With April vacation for the kids fast approaching, many parents are starting to plan what to do with the kids. While it is fun to bring the kids to attractions, to the playground (if the snow is gone) or even to the movies. But, when you factor in the long lines and crowded places, as others parents had the same idea as you, you wonder why you even plan outings at all. My mom always said that the school vacations and summer break were always stressful, as she had to continually plan fun activities to keep us busy and not fighting.
One thing that my mom and a handful of the neighborhood moms did during school breaks, and which I started to do last year with moms in my area, was to gather up all the kids at one house and have a movie day. In addition to watching movies, the kids would have living picnics with bag lunches our mom's had made...or, if a mom hosting the kids was brave enough, the kids could make English muffin pizzas or sandwiches. But, the attention of the day was around the movies. Pillows and blankets were thrown onto the floor and the kids had fun watching some great movies and shows, while enjoying time with friends. And, the moms didn't have to worry about driving the kids around and hearing "Are we there yet?" or braving crowds with fussy, inpatient children. Instead, the kids were dropped off at 11AM and picked up around 4:30PM. Everyone loved these screening parties.
Because my girls are toddlers/preschoolers and many of the kids in the neighborhood are the same, when we get the kids together, we through in crafts or playing games with the kids, in addition to watching movies and animated television series with them. Because they have shorter attention spans, we have to keep them engaged by switching things up.
Last week I had six children over with their moms, who ranged in ages from 6 months to 4 1/2 yrs. old. Looking for shows that they could all enjoy, I ended up pulling out a handful of DVDs I recently received from PBS Kids to watch with them. You should have saw the kids' eyes light up when they saw some of their favorite characters, including Peep, Chirp and Quack from Peep and the Big Wide World, Daniel Tiger and Katerina Kat and Prince Wednesday from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and my daughter Bella's personal favorites Martin and Chris Kratt from the Kratt Brothers.
Because the full-length episodes of each these and most PBS Kids shows are about 12-15 minutes in length, we were able to switch the shows, so that the kids could watch all their favorite PBS Kids animated characters in an afternoon. By the end of our screening party, the kids were tuckered out from a busy day, the moms were happy as they got to spend cuddle time with their kids as we watched some great educational programming, and the kids were fed an early dinner, so that when they returned home, they could do their hygiene, read a few books and then go to bed. :-)
So, with April vacation for the kids fast approaching, don't go crazy trying to find places or events to take the kids to. Instead, why not get a group of the neighborhood kids or your mom's group together and host a movie screening and brown bag lunch at your house. It really is a lot of fun, and the kids always have a blast.
Here are the recent PBS Kids DVDs which we enjoyed the other day, that will provide hours of educational enjoyment for kids of all ages for your upcoming gatherings, or rainy day boredom solutions:
"Lovable characters, charming plot lines, humor, and science all come together in the fun and engaging program PEEP and the Big Wide World. The newest DVD in the PEEP collection, “DIVA DUCK,” features eight adventures in which the hilariously quirky Quack takes center stage! In Magic Duck Dancing, Quack thinks his snazzy new Duck Dance has magical power. He thoughtfully decides to teach it to all his friends – for a small fee, of course! In The Many Moons of Quack the Duck, Quack insists that there are many moons in the sky – the day moon, the night moon, the orange moon, and the striped moon – despite all evidence to the contrary. Among his other adventures, Quack gets into a singing duel, turns into a duck-fish, and finds a way to boss his friends around – without ever opening his mouth!
Series Information: PEEP and the Big Wide World gives wings to the innovative idea of teaching science to preschoolers. Set in and around a pond, a bush, and a tin can, the show follows a newly hatched chicken named Peep, and his friends Chirp and Quack (a robin and a duck), on their adventures. Surrounding them is a large urban park – a place of great wonder and mystery, a place they are forever eager to explore, a place they call “the big wide world.” The program is narrated by Joan Cusack (“Toy Story 3”)."
