“The Nut Job” 3D Movie Review

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“The Nut Job” 3D Movie Review

Disclaimer: I was given 2 tickets to attend the screening of “The Nut Job”; however, I was not influenced by the promotional materials. All opinions and insights are my own.

The Nut Job Review

The Nut Job Review

When I received the screening invitation for “The Nut Job”, it came with this description, “In animated 3D, THE NUT JOB is an action-packed comedy that follows Surly (voiced by Will Arnett), a mischievous squirrel, who must plan a heist to get into his town’s biggest nut shop in order to help his pals in the park gather food to survive the winter. Together with his sidekick, Buddy, he will assemble a ragtag crew to help him get inside – and take them on a fun-filled adventure that they’ll never forget.”

I know some people will call me a prude but I was a little concerned about a children’s movie where the theme was stealing. I worry about the questions and lessons that a child might learn; such as, are they going to get the idea that sometimes it’s okay to steal things?

After seeing the movie, I wouldn’t change anything about it except maybe the way it is being promoted. I wouldn’t have promoted it as a heist. They wouldn’t even have to change the title because several of the characters are real “nut jobs”, which makes for a cute and funny film.

The storyline for the movie is about a group of animals that live in a park. They are trying to store up enough nuts for the winter but are falling short of their goal.

Surly, a squirrel, is a self-sufficient rogue. He would rather look out for himself and not depend or worry about anybody else. Regardless of his want for independence he has a faithful and silent friend, Buddy (a rat). Buddy is always there for Surly, no matter what.

Grayson, also a squirrel, is known as the park’s hero. It’s not clear how he received that title. Mostly he is a puffed up, neurotic fellow that talks big but is scared of his own shadow.

Andie is a female squirrel and, in my opinion, the actual heroine of the story. Andie tries to stand up for Surly when he gets banished from the park. She believes that there is good in everyone.

Because of an accident, caused by Surly, the park has lost what little it had stored away for the winter. Surly is sent away and Andie and Grayson are given the task of finding a food supply so the park animals don’t starve.

While making his way through the city, Surly runs across a Nut Shop. The Nut Shop is actually a front for the real bad guys of the movie; some mobster type guys. They are planning to rob the bank that is right next door to the Nut Shop they purchased. The men have no use for the nuts so the fact that Surly and the animals of the park need them does not bother my moral compass (maybe I’m simply justifying).

Surly plans on keeping all the nuts for himself and Buddy but Andie messes up that plan. She happens to run into Surly and discovers his secret. She makes a deal with Surly to split the nuts and now the real fun begins.

A rag-tag group of animals come together to help get the nuts from the shop. They are not the most organized group of animals which makes for lots of laughs. There is suspense, a double-cross, a police chase and did I mention laughs?…lots of laughs.

And be sure not to leave before the credits. You might want to get on your feet and dance…definitely worth the wait.

The Nut Job

The Nut Job

For more information and some fun games check out their webpage The Nut Job

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Review: Peanut Butter and Jam Concerts at the Center for the Performing Arts, in Carmel

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Review: Peanut Butter and Jam Concerts

Disclosure: I decided to do this review, for the Peanut Butter and Jam Concerts, on my own. I was not asked to do it. I purchased the tickets for my great-nephew and myself.

Peanut Butter & Jam Concert Series

Peanut Butter & Jam Concert Series

I had first read about the Peanut Butter and Jam Concerts in the Indianapolis Star. They are geared for children ages 1 to 7 years old. The entire experience is just under an hour. There is 30 minutes of music followed by 15 minutes for the audience to touch and play the musical instruments. The purchase of a child’s ticket allows the admission of two adults for no additional charge.

Today’s performance was given by the Sounds of Brass, from the Hendrick’s Symphony Orchestra. I was especially interested in this performance because my husband was one of the musicians. We picked up our 2 year old great-nephew and took him to this concert.

Brass Group from the Hendrick's Symphony

Brass Group from the Hendrick’s Symphony

When you first arrive, each child receives a carpet square to sit on. (I taught preschool for several years and I used carpet squares in my classroom. They are wonderful for helping children to get a concept of their personal space.)

Carpet Squares to Sit on at Peanut Butter and Jam Concerts

Carpet Squares to Sit on at Peanut Butter and Jam Concerts

There are chairs that the adults can sit in but many sat on the floor with their children. It is a wonderfully intimate setting for little ones to be introduced to different styles of music.

View from behind the band at the Peanut Butter & Jam Concert

View from behind the band at the Peanut Butter & Jam Concert

The interaction with the musicians at the end of the concert seemed to be a big hit with everybody. A few of the children were able to get musical sounds out of the instruments which is quite a feat on brass instruments. You don’t simply blow air through a brass instrument to get a sound, you have to buzz your lips just right as you are blowing the air.

