Posts Tagged ‘ kids ’

Is Disneynature’s Bears Too Wild For Your Kids?

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Disneynature BEARSBy Chelsea P. Gladden, BreezyMama.com

Lately, it seems as though it’s getting harder to find a kid’s movie that isn’t too scary for my 5-year-old, yet can still keep her entertained. Frankly, I thought I’d be safe with another gem from the Disneynature series, and in general, this movie worked well for my daughter. However, Bears, like many quality wildlife shows, features the raw, often scary story of survival, which required this mama bear to be on high alert for scenes that might be too much for her litte cub.

Following a mother brown bear and her two newborn cubs for a year, Bears gives a glimpse into their lives: from waking up after hibernation in need of finding food, to avoiding avalanches, threatening rivals and other predators, such as a pesky wolf.

From the beginning, we learn that many cubs don’t survive their first year and immediately the tension is palpable. Fears that an overly hungry rival bear may try to eat them (and actually does go after them!) combined with the over-eager wolf ready to pounce the second the mom turns her back, lead to some anxiety-filled moments that had us on the edge of our seats.

To top it off, the mama bear’s conscious effort to search for food in less threatening environs nearly has her starving to death and you can actually start to see just how emaciated the nursing mother becomes.

Set in Alaska, the documentary is just as captivating a story as any animated cartoon; my daughter and I couldn’t help but root for our heroes every step of the way. Narrated by John C. Reilly, the script offers up humor and playful moments as well. Overall, it wasn’t too scary for my daughter, but the tense moments had her squirming.

At one point, the boy cub gets stuck in water as high tide comes in and my daughter reached for my hand as we hoped he wouldn’t drown. Another particular scene that my little cub found frightening was, “When the [male rival] bears fight.” Other than those moments, she seemed to handle the “scary” scenes well.

Since I saw Disneynature’s Chimpanzee (where the mother dies), I was concerned about whether the cubs would make it and they definitely tease throughout that they likely won’t! SPOILER ALERT: They do survive their first year and their mother fuels up on enough milk to feed them during hibernation to keep them alive for the next spring.

Taking a cue from my daughter’s reactions, however, Bears would be a little too intense for my 3-year-old twins, but any child over age 4 should be fine. Also, the pacing is on the slow side and toward the end, I was concerned it wasn’t going to hold my daughter’s attention for much longer as she started to get antsy in her seat. If your child has a short attention span for movies and television, this movie might not be a choice for her.

That being said, my daughter declared a few times afterward, “It was awesome!” She also added in the car ride home, “Mama, animals are great movie stars!”

Entertaining and informative, Bears demonstrates no matter what your species, a mother’s love for her family is a powerful thing — right down to the occasional bear hug.

Disneynature’s Bears opens in theaters everywhere 4/18/14

Grade on a scale of kid’s films: B

Rated G, Minor conflict among animals; Tense moments; 77 minutes

Watch a sneak peek here:

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Image: Courtesy of Disney

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How to Survive A Polar Vortex: Go Swimming!

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Last weekend it was a crisp 8 degrees outside before the windchill at my cousin’s house in Vermont. The kids — my two who are 5 and 7 and my cousin’s two who are 4-year-old twins — could handle playing outside in the snowfor a full 15 minutes without whining about cold toes and the white stuff seeping into their gloves. In all fairness, it was cold. And the snow, like it has been in much of the country this winter, was incredibly deep. We couldn’t even go sledding without carving our own path out of 3 foot deep powder, and by the time we created it, the kids were over it. Frankly, I’m over this @^$%! snow too. The solution? We went swimming.

