Tuesday, January 31, 2017

50 in January

It's 50 in January in Nebraska.
Forget scooping snow.
Scoop leaves instead.
Don't stop until you make the tallest pile you can.

Then jump in!
As the three of them grabbed hands and yelled 1-2-3!
I hoped with all my might that this would be one of those memories I wouldn't forget.

Bury yourself.
Or make some leaf confetti.
No matter what you chose, 50 in January is a pretty swell thing.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Tween Hits, Our Top 12 of Recent Finds

My bigs are fast becoming tweens.  Nothing more frustrating than trying to figure out what to let these guys watch and read.  So I thought I'd share a few treasures we have found as of late, that have met my big kids' desire to feel more grown up, without deviating too much into being too mature.

12.  Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Set in ancient China, this book weaves Chinese folk tales and culture into the story of Minli's search to bring prosperity back to her poor mountain village.  Amazing woodcut pictures provide even more of an authentic Chinese feel to the story.

11.  Scraps of Time book series
There are four books in the Scraps of Time series, each one featuring a family heirloom in a black family's attic.  A set of cousins then listens as their grandmother tells the story behind each item, spinning a story set in history from the perspective of a black child.  The heirlooms cover the civil rights movement, the black exodus from the south following the Civil War, the Harlem Renaissance, and 1950's baseball. 

10.  Sign of the Beaver
We just wrapped up reading this classic book, right about Thanksgiving time.  Set in colonial America, it's the story of a boy who is left behind to hold the landclaim his father establishes in the wilderness of Maine while the father returns to Massachusetts to bring the rest of his family.  The boy ends up being befriended by a Native boy and his grandfather.  I had read it as a kid but completely missed the theme of it then.  Spoiler alert:  Matt, the white boy in the story, learns that the Native American ways are not backwards or wrong, just different.

9.  Sabrina the Teenage Witch starring Melissa Joan Hart, available on Hulu
Yep, the one you used to watch.  Conleigh loved watching these.  They do contain a bit of high school romance and drama but it's much more tame than what newer shows seem to offer and more age appropriate stuff, where it's high school kids dealing with this type of stuff rather than middle school or junior high kids.

8.  Lego Friends on Amazon or Disney Jr.
I was skeptical of Lego's introduction of Legos meant for girls.  (As in why do girls need their own specially colored Legos, ones that often are directed at "girl" things like being a pop star or picnicking with friends?)  But Conleigh really likes both the building blocks and the tv show.

7.  American Girl movies
Both Kenson and Conleigh have liked these, I think because there is enough of a history viewpoint to keep Kenson interested.  We've seen Kit Kitteridge, McKenna, and Saige.  On our watchlist are Maryellen and Melody which are both now available on Amazon Prime.

6.  Odd Squad on PBS
Done in the vein of the old Electric Company or Mathnet from PBS, this show focuses on kids who use math to keep the world from becoming an odd place.

5.  Wild Kratts on PBS
Kenson, Kai, and Zeke like these more than Conleigh but the animal/conservation themes are things all my kids will watch.

4.  Hairspray Live (available on Hulu)
Conleigh loved this.  The boys liked it too but Conleigh clapped with delight when it was over.  Yes, there is some high school drama/romance but again, it's more age appropriate since it features high schoolers.  The story of dance as a method of integration was one my kids really enjoyed.

3.  Avatar and The Legend of Korra (available on Amazon Prime)
I reluctantly am including this one but all of my kids love these shows.  It's a bit new agey for some but I'm the type of person who believes it's fantasy and my kids are perceiving it as just that.  They love the overall theme of good vs. evil as well as the science fiction connected to water bending, earth bending, and fire bending.  That said, I've had to turn both of these off from time to time since Kai gets a bit wild and goes overboard with fighting.

2.  The Best/Worst Christmas Pageant Ever
Oh, how I had forgotten about this book!  What a riot!   The Herdman kids are just plain awful and yet, someone tells them there is dessert offered at Sunday school so they decide to come.  Of course, that would be the morning when the church starts working on their Christmas pageant.  Such a great story about what the church should really look like, without any preaching, and a hilarious plot.

1.  Annedroids on Amazon Prime
This original Amazon series is fantastic!  All of my kids loved it and binge watched the entire series for about a month straight until they had watched all of the episodes.  The series centers on three tween age friends who build robots and androids in a backyard junkyard.  No romance, no mean friends, a smidge of science but not too much, just a great mix of focusing on friendship and inventing.

Other options that I hope my kids will explore:

From Amazon:
McGuyver reruns
Young Indiana Jones reruns
Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman
Lost in Oz
Fetch with Ruff Ruffman

From Hulu
The Brady Bunch
Air Bud
The Saddle Club
The Parent Trap (both the original and the more modern one)

The Young Riders

Mr. Popper's Penguins
Ginger Pye
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Riding Freedom