Interacting with the musicians at the Peanut Butter and Jam Concert

Interacting with the musicians at the Peanut Butter and Jam Concert

This was an extremely entertaining and educational event. I highly recommend taking time to attend at least one (if not all) of the Peanut Butter and Jam concerts. They have one concert each month and they fill up fast so be sure to call and get your tickets early. Please look for me. It is very likely that you will see me at several of these events.

Related Posts

Fun with Music – Overview
Fun with Music: Percussion Instruments
Fun with Music: Brass Instruments
Fun with Music: Woodwind Instruments
Fun with Music: Voices
Fun with Music: String Instruments
Fun with Music: Keyboards

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Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo Review

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Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo Review

Disclaimer: I was given 4 tickets and a parking pass to attend Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo. However, I was not influenced by the promotional materials. All opinions and insights are my own.

The temperature was approximately 34͒ F, which was double the temperature from the day before (thanks goodness). We bundled up our little Texan (my 4 ½ month old grandson) and headed out to enjoy Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo.

Christmas at the Zoo

Christmas at the Zoo

This was the welcoming view we received as we entered the zoo.

Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo

Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo

I couldn’t wait to get inside to see how the rest of the zoo was decorated. It was even more beautiful and magical than I remembered. My pictures hardly capture the beauty but you can at least get an idea.

IMG_5618

One of the first animals to greet us were the seals. One of them was barking quite loudly. We walked over to take a look but he was hiding among the rocks so we didn’t get a good look at him from up top. We did get to see him swimming from underneath though.

We were waiting on some family members to show up so we decided to walk over to the gift shop to wait inside. We didn’t want the little one getting too cold. On our way, we ran into one of Santa’s reindeers.

Santa's Reindeer

Santa’s Reindeer

 

The Oceans Building at the Indianapolis Zoo

The Oceans Building at the Indianapolis Zoo

 

Our next stop was the Oceans’ building. It was a warm place with lots of interesting animals to interact with.

 

 

 

Petting sharks was a hit with the whole family (no matter what the age).

Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo, Petting Sharks

Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo, Petting Sharks

We enjoyed spending time looking at the penguins; even though they seemed to be resting.

Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo: Checking out the Penguins

Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo: Checking out the Penguins

There were so many wonderful things to see in the Oceans exhibit.

Christmas at the Zoo - Oceans Exhibit

Christmas at the Zoo – Oceans Exhibit

It was too dark for me to get a good picture of the polar bear but he was sitting right next to the window. We were able to get a good look at him.

We then walked over to the Dolphin Pavilion. I found out, from my sister, that we were supposed to have been offered tickets for the dolphin show when we went through admissions but it wasn’t mentioned, so we didn’t have tickets. My sister and her family came in after us and they were offered tickets so they got them, but then didn’t go to the show since we couldn’t. I thought that was really sweet. We did go underneath and watch the show from below. It was interesting from below too. I think it would have been nice if they would have the audio for the show running through speakers down below so we knew exactly what was going on.

Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo

Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo

It was getting late for my grandson so he got fussy, because he was ready for bed, so we cut our trip short. We are hoping to get back there this week, if the weather permits. Regardless of whether we get back this year or not, we will be back. It was beautiful and the snow made it magical. I hope you and your family gets a chance to enjoy Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo.

Snow and Lights during Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo

Snow and Lights during Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo

You might also be interested in:

Review – Christmas on Monument Circle Indianapolis

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Review: Walt Disney’s Frozen 3D

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Review: Walt Disney’s Frozen 3D

Disney's Frozen 3D

Disney’s Frozen 3D

Disclaimer: I was given 2 tickets to attend the screening of Disney’s Frozen; however, I was not influenced by the promotional materials. All opinions and insights are my own.

I absolutely love Disney films; always have, always will. My “baby” is 23 years old, so it has been a while since I have seen a Disney film at the theater. I still watch the older ones, if I see they are on TV or I find them on Netflix, but it has been several years since I’ve seen a new one. I believe the last Disney movie I saw at the theater was, “Lilo and Stitch”, in 2002. This information was leading up to me saying, “Disney still has it!” They know how to make a great family film.

I’m old school, so I believe all Disney movies should be rated G but that’s not the case. Disney’s Frozen is rated PG. (You can find more information about movie rating on the Motion Picture Association of America website.) As I watched the movie, I couldn’t figure out why it had a PG rating. Everything seemed quite mild; no intense fighting scenes, no profane language…then HE appeared!…

Disney's FROZEN (Pictured) MARSHMALLOW. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Disney’s FROZEN (Pictured) MARSHMALLOW. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

a GREAT BIG snow monster. He makes the Abominable Snowman from “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” look like a kitty cat. The good news?…he is only around for a couple of scenes.