Kids playing at The Pump house. (PR image)

Waterparks — namely the indoor ones — have been gaining in popularity across the country. And as far as I’m concerned, there’s no better time to visit them than during a polar vortex. We headed up to Jay Peak ski resort in upper Vermont to their indoor mecca of water fun called The Pump House. (Jay is mostly known for it’s awesome skiing, btw.)  It was a holiday weekend so it was busy — the folks at the resort said, one of the busiest times of year — but it was still manageable, i.e., the lines were never longer than five minutes and there was no whining during the wait. My kids spent most of their time on the two blue and green towering and twisting tube slides which allow kids as short as 42 inches (thank goodness) to slide down on innertubes on their own or with a grownup in the back. I zoomed down a few times — the dips and turns made my stomach drop but in a good way. The husbands went down La Chute — a free-fall water slide that sounded too scary for me (you go 45 mph!), and was off-limits to the kids (you have to be 88 lbs and 48 inches tall).

My kids are decent swimmers — defined by me as if they were to fall into a body of water, they could swim to the side without freaking out — but it was still comforting that there were lifeguards at every entrance and exit of every slide and ride who were actually paying attention. And if you are still nervous, especially for the littlest ones, the Pump House offers free lifejackets. The 4-year olds in our group wore them the whole time in the splash zone, bobbing along in the Big River (a lazy river that circles the joint) and in the family-friendly hot tub, which strangely they loved more than anything. There’s also a hot tub outside of the the glass-walled waterpark. We didn’t venture out to it, but it was fun to eat pizza and drink a beer at the bar (yes, there’s a bar for grownups!) and watch crazy people run in dripping wet bathing suits from the outdoor tub to the warm sanctuary of the waterpark. Even my daredevil 5-year-old wasn’t that bonkers! Besides, the whole point was to get out of the frigid temperatures. So if this polar vortex continues (and according to the Punxsutawney Phil, it very well might), we will be coming back again soon.

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Tips for Feeding Picky Eaters During the Holidays

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Whether your child has an aversion to many foods due to sensory processing disorder (SPD) or is just plain picky, getting through those big holiday meals can be more stressful than joyful. I recently tuned into a picky eaters webinar by the SPD Foundation, and Dr. Kay Toomey, a pediatric psychologist with more than 30 years experience working with children with feeding problems, provided some great ways to help kids she categorizes as picky eaters (children who will only eat a limited number of foods) and problem feeders (kids who suffer from SPD and are extremely selective about what they will eat). Here are some of her tips for getting through—and enjoying!—the holidays:

