Monday, February 11, 2019

Science-Cool? : New Netflix Show 'Brainchild' Makes Science Fun For Kids

Kids, are you the curious type?  Always asking questions?  Always wondering, hmmmm?  Well Netflix's newest show is for you!

Meet Netflix's new science show "Brainchild" and its host Sahana Srinivasan




Similar to popular family-friendly science shows — such as "Bill Nye the Science Guy" and "Beakman's World" — the show takes science and makes it fun.

The show's first season was released on Nov. 2, 2018 and features 13 episodes. The episodes range in topic, covering everything from the impact that social media has on our lives to whether there could be other life in the universe.

"I think what "Brainchild" does really well is explore topics that may not be discussed in school traditionally," Srinivasan said.

"Brainchild" also offers something new: it's hosted by a woman of color.

Srinivasan, 22, is an Indian-American woman from Texas who in addition to her role as "Brainchild" host, is also currently studying to get a degree in radio, television and film from the University of Texas. She told NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro that hosting the show allows her to represent greater diversity in science.

"In TV shows and movies ... it's almost always like a guy," she said. "When we see that, it could be discouraging for young girls who are very interested in going into STEM fields — or STEAM, which incorporates art into engineering and science, math, etc. So seeing a woman talk about science is very refreshing and engaging at the same time."

Monday, February 4, 2019

Netflix in February: Great Family Movies, Shows to Stream

As we enter a new month, it's time to spread the love on all the kids shows and movies coming to Netflix in February 2019. Yes, there are a handful of special Valentine’s Day-themed episodes of your favorite shows, as well as some new seasons of Netflix Original cartoons.

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Free Rein: Valentine's Day

The young ladies from your fave equestrian show are back in Free Rein: Valentine's Day. On a planned Galentine's Day adventure the girls are in search for the Maid's Stone, while battling adversaries and friendship woes. The original film gallops into town on Feb. 1.



True: Happy Hearts Day

True and Bartleby are on a mission to cheer up Glummy Glooma in this special episode of True: Happy Hearts Day. Everyone in the Rainbow Kingdom wants to share the love and their happy hearts on this special take on Valentine's Day. The episode lands on Feb. 1.


The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants Season 2

Summer has arrived in season two of The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants. The duo wants to spend the season at summer camp, but they have to manage their grades and Melvin before they can get there. Pants-dropping fun arrives on Feb. 8.



The Dragon Prince Season 2

Season two of the Netflix original The Dragon Prince follows Rayla and her quest for Xadia. Can she and the two princes make it before Claudia and Soren? Join the adventure on Feb. 15.


...And Even More Kids Movies!


Aside from Netflix's lineup of original content, some classic family movies and shows new to the steaming provider are hopping into rotation.

In the family and kids genre, hang with canine friends in Beverly Hills Chihuahua on Feb. 3. Get the family together for a watch of Little Women on Feb. 11. Take a swim with Dolphin Tale 2 starting Feb 25.

What's Leaving Netflix in February
Get ready to say goodbye to several kid favorites in February, too, as these titles are ditching Netflix:

Leaving Feb. 1:

Disney's The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
Ella Enchanted
Leaving Feb 3:

Sing
Leaving Feb. 19:

Disney's Girl Meets World: Seasons 1-3

Monday, January 21, 2019

Kid-Friendly Facts for Lunar New Year 2019

Here are some interesting Chinese New Year Facts which were chosen and researched by kids especially for kids.

This new year celebration is also called Lunar New Year and celebrated also as Spring Festival. It is celebrated in January or February in many countries around the world.