Now on with the story. I’m not sure how Disney is going to promote this but, in my opinion, they have two new Princesses (although one does become Queen). They are sisters; Elsa and Anna. Elsa is the big sister and she has a secret she must keep from her little sister to keep her safe. This brings division between them that Anna never understands. In order to protect her sister, Elsa ends up fleeing to the mountains but Anna follows after her. Anna teams up with rugged (but tender-hearted) mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer, Sven, to go find her sister. Although Elsa was trying to save Anna, in the end, Anna saves her big sister. The sweet and accident-prone snowman, Olaf, adds much humor to the movie.

"FROZEN" (Pictured) OLAF. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

“FROZEN” (Pictured) OLAF. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

I love a good musical and this film could almost be classified as a musical. There are so many great songs; some beautiful and serious and others are just down-right fun.

The animations are gorgeous, as usual. Several of the 3D effects with the snow and ice are breath-taking.

"FROZEN" (Pictured) ELSA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

“FROZEN” (Pictured) ELSA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

I was definitely not disappointed, in my return to the theater, to see a Disney movie. This is a great story of love, family and courage. I encourage you to gather the family and head to the theater and enjoy, what will probably become, another Disney classic.

You might also enjoy:

Studio Movie Grill Review

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Thanksgiving Fun with Turkeys

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Thanksgiving Fun with Turkeys

Let’s have some fun with turkeys. Why is it that the turkey has become a symbol of Thanksgiving? The turkey probably was part of the first Thanksgiving meal along with deer, several types of seafood and many fruits and vegetables. Wild turkeys are found in 49 of the 50 United States. Alaska is the only state where they are not found. The fact that they are so wide spread across our nation is probably why they are a common symbol to our Thanksgiving.

Below are some fun activities to do with turkeys during this Thanksgiving holiday.

Fun Time
Fun with Food
Craft
Story Time
Related Posts

Fun Time

Since it’s almost Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to have a turkey themed day with my 2 year old great-nephew. We started out with a movie. The movie was Free Birds. It’s a story of turkeys that travel back in time, to the first Thanksgiving, to try to get turkeys off the menu. Although it is currently in movie theaters (November 2013), it might be on DVD by the time you are reading this. I would recommend watching it. It was a fun addition to our turkey themed day.

Right before naptime we read Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano. I love including books in our fun time. This turkey was also trying to find ways to not be included in the Thanksgiving festivities. I loved some of his disguises. I have more suggestions of fun turkey books below in my Story Time section.

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Fun with Food

You can find all kinds of fun turkey themed bento meals on Pinterest. If you aren’t familiar with Bento meals, they are artistically crafted foods that are popular in Japan. If you are on Pinterest, you can find several fun ideas by clicking here. I was especially inspired by the one I found on Creative Food. I adapted their idea to get this:

Fun with Turkeys: Turkey Bento with colored pepper tail and ranch dip

Fun with Turkeys: Turkey Bento with colored pepper tail and ranch dip

1. For the body, I made a turkey sandwich and cut it out with a circle cookie cutter.

2. I had purchased a package of 2 oz. portion cups (like the ones you might get butter or single servings of dressing in with your take-out food) at Costco. I used one of those for the head. I put some ranch dip in it.

3. We then cut eyes from a piece of American cheese with a straw. I used edible food markers to make the pupils in the eyes.

4. I cut the beak and feet out of carrot pieces.

5. I used a small piece of red pepper for the snood. (The snood is the fleshy piece that grows from a turkey’s forehead and hangs over it’s beak)

6. For the turkey’s tail feathers I cut thin slices of red, orange and yellow peppers.

The meal was a hit! Everyone gobbled it down (pun intended).

Fun with Turkeys: Turkey Bento Meals

Fun with Turkeys: Turkey Bento Meals

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Craft

When I taught preschool, I would do this craft with my classes. I originally found it on Enchanted Learning. You use the child’s hands and feet to make the turkey. The original instructions say to use colored construction paper for the parts but my daughter inspired me to do something different. Read the instructions below to find out how to make this special Thanksgiving turkey and a fun memory of little hands and feet.

Hands & Feet Turkey

Fun with Turkeys: Materials Needed for Hands and Feet Turkey

Fun with Turkeys: Materials Needed for Hands and Feet Turkey

Materials Needed:

Markers, crayons or paint
White cardstock
Brown construction paper
Wiggly eyes
Pencil
Glue
Scissors


Instructions:

1. Trace the child’s feet on the brown construction paper. Yes, both feet.

2. Cut out the feet. (I got my great-nephew started on the next part before I cut out the feet so he had something to do.)

