Tag Archives: imagination

Fantastic Halloween Adventure: Costume Quest 2

Costume_Quest_2_Logo

Last year, I wrote about the first Costume Quest game. A rare gem that perfectly encapsulates the experience of Halloween. This year, Costume Quest 2 has been released and looks to continue the amazing Halloween spirit.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: Differing from the first game, Costume Quest 2 takes place in various eras of time. Not only will you and your kids get to virtually trick or treat in a familiar neighborhood setting, but you’ll get to visit Ancient Egypt, the Louisiana Bayou, a future where Halloween is illegal, and more!
There are multiple costumes to try on, lots of creepy cards to collect, and tons and tons of candy to collect and spend.

It is a fun adventure for the entire family. So gather round the computer or TV and spend some quality family Halloween time together.

Costume Quest 2 is available on PC, PlayStation or Xbox.

Play with action figures!

There are a few things that kids can do that are frowned upon when we were adults. for some reason, playing with action figures is one of them. And I say actions figures because I am a boy and I don’t play with dolls!

When I was a kid, I spent most evenings and weekends playing with my Batman the Animated Series action figures. In my head I created the most elaborate and imaginative stories that I would kill to be writing today. So, what happened? Like most kids, I grew up, stopped playing with toys, and stopped using my imagination, instead letting my imagination be dictated for me through movies and TV shows. The next logical step in this story involves me picking up some action figures and playing, right? Well, not really. yes, I am advocating for playing with action figures, yet I am not doing it myself… yet. It’s more of an idea that popped into my head whilst thinking of amazing storylines for my next book. The ideas just weren’t coming like they usually do. So I got to thinking: What could I do to spark creativity? And then it hit me. we just had an earthquake and a picture fell right on my head. Where was I? Oh yes, creativity!

Why can’t adults play with action figures? Or, more accurately, why don’t creative types play with action figures? Creating a story all comes from the head. why not have a little visual aid to go along with it? We could come up with a line of writer action figures. Get a little Edgar Allan Poe vs. Cormac McCarthy or something. That could be fun! I wonder who would have the kung fu grip…?
Being serious for a moment, playing with action figures definitely sparked my creativity in the past, and I have no doubt it would do so today. It’s all about creating stories, forming images, in our minds. Take a few minutes out of your day to find an activity that will enhance your creativity. Sure, it could be playing with action figures. Or maybe you really like to paint, ride a bike, etc. You will be a better writer for it.

Fantastic Adventure: Eerie, Indiana

eerie_indiana_650x300_a01_1My next item on my list of Fantastic Adventures in Family Entertainment brings us to a rather strange and unusual place. It’s a small town in Indiana that you won’t find on any map. Together let us journey to Eerie, Indiana.

Marshall Teller’s family moves to the small country town of Eerie, Indiana (Pop. 16,661). There, Marshall discovers that Eerie, as he puts it, “is the center of weirdness for the universe”. Elvis lives there, so do a pair of twins who stay young by sleeping in Tupperware, and many other strange things. Each episode, Marshall and his friend Simon collect evidence about the creepy things that happen there.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: Filled with paranormal shenanigans, clueless parents and two boys with an unending thirst for adventure, this television show delivers hours of amazing adventures for the entire family.
First, we have the classic best friends solving crime combo that encourages your kids to get out of the house and go looking for their own mysteries in their neighborhood and, hopefully, make friends along the way!
This is a great introduction to Twilight Zone / X-FIles – esque storytelling. Lots of great mysteries, paranormal, treasure hunting, etc. Just a few example of some of the more memorable episodes: A family that is hundreds of years old but stay eternally young by sleeping in Tupperware, a talking ATM that tries to be nice to you while getting you to steal other people’s money, a retainer that allows you to hear the thoughts of dogs (turns out, dogs are plotting to take over the world!), a VCR that brings the characters in the movie to life,  a school eye exam that leads to all of the kids becoming complacent drones, and more!
This show sparks the imagination of young kids more than any other I have ever seen. Your kids will love Marshal and Simon, want to go on adventures just like them, and begin to question their own reality. Are things truly as they seem, or is there some creepy paranormal force at work?  Either way, it will begin to open your kids’ minds to thinking outside the box and, hopefully, inspire them to create their own  mysteries and adventures with their friends.