  • Talk about the holiday plans. Unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations can be overwhelming for kids and ultimately decrease their appetites. Before you travel or have extended family over, pull out the family photo album, have your child draw pictures of what she thinks the holiday meal will look like this year, or chat about the upcoming plans—anything that will give her a better idea of what to expect. This is also a good time to remind her about table manners such as using utensils, not interrupting, and saying excuse me.
  • Serve the food ahead of time. Most family traditions are about eating specific foods (ham, latkes, turkeys, yams, elaborate desserts, etc.), many of which children may not encounter during any other time of the year. If an unfamiliar food appears in front them, chances are they’re not going to eat it and even seeing it on their plate can cause a great amount of stress, especially for problem feeders. Try making some of these foods throughout the year so by the time the holiday comes around, your child will know what they are and how they taste, making him more likely to eat them during special occasions.
  • Prepare the meal together. If you’re doing any cooking for the holidays, have your child lend a helping hand in the kitchen. By letting him assist you, he experiences the smell and taste of the food without the pressure of having it on his plate. Toomey’s rule of thumb when it comes to cooking with the kids: 3- to 4-years-olds should be able to help you stir, open a package, or do a simple task to assist; 5-year-olds should be able to abide by safety rules and help cook a family meal once a week; and 7-year-olds should be cooking with you twice a week, actively preparing some portion of the meal.
  • Minimize changes in his routine. Getting off schedule when away from home is disruptive to children’s sleep patterns and appetite, so the less changes in their daily routine, the better. Try to serve your child meals and snacks at the usual time and resist the urge to let him stay up past his set bedtime.
  • Feed her before the main holiday meal. You can’t expect picky eaters or problem feeders to mind their manners and try new foods during a holiday meal. They realistically will only be able to do one or the other, so you’ll have to decide which is more important to you. It’s helpful to put something in their bellies beforehand so they’re not starving at the dinner table and so there’s less pressure for them to eat what is offered. This way they’ll be able to concentrate more on participating in the conversation and bonding with family, less on stressing over the fact that they’re hungry and have to eat unfamiliar foods. Remember: it’s more important they’re at the table and a part of the celebration than whether they’re eating what everyone else is.
  • Add one food they are sure to eat to the table. Even if children eat beforehand as recommended, you still want them to come to the table and participate in the meal as much as possible. To help them feel included, bring one food you know they’ll nibble on—even if it’s as simple as a roll, apple slices, or crackers. If they do happen to try something new on their own, don’t make a big deal out of it. You can mention something to them afterward or quietly at the table, but you don’t want to embarrass them in front of the family. And if they don’t eat at all, that’s also okay, as long as it is an option.
  • Bring something familiar from home he’s used to eating with or on. His favorite utensil, placemat, or cup can serve as a reminder of how he normally eats at home and cue the same eating habits in an unfamiliar place.
  • Create a secret signal. It’s a good idea to come up with a way for your child to let you know if she is getting overwhelmed during the meal and needs a break. You can give her a small card to hold up or establish a simple tap on the arm or leg to signal it’s time for a breather. This can also go the other way and you can signal to let her know she’s excused before a pleasant situation turns sour.
  • Control and limit the sweets. This can be difficult because those Christmas cookies and Hanukkah chocolates are a large part of the holiday, but it’s important to stand your ground. Not only does sugar cut down kids’ 20-minute appetite window to only 10 minutes, it also suppresses their appetite for substantial food and leads to cravings for more sweets. Aim for one sugary treat a day, and make sure they know to ask permission beforehand—they can’t just raid grandma’s cookie jar at their leisure.
  • Mask the scent. The smell of food can be too much for problem feeders, so it’s best to lessen it as much as possible. Try placing an isolating fan in the room where you’re having the main holiday meal. Or ask family members if they can open some windows while they cook so the smell isn’t completely permeating the house.
Image: Thanksgiving dinner via Shutterstock
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Dip-Dye Design

Monday, November 18th, 2013

DIY crafter Alison Caporimo recently released her first book, Instacraft, about fun and simple projects for adorable gifts and décor. We received permission to showcase four crafts from the book on Goodyblog. Come back each Monday (11/4, 11/11, 11/18, 11/25) to see which creations we feature next.

 

Berry Stationery

“Have left over blueberries in the fridge? Let’s make something of them!” Alison says.

Materials:
3 cups water
1 cup blueberries
Stockpot
Card stock

Directions:
1. Pour water into a pot and heat over a high flame until boiling.
2. Stir in blueberries and smash with a spoon or potato masher. Mix well and allow to cool slightly until lukewarm.
3. Dip card stock into dyed water and allow to dry completely before using. (Experiment with dipping times and angles.)

 

Alison’s extra tips for Parents readers:

  • Swap it: Instead of blueberries, try beets, blackberries, tea, or turmeric spice.
  • Challenge your kids to count and measure the ingredients before you get started.
  • Explore and investigate! The color of your dye is true to what it looks like in the pot, so experiment with your measurements to create different shades.
  • To let stationery dry without disturbing the dye, secure the card stock to a wire hanger with clothespins.

 

For more ideas from Alison Caporimo, follow her on Twitter.

Text adapted from Instacraft, with permission from Ulysses Press. Copyright 2013. All images by Meera Lee Patel.

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Last-Minute Halloween Bargains

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Halloween is just one of those holidays that creeps up on you. While it’s fun to plan costumes and treats with the kids, it’s easy to put off buying these items until you need them most. If you’ve yet to figure out a Halloween game plan, we’ve scouted some awesome finds to make your day a little less frightening.

Alex and Alexa’s Halloween shop offers cool updates on traditional ghoulish wear and décor. Use this fun, $24 pumpkin storage head from Lego to hold Halloween treats now, and those stray Lego pieces down the road.  It also comes in a cute skeleton face. Don’t forget to check out the clothes, too, featuring offbeat prints, like a Stella McCartney Glow in the Dark tee, on sale for $34.50.