This year, the first month of the new lunar year starts according to the Chinese calendar on February 5, 2019.  
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What is Chinese New Year?
The Chinese Calendar
Lunar New Year Wishes
Chinese New Year Food
Lunar New Year Traditions
Chinese New Year Customs: What NOT TO DO
  • Do not wash or cut your hair on the first days of the Lunar New Year. This would be seen as a sign of washing and cutting away good luck.
  • Do not clean your house with a broom on the first day of Lunar New Year. Cleaning is a sign of swiping away good luck - so if one has to clean something away, then it must be done after dark.
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  • Do not do laundry on Chinese New Year. Doing laundry means washing away of good luck and wealth.
  • Don’t give gifts which are black or white in colour. Also do not give clocks or watches or shoes. Watches would mean that time is running out and shoes would mean that one could walk away from the friendship or relationship.
  • Don't give gifts in uneven numbers. Always give gifts in pairs such as two oranges or two coins.
  • Don't dress in white, black or dark blue during this time. Wear colourful clothing, especially red, orange, and yellow colours are appreciated.
Chinese Zodiac Signs
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Many countries celebrate the new year according to the Chinese Calendar and not only to our calendar which is the Gregorian calendar starting on the 1st of January.
Lunar New Year is an important public holiday for many countries including China, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan. In many countries, Chinese communities celebrate in the city's 'Chinatown' districts.
This important date on the Chinese calendar has been celebrated for many centuries. During the festivities ancestors are honoured and traditional ceremonies are held where people get together and welcome the new year with customs that shall bring good luck, good fortune, wealth, prosperity and happiness.


The spring festival festivities for the new year take 15 days in most countries. The new year is often celebrated with dragon dances, lion dances, gift exchanging and fireworks. It ends typically with lantern festivals on the 15th day of the first calendar month. See below an image from the Pingxi Sky Festival which is celebrated in Taiwan every year to end the new year's festivities.
The Chinese calendar is about one month behind our (so called Gregorian) calendar as it has between 30 and 50 more days per year. And the Chinese zodiac calendar has a cycle of 12 years. The calendar was started on astronomical observations of the moon's phases.
Each year a Chinese zodiac animal is the symbol for the year.
The 12 Chinese zodiac animals are: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.
Look again at the listing of animals! They always come in the same order, so 2018 was the year of the dog, 2019 is the year of the pig and 2020 will be the year of the rat. Which year will it be in 2021? (We share the answer at the bottom of the page under 'Resources')


People wish each other good luck, happiness and wealth for the new year. The words used most in good wishes are: happiness, wealth, prosperity, prosperous, auspicious
'Gong Xi Fa Cai' means 'Have a prosperous new year'
Most common are the Mandarin words: Gong Xi Fa Cai (try to pronounce it as Gong-she-faa-tsai) and the Cantonese: Gong Hey Fat Choy (pronounce it as: Gong Hee Faat Choy). Both wishes mean: Wishing you a prosperous new year. 
People eat ‘auspicious food’ during the new year period. For many, this means fish dishes. A fish is a symbol of good luck, wealth and healthy life.
Dumplings are traditionally eaten during the festivities. These little round rice flour balls are often filled with vegetables. Mandarin oranges, dried fruit and even sweets are seen as lucky food. Candy boxes and little round shaped biscuits symbolising gold or fortune are served everywhere.
And make sure your plate is never empty, as this would be seen as your luck has run out. Food is often prepared up to a week before, so one must not use a knife or fire for cooking on New Years day, as cutting with a knife for many would symbolise ill luck.
A popular food are long noodles that symbolise good fortune as well as a long life.
A typical new year's dish is Yusheng. This raw fish salad with rice or long noodles is eaten during by many during the festive period.
Many eat Yusheng on the seventh day of the new year. The dish is a symbol for wealth and longevity, this fish salad is usually served in a huge dish in the middle of a table, where family members and friends toss the noodles in the big bowl together and then eat.


Dragon dances and lion dance festivals will usher in the new year in many cities. Some families may even invite a dance troupe into their homes as well.
Firecrackers are lit as these shall bring good luck and fortune. However, due to security reasons, firecrackers are banned in many areas nowadays and official fireworks displays are held instead.
On the second day of the new year, families will visit each other and hand over little gifts. And sometimes the family dog gets a gift too!
Gifts are handed money or little tokens in red packets or envelopes as these symbolise prosperity and happiness. Married family members hand red envelopes (called hongbaoin Mandarin) with money to others to show their goodwill and give blessings for the new year to the other family members.
Children sometimes get oranges, sweets or coins. Always make sure to give an even number of gifts or in the amount of money. So always at least two mandarins, two packets or two coins. And the number eight is considered an especially lucky or auspicious number.
The bright colours and especially red colours are seen as a lucky symbol. Red decorations, lanterns and colourful symbols can be seen everywhere. These shall attract luck and prosperity for the year to come.
Many people dress mainly in red coloured clothing for the festivities. Often people also buy new clothes to show that a fresh beginning is celebrated with the new year. In the Mandarin language, the word for ‘red’ has the same sound as the word for ‘prosperous’.
There are some rules when observing Chinese New Year. For example, scissors and brooms are banned to stay in the cupboards on the first day of Lunar New Year. These tools are considered to create bad luck for the year to come and brush away the good luck. So better keep them out of sight and out of action on this day!
The Chinese distinguish between five types of each animal species in their zodiac according to the elements: fire, earth, metal, wood and water.