Eerie, Indiana is available to own on DVD on Amazon.com

Fantastic Adventure: Theatre camps!

theatre%20camp%20photos%20(204)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!

5 More Halloween Crafts

What’s more fun than making things with your kids?  We’ve all seen those craft websites and magazines with those amazingly good looking crafts that look oh so easy to make. Have you eve tried to make those? Yeah, they never turn out the way you though, right? Well, here are five crafts that are guaranteed to turn out great because they are simple in construction and explanation.

3-halloween-jars-not-lit-up
Halloween jars. Just get some empty glass jars, clean them out well and paint away! It’s a great creative way to engage with your kids!

 

 

bags-b
Paper Bag Monsters. These are a fun and easy craft and a great creativity spark! Simply paint, cut out construction paper and then glue!

 

 

post_713176_1193518667_med

Popsicle Sticks. Glue together a bunch of Popsicle sticks (on paper or a heavy string) and paint away!

 

 

 

Seed-Halloween-Crafts
Seed Crafts! All you need is some construction paper, corn seeds, beans, rope and lotsa glue! Have fun with it. How many different things can you make?

 

 

th
Fun with Paper Plates. These are also an easy, fun craft for kids. All you need are the cheapo paper plates, some construction paper, scissors and glue! Create any Halloween inspired monster you can think of! Frankenstein, Dracula, Jack-O’-Lanters, Mummies, etc!

Fantastic Halloween Adventure: Disney’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

legendofsleepyhollowOne 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 easily frightened Ichabod Crane
The easily frightened Ichabod Crane

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

5 Halloween Craft Ideas

What’s more fun than making things with your kids? Well, okay, there’s that. But, trust, me, this will be fun! We’ve all seen those craft websites and magazines with those amazingly good looking crafts that look oh so easy to make. Have you eve tried to make those? Yeah, they never turn out the way you though, right? Well, here are five crafts that are guaranteed to turn out great because they are simple in construction and explanation.
Add a little homemade decor to your home or front yard with these five easy craft ideas.

halloween-host-jugs
Halloween Ghost Jugs. Everyone has milk cartons, right? This has to be one of the easiest and effective crafts I have seen. All you need to do is cut the bottom out of the jug, use a sharpie to draw a face and stick them on top of a strand of lights for an eerie ghost-like effect.

 

 

spider-halloween-crafts
Spider Pops. go to any craft store, like Micheal’s, pick up some little eyeballs, black fuzzy ropes, glue and Tootsie Pops. Spend some time with your kids and get them away from the TV for a bit.

 

 
halloween-ghosts

Halloween Family Foot-Ghost Portrait. Another easy craft and family bonding time! (Thanks, kidsactivitiesblog.com)

 

 

DSC02014


Q-Tip Skeleton.
This one is pretty straightforward. Q-Tips, black construction paper and glue! Best of all, your kids can use their imaginations and get creative with designing the skeletons’ faces!

 

 

EggCartonBatsCloseup_thumb1
Egg Carton Bat. Simply cut portions of an egg carton in threes. Cut the end pieces to resemble wings. Paint it black. Stick on some of those small eyes you have leftover from your spiders! Add a string or ribbon to the top for hanging.

Inspiration Place: It’s a Grind Coffee House

My next journey for inspiring writing places tales me to It’s A Grind Coffee House in Long Beach, CA. For all of my writing sessions, I am using a Microsoft Surface RT with Touch cover and Office 2013. picture010