 

Online costume retailers have scores for under-the-wire shoppers. Costume Express’s Pumpkin Busters start around $10. That’s where we found this undeniably adorable lady bug outfit for $20 for Baby. Buy Costumes also has Grave Busters lasting until this Friday; our favorite is this $17 red dragon get-up for toddlers. With attached wings and a one-piece body suit, it’s easy to put on and entertaining. Both sites feature clearance up to 60 percent off as well.

 

For more bargains, check out Walmart’s Halloween store, where children’s costumes start at $6.97 and candy packs at $2. Beyond the savings, you’ll find guides for easy crafts and recipes, such as carving the perfect pumpkin.

Just remember, if you want your loot by the 31st, you’ll need to order online sooner rather than later. With seven days left until the big day, procrastination is not your friend at the moment.

Up for some old-fashioned in-store shopping? Old Navy announced an exclusive deal; For today only, and only in stores, all baby costumes are $5, and all other Halloween items are 50 percent off. Now, that’s a good reason to get your feet moving.

Finally, if you’re looking more for craft ideas than costumes, don’t forget our awesome 100 Days of Holidays section on our Web site. We’ll take you through Halloween and on to Thanksgiving and Christmas!

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James Marsden on Raising Three Kids: “They’re Wonderfully Underwhelmed With What I Do”

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Actor James Marsden has starred in a variety of movies and television, from superhero epics (X-Men) to drama (Lee Daniels’ The Butler) and comedies (30 Rock, the upcoming Anchorman 2). But chances are your family probably recognizes him from one of his many kids’ movies, including Hop, Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore and my personal favorite, Enchanted.

We recently caught up with the 40-year-old star when he was hosting “SWAPtoberfest,” the launch party for Skylanders SWAP Force in Times Square. He told us all about making family movies, raising his three kids, and even showed off some of his video game skills.

How did you get involved with Skylanders?
My kids have always loved the games. My 12-year-old boy and my 8-year-old daughter will play together, so it’s good to find a game we can enjoy as a family.

Are you a big video game fan?
I have been off and on through my whole life. I have to watch myself because if I get into a game, I’m not very productive with other parts of my life. But I played a lot back in the ’80s, and now I usually will play with my kids.

You’ve been in several kids’ movies. Is that because of your own children?
Completely. I’m not that interested in staying in one type of genre, so I do like to diversify the work a bit. But I like that with kids’ films, I’m making something that my own can enjoy. I get to experience the movie with my kids.

Do your kids like watching your movies?
Films are very real to young kids, so they didn’t get the concept of seeing Dad on TV or on the movie screen. It was a little uncomfortable for them. Kids don’t want their parents to be anything but their parents. So I never introduced them to my films until they were old enough to grasp the concept of “Daddy’s playing pretend.” But they’re wonderfully underwhelmed with what I do. They think it’s cool, but they’re interested in movies I’m not in. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Would you encourage your children if any of them were interested in acting?
If their heart was into it, then I would encourage it no matter what. But I would probably make them wait until they were 18 to professionally get involved. Kids should be kids. You’re a kid for such a short period of your life, and you’re an adult for a large period. A lot of kids start in this business too soon, and they grow up too soon, in my opinion. So while they were young, I would encourage my kids to take acting classes, and to be in school drama, musicals and plays.

What’s your best parenting advice?
Consistency and boundaries. I know that sounds very discipline-oriented, but I think that kids need to know what to expect. Set very specific boundaries for them, and within those boundaries, they can do whatever they want and embrace their individuality and their spirit. They need very clear ideas of what’s right and wrong and when they bump against that boundary, it’s not a hard moment. You want them to know what to expect and try to create a consistent environment for them.

