TV

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.

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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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VIDEO: How to Save Money on Baby Items With Kijiji

by Samantha on September 11, 2015

Advice on how to bring home baby while staying within your budget

DISCLAIMER: This post is written in partnership with Kijiji in support of raising awareness about how the Second-Hand Economy can support new parents who are looking for the best value for their family dollar. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own.
Saving Money With Kijiji

Bringing baby home can be a wonderful yet stressful time for new parents. Between late-night feedings, interrupted sleep and planning for the future, new moms and dads also worry about more practical concerns, specifically money.

Babies are expensive, and baby-related items can cost a bundle - and more. For most of us who live within a certain budget, it’s no wonder that bringing baby home is often a time where parents really start to look at ways that they can maximize their family dollars while getting the best value.

I recently wrote about the Second Hand Economy and how Kijiji, specifically, can help new parents save money on all of their baby-related items. You can read the full post here:

How Kijiji Can Help You Budget For Baby

In addition, I appeared on CH Morning Live to provide some visual examples of the types of items that parents can find on Kijiji. Check it out, here:

Do you have any additional tips about how to save money on baby items? 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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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?

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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).

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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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It’s About Family, After All

by Samantha on May 30, 2015

Netflix offers a variety of programs that showcase various family relationships

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.
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Play dates, picky eating, trying to teach your child right from wrong. These trials of parenting seem never-ending to those of us who are in the trenches, learning as we go and often scolding ourselves for what we believe to be our “parenting fails.”

And despite the best laid plans of mice and men - and women, for that matter - we often find ourselves alternatively loving and loathing members of the family (not our kids, of course). It’s all in a day’s work, parenting work, that is.

At the end of the day, it’s all about the family, isn’t it?

Netflix has a variety of programs that focus on the various family trials and triumphs that happen daily in families around the world. Whether it’s sisterly bickering or a meddling mother-in-law, the possibilities are (often unfortunately) endless.

First up: Grace and Frankie. A quick peek at the clip below will show that this one is for the parents.

The new, funny and fearless original comedy features acting powerhouses Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston. It’s a perfect reminder to all of us that families take on all forms, shapes and sizes. When Grace and Frankie’s husbands leave them after 40 years of marriage—to be with each other—the women find themselves facing a change they never expected. They shift their perspective to get through it together, with the support of their new blended family and, of course, a sense of humour.

TRAILER - Grace and Frankie

For little kids, teaching them the basics, including the theme that “family is what you make it” is easy to do when watching some of these shows aimed at younger audiences:

Alvin and the Chipmunks

Baby Jake

Full House

Littlest Pet Shop

Stellaluna

For the bigger kids:

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Party of Five

Raising Hope

Yours Mine & Ours

 

And of course, there’s this - a study in a family’s dysfunction as the patriarch tries to keep his family together by any means necessary. Yes, it’s a Breaking Bad reference yet again and yes - this one’s for the adults only:

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What are your favourite family-themed programs for the family and for the grown-ups? Leave me your thoughts in the comments sections below.

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The 10 Childhood Loves My Kids Will Never Know

May 8, 2015

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 […]

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Lies, Lies, All Lies

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. We all know that kids lie. Parents have been […]

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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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CBC Marketplace - Checkout Charity

February 16, 2015

CBC program investigates the popular trend of soliciting donations at the checkout “Checkout Charity” is a thing. Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. I’ve discussed the topic on more than one occasion, both on this blog and in the media. For details, click on the link below. IN THE NEWS: Is “Checkout […]

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