While most of my entries in the Fantastic Adventures in Family Entertainment series have been book, movie and TV show based, I have decided to broaden my approach and open it up to all forms of family entertainment. Today I’d like to talk about theatre camps! What are they? Well, I assume most people are familiar with summer camp. This is similar in that you drop your kid off at a camp for a few weeks in the summer or Winter, but instead of sports and scavenger hunts, your kids will learn how to prepare for and put on a play. This includes all aspects including set design and building, costumes, makeup, acting and directing.
Why it is a fantastic adventure. There are few things in the world that foster creativity in the same way that live theatre does. It s truly a collaborative process where everyone belongs to a community and everyone is involved. Whether your kids are acting, directing, doing backstage work or making costumes, everyone will feel part of the process.
This is also a great opportunity to get your kids who are not as outgoing into a supporting community. Maybe your child is shy and doesn’t want to act. That’s OK. She can work backstage and help the play get up and running. Every one is an essential piece of the puzzle in theatre. And I can almost guarantee that by the end of the camp, your child will want to leave the backstage and audition for the lead role in the play. That’s just how it works. It is such an empowering place where everyone can feel safe and welcome.
Imagination and creativity are things we often squander when we’re older because we’re taught they don’t pay the bills! Let your child build their sense of imagination and creativity so they have something to tap into when they become adults. There’s nothing wrong with a career in the performing arts. Money be damned!
Ah, Hocus Pocus. This film was only mildly successful when it came out in 1993 and to this day it is a very divisive film. However, it is one of my favorite Halloween movies and a great family friendly movie, so I will be presenting it. The story focuses on three witches who were burned at the stake for their evil deed of stealing the souls of children in Salem, Massachusetts in 1693. Right before they died, they cast a spell on a black flame candle that once a virgin lit the candle on the full moon before Halloween, they would rise once again. Fast forward 300 years to 1993 and a young high school boy named Max Dennison lights the candle to impress a girl. The three witches rise again to steal the souls of little children.
Max, his (hopeful) girlfriend Allison, and Max’s little sister, Dani must stop the evil Sanderson Sisters before the sun rises on November 1st in order to prevent the sisters from coming back permanently. Of course, the hard part for Max and company is that it is Halloween night and none of the adults or authority figures believe them! I will not spoil the ending, of course, but you can expect much hilarity, adventure and creepy Halloween spooks.
Why it is a fantastic adventure: Max is every bit the aspiring young hero for middle school aged boys, with just the right amount of disobedience and knowing when to do the right thing. He is also an especially good role model for any big brothers who have little sisters to take care of. Max learns throughout the movie and teaches your kids at the same time. You can be irresponsible and have fun, but there will be consequences. You can hate your little sister for being a
burden, but you’re going to do everything you can to protect her when things turn ugly. And lastly, you can try to impress the cute girl at school all you want, but you’re not going to win her over that way.
The little girls in your family will wish they were in Dani’s shoes from the very beginning. Dani is lovingly portrayed by Thora Birch, who really steals many of the scenes in this film. She is strong-willed and won’t stop tormenting her big brother until she gets her way. Your little girl will be going on the adventure with Dani, reveling in a night of witches, zombies and magic that all seems fresh and real. She even gets a talking cat as her companion through the film. Another plus, just when Dani is getting too scared – and maybe your little girl, too – her big brother swoops in and comforts her. It is a perfect lesson in sibling relationships. Just enough rivalry, but in the end it is compassion that wins the day.
Of course you can’t mention this film without talking about the witches themselves – the Sanderson Sisters. They provide most of the comedy throughout the film, mostly having to do with being from 1693 and being awoken in 1993. The elementary school is deemed a “prison for children” (your kids will
agree with that), a man dressed in a devil costume is mistaken for the real thing, and the entire concept of Halloween being a night of young children dressing up as creatures is quite upsetting to them. Bette , Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker play the creepy yet kooky witches to perfection with just the right amount of terror and humor. If these three witches do not get your kids excited about all things Halloween, then there is not much that will.
There are Halloween decorations abound, zombies, talking cats, creepy cemeteries and picturesque Salem settings, which really bring that cold Fall feeling to the film.
The entire movie itself is one long, grand adventure that never lets up and teaches very important lessons along the way, all the while building your kids’ love of Halloween.
I am expanding my fantastic adventures series to include games and outdoor activities! Look forward to even more content and exciting things to do with your family.