We’re not far from where you filmed the infamous bus stabbing scene in Enchanted.
They couldn’t close off Times Square, so we were doing it in front of tourists. It was the first time I thought, ‘This movie is either going to kill my career or it’s going to be really great.’ Luckily, it turned out to be really great. But it was an exceptional experience. Who else can say they’ve stabbed a bus in the middle of Times Square while wearing tights?

Image: James Marsden plays Skylanders with young fans, courtesy of Activision. 

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Chop To It! How To Get Your Kids in the Kitchen

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

After writing more than 21 cookbooks and contributing to numerous national publications, mom-of-two Sally Sampson decided to dedicate her skills to the fight against childhood obesity. In 2010, ChopChop: The Fun Cooking Magazine for Families was born. The quarterly delivers lively food fundamentals for kids (and adults!) to doctors’ offices, schools, and homes across the country. Now, the clever cooking guide is available in book form. ChopChop: The Kids’ Guide to Cooking Real Food With Your Family features more than 100 recipes to get your kids in the kitchen. And if these fun ideas don’t inspire your little ones, Sampson has a few tips that just might do the trick.

ChopChop is dedicated to teaching children cooking skills and healthy eating habits. Why is this mission important to you?

Before I created ChopChop, I was writing cookbooks but didn’t feel that was enough. I knew I could do more than write recipes; I wanted to make a difference. Teaching nutrition and cooking to a child helps her understand that there’s a difference between an apple, apple juice, and apple-flavored products. Then she can make better food choices, and that results in better health. Plus, cooking is such a wonderful way to bond with your kids! I just think it’s the greatest, most important thing.

How did you come up with the name “ChopChop?”

You know, it’s the funniest thing: we spent days and days listing different names and none of them felt right. Then one day I just said, “ChopChop.”And it stuck.

I have to ask—what were the duds?

One of them was “Picnic,” another was “Nosh.” And there were a million versions with “Kids Cooking.” When I look at them now, they really just don’t fit.

How can kids get their hands on a copy?

Subscribe! Or find copies in your pediatrician’s office, hospital, or school. If your school doesn’t have issues available, you can visit our website or call us to set up a classroom subscription. Some schools have even gathered sponsors and created custom editions!

The magazine received the James Beard Foundation Publication of the Year Award for 2013. What was that like?

It was great! It gave us gravitas in the food world—Mark Bittman has written about us in the New York Times, and our readership has close to doubled in subscriptions. As the only kids’ magazine to receive the award, in addition to being a non-profit, we’ve really stood out.

Reviewers have credited the cookbook with teaching their own children math and measurements, science and chemistry through cooking, and nutrition. What other benefits are there to cooking as a family?

It’s such a great way to connect with your child as a parent. In some ways, that’s the most important thing about cooking. It’s creative, fun, and uniting. Food is also a really good way to understand other cultures. When I was growing up, we didn’t eat hummus or salsa. Through cooking together, new foods and tastes feel more familiar.

At what age should parents start bringing kids into the kitchen?

Immediately—it’s never too early! If you have an infant, bring her into the kitchen in her high chair and tell her what you’re feeding her. Say, “I’m cooking carrots. Carrots are orange.” Start a monologue with your baby. As she gets older, continue your monologue but start to ask questions. Ask, “How many cherry tomatoes are there?” And have her toss them into a salad.

Then as your child grows, gauge her ability. She will be interested in being part of it. Children want to be a success in the adult world and being in the kitchen is a great way to do that—just be sure to let her take the next steps and progress.

It might be hard at first for parents to get their kids in the kitchen—what do you suggest?

Start very small. Tell your child you need his help. Just say, “We’re having pasta tonight, can you pick out the shape?” Then give them more choices: “Let’s plan out your meals for school lunch.” To make it easier (and healthier) for my kids, I made a chart of acceptable options and they chose which lunches to have on which days. Tiny things like that can get kids very excited about participating.

How did you encourage your children to eat a variety of foods?

