We were waiting to give Vivien the new Lalaloopsy Movie at just the right moment. We wanted to watch TV, she didn’t have school the next morning and Piven was asleep. Voila! And there you go, she got to stay up late to watch it in our
bedroom so we could watch some Dothraki TV in peace.
Admittedly, I haven’t watched the whole movie. You can read the synopsis here. I did see enough to know exactly what I think. But does that matter? She loves it! So if you have a Lalaloopsy fan, no doubt it’s worth getting. Looking at the film from an artistic view, lover of Pixar animation and even The Backyardigans, I can’t believe the makers of this movie missed the boat completely on the visuals. It looks like a flat cardboard animation that dates back to the 80s maybe the 90s if I’m being kind. The branding and idea of Lalaloopsy is bright, saturated colors, playful and creative characters. I didn’t see that in this movie, which is where they could have really taken the brand to the next level. I don’t think The Backyardigans is particularly sophisticated in “the look” so even bringing the movie up to 2000 cable TV look in animation couldn’t have been that much harder or expensive to create. If the flat cardboard look was a style purposely decided…please get a new art director. The story line leaves much to be desired as far as a good message as a parent. It’s not bad but there are better animations out there with better stories/lessons. It will be one that is discouraged from the rotation.
Again, “looks” aside…my daughter loves the movie, and my almost 2-year-old son hands me the DVD to put on for him too. (Images are screenshots from the TV. R, Backyardigns; L, Monsters, Inc.)
Kids Birthdays! Fun, but shopping for presents can be a challenge even if you know your kids’ friends well. We live in a little neighborhood tucked quietly away in the northern tip of Manhattan. There are a few places to quickly run out and get a birthday gift like Wiggles and Giggles Playhouse (0-4-years-old) and an overpriced toy store on Broadway and 181st street…So if I have time I still mostly shop online. But what to get?
Although these might not seem to be very exciting at first, reusable snack and sandwich bags are a great gift and make lunch time at school so much more fun. It’s not another toy, it’s practical, saves money, reduces waste and it will add a little fun to brighten a kid’s day at snack or lunch time. I found the best selection on Etsy.com.
Although washable they can get dirty so I prefer darker colors as they don’t look dingy over time. They dry fast so no need to worry about putting them in the dryer.
Make sure the lining used is food safe and can handle wet foods such as grapes, tomatoes, and apple slices. All bags I found meet these specs. The inside gets stained over time with food such as carrots, so if you can choose I prefer the black lining over white, although I have had good luck getting all mostly clean when using dishwashing soap.
Some bags have an option of a zipper or velcro. Both are great but zipper might be easier for kids under 4.
I’ve ordered enough now to have received items from 5 different merchants, and all are holding up well. If you need them sooner rather than later send a note to the vendor as sometimes it took longer than a week for the sacks to arrive.
Crafts by Diana- Deco Building pattern and Batman (all pictured above).
SnakSaks-Cupcake – They offered a 10% discount for returning customers.
Celeste Blake Designs-Fairy-I love her discreet suede-like label.
Simply Practical-Mushroom pattern (larger size)
Oliveira Bags-Mushroom pattern (small size)
I recently had the privilege of giving a lesson to my daughter’s pre-k class about the beginning concepts of photography and thought I’d share the “lesson” just in case others want to expose their children early to these concepts,which actually apply to all art and not just photography.
I haven’t thought about the very beginning, the basics, of photography in a long time so I went online to see if I could find a good breakdown for 4-5 year olds. I got most of my ideas from this helpful article.
To prepare for the lessons I cut out cardboard frames (like picture frames) for each kid so they could hold them up as we talk about: Framing. I kept it simple and basic and explained each of the following concepts. The goal was simply to get the kids to think about what they would choose to be in their “frame” (like a view finder), where they would choose to have the objects in the frame and why.
- Perspective: Objects close to the frame will look big and if far away the object will look small. I asked them to think about what they would want to include in their frame. I asked what would they want to be the main focus of their “picture.” This should help get them to think more about why they are selecting a certain subject to take a picture of.
