This is a special event based entry in my Fantastic Adventure series. For my readers in Southern California, coming this summer to a park near you, Shakespeare by the Sea!
It is FREE and I will most likely be at every performance working in some capacity.
I would love to see you! Get the schedule on the website above or message me your address and I will mail you a flyer!
Shakespeare by the Sea is a touring Shakespeare play. Each play is shortened for time and somewhat modernized. This year they are presenting Hamlet, Prince of Denmark and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. These plays take place out in a local park. Bring your own blankets, chairs food, etc. and have a great time!
Why it is a fantastic adventure: Introduce your kids to Shakespeare plays in a fun and supportive environment. Don’t wait until they have to read Romeo & Juliet in high school. They will be lost and they will end up hating Shakespeare. No one wants that!
This is a great intro to the world of Shakespeare and a fun and interactive way to get your kids into all kinds of live theatre.
Come on down and say hello! Not in So Cal? Look for touring theatre groups in your area this summer!
First off, I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays. December is in full swing, my daughter’s birthday party is coming up this weekend, and then Christmas celebrations begin! It is always a whirlwind this time of year, but it is fun and such a great few months to spend with friends and family that it is all worth it. How do you feel about this time of year?
Seeing as how my viewership is nearly double that of last year, I thought I would point you all in the direction of my Fantastic Christmas Adventures posts from last year. So today you get not one, but multiple Fantastic Adventures. Best of all, I’ll only charge you for one! Oh wait, I don’t have a tip jar on this blog. Well, lucky you, you get them all for free! Happy Holidays!
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!
The Berenstain Bears were always a staple of my childhood. For every lesson to be learned, the Berenstain Bears have a book to teach you. Perhaps the most memorable of these books for me was the dark and eerie “Trick or Treat.” The story involves the kids going out on Halloween night trying to avoid the creepy house in the neighborhood because they’ve heard bad and scary things about the man who lives there. Eventually they learn that appearances can be deceiving.
Why it is a fantastic adventure: The artwork alone is enough to give any kid a certain awe. It is a great feeling to look at these drawings of dark corners, bare trees and dimly lit porches and be able to feel scared but safe at the same time. After all, these are the Berenstain Bears an they have always been kind to you in the past. Don’t worry, there will be no nightmares about the friendly drawings, but it is about Halloween night and all that come with it – ghosts, goblins, darkness, trick or treating, jack-o’-lanterns. It’s a comfortable yet scary feeling.
The story also contains a good lesson: people and things are not always what they seem. The ol’ don’t judge a book by its cover. Your kids will learn that spooky things are okay, different things are not always scary, and not to believe everything they hear.
Overall, it is a great Halloween journey, especially for the artwork. The story is really secondary here, as your kids will be more enthralled with the eerie trees and full moon than what is happening in the story. Still, it stands as a true Halloween classic for the entire family!
Today’s Fantastic Adventure in family Entertainment brings us to the Neitherworld with the cartoon version of Beeteljuice. In particular, the Halloween episode “Laugh of the Party.”
When snobby Claire Brewster excludes Lydia and her friends from a popular kids’ Halloween party, Lydia decides to have one of her own. But when Delia takes over the planning, it looks like disaster is imminent until Beetlejuice — as Mr. Beetleman — offers his catering service. Armed with party supplies from the Neitherworld, he’s ready for anything…except the discovery that one of his decorations, Party People in a Can, shouldn’t be used during a full moon. He and Lydia must hunt down the missing Party People before they wreak havoc on all of Peaceful Pines.
Why it is a fantastic adventure: Your kids will obviously love the zany antics of Beetlejuice and will be able to relate to mom taking over the planning of a party (sorry, moms!). As in most children’s cartoons, there is a message to teach the kiddos. In this case, the message is one that you will enjoy as a parent. You see, Beetlejuice ends up getting on over his head (another good lesson) and Lydia has to help him clean it up (lesson number two). But the big lesson is that it is usually for the best when your bumbling but helpful parents plan your party because they know what they are doing.
