Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Family Movie: A Blast from the Past!

During the offseason, we love watching movies. Of course, Meatballs and Wet Hot American Summer are tops on our list, but our tastes run to the non-camp genre too. Today we thought we'd recommend a blast from the past that would make for a great family movie night- "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" starring Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson. Mixing animation with live action, Angela Lansbury plays an amateur witch who takes 3 British children into her care during the Blitz of London. Looking for a long lost magic spell, these wannabe magicians travel with the aid of an enchanted bedknob.

With some classic songs in the vein of Mary Poppins and other British musicals, and a good mix of adventure and comedy, this would be a very fun movie for kids aged about 8 and up. There is a battle scene in the end in which bewitched armor defends a village against a Nazi approach, which could be a little intense for younger or more sensitive kids.

Jefunira Rating: Red group and up!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Games for the Spring

Aww- the balmy evenings, later sunsets of Daylight savings and sunny afternoons- spring is nearing! And with the extra hours of daylight, we thought we'd throw out a couple ideas of games for kids (and grownups too!) to play at home.

Shadow Tag- This game is actually best played after sunset. A "home base" is chosen, typically the front drive or front steps of your house. One person is assigned to be the 'seeker' and counts down while the other players hide in the surrounding bushes/backyard. Once the countdown is finished, the seeker begins to look for the players in hiding. If they spot someone, the seeker must run back to the base and call out "1,2,3 on Joey (or whomever has been spotted)" before Joey runs and steps on the base. The players who are hiding must try to sneak their way back to base without being spotted- growing up, my friends and I would come prepared by dressing in dark cloths and covering our shoes with dark cloth! Once all players have either made it back to base without being called out, or have been caught by the seeker, the next round begins.. For variety, the seeker might be given a flashlight and the boundaries for hiding expanded.

Backyard Treasure Hunts- All you need for this game is a few sheets of different colored label stickers and some enthusiastic treasure hunters! Hide the stickers in various spots around your yard or neighborhood (with the sneakiness level of the spots depending on the ages of the participants), then give each kid or team a sample sticker on a notecard and challenge them to find as many others as they can! If your treasure hunters claim your hiding spots are too easy, challenge them to reverse the hunt and re hide the stickers for you to find! (But be warned, you may be finding stickers hidden on the bottom of your patio furniture for months to come...)

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Importance of Play

The Feb 17 issue of the NY Times Magazine contained an article, "Taking Play Seriously" which examined the developmental importance of play for children.
Examining both the potential dangers and rewards of play during the developmental years, several theories relating to the value of play are thrown out and discussed. I was particularly intrigued by experiments that hypothesize that rats neurological development in certain parts of the brain is affected by lack of play, and a project in which rats exhibiting behaviors similar to ADHD seemed to benefit from extra play time.

The article also opened up a discussion on whether play is as important to development as many adults claim, or if our nostalgia for the good old days of Shadow Tag and Kick the Can is causing us to assume kids are missing out on the unstructured play of past decades. Certainly, we at Jefunira firmly believe in the value of creative, unstructured play for kids and have noticed similar dialogues in this area- Playborhood, a local site was recently featured in the Palo Alto weekly, and local author Denise Pope has been sharing her "Stressed out Students" message through local lecture events.

We would love to know what other parents/educators/community members think about this issue- comment away!