Posts Tagged “nature”

Blue Sky Studio's Epic: More Movie Learning Fun

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Colorful, imaginative and super creative, the family movie Epic from Blue Sky Studios takes you to an entirely new world within our existing one. Beautiful animation and well-thought out characters put this film on the top of our “must-see-again” family list. My daughter and I saw it on the big screen and that’s best considering you are transported to a tiny world.

So after you catch the movie, which opened on May 24th, consider these other activities to make this an educational opportunity about the small wonders around us. You might want to gently explain the part about tiny men in the movie being for entertainment purposes but also that it is wonderful to let our imaginations go off in strange and unexpected places just the same.

9 simple things you and your children can do to explore and better appreciate the smaller beauties of our natural world:

    1. Grab a magnifying glass (borrow from Nana or pick one up at the dollar store), then head outside for some bug exploration.

    2. Don’t stop at the grass… but have the kids get up close to moss, trees, weeds and mulch.

    3. Look for a pair of binoculars at a local flee market or the garage and have your children explore the world above their heads.

    4. Create a bingo game for outdoor exploration… instead of “calling an item” when the kids FIND an item they mark their card. Prizes could be flower seeds to plant or new gardening gloves. (Sample findings: beetle, spiderweb, feather)

    5. Look for tracks: frog prints, worm holes, ant hills… so many possibilities.

    6. Have the children journal their findings… either in writing or by sketching (Lewis and Clark recorded many plant and animal species with drawings as it is a great way of documenting findings).

    7. Go on a “rainy day” exploration. What differences do your children find in soil, bugs and other surroundings?

    8. Make leaf and other nature impressions. Just using paper and crayons, they can create a documented entry for their journal or a small piece of art

    9. Watch “Bugs! A Rainforest Adventure” documentary.

My favorite scene was during one of the battles when the bark of the tree came to life with tons of Boggins. They were perfectly camouflaged as the tree bark and the animation detail was just amazing. It was one of those moments where you stop to appreciate something so unnoticed – the detail put into this scene and the entire movie to get us to appreciate the detail of our world is amazing.

Posing with Chris Wedge, Director of Epic

I was fortunate enough to meet and interview with Chris Wedge, the Director of Blue Sky’s Epic. During this brief media interview, Chris described his intentions in creating Epic as “not just trying to entertain the kids with funny, colorful characters; I want to engage them in a story.” Click on this audio link to hear a bit more of Chris Wedge describing his inspirations in creating this film: Epic Interview with Chris Wedge

And more resources…

A fellow blogger, Tina Seitzinger wrote a great recap and review of this movie and you can check it out here.

The official Epic movie website has games, character insight, pictures and more.

For more educational material, you MUST look at the resources available through Scholastic. Several downloads definitely worth exploring under the “Resources for Teachers”… these are not just for teachers – these are tools for us to use to get the most out of our movie ticket, materials to enhance the discussions and fun downloads to continue the learning fun AT HOME!! So play the Epic Adventure Challenge and print the Secret Forest word-find and then take advantage of the Epic Reading List (especially with summer break around the corner). So many options to take a great movie and make it an even greater experience.

Here are some pictures of our experience…

Via exploring our water saturated world.

Via exploring wet leaves.

Jumping Puddles

Disclosure: Although, I was invited to a media interview to meet with Chris Wedge, I was not compensated for this review, my travel or tickets. My daughter and I purchased our tickets and turned this into a weekend learning experience filled with fun and activities based on our interpretation of the movie. The opinions expressed herein are strictly


mine, as are the suggestions for further exploration.

Via taking samples.

The Smell Of Rain

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How to Beat Kid's Summer Boredom

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Sure there are so many things to do for the summer, and every child anxiously awaits the last day of school.  But nonetheless, they experience days of total summer boredom and with that comes nothing good, including the messiest play, mischief, migraines for parents and constant whining.  So here are a few simple suggestions to shake those days up and avoid the pitfalls of overly boring, super hot-n-sticky days of summer.

1.  Catch the sunset.

Sunset on the Delaware River


Catchin The Suns Rays

We are fortunate to live close to a park situated on the Delaware River… making an amazing backdrop for the day’s end.   The playground provided plenty of entertainment while we waited for each stage of the sun setting.  For my toddler is was a great lesson in colors as well, as we watched the sky transform from blues and greens to oranges and purples.  Just an amazing summertime thing to do.  We didn’t stay long after, but you could certainly take advantage of the light evening darkness for catching fireflies.  For more educational ideas, look for shapes in the distance and clouds.  For us, the bridge provided angles and triangles.  Talk about the different types of clouds, fresh water vs salt bodies of water, and perception of objects (like will that barge fit under the bridge when it looks too large?)  Test your little one to find the best angle to go down the slide or why sneakers might make you go slower.  And be sure to just sit back and enjoy nature’s beautiful daily artistry. 

Pillow Tower Fun

2. Build a tower of pillows.

Pillow Tower Tumbling

Almost like building blocks but bigger and softer.  Bed pillows, sofa pillows, even the decorative throw pillows add a different dimension to your child’s creative structure.  How high can they stack?  How about tunnels or geometric shapes?  Of course they are fun to climb and topple on top of.  The bravest moms might allow sofa cushions in the mix and/or pillow tosses and fights.  (Confession – I wasn’t that brave mom!)

3.  Themed play… in our case it was Star Wars.

These light sabers totally distract kids (and big kids) from unpleasant storms, heat waves or any boredom.  Part of the charm is that these toys rarely get played with, especially for the young one… so I encourage parents to dig deep for something that the kids rarely get to lay their hands on.

Everything Barbie

Another suggestion: clear a play area and pull out ALL of something for a huge focused playtime activity.  By example, we’ve done this with Barbie… lots and lots of Barbies, furniture, clothes, pets, etc and had one big community of Barbie.  Same idea with Little People making a large platform with all the different pieces arranged to create an interactive community (city, farm, circus).

Catching Some Quiet Time

4. Take a trip to your local library.

We enjoyed a variety of picture

Quiet Time At the Library

books and then had some quiet reading time to ourselves.  Unfortunately we missed the children’s story hour by 30 minutes but now we know better.  Be sure to check out the schedule of events at your library since most have programs for families, especially during the summer.

5. Break away from routine.

Find an opportunity to break your schedule.  Enjoy your breakfast outdoors or perhaps an informal dinner on the deck.  Put on a bubbles parade with music and dance.  Consider summer rain showers as natures sprinklers… and dance in the rain.

Picnic With My Brother

Picnic With My Cousins

6.  Create a Fort.

Sharing Our Fort

Pillows, blankets, cushions and large stuffies enable some cool creations.  Once complete, grab your flashlight for some shadow fun.  Pick out some favorite books and read by flashlight in your new cool hiding place.  Challenge your kids to build a tunnel, multiple entrances and hideaways within the structure.  For added educational fun, consider discussions around the pyramids and ancient castles that were cleverly designed with tunnels, secret spaces and defense in mind.

For more ideas visit Kelly Whalen’s article “25 Frugal Ways To Keep The Kids Busy This Summer” at  She includes handy tips like finding free camps, discount museum admission, garden tours and so much more.  Share with us:  What’s your coolest boredom buster?

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