3. Trace the child’s hands on the white cardstock. You will need 3 sets of hands (Since my great-nephew’s hands are small I was able to get a set of hands on a half piece of paper.)

4. I chose fall colors for the feathers (the fingers become the feathers). We used orange, red and brown. At first I gave Jeremiah the half sheet of paper, without cutting out his hands, for him to color. Since he is only 2 yrs old, I figured he would scribble more than actually color.

Fun with Turkeys: Hands & Feet Turkey Craft

Fun with Turkeys: Hands & Feet Turkey Craft

Then he started coloring real intently on one corner.

Fun with Turkeys: Coloring

Fun with Turkeys: Coloring

I decided to cut the hands out so he didn’t waste time working so hard on a piece that would get cut off and thrown away. Here he is working on one of the fingers.

Fun with Turkeys: Hands & Feet Turkeys

Fun with Turkeys: Hands & Feet Turkeys

I would give him one color for each set of hands.

Fun with Turkeys: Hands & Feet Turkey Craft

Fun with Turkeys: Hands & Feet Turkey Craft

5. Jeremiah helped me glue the feet together to make the body and then we arranged the hands to make the tail feathers.

6. Finally, we glued on the eyes.

7. I would recommend putting the child’s name and date on the back of the turkey. We took ours and had it laminated. I had to take the eyes off so we could laminate it but then we glued them right back on.

Here is Jeremiah and his prize turkey. I would recommend doing this activity every Thanksgiving, while they are little, just to see how much they grow from year to year.

Fun with Turkeys: Hands & Feet Turkey Craft

Fun with Turkeys: Hands & Feet Turkey Craft

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Story Time

10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston
Reading Level: 3 to 5 yrs old
This book doesn’t have anything to do with Thanksgiving but since turkeys are closely associated with Thanksgiving I thought this would be a fun book to include. The story starts out with 10 fat turkeys “fooling” on a fence. There are lots of funny words such as, “Gobble, Gobble, Wibble, Wobble” and lot of silly antics out of the turkeys. This will be smiles and giggles to your little one..and a few from you too.

Gus, the Pilgrim Turkey by Teresa Bateman
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8 yrs old
Gus loved being a turkey and loved living on the farm until one day his friends told him some sad news. Gus was looking forward to playing in the snow and celebrating the New Year until his friends told him that turkeys usually don’t make it to the New Year. When his friends shared with him that turkey is one of the main items to eat for Thanksgiving he decided it was time to leave the farm. He travels far and wide to find a safe place to live. As he finds a new safe place to live he comes to the realization that he is now a Pilgrim. Pick up this fun little book for a light spirited look at Thanksgiving and the deeper definition of a pilgrim.

A Plump And Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8 yrs old
The people of Squawk Valley really wanted turkey for their Thanksgiving dinner but they couldn’t find one anywhere. The turkeys around Squawk Valley had become quite smart and learned to hide when Thanksgiving was near. The townspeople decided to trick the turkeys by having a special art event that featured turkeys. They posted signs all over the forest saying they were looking for a plump and perky turkey to be their model for the different art projects. Pete the turkey saw the poster and believed he could help out so he went to model for the special event. So Pete posed while the townsfolk created their turkey art. Everyone was excited because now they were going to be able to catch Pete and have him for their Thanksgiving dinner. Pick up this fun little book to see if the townspeople get to eat turkey for dinner or if Pete gets away.

Run, Turkey, Run! by Diane Mayr
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 7 yrs old
If you aren’t ready for your child to understand that the turkey we eat at Thanksgiving is a live animal, before we get it, then avoid this story. It is not a morbid, overly detailed, story but the fact that the other farm animals keep telling the turkey to run and the farmer is chasing him the whole story means you will probably have to have the discussion. It’s actually a cute little story. The turkey tries to roll in the mud with the pigs and swim in the lake with the ducks in order to hide from the farmer. In the end, the farmer and his family eat grilled cheese sandwiches with peas and mashed potatoes. Have fun with the story of the turkey who got away.

Too Many Turkeys by Linda White
Reading Level: Ages 5 yrs old and up
This is not a Thanksgiving story but it is a cute turkey story. Fred and Belle have a tiny farm that they take very good care of. One day a baby turkey, which is called a poult, wanders onto their farm. Belle is not very excited about the idea but Fred says he will take care of the little turkey. The turkey ends up being a great benefit to the little farm until too many of his friends show up. Pick up this book and find out how having a turkey on the farm was helpful although a little stressful at times.

A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting
Reading Level: Ages 5 to 8 yrs old
Mr. & Mrs. Moose are getting the table set for Thanksgiving. They are very excited to have all of their friends over but there is one thing that is making Mrs. Moose sad; there is no turkey for Thanksgiving. Mr. Moose wants to do what he can to make this a special Thanksgiving so he heads out to find a turkey. Pick this book up to find out what happens when Mr. Moose finally finds a turkey, it might surprise you.

Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 7 yrs old
If you aren’t ready for your child to learn that the meat on the table comes from live animals, it would probably be best to skip this book. Other than possibly needing to have that conversation, this book is adorable. Turkey is in trouble because Thanksgiving is almost here and he is the main course. He tries several disguises to hide from the farmer. In the end, he comes up with a fantastic substitution for turkey. Pick up this book and share it with your child to find out what the farmer’s family has to eat this Thanksgiving.

Turkeys on the Family Farm by Chana Stiefel
Reading Level: Ages 5 to 8 yrs old
This is a wonderfully informative book about turkeys. Your child will get to see actual pictures of turkeys. They will learn how turkeys are raised and cared for, on an organic farm. They will learn the different terms used when referring to turkeys such as tom, hen, jake or poult. This is a great book to get some basic information about turkeys.

Turkeys That Fly and Turkeys That Don’t (Rookie Read-About Science) by Allan Fowler
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 7 yrs old
Your child will learn a lot of fun facts about turkeys. Even I found it interesting as to why some turkeys fly and some don’t. There are lots of pictures of wild turkeys and domestic turkeys so your child can see the difference. I enjoyed learning about the similarities and differences between wild and domestic birds, I’m sure your child will too.

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Fun with Music: Keyboards

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Fun with Music: Keyboards

This post is written in collaboration with Shannon Wijnker from Mamamusing. Shannon is a music teacher and mother of four.

There is a debate going on among musicians, both amateur and professional, as to whether a piano is a string instrument or a percussion instrument. Although a piano has strings in it, the sound is made by little hammers striking the strings. The definition of a percussion instrument is “a musical instrument (as a drum, xylophone, or maraca) sounded by striking, shaking, or scraping”. So what do you think? This might be a fun survey for your child to do with family and friends. Teach them how to make a chart from their findings.

When exploring keyboards remember there are other instruments besides the piano. In the keyboard category there are also organs, electric pianos, harpsichords, accordions and so much more. Lets have fun experimenting with keyboard instruments.

Playtime
Craft
Musical Outings
Story Time
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Shannon shares with us:

One of the most popular instruments is the piano. Every parent wants to play it and every parent hopes that their child will learn. So we sign them up for piano lessons and at first everything is going well. But then the children are expected to practice. Repetition isn’t fun and all of a sudden the piano is not as fun as it used to be. Sound familiar?

Don’t get me wrong – I am all for children taking piano lessons, but I have encountered way too many children who are forced to take lessons because they had displayed an interest in learning, but have since fallen out of love with the idea.

Many parents ask when it is a good age to start teaching children the basics of piano. My answer – it’s never to early to let them play and explore. Structure can come later, and I’ll talk about that in a second. I have a piano in our house and it is located in the playroom. My girls will experiment by pressing the various keys, making up pretend songs, imitating myself playing the piano and also fooling around with the multitude of timbres (different instrument sounds) available. Here are my two older daughters making up songs at the piano. I have not given them any lessons, they have creatively come up with this setup (the microphone stand) on their own. I encourage their exploration, and leave it at that for now.

There are two streams of thought. Some believe that learning how to play by ear is the best way to go. Others believe that learning how to read notes off a page is other. Neither better than the other, it simply depends on the student. I learned how to read music at an early age and it has served me well. Once your child has learned the basics of reading (kindergarten) they can then grasp the basic concepts of learning how to read music. There are several method books out there which can help guide your child. Just remember that their attention span is not very long and you will be lucky to have them sit and concentrate for 15 minutes. When they are practicing try to split it up into 2 or 3 sessions of about 5 min each. Repetition can be very boring, so look to Pinterest for ideas of how to make their learning (and the repetition which is essential) fun. Click here to see Mamamusing’s Pinterest Board about Keyboards

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Playtime

If you don’t have a piano or keyboard at home, for your little ones to experiment with, there are some virtual ones online and apps for your phone. I found Virtual Piano online. It was fun to play around with but not nearly as much fun as getting my hands onto a real piano. I found a toy piano by Melissa & Doug and several toy accordions on Amazon.com that your child could have fun with.

Shannon also suggests:
Besides having a keyboard at home, there are a multitude of keyboard toys on the market: xylophones, floor pianos, keyboards, baby pianos, etc. Just give them the opportunity to explore.