The Chinese zodiac signs will be combined with the five elements. There are five different specific animals such as the fire rooster (2017) or the earth ox (2009) or metal/gold tiger (2010). For 2019 we should say: 2019 is the Year of the earth pig. 

People are assigned a zodiac sign according to their year of their birth. And zodiac signs are said to show certain characteristics. 'Pig' characteristics would apply then for people born in the 'year of the pig': These people are considered as energetic, enthusiastic, tolerant and hard working but sometimes a bit overconfident and very busy.

Are you or anybody in your family born in the year of the dog? The last ‘pig’ years were: 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971 or 1959.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

So cool! Awesome kids stuff announced at CES 2019

Everyone loves fun toys, electronics and technology.  Finding tech that is safe and fun for kids can be quite the task, but Consumer Electronic Show (CES) manages to pull out some seriously cool stops when it comes to kids gadgets.

Whether you're looking for gadgets that help with the safety of your child, new techy toys, child-friendly wearables, and everything in between, there's something at CES that's bound to catch your eye!


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Here are just some of our favorite kids gadgets announced at CES 2019!

Canon Kids Mission Camera

This DSLR-like camera is designed to be both super simple and super easy-to-use for children who are showing an early interest in photography! After your child shoots some photos, you can download them and sync them to your smartphone.


Codi Bot

Tired of telling your kid to pick up after themselves? Well, the Codi Bot is here to sing them into doing their chores! This adorable little robot can be dressed up in different outfits and even allows you to communicate and leave voice recordings for your child, so you're always just a button-press away.


Specdrums

Add a li'l rhythm into your kids' routine and get them learning with Specdrums, a music-focused product for kids which also incorporates the STEAM learning method. Improve language and reasoning skills with a little musical help and have your kid bopping and learning in no time.

Smart Diaper

Yup. It's exactly what it sounds like. Using a Bluetooth device, a sensor picks up whenever a baby has gone number one or number two, alerting their parents that a change is imminent. The Smart Diaper has been designed to combat diaper rash and eliminates the need for the dreaded 'sniff test'.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Choosing between Toys or Video Games for Kids


Video games seem to be the favorite way for kids to relax and have fun. They come in all sorts of genres, all sorts of technical details and with animation so amazing that it really sucks you into an alternate world. I remember that feeling of escaping into another world from when I was young, but back then it was from books: “Anne of Green Gables,” “Junie B Jones,” “Ramona and Beezus,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” the Nancy Drew mysteries … and much later, as an adult, the Harry Potter series. Flash forward 30 years and instead of book series, beloved video games are part of the lexicon of childhood fun – Angry Birds, Guitar Hero, Resident Evil 4, Gran Turismo 3, Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto.

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Interestingly, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has published a paper addressing this very question. Pediatricians still feel that play is essential to optimal child development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of children and youth. It also offers a significant opportunity for parents to engage with kids using toys for play and interaction. Our perception of toys has evolved from seeing them as children’s playthings to now seeing toys as facilitators of early brain and child development. This challenges caregivers to decide which toys are most appropriate for their children.

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Picking the Right Toys


1. Recognize that the one of the most important purposes of play with toys throughout childhood, and especially in infancy, is to foster warm, supportive interactions and relationships.

2. The most educational toy is the one that facilitates interactions between caregivers and children through supportive, unconditional play.

3. Provide toys that are safe and affordable. Avoid toys that are over stimulating; instead, encourage the child to use their imagination.