Another fun aspect of this show is the animation. There is something very comforting about hand drawn animation from the late 80s and early 90s. Maybe it’s just the overload of horrible CGI in cartoons these days, but seeing hand drawn animation is very inviting. Plus, the animation style of this show is very unique. Your kids will hopefully appreciate the old animation style, as it is creepy, colorful and fun all at the same time.
The next stop on our Halloween tour: Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost! This animated movie came straight to DVD in 1999. Like most Scooby-Doo movies, this one revolves around a mystery. In this case, there is a witch’s ghost tormenting the citizens of Oakhaven, a sleepy little town where famed Horror writer Ben Ravencroft goes to write his books. Ben Ravencroft runs into Scooby and the gang after they solve a mystery at a local history museum.
Once Scooby, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne and Fred arrive in Oak Haven, they immediately begin to investigate the suspicious behavior of the mayor. The gang is skeptical about the Witch’s ghost being real , but once they see it for themselves will they believe in ghosts? Join the spooky adventurers as they try to solve the mystery of the Witch’s ghost!
Why it is a fantastic Adventure: This movie is one that I view every October to get me into the Halloween and Fall spirit. The town of Oak Haven has a picturesque Massachusetts Fall setting: brown leaves, barren trees, a small Main Street where everyone knows everyone, and even a re-creation of a Puritan village. If you live in parts of the world where the weather doesn’t change much and Fall doesn’t really happen, this is a great way to get yourself and the kids in the proper Fall mindset.
Along the way, the gang meet a group of Gothic witches who are in the rock band, The Hex Girls. This trio provides a few songs in the movie (which are actually pretty good) and help keep the kids entertained through the somewhat plodding mystery story.
Scooby-Doo provides the majority of the movie’s laughs, whether he is scarfing down a gigantic sandwich, begging for Scooby Snacks, or trying to churn butter in the Puritan village. He also provides crucial entertainment value in a story that is somewhat dark for a kids’ Halloween adventure.
On that point, the ghost in this movie is real. She is not someone dressed up in a costume to be de-masked at the end. She has a real thirst for revenge and will do anything to get her way. She brings pumpkins to life and turns them into evil jack-o’-lanterns that try to eat Scooby and the gang.
The plot deals with witches, Wiccans and warlocks, and provides a safe introduction to the topic of real life witches- Wiccans -that you can elaborate on later if you so desire.
The mystery plot is a lot of fun and will keep your kids guessing until the end, especially since the witch turns out to be real (but who was behind the other part of the mystery, and why was the mayor being so suspicious?). There are plenty of eerie locations to keep up the Halloween vibe: abandoned mills, forests full of dead trees, a cabin shrouded in an eerie fog.
Overall, Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost is a great atmosphere setting movie with a fun mystery and a few teachable moments and imagination igniting ideas for your kids. Watch and get ready for Halloween!
One of my best childhood memories of Halloween is sitting around the TV turning on the Disney Channel and watching The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. For those who don’t know the story, it basically involves a very superstitious and easily scared school teacher, Mr. Ichabod Crane, being told a spooky story of a headless horsemen by the town prankster. When Ichabod makes his way home after the gathering, he is chased down by this headless horsemen and never heard from again.
This story appeals to such a broad audience because we all love a good unsolved mystery. Kids enjoy it because it is spooky, scary and a stern reminder not to run off alone!
The animation may leave younger kids a bit disappointed as it is not CGI and is actually hand drawn (oh, the horror)! However, they will quickly forget that little tidbit as they are sucked into the world of Sleepy Hollow. The daytime settings are pleasant to look at, which gives you a nice secure feeling. Hold on to that feeling. You’re going to need it.
When night falls on Sleepy Hollow the quiet, melodic town turns into a foreboding maze of dark forests, dimly lit cabins and dark, unlit paths. Of course, this is the part that is most appealing to kids and adults on Halloween night. If you talk to your kids and explain tot hem that the dark is not scary, and that the headless horsemen is not, in fact, real, they will not be frightened and will be able to enjoy the story for what it is.