This was my point of view on dinner: I never made two meals and I never made them try anything. I never said, “You have to taste it.” Instead, I told my kids that if they didn’t like what I made, they could have cereal (non-sugared Cheerios), cottage cheese, or yogurt. If there isn’t an amazing alternative your children will eat dinner. Otherwise, if you make it appealing not to eat what you make – by offering chicken nuggets for example – why would they eat it?

As for picky eaters, don’t make it a big deal. Just keep putting other foods on the table that they might say they don’t like. Avoid defining your child as a picky eater and don’t give her pickiness a lot of attention.

The cookbook proves that you don’t need to be a “foodie” in order to cook well and healthfully. Instead, it presents cooking as a fun life skill that everyone should know and enjoy. Was this part of your goal?

Yes, of course. It’s really simple and easy to cook and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming or esoteric. We need to help the generation of non-cooks raising non-cooks and get them into the kitchen. I’ve even had retirees and college students send letters, thanking us for helping them become better cooks.

So which recipes are best for kids when cooking for the first time?

Smoothies—they’re so adaptable: If a recipe calls for an apple, you could replace with a pear. If you can’t have milk, you can use soy milk. It’s also really fun to watch the blender—it’s like it’s exploding!

Sandwiches are also great to make with any age kids. Our Rainbow Sandwich recipe challenges them to fill their bread with as many colors as possible. For this, I suggest putting out a spread of cabbage, tomatoes, colored cheeses, and other options. It shows kids that a sandwich doesn’t have to be ham, mustard, and cheese.

What are your favorite family recipes?

Vegetable chili. You can make it spicy or not, and you can serve up little bowls of onions, avocado, hot sauce, cilantro, and yogurt to personalize it. It’s a great way to get kids to try new things. And they love putting together our other adult-like “Make It Your Way” meals.

And about the term “kid-friendly:” Why don’t you use it?

I don’t think there’s kid food and adult food. We don’t have anything in the magazine or book that’s not appropriate for an adult. I highly discourage having a two-meal dinner. Food is food. And you shouldn’t have anything in the house you don’t want your child to eat!

What else should readers should know?

If you’re trying to change the eating habits of your family, take really small steps. If you eat out five times a week, and you can cook one meal a week at home, that’s a good step. Really big changes really fast don’t work. Take baby steps. It’s okay.

Interview has been edited and condensed.

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A Crafty Kid’s Paradise (Plus An Exclusive Discount)

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Last weekend, I took my daughter, her cousin, and two friends to check out the Crayola Experience in Easton, Pennsylvania, about an hour north of Philadelphia and 90 minutes or so from New York City. Formerly known as The Crayola Factory, the children’s museum-like space closed its doors last winter for a complete makeover. The once-snoozy story about how crayons are made got an animated twist, a two-story play structure was constructed, and the arts and crafts became way cooler.

Our group loved the machines that molded a crayon into a shape—like a heart or a fish—and the ones where crayons are melted and spun to create funky spin-art designs shown in the picture. (For the record, the Crayola Experience supplied the image, but our “non-professional” versions looked almost as good.)

The kids also enjoyed drawing a picture and then turning it into a puzzle, doodling on glow-in-the-dark boards mounted to the wall (I want one for my family room), and personalizing a crayon label. Call me dorky, but I couldn’t resist making Parents Magazine Pink and Goodyblog Green to take home. We ran out of time to do the Coloring Page Photobooth (where kids get an image of themselves to color) and Modeling Madness (featuring Model Magic), but they looked cool.

While my crafting foursome ranged in age from 8 to 11, I think the “sweet spot” for visiting the Crayola Experience is 5 to 9, though kids from age 2 to 12 would certainly enjoy it. After five hours, each of the girls left with a bag stuffed with their creations as well as free crayons and markers. Sound like fun? The Crayola Experience is offering Parents an exclusive discount of $4 off each admission if you buy tickets by August 23, 2013 using this link. With the discount, tickets cost $11.99 for visitors age 2 and up. Kids 1 and under are free. Maybe I’ll see you there. My daughter and her friends are already asking to visit again!

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