Runtime: Approx. 100 minutes
"Join brothers and wildlife explorers Martin and Chris Kratt (creators of the award-winning WILD KRATTS, KRATTS’ CREATURES and Emmy-winning ZOBOOMAFOO) as they explore nature, meet up with cool creatures from around the world, and witness never-before-seen wildlife moments. The two episodes featured on this DVD – “Secrets of the Spider’s Web” and “Attack of the Tree Eating Aliens” – are filled with humor, excitement, and science!
WILD KRATTS transforms Martin and Chris Kratt into animated versions of themselves, allowing the real-life zoologists to visit wild animals in their little-seen habitats and to showcase key science concepts along the way. Geared toward kids ages 6 to 8, each episode of WILD KRATTS presents age-appropriate science inspired by the natural abilities of the animals that the Kratt brothers – and young viewers – meet. The series premiered on PBS KIDS in January 2011 and is part of PBS KIDS’ ongoing commitment to STEM – science, technology, engineering, and math – education for kids.
The DVD run time is approximately 55 minutes and its SRP is $9.99. In addition to featuring two fun-filled, laugh-out-loud adventures, the DVD also includes special features – PDF coloring pages and activities."
“Secrets of the Spider’s Web”
Synopsis – The Wild Kratts team attempts to uncover the secret to spider silk while keeping Donita from including the valuable substance in her latest fashion line.
Learning Goal – How humans can create new objects by studying and analyzing the elements of nature.
“Attack of the Tree Eating Aliens”
Synopsis – The Tortuga crew gets a distress call from some Wild Kratts kids and must investigate why the forest around the kids’ clubhouse is dying.
Learning Goal – How introducing a new species into an ecosystem can have disastrous results.
"Episodes on the “Daniel’s Big Feelings” DVD include: “Duckling Goes Home/Daniel Feels Left Out,” “Daniel Gets Frustrated/Frustration at School,” “Daniel Is Jealous/Jealousy at the Treehouse” and “Someone Else’s Feelings/Empathy at School.” The DVD also includes two bonus stories: “Daniel Gets Mad” and “Katerina Gets Mad.”
Episodes on this DVD include: “Prince Wednesday Goes to the Potty/Daniel Goes to the Potty,” “Daniel Visits School/Daniel Visits the Doctor,” “Daniel Shares His Tigertastic Car/Katerina Shares Her Tutu” and “Good Morning Daniel/Good Night Daniel.”"
Read my review of this DVD here: http://www.inspiredbysavannah.com/2014/01/two-new-daniel-tigers-neighborhood-dvds.html
"Join Caillou as he explores the outdoors and learns how much fun it can be to take care of the environment. Take a hike with Caillou and Grandpa to Blueberry Point or join Daddy and Grandma in the garden while they plant a tree and teach Caillou about the magic of composting. Episodes include: Caillou Can Compost; Caillou's Tree; Caillou Saves Water; Blueberry Point; Class Pet; and In the Garden."
This DVD was enjoyed by all the kids, and really got them itching for spring and the warmer weather so that thy could get out and help their moms plant a garden. We talked with the kids about what they would plant -- a flower or vegetable garden -- and what they would plant in each. It was fun to hear what the kids would plant -- including bananas, mangoes, tomatoes and even butterfly trees. The moms agreed that we have to get together soon and prepare mini garden starters with egg cartons with the kids.
The compost episode was also a good one to watch with the older kids and talk about recycling and the upcoming Earth Day. From planting a tree to conserving water, this is a fun filled DVD that will not make Caillou fans smile, but will also teach children about the environment and how they can help protect it.
You can find all of the above PBS Kids DVDs at most major retailers and through online stores like Amazon.com for purchase. Other titles are also available at the official PBS Kids Shop - http://shop.pbskids.org/ -- including everyone's favorite show, Sesame Street, and others like Clifford the Big Red Dog, Curious George, Word Girl, Word World and so many other great educational series airing daily on PBS Kids.
Disclosure: I was sent screener copies from the vendor in order to write up an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.