The Movie Mom’s Five Favorite Family Gifts for 2008
1. Treasury of 20 Storybook Classics The best DVD series for kids has a new collection that features some of its best productions of great stories with great illustrations and music read by great performers. This collection includes Diary of a Spider and Karma Wilson’s Bear Snores On and Bear Wants More (narrated by the author), along with a wacky version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, plus the delightful The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and an entire disc of stories to celebrate the environment like Owl Moon and Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message. This is a treasure, filled with stories to engage, delight and inspire — and to encourage reading.
2. Boomerang My highest recommendation for this “audio magazine for kids,” a perfect gift for any family with children from age 7-14. Its features, interviews, and jokes will keep the entire family engrossed and enchanted. Take out the kids’ individual earphones and let everyone in the car listen in; I can promise you will end up sitting in the driveway unable to go inside the house until you hear the end of the story.
Encourage imaginative play or just decorate someone’s desk with these goodies from just about any movie, television show, or game. A perfect gift for that hard-to-please fan who thinks he/she has everything. But don’t you think they should call The Dude an IN-action figure?
4. Leading Couples Fans of classic old movies will love this wonderful book about the great romantic leading ladies and gentlemen from Tracy-Hepburn to Powell-Loy. This is a lot of fun to read and will inspire some great Netflix queue choices.
5. Fraggle Rock: The Complete Series Collection It’s time for a whole new generation to get to know the denizens of Fraggle Rock, the classic Jim Henson series that gently explores issues of communication and connection.
What can the most successful doll on the planet show us about being Jewish today? A new film called The Tribe uses the story of the Jewish woman who created the Barbie and Ken dolls to explore the nature of identity for Jewish Americans. Actor Peter Coyote narrates the film, which “weaves together archival footage, graphics, animation, Barbie dioramas, and slam poetry to take audiences on an electric ride through the complex history of both the Barbie doll and the Jewish people- from Biblical times to present day.” It is a thought-provoking film that raises more questions than it answers and a good discussion-starter for middle- and high-schoolers. Curriculum guides for school and home use are also available.
Connections Academy, an online public school, has come up with some great suggestions for using winter season events to help children learn. From baking cookies to talk about measuring and adding to talking about geography on family trips, they have great ideas for making the most of family time. It isn’t about constantly quizzing children or turning every snowball fight into a discussion of physics. It is about keeping both parents and children vitally engaged in observing and assessing the world around them and sharing a love of curiosity and learning. I’d add one more suggestion: thank you notes. Even a preschooler should take some time the day the gift is given to draw a picture and even a first grader can write a note of thanks. All children should write thoughtful, specific notes explaining why each gift is especially meaningful to them. That will help them with grammar, spelling, and creative writing as well as with manners, empathy, and kindness.
Here are the suggestions from Connections Academy:
1. Baking Cookies — When cooking or baking, read an age-appropriate recipe together and write an ingredient shopping list. You can look up culinary words in the dictionary (reading, writing, vocabulary). Visit the supermarket and figure out how much the recipe will cost to make (math skill). Prepare the recipe – measuring, counting, pouring, sifting, and sorting target math and fine motor skills. Various cooking techniques, like boiling, even offer an opportunity for a science lesson.
2. Gift Wrapping — When wrapping gifts, you can build math and measuring skills by asking kids to measure gifts with a tape measure or ruler to determine the correct amount of wrapping paper needed.
3. Holiday Greeting Cards — When sending holiday cards, you can promote writing skills by encouraging children to help. Winter break is a great time to write letters to friends, grandparents and others.
4. Shopping – Ask your children to help you count the number of recipients on your family’s gift list. Brainstorm creative gift ideas – especially for your children’s teachers. While at the store, ask your child to count the number of items in your basket, or other details like, what color is this? Which is the biggest item? Which looks the heaviest? How many people are left on our shopping list? If you are comfortable discussing prices or budgets with your child, you can also encourage your child to keep running tallies of spending and budget remaining.
5. Decorating Your Home – Whether your family celebrates Christmas, Hannukah or Kwanzaa, you probably have seasonal decorations for your home. Make decorating your home a family affair by giving your children age-appropriate tasks that they’ll enjoy – while they learn. If you have an advent calendar, menorah, or seven candles in a Kwanzaa Kinara, ask kids how many days there are to start, and each day thereafter, ask them how many days are left until the holiday. If you decorate with evergreen garlands, test kids’ math skills by asking them to help you calculate how many feet or yards you’ll need. How many times does the dreidel spin before it stops? If you spin it 10 times, what is the average number of spins?
What kind of lunatic would try to improve on Jessica Alba? Apparently the folks at Campari felt that the beautifully curvy star was just a little too curvy and they retouched her photo to make her look slimmer.
It is just this kind of nonsense that sends a message of impossible standards to young girls and women. Anyone who thinks the retouched picture is more attractive than the original has a distorted idea of beauty and of reality — two concepts that did not used to be considered mutually exclusive.
Alan Menken Plays His Hits [iframe width="416" height="234" src="http://abc.go.com/embed/VDKA0_i2msn1gc" frameborder="0"]
Alan Menken, currently composing the songs for "Galavant," here sings some of his greatest hits, including songs from "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," "The Little Mermaid," "Enchanted," "Pocahontas,"
Despite the big names behind it, including George Lucas, who came up with the story and produced, it feels like a straight-to-DVD, about the level of Disney's Tinkerbell series. It's bright,
Bad Movies Inspire Great Critics: Mortdecai Johnny Depp's "Mortdecai" is sure of a place of dishonor on the end of the year worst lists. Business Insider and Huffington Post have some choice quotes from some of the movie's best bad reviews, and I've found some good ones, too, including:
David Edelstein, New York Magazine
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