4. For guidance on what toys are appropriate, refer to https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1076-tips-for-choosing-toys-for-toddlers.

5. Use children’s books to develop ideas for pretending together while using toys. Use of the local library should be routine for all parents.

6. Limit screen time (TV + computer) to less than 1 hour per day for children 2 years and older. For younger children, between 18 and 24 months of age, screen time should be avoided.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Netflix in January: Here are Great new Family Movies, Shows to Stream

Netflix's New Year's resolution for 2019 must have been: more.

In January, the streaming giant offers more variety for kids and families.

Movies such as  "Ant-Man and the Wasp," and "The Incredibles 2" are ideal for family movie night.

All four "Indiana Jones" movies roll out in January, as does "The Dark Knight".  Both are perfect for older kids.

Animated shows also are part of the mix, including "Happy Feet," "Hotel Transylvania 3" and a new series about a chipper hot dog called "Pinky Malinky."

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Here's a look at the best family programming for January. 


Jan. 1
A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 3)
The Baudelaires WILL solve the mysteries of the VFD in the series' final act amid Count Olaf's constant pursuit. Rated: TV-PG.

Across the Universe
Songs by the Beatles serve as the backdrop for this romance aboard a ship during the Vietnam war between a rich American girl and a working-class British boy. Rated: PG-13.

Happy Feet
Every Penguin needs a "heart song" to attract a mate. Poor Mumble doesn't sing, but he can tap dance like nobody's business. Rated: PG.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. (Harrison Ford) and Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) go in search of a powerful artifact. The Soviets are looking for the Crystal Skull, too, hoping it can help them rule the world. Rated: PG-13.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 
Indiana Jones must rescue his father who went missing while searching for the Holy Grail. Rated: PG-13.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark 
Indiana Jones battles a group of Nazis looking for the Ark of the Covenant. The 1981 movie is the first in the "Indiana Jones" film franchise. Rated: PG.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 
Indiana Jones searches for a magical stone in India. What he finds are human sacrifices, a secret cult and ancient evil. Rated: PG.

It Takes Two 
Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen star in this story of a rich girl and an orphan who accidentally meet and switch identities to make their loved ones fall in love with each other. Rated: PG.

The Addams Family
Con artists, one claiming to be the beloved and long-lost Uncle Fester, try to swindle the fortune from the eccentric Addams family. Rated: PG-13.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
The son of a Nazi commandant befriends a boy his same age on the other side of the  concentration camp fence. The forbidden friendship makes for some unforeseen consequences. Rated: PG-13.

The Dark Knight 
The Joker (Heath Ledger) and his vile antics make Batman (Christian Bale) walk a fine line between being a hero and a vigilante. Rated: PG-13.

The Mummy
A 3,000-year-old Egyptian priest is accidentally awakened, unleashing plagues before going in search of his true love. Rated: PG-13.

The Mummy Returns 
The Mummy is awakened once again and he seeks immortality, but this time something far more evil also has been unleashed. Rated: PG-13.

Pinky Malinky (Netflix original series)
Pinky was born a hot dog and that helps him take a big bite out of life. Always optimistic, he's got his best friends to keep him company. Rated: Unavailable.

Jan. 2
Monty Python and the Holy Grail 
In this comedy, King Arthur and his Knights set out to find the Holy Grail, encountering one silly challenge after another. Rated: PG.

Jan. 9
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Years before he joins the Rebellion, young Hans Solo meets his faithful co-pilot Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian, the first owner of the Millennium Falcon. Rated: PG-13.

Jan. 18
Carmen Sandiego
This super thief uses her powers for good, foiling the plots of others' evil plans with her trusty sidekicks.  Rated: unavailable.

Trolls: The Beat Goes On! (Season 5)
In season 5, the trolls get to ride in a submarine, journey in a Fountain of Glitter, get lost in wormholes and play in snow. Rated: TV-Y7.

Jan. 24
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
Drac and all the monsters vacation on a cruise ship. But things turn scary when Drac falls for the captain, who harbors a dangerous secret. Rated: PG.