- Focus: I had them hold their hand up in front of them and look at their hand, then had them move their hand closer to their face. I asked them at what point does their hand look blurry. Then I explained that a lens in a camera is very much like your eyes. I explained that a lens can’t focus on things too close to it otherwise your image will look blurry.
- Light & Dark: Using the analogy of the lens as your eyes, I talked to them about when you wake up in the middle of the night in the dark and you can’t see very well; this also happens for a lens when it’s too dark. You need light to take a picture. And in contrast too much light will hurt your eyes. A lens will not be able to “see” what it is looking at if there is too much light. That is why generally you don’t take pictures facing a lamp or the sun.
This was enough information for a 20-30 min lesson.
What’s important is that kids learn to love to read and the best way is to have them hear and read stories that capture their imagination. Here are some of Mamalaide’s favorites that I myself love as well as my kids favorites.
My kids love pretend play, as some of you may know if you have read other posts. Vivien has a kitchen, which Piven, now 20 months, has been playing with since before he was 1-year-old. So for Christmas we got Piven, and by default of being the big sister, Vivien, a Farmer’s Market stand. I did my usual marathon research over several months. When I saw EverEarth Farmer’s Market Stand I was pretty sure we’d all love it. I found a good price on Amazon.com so I bought it. We waited to put it together on Christmas Eve once the kids were asleep, keeping me just excited about Christmas the night before as Vivien was.
It seemed at first like it was easy…then once we put 2 pieces together the 3rd just wasn’t going together. There was a moment of panic…the pieces just weren’t fitting! I almost gave up, but we started over. This time Julien looked at the directions closely. The directions were ok, not the best but not the worst. As it turned out the very first pieces we put together were upside down. Once corrected, it went together without a problem. It does take two people. Very doubtful one person could assemble on one’s own. Having a hand drill was also made it a breeze although you could screw all in by hand. But then your muscles might be too sore in the morning to open all the kids gifts fused to the packaging by plastic death grips.
Since space is always an issue in our apartment I’m nervous of pointed corners. EverEarth’s design is all curves and colorful. The kids have been playing with it for 2 months. They love it, and it’s been a great addition to the kitchen. Vivien loves to be the shopkeeper and Piven loves all the wooden veggies he can put in and put of the wooden crates. Yes it’s not just the stand but 7 cute wooden crates filled with all sorts of wooden veggies. The stand is made very well yet light weight. Sturdy, no tipping over. Piven does try from time to time to stand on the two back lower shelves. They have held up so far. (Having the back shelves is a cute for the shopkeeper to put additional things. I got Vivien a receipt pad so she can pretend to write out orders.) My kids are tall so when I was looking for the right stand that was a consideration so Vivien could play with it for a while too. This stand is a great height for 5-6 year old too.
There are two pegs on either side I didn’t know what to do with until I looked at the picture on the box. They go into the sides where there is a shallow hole (too shallow) for the two cloth sacs to hang on…another super cute addition to this set. I superglued the pegs in since the holes weren’t holding the pegs well, and they have stayed pretty well so far. The awning is a nice touch but not interchangeable. Ours says “Farmers Market.” I’ve seen pictures of others that have variations on this, including “Organic Market.” It would be cute if there were other options for a lemonade stand or post office, but you could get creative and make signs to cover up the market sign temporarily. Over all I would recommend this Farmer’s Market as a fun, creative, educational, interactive long-term toy. Oh let’s not forget all of it is recyclable, although you will probably want to keep it for several years and then pass along to other children.
Looking for young kids gifts for the holiday season? Here are some of my top picks for long-term play value making the toys worth every penny.
Happyland or Early Learning Centre brand Little People-like sets have been with us since my daughter was 18-months old. Now 4.5 and still plays with them. All friends that come over love them, boys and girls. The most resent, Moonhouse, is now a favorite and often houses Lalaloopsy and Playmobil figures.