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Craft

P is for Piano

Materials needed:

Keyboards: Materials Needed for Piano Craft

Keyboards: Materials Needed for Piano Craft

P – Capital Letter (comes from the set Upper Case Stencils (Large) A-Z by Lani)
White cardstock
10 Tongue depressor sized craft sticks
White paint
Black paint
White craft glue
Scissors
optional – crayons or markers

Instructions:

1. On cardstock, print the letter P template letter P template
2. Cut the 10 tongue depressor sized craft sticks to 2 ½ inches.
3. Paint them white.
4. From the scrap pieces of tongue depressor sized craft sticks, cut 7 of them to 1 ½ inches.

Cutting Craft Sticks for Piano Craft

Cutting Craft Sticks for Piano Craft

5. Paint these 7 pieces black.

Painted "Piano Keys" for Piano Craft

Painted “Piano Keys” for Piano Craft

6. Spread the white craft glue on the long “stem” side of the letter P. I like to use foam applicators for spreading glue. (The craft sticks will not go all the way from the top to the bottom so you might want to lay them out before you put down the glue just to get an idea of where you want them to end up.)
7. Add glue to the back of the black pieces and lay them out in the pattern of a piano keyboard (3 black keys, the 2 black keys) Refer to the picture if you aren’t sure how a piano keyboard looks. If you have a piano at home have your child look at your keyboard and see if they can figure out how to place the black keys.

Keyboards: Piano Craft: P is for Piano

Keyboards: Piano Craft: P is for Piano

*** Other options would be to let your child color or paint the letter P before you glue the piano keys to it. This craft would also be good when learning the alphabet. You can purchase the entire alphabet collection from Lani at Upper Case Stencils (Large) A-Z. This set would be great for crafts, when learning and practicing the alphabet, or to make up games to help with letter recognition.

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Musical Outings

In Indianapolis, you can find many places that give free outdoor concerts during the summer. Maybe you have the same opportunities in your area. Outdoor concerts are a great way to introduce your children to live music because they can sit in their own lawn chair, on a blanket or even get up and dance around a little. Expose your children to many types of music. Take the time to talk about what they are hearing, how it makes them feel and the different instruments they are seeing and hearing.

Shannon from Mamamusing wants you to know: “In London, there are several outdoor concerts and festivals in Victoria Park during the summer. One of the best is Sunfest (beginning of July). You can check out a video of my kids enjoying the multicultural music and dancing by clicking here.”

Story Time

Pianos (Music Makers) by Pamela K. Harris
Reading Level: Ages 6 and up
Your child will gather a lot of interesting information about pianos from this book. For instance, did you know that a piano is sometimes considered a string instrument? Most of the time you can’t see the strings but they are in there. Other people say that a piano is a percussion instrument because little hammers hit the strings to make the sounds you hear. Your child will learn how a piano is made and how it is played. They will hear and see that pianos come in many different shapes and sizes. They will hear about some great musicians that played and wrote music for the piano. The illustrations are pictures of pianos and people playing them. Your child will enjoy learning about pianos while reading this book.

Keyboards (Instruments and Music) by Daniel Nunn
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8 yrs old
This book is a great introduction to keyboards, for your young child. It explains the different types of keyboards; pianos, organs and several others. Some keyboards are small enough to carry around and others take up a large part of the auditorium. Have fun helping your child learn about keyboards with this informative but simple book.

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Related Posts

Music at an Early Age by Shannon at Mamamusing
Fun with Music: Overview
Fun with Music: Percussion Instruments
Fun with Music: Brass Instruments
Fun with Music: Voices
Fun with Music: String Instruments

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Fun with Music: String Instruments

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Fun with Music: String Instruments

This post, “Fun with Music – Sting Instruments”, is written in collaboration with Shannon Wijnker from Mamamusing. Shannon is a music teacher and mother of four.

Shannon writes:
As a child, I was always fascinated with string instruments. In fact, the violin was the first instrument that I learned how to play. After listening to someone play the violin, I walked up to them and told them that I wanted to start lessons (not even consulting my parents of course!). One thing led to another and my studies in music began.

I find that children are familiar with the guitar, but have little to no knowledge of any other instruments in the string family. Especially in our school system, a majority of the children are only exposed to woodwind and brass instruments.

Just the other day I was watching Sesame Street with my kids and they had a skit about musical instruments and vibrations. I thought to myself…. Yes! String instruments are the best way to teach children about vibration! Drawing a bow across the strings is a great visual and tangible way to demonstrate this concept for young children. My daughter just loves to watch them, because she thinks they are cool J. All musical instruments make vibrations, but string instruments are the best example. You can also talk about pitch and that the bigger the instrument gets, the lower the vibration will sound. The smaller the instrument, the higher (and as faster) the vibration will sound. Play a game with your child and have them compare two different instruments and guess which one will make the higher/lower sound.