With a mostly comfortable plastic chair underneath me and an adequate sized wire mesh table, the outdoor patio is a very relaxing and inspiring place to get writing done. I was able to get a perfect table overlooking the lone plantlike tree thing which blocks out the view of the parking lot. Here in an urban setting this is the best I’m going to get unless I go down to a park.
There is also a lot of opportunity to get lost in one’s work at this location. Most of the time the other patrons of this establishment either have their iPods going or are furiously typing away on a laptop. It is an almost library-like setting without the smell of stale books. As I spend more time at this location I have a feeling people will come to recognize me, as a few regulars came by while I was writing and were enthusiastically greeted by the staff and a few patrons. This sense of community is definitely a plus of living in the walking, biking and artist friendly Bixby Knolls section of Long Beach.

picture011Listening to the chirps of birds from the, uh, plant and the slight chatter of people enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend or partner really help make this spot the best I have written at so far. It is quiet, I can get in the correct mindset, and on cold days there is ample seating inside the coffee shop with  undisturbed quiet corners. I look forward to returning to this location and I urge all of my fellow writers to get out and find the place that is right for you.

Fantastic Adventure #12: My Teacher Fried my Brains

My next entry into my Fantastic Adventures series is the delightfully fun and bizarre book My Teacher Fried my Brains. The first day of seventh grade was probably the worst day of Duncan Dougal’s life. He knows that things are really bad when he finds an alien’s hand in a dumpster and then gets plugged into an alien brain fryer! Can Duncan find out which of the four new teachers in his school is an alien before his brains get fried to a pulp—or before the aliens try to fry the whole planet?

Why it is a fantastic adventure: The first thing that will interest your kids is the title. The very concept of a teacher being a bad guy is instantly intriguing to the young mind. After all, teachers are the ones that make us do homework, go up and do stuff in front of the whole class, and generally make kids’ lives a lot of work.
Once your kids learn that the teacher is actually an alien, well then that just seals the deal. Just wait until your kids come home from school one day and tell you all about how they saw Mrs. Micer’s hair move and eyes come out from underneath. Your kids will spend the next several months looking for signs of extraterrestrial life from their teachers. What fun!
The story itself is full of action and adventure, as the main characters sneak around the school during off hours, invade the faculty lounge, and come up with crazy schemes to oust their alien teacher.
With just the right amount of creepy, alien fun, action, adventure, and plot twists, My Teacher Fried my Brains will be at the top of your kids’ all time favorite list and will have them using their wondrous imaginations to find out if their teacher is an alien. The possibilities are endless!

Buy it at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/My-Teacher-Fried-Brains/dp/1416903321/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353823083&sr=1-10&keywords=my+teacher

Fantastic Adventure #10: The Neverending Story

If there is one thing you can count on in Fantastic Adventures in Family Entertainment, it is the adventure part! Today I have a grand adventure for the entire family. The Neverending Story is a film that crosses several genres in such an effective way that it feels like several different movies in one. You have a young boy reading a book in the attic of his home, and as he is reading the story, the audience is reading right along with him as the book comes to life on the screen. There are magical creatures, giant turtles, rock monsters, horses, a beautiful empress and a plot full of action, daring and wit.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: Contrary to the title, the story does eventually end, and it is a fantastic journey that seems to go by much too quickly. The first time your kids see the giant flying dog, Falcor, they will be hooked into the adventure and the story. A giant flying dog that a kid can ride on is an amazing way to get your kids’ imaginations flowing, and that really is the key. As I have said before, imagination is one of the few tools in our brains that we do not fully develop as we grow older. So, the more chances you can give your kids while they are young, the better! And the more you foster the growth of imagination, the better.
The other magical creatures in the story bring in a lot of fun. There’s a large rock monster, which kids always seem to get a kick out of. You also have a giant turtle, moving statues, living trees, and other equally odd yet charming things.
Another important aspect of The Neverending Story is the fact that it promotes reading. The main character of the story is really the boy reading the book. The rest is just the boy’s imagination of what the book world looks like. Your kids can actually see what reading a book can be like. They can watch the boy read the book and then see him create this fantastical world all on his own just through the mere act of reading. And, of course, by the end of the book, the boy is so into the story that he is shouting out the window in order to save the life on the empress.

The Neverending Story gets your kids’ imagiantions running wild, draws them into the story and hopefully gets them excited about reading and all of its wonderful possibilities.