The sense of fear and adventure stirs something primal in all of us, which is why this story and this cartoon version of it, continues to enthrall us all these years later.
Sit down and put this family friendly telling of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow in your DVD player!
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is available on DVD from Amazon.com
You remember the Rugrats, right? Every kid (and parent) growing up in the 1990s watched this show. Chances are, if you have young kids, they have never seen this show. Well, what a better time to introduce them to this gem of a show than Halloween?
In this Halloween episode, the kids get out of the playpen and wander into Stu’s haunted house in the garage while searching for the ultimate Halloween treasure – a Reptar candy bar!
Why it is a fantastic adventure: This episode is a great introduction to the American concept of Halloween. Not sure how to explain what Halloween is all about? Take some pointers from this episode. Your kids will learn what a jack-o’-lantern is, what trick or treating is and why we dress up in spooky costumes.
The real joy of this Halloween episode lies in the adventure. Tommy, Chuckie and the gang all escape from the playpen (as they so often do), and make their way into the haunted house Tommy’s dad has set up in the garage. Along the way they run into fun house mirrors, spooky decorations that come to life when they walk near, and a surprise from grandpa in disguise! This story perfectly captures that sens of adventure that every young child has. It is something that disappears all too quickly in our society. Let your children experience the pure joy of exploring and discovering new things. This cartoon is a great tool for developing that sense of adventure. Plus, it’s about Halloween, so it is automatically fun!
A recent Halloween tradition of mine has been to play the game Costume Quest by Double Fine Entertainment. It’s perfectly detailed Fall environments capture the spirit and feel of Halloween unlike any other experience. I would like to share this wonderful game with you today in the hopes it becomes your new family tradition as well!
The game takes place on Halloween night in fictional Schafer County. You play as either Wren or Reynold a sister and brother who set out on Halloween for a night of trick or treating! Unfortunately, your sibling is immediately kidnapped by evil Grubbins! (You can play as either the sister or brother). The Grubbins are sinister monsters who are secretly plotting to take over the entire world and consume all of its candy! Oh, the horror! You now have no choice but to team up with your neighborhood friends and stop the Grubbins before Halloween night is over!
The fun really comes to life in the gameplay. You essentially get to go from house to house trick or treating, collecting candy and using it to buy stamps which can be used to power up your different costumes throughout the game. Of course, it’s not all fun and games when trick or treating, for behind certain doors Grubbins lay in wait ready to pop out and attack! When they do attack, the game play is a simple battle system of tap this button and attack, run away, or use special ability. It is very intuitive and easy for a 10 year old to play!
The best part of this game has to be the visuals. Think of Halloween for one minute. What do you picture in your mind? That’s exactly what this game looks like. Every house is covered in Halloween decor, brown and gold leaves litter the ground, jack-o’-lanterns flicker all over the neighborhood, and all of the neighbors have come together to host a giant Halloween block party with apple bobbing, pie contests and more! And if that isn’t enough Halloween spirit for you, the second half of the game takes place in a decked out shopping mall, complete with Halloween costume contest, and the final part of the game sends you to an eerie Halloween carnival!
There are also Halloween costumes galore. Each costume has a different power up that will help you in battle against the Grubbins. Best of all, you can change costumes any time you wish, helping you get over obstacles and solve puzzles to progress the game forward. Building costumes, collecting candy and fighting Grubbins are all a lot of fun, especially when playing is such amazing environments!
Your kids will fall in love with the perfectly eerie yet cute Halloween visuals, and of course they will be even more excited to go out trick or treating and experience an adventure of their own!
I hope yu are as enthralled with this game as I am. It definitely deserves its place as a yearly tradition for the entire family!
Costume Quest is available on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. It is rated E 10+ Amazon.com Buy Now!