As a big fan of Suzanne Collins’s book series, I love how Sesame Street transformed Cookie Monster into Cookieness Evereat, whose goal is to survive the jungle by eating his way through the “Hungry Games.” His companions include parodies of Peeta (now an animated piece of pita), Finnick (wielding a fork instead of a trident), and Wiress (who keeps staying tick tock while holding an alarm clock). For more on the names of popular characters, check out Lisa Milbrand’s “In Name Only” blog post on why names from the Hunger Games haven’t taken off.
Even though your kids might be too young to understand the inspiration behind the latest video, they can still help Cookieness as he faces challenges related to food. Kids will learn basic pattern and shape recognition by guessing which food type comes next in an apple-banana sequence and which food shape comes next after a circle-square sequence. Parents can just laugh along at the funny antics and jokes.
Plus: Sesame Street characters Elmo and Murray recently visited our offices! Below, watch a video where they give tips on tackling picky eating. And watch Elmo and Murray give more advice on bedtime routines and getting along with siblings!
Major spoiler alert: Gravity—the box office hit starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts—isn’t about space at all. I mean, of course all the action takes place in space, and it’s packed with plenty breathtaking shots of our planet as seen from above, but Gravity is about something far more down to earth. Specifically, it’s about what it means to be a parent.
Ryan Stone, played by Sandra Bullock, is a scientist on her first venture out into space. Much like a newborn baby, she’s in a brand new place where the very unexpected and dangerous can—and does—happen. (Director Alfonso Cuarón even goes so far with the newborn metaphor as to show us Ryan floating in the fetal position with what looks like an umbilical cord tethering her—watch for it maybe 30 minutes in, really cool shot.) Luckily for Ryan she’s not alone. Matt Kowalski, her far more space-savvy colleague, takes on a very paternal role, coaching her through unfamiliar situations, and straight-up parenting her. But, like with all parent/child relationships, there’s a time that Matt has to literally let go, and Ryan will have to find her own way armed only with the lessons Matt has left her. It’s one of the most direct stories of growing up and finding your legs that I’ve seen in ages. It’s also a beautiful, if painful, lesson in the necessity of setting your progeny free.
But let’s talk more about Sandra Bullock’s character, Ryan. She isn’t just any woman trying to grow up and find her way in this unpredictable, often scary universe. We learn early on that she’s a mother—specifically, a mother whose daughter was killed at a very young age in a freak playground accident. Some critics have called Ryan’s backstory “schmaltzy,” but I think it’s vital to the story, in underlining that parents (and people in general) want to think we have control, when in reality so many things in life are terrifyingly beyond our influence. No, it’s not a warm and fuzzy message—but I don’t think parenting is warm and fuzzy all the time. Raising a child, knowing that her well-being and even existence depends on you, can be scary. Nearly as scary at times, some might argue, as floating above the earth, unprotected, with giant hunks of space debris hurtling in your direction.
The lesson Gravity teaches is that parenting (and life in general) can be a harrowing experience. The best thing we can do is to push forward, never give up, and try to cherish the exquisite view along the way.
October is finally here! I wait for this month all year around. Our family’s annual pumpkin-picking trip is approaching, as are our haunted-house and corn-maze trips. We love our traditions. But after years of doing the same things, I wanted to try something new. So I brainstormed and asked around for unique Halloween traditions, and I couldn’t keep these ideas to myself. Here are the top 5 new Halloween traditions that my friends, family, and I have come up with:
1. Pumpkin Painting Party
Gather your crafty kids for an afternoon of pumpkin art. Mini pumpkins are perfect for little hands to paint, and your guests can take them home as favors.
It’s not too cold for the outdoors yet! Get the kids outside for Monsters University inspired Scare Games. Adult referees can dress in costume, and the kids can compete in potato sack races, tug-o-war, and hula hoop contests. Award candy bag prizes to the winners, and end the day at home with a big pot of pumpkin soup.
Get out your pumpkin pajamas for a halloween themed sleepover. Roast pumpkin seeds, make s’mores and swap scary stories deep into the night. Add to the fun with a Halloween craft like this adorable paper owl.
Staying in tonight? You’ll want to check out Target’s brand new digital video service, Target Ticket. The site features more than 30,000 movies and television shows to choose from, including plenty of family favorites and recent releases. (I know where I’ll be catching up on this summer’s blockbusters!)
With so many online movie services out there now, it can be tough to figure out which one is right for you. But we like that Target partnered with Common Sense Media to give users access to thousands of reviews, each of which include an age rating, important information for parents to know, and even some topics to discuss after viewing. And if your children tend to disagree on what to watch, parents can set up a profile for each user, which allows different movies to stream simultaneously on multiple devices.
Anyone who opens a new account through February is given 10 free downloads on a group of pre-selected movies (among which, there are several kid-friendly films like Fern Gully, Rango and Space Jam, in addition to movies for Mom and Dad.) There are no subscription or sign-up fees, and prices start as low as $0.99.
What do you think of Target Ticket? Download the app or login on your desktop computer, and let us know!
Calling all Hayao Miyazaki fans! The acclaimed Japanese filmmaker’s animated film My Neighbor Totoro is turning 25 this year. The whimsical movie tells a tale of friendship and sisterhood that the whole family will enjoy. And the Disney version features the voices of real-life sisters, Elle and Dakota Fanning. To celebrate its anniversary, Disney and Studio Ghibli are releasing it—along with another Miyazaki classic, Howl’s Moving Castle—on Blu-ray for the first time ever on May 21.
We are excited to announce that Disney and Studio Ghibli are also letting us give away a Miyazaki Blu-ray gift basket, containing these two films along with The Secret World of Arrietty, Whisper of the Heart and Castle in the Sky, a $200 value. To enter, just leave a comment at this post. You can comment once a day between now and the end of the day on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. You can also read the official rules, or find additional information about the films here.
And be sure to check out this fun clip of My Neighbor Totoro:
UPDATE: This contest is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Bonnie! Please check your Facebook “other” message folder to claim your prize. Thanks for playing, everyone!
Get ready for an alien invasion this winter! Well, actually, the aliens are the good guys in Escape From Planet Earth. Jessica Alba, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Brendan Fraser star in the animated adventure about little green…er, blue…men. The studio released the teaser trailer this week. Check out the clip below:
Between Sandy and the election, it’s a great weekend to escape to the movies. AndWreck-It Ralph is here to help. The PG-rated film is a win-win: Kids will love the animated adventure set in video-game worlds; parents will get a kick out of walking down memory lane with ’80s and ’90s characters from Super Mario Bros., Pac-Man, and even Q*bert. Speaking of, check out this cute clip from the film.