Today I present Scribblenauts Unlimited, a video game for the Wii U console and PCs. What makes this video game a fantastic adventure? It’s educational, but so much fun your kids will forget they are learning to better use the English language.
A pig needs to be cleaned. Type in any object you can think of. In this case, perhaps a sponge, bucket, hose, soap? You name it, the game creates it. Need to fix a broken car? Just write in ‘Mechanic’ and one will pop right into the game world to fix the car. You can also add adjectives to any character to make them complete a task. For example add the adjective praying to a nun, and well, you’ll have a praying nun. Think of Mad Libs as an interactive video game. You approach different characters, objects or animals throughout the game. Each one needs your help. It is then up to you to use your imagination and knowledge of the English language to help!
You and your kids will have a blast helping out the citizens of Scribblenauts’ world, which is done in a colorful, vivid animation style.
The characters are fun to look at and the detail in the cities and backgrounds is visually pleasing.
Your kids will use their imaginations to create any object their heart desires. (No worries, there are vulgarity filters in place). And this, perhaps, is the strongest case for Scribblenauts Unlimited. Anything that gets your kids to think creatively is a plus. Being creative while also playing a game and staring at the TV? It’s the best of both worlds! Just don’t tell your kids that they are actually learning while playing!
Hello, readers! Today, I am excited to introduce you to my newest character, Kyle McDuffy. He is an adventurous fifth grader on a mission to solve all the mysteries at Pearson Elementary. With the help of nosy Cindy and nervous Will, Kyle will investigate the greatest mysteries of his time.
First Case: ‘Principal Adams and the Toupee of Terror!’
Look for the first case to be released right here, for free, with new cases added every few weeks.
When a substantial amount of cases are revealed to the public, a complete case work collection will be released in one paperback volume.
Be sure to use the Search bar on the right side of the Home screen and enter keyword Kyle McDuffy to see all of the posts!
Looking to stay in for the evening with the family? I stumbled upon this ad the other day and wanted to share it, as will be a great opportunity to have a memorable family movie night. Most of the films are from the 1990s or early 2000s, so there is a good chance it has been a long time since your family has seen some of these, if at all. Among some of the films being shown, I would strongly advise watching The Addams Family, Monster House, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, Nightmare Before Christmas, and Jumanji.
There will be a different movie every night at 8pm Eastern 5pm Pacific. Spend some quality time with the family, pop some popcorn and get ready for fantastic adventures!
Hook is the next entry in my fantastic adventures series. I would have written about this already, but it was such a huge part of my childhood I assumed everyone has seen this film. While it is popular, there are probably lots of young kids and families who have not seen it. So, I feel I need to get the word out on this amazing adventure! Hook is a great sequel to the traditional Peter Pan story. What would happen if Peter gave up Neverland to grow old with Wendy’s daughter? It turns out he would forget all about Neverland, the lost boys, and everything about being Peter Pan. And what would happen if Captain Hook made his way to Earth to kidnap the children of the adult Peter Pan? Join in the adventure as Peter rediscovers why being a kid is so much fun.
Why it is a fantastic adventure: If your kids are familiar with the story of Peter Pan, they will instantly recognize a lot of story elements, both from the book and stage play. Your children will feel like insiders and feel like the are in on some sort of secret.
Once the story transitions to Neverland, the sets and action are breathtaking, immediately sucking your kids into the world. Neverland has never been so real. Each of your children will immediately find a lost boy they like and relate to, creating an even greater immersion.
Imaginations will soar as your kids will immediately plan their own battle against the evil pirates, creating coconut swords and bamboo armor.
Of course, a land with no parents and no rules is an exciting prospect for any kid. This is a great film for sparking imaginations. There is a make believe feast, and lots of different “games”, which all require the classic kid talent of make-believe.
The acting is top notch from everyone involved. It is almost as if the actors knew they were making a masterpiece. Robin Williams seems a bit out of sorts in the beginning, but comes into his own as a grown up Peter Pan. Dustin Hoffman delivers the best performance of Captain Hook ever put on film. Oddly enough, Julia Roberts is the weakest link, so that tells you how great the acting is.
There is also something for parents to take home. Just the mere thought of losing your children is horrifying, but bonding with your children while rediscovering the fun of your youth is something that will call to your very essence.
Do not miss this masterpiece of imagination and adventure.
Hook is available to own on DVD or Blu-Ray.
Fantastic Adventures, Writings , and Other Musings