthful? Especially when we’re not completely on the up-and-up ourselves?

Parenting is a difficult task and it’s no wonder that we struggle with the old “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy because - let’s face it - sometimes it’s easier to tell a lie than to tell the truth.

Why do parents lie to their children? There are many reasons:

  • We’re scared of what telling the truth may do to our kids
  • We’re too tired or short on time and would rather make things easier by fibbing
  • Lying may buy us some time or postpone the inevitable meltdown that may occur by telling the truth
  • Sometimes, lying is fun!

Kids are equally guilty when it comes to the telling of half-truths and out-and-out lies. Remember “the dog ate my homework,” or that perennial classic “I didn’t do it!?

Some reasons behind their telling of tall tales include:

  • Fear of getting into trouble or being punished if they reveal the truth
  • The need for attention that may occur as a result of the lie
  • A method of gauging a parent’s feelings or reactions to a particular topic
  • An active imagination and life of fantasy

If you’re like me, dealing with a lying child is a reality of parenting that stresses you out. Who wants to face the music, confront the child and perhaps deal with the unpleasantness that comes with disciplining your kid? Sometimes it’s easier to just call it a day and watch a movie. Or two.

Enter Netflix.

Fortunately, the movie and TV streaming service has a number of shows that tackle the topic of lying without you, mom or dad, having to say anything about it. Of course, you can always use the shows as the beginnings of a “teachable moment” or discussion for your child or…you can just let them watch it and enjoy the show. Perhaps they’ll pick up the important message from the program of choice, but if they don’t, at least they will have been entertained.

If you’re looking for shows that have a “deceptive” theme, look no further.

For the younger kids:

Chuck and Friends

Chuck and Friends

 

CliffordClifford

Curious GeorgeCurious George

Super WhySuper Why

For the older kids:

iCarly

iCarly

Mean Girls

Mean Girls

H2O - Just Add WaterH20

Monster HighMonster High

For the parents:

Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars

Liar, LiarLiar Liar

Just Go With ItJust Go With It

BloodlineBloodline

What are your favourite shows about deception and lies? How about your kids’? Tell me about them in the comments section below.

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Image courtesy of www.disney.com

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Yeah, SCIENCE!

March 29, 2015

Parents can enjoy Netflix while also teaching their kids about science 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.  —- But, why, Mom, why?!? If you’re a parent, you’ve heard […]

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“When I Grow Up”….Nextflix Picks For the Future Generation

February 27, 2015

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 […]

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Baby it’s Cold Outside: Netflix Picks For Winter Weather

January 30, 2015

How to keep the kids entertained during the winter season 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. Baby, it’s cold outside! Between the snow, ice, and temperatures in the […]

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All Hail King Julien!

December 31, 2014

The Self-Proclaimed Monarch From Madagascar is Back With His Own Netflix Series 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. ——- Who’s the king? King Julien! All Hail the King! […]

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Sick Kids? Keep ‘Em Entertained With Netflix

November 3, 2014

Netflix Picks For The Kids to Watch When They’re Home Sick 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 season was barely underway before the inevitable occurred: my kids […]

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