Jan. 29
Marvel's Ant-Man and The Wasp 
Scott Lang deals with the consequences of his choices as a superhero and father while confronting a powerful new enemy as Ant-Man along side the Wasp. Rated: PG-13.

Jan. 30
Disney Pixar's The Incredibles 2
Mr. Incredible finds he must stay home and manage the house with Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack, while Elastigirl tries to save the world. Rated: PG.

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Last call for...

Leaving Jan. 1

Beethoven's Christmas Adventure

Finding Neverland

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Kung Fu Panda

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Monsters vs. Aliens

The Iron Giant

The Princess Diaries

Leaving Jan. 4

Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World

Leaving Jan. 18

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Leaving Jan. 19

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Family Night: The Best Family Board Games to start 2019

Is one of your family's New Year's resolutions to spend more time together?  Great idea!  Also, maybe one of your personal hopes is to get their smart phones out of your kids' hands (even just for a minute) But what do we do?  Well, a friendly suggestion is "Family Game Night."  It gets bold of your goals and it's a heck of a lot of fun!

Here are some suggestions.  Some new games, some classics with a 2019 twist!

Catan 5th Edition


If you regularly have family game nights, you should definitely add Catan into your arsenal of party games. This adventure-based game is perfect for three or four players over the age of eight, who will all battle to collect resources and build settlements on the island of Catan.
The Catan board game comes with 19 hexagon tiles that make up the playing board. These tiles are arranged randomly at the beginning of each game, so no two games are ever the same! At the start, each player gets color-coded settlement, road and city pieces, and the overall goal is to collect resource cards to build structures around the island. Players earn “victory points” as they build various structures, and the first player to 10 points wins!
The premise of the game is relatively straightforward, but there are a lot of rules and obstacles that make the game fun — players can trade resource cards, sabotage each other with the robber game piece and more as they race to become the conqueror of Catan.

Sequence Game

You may not have heard of the Sequence Game before, but this card-based strategy game is sure to become a family favorite. This board game is easy enough for kids to learn and tricky enough to keep adults on their toes, and people love it so much that it has more than 1,400 5-star reviews on Amazon!
You can play the Sequence Game individually or in teams — the game is recommended for kids ages seven and up, but many reviewers say younger children enjoy playing when paired with an adult. Here’s how it works: Each player or team gets a hand of standard playing cards, and during each turn, they put down one card and cover the corresponding spot on the game board with a chip. The objective is to get five chips in a row, and each round usually takes 10 to 30 minutes.
The Sequence Game is a great family board game, as it’s easy to learn, inclusive for all ages, and endlessly fun. This board game requires a combination of strategy and luck, and your family is sure to get increasingly competitive the more you play!

Codenames
For a fast-paced team game, check out Codenames. The premise of this board game is to guess the identity of “secret agents” with help from your team’s spymaster, and the word play will keep both kids and adults challenged and entertained through multiple rounds.
You can play Codenames with four or more people broken up into two teams. There are 25 cards on the table, each representing the two team’s secret agents; however, only each team’s spymaster knows which cards are which. During gameplay, the spymaster gives one-word clues to their team, helping them pick the right “agents” and avoid the other team’s cards. For instance, if the secret agent’s card reads “dog,” the spymaster might give the clue “pets.”
Gameplay typically moves quickly, finishing in around 15 minutes. This fast pace lets you switch up teams or demand a rematch — which might be necessary if things get competitive.

Scrabble

Scrabble reigns as one of the best word-based board games. This highly-rated classic can get pretty competitive with seasoned players, but it’s also a lot of fun with children who are learning to spell and working on their vocabulary.
This family game is designed for players eight and up, and there can be two to four players per round. However, don’t be afraid to team up, especially if you’re playing with younger kids! Scrabble comes with a game board, 100 wooden letter tiles, 4 tile racks, 1 drawstring letter bag, and game guide. To start the game, each player draws a certain number of tiles, and then players take turns creating words on the board, building off existing words and earning points for each letter. You can increase your points by landing on designated spaces for double or triple word or letter scores.
Scrabble has been around for many years, and it’s sure to be popular for many more, thanks to its simple, yet addicting gameplay. This board game is exciting for players of all ages, making it a must-have for your family’s game collection.