Content:
Playtime
Craft
Musical Outings
Story Time
Games Online
Related Posts

Playtime

More from Shannon:
One of my favourite string performers is Yo Yo Ma. He plays the cello and has an amazing talent for making the music sound so expressive. You can find a plethora of videos on YouTube. Natalie MacMaster is a very talented Canadian violin player. Another great example to listen to! (and a completely different style of playing)

Also, introduce your child to listening to music by playing all four (4) movements of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. This is played by a string quartet (4 string instruments: 2 violins, viola and cello) and each movement depicts a different season. Have your child draw a picture of what season they hear when listening to the music. (Only one movement per seating!)

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Craft

Box Guitar

Materials Needed:

String Instruments: Materials Needed

String Instruments: Materials Needed

Cardboard shoe box or similar
Rubber bands of different sizes
Paper, crayons, markers, stickers, etc. to decorate your instrument
Glue
Scissors
Paper towel roll (optional)

Instructions:

1) Cut your paper to the size you need to cover your box. (I was able to eliminate the first two steps because the box I had was solid black.)

2) Decorate the paper then glue it to the outside of your box. (We just used stickers this time. Stickers are a great fine motor activity for little hands.)

String Instruments: Decorating Box

String Instruments: Decorating Box

3) Cut a hole in one end of the box; just big enough to fit the end of a paper towel roll through.(Since we just used stickers, I cut the hole in the end of the box before we attached the stickers.)

String Instruments: Hole for Paper Towel Roll

String Instruments: Hole for Paper Towel Roll

4) Make small cuts on one end of the paper towel roll.

5) Push the end with the cuts through the hole in the end of the box.

6) Spread out the cut pieces and add some glue.

String Instruments: Glue Handle

String Instruments: Glue Handle

7) I then used duct tape to make sure the paper towel roll held in place.

String Instruments: Duct Tape

String Instruments: Duct Tape

8) Have a grown-up cut little slits on the long sides of the box. Make the same number of slits as the rubber bands you are going to use. This will help keep the rubber bands in place rather than sliding around as the child plucks them.

9) Arrange your rubber bands from largest to smallest.

10) Stretch them around your decorated box and slip them into the slits.

11) Now pluck away. Can you hear a difference between the largest rubber band and the smallest?

String Instruments: Playing Guitar

String Instruments: Playing Guitar

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Musical Outings

Stringed instruments cover everything from guitar and banjo pickin’ to violins and cellos in a symphony. In Indianapolis, you can find many places that give free outdoor concerts during the summer. Maybe you have the same opportunities in your area. Outdoor concerts are a great way to introduce your children to live music because they can sit in their own lawn chair, on a blanket or even get up and dance around a little. Expose your children to many types of music. Take the time to talk about what they are hearing, how it makes them feel and the different instruments they are seeing and hearing.

Shannon from Mamamusing wants you to know:
“In London, there are several outdoor concerts and festivals in Victoria Park during the summer. One of the best is Sunfest (beginning of July). You can check out a video of my kids enjoying the multicultural music and dancing by clicking here.”

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Story Time

Strings (Instruments and Music) by Daniel Nunn
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8 yrs old
This book makes a great introduction into string instruments. The text is simply a sentence or two on each page. The illustrations are actual pictures of string instruments and people playing them. Your child will get to see the many different sizes and shapes of string instruments. Have fun learning about string instruments.

Strings (The Musical Instruments of the World) by Barrie Carson Turner
Reading Level: Ages 6 and up
This book has a lot of information in it but it is laid out nicely. The book introduces you to 19 stringed instruments from around the world. You will find some instruments that are familiar to you and there are others you may have never seen before. Each instrument has it’s own page so if you just want to cover the familiar ones or if you want to break the book up into different sessions it is laid out well for that. Although this book is for a little bit older child you could use it with a younger child by becoming familiar with the text and then simply point out and discuss the different instruments rather than reading it word for word.


The Violin and Other Stringed Instruments (Let’s Make Music)
by Rita Storey
Reading Level: Ages 6 and up
This is a very informative book for children that would like to learn a little more about what string instruments are and how they work. Your child will learn about the different sizes of string instruments. They will learn how different string instruments are played; some plucked or strummed with fingers, while the musician uses a bow or pick on others. Your child will learn why some string instruments don’t need electricity to be played and others do. It’s a great book that gives a little more detail, as to how string instruments work, but is still very interesting.

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Games Online

Shannon from Mamamusing shares some fun online games:

Now that you have introduced your children to some of the various instrument families in the orchestra, you may want to visit The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. This is a website created by Carnegie Hall which is a wonderfully FREE interactive online game for young children to explore and learn more about the various instruments of the orchestra. You will need to use a computer, because the game requires Adobe Flash, which you can download for free (if you don’t already have this utility installed on your computer).

There is also a wonderful set of books for children ages 4 to 8 years old that helps them learn different musical concepts. Along with the books the author, Sharon Burch, has a website with coloring pages and games for your child to enjoy and enhance their learning experience: Freddie the Frog Games and Coloring Pages

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Related Posts


Music at an Early Age by Shannon at Mamamusing
Fun with Music: Overview
Fun with Music: Percussion Instruments
Fun with Music: Brass Instruments
Fun with Music: Voices
Fun with Music: Keyboards

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Studio Movie Grill Review

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Studio Movie Grill Review

Disclaimer: I was given 4 tickets to attend the movie of my choice, at the Studio Movie Grill, as well as 8 tickets to use in a give-away. However, I was not influenced by the promotional materials. All opinions and insights are my own. (Update 11/08/13, Congratulation to Kelly Bradbury and Karey for each winning a set of 4 tickets.)

Studio Movie Grill

Studio Movie Grill

The Studio Movie Grill is definitely a new way to experience the movies. The Studio Movie Grill offers original first-run movies coupled with in-theater dining. It is located just off of Michigan Road on 86th Street, at 3535 West 86th Street.

When I was contacted by the Studio Movie Grill about doing a review I first asked them if they showed many children’s movies, since my audience is mostly family oriented. They informed me that they show many first-run children and family movies. In addition, they also have a special “Kids Toons” series every weekend morning and tickets are only $2 each. Also, one Saturday each month SMG hosts the “Special Needs Screening”; a special presentation of a current release with free tickets for children with special needs and their siblings, and only $6 for adults.

I must be honest and say, my first impressions with the Studio Movie Grill were not favorable. I did not have much success in getting information on the movie we wanted to go see. First I went to their website, www.studiomoviegrill.com, and looked over the movies that were available. I watched several trailers and settled on a child friendly movie (since I am a kid at heart), Free Birds (3D). I clicked on the time we wanted to go see and received a message that they had just sold out for that viewing so I chose a different time and got the same message. After several attempts, I finally realized it was a glitch in the way their website behaved and was able to find a time that was available (a time that had previously said wasn’t available). As I looked at my options to continue the order I wasn’t sure how to show that I all ready had tickets. At this point I decided to read the information on my ticket. (I have a bit of a problem with reading instructions until after I’m having difficulties) It states on the pass that it can’t be used for online sales so I tried to call the theater…more frustrations. Although there was an option to speak to someone in the box office I was sent to a voicemail box. I didn’t want to leave a message, I wanted to know if there were seats available for the showing I was interested in. I was not impressed that I couldn’t get hold of an actual person to answer my questions. I decided that since the passes couldn’t be used online there must be seats available even if you don’t have a reservation so we headed out.

I was pleasantly surprised when we entered The Studio Movie Grill. It resembles an upscale club. You won’t find a concession stand or a heavy smell of popcorn and old butter. There is a very modern look to the lobby. To the left of the entrance is a lounge/bar area for the grown-ups. It sets behind a high partial wall so it is not the center of attention. Because of the way it is positioned it makes a cozy place for grown-ups to hang out but if you are bringing the family in for a movie it will hardly be noticed.

Once you purchase your tickets they ask you to take a look at a small computer-sized screen, that is set in the counter in front of you, and choose which of the available seats you want to sit in. They then print out and hand you the tickets with your row and seat number on them. There were two girls at the ticket check stand. One checked our tickets and the other took us to our seats. The rows are wide so it’s easy to get in and out (and easy for the servers to get to you).

wide aisles

The seats are large and comfortable with trays that swivel so you can get in and out of your seat.

Studio Movie Grill - Large comfortable seats

Studio Movie Grill – Large comfortable seats

Shortly after we were seated a server came by with menus. On each tray is a button that you push to let your server know you are ready to order.

We got lost trying to find the theater so we were running a little late but I highly recommend that you follow their suggestion and arrive at least 20 minutes early. They suggest you do this so you can order your food well before the movie starts. It didn’t take them long to bring our food to us but because it was so close to time for the movie to start, when we ordered, it didn’t arrive until after the movie began. The problem with that was that it was so dark we couldn’t see what we were doing. The theater has no problem with bringing food to you whenever you want it. Their site states: “Order as much and as often as you like throughout the show.”

The food was delicious. My favorite was the appetizer; chicken nachos. We will definitely be ordering that again. My husband and I both ordered burgers. The burgers were thick and tender. We both had sweet potato fries as our sides. They were a little cold but well seasoned. They have a wide variety of choices on their menu. We could have chosen a turkey or black bean burger rather than the beef. They boast an evolving menu of over 100 items ranging from delicious appetizers, healthy choices, entrée salads, gourmet pizzas, a kids menu and desserts. Their prices are reasonable. I would say they are along the same lines as Chili’s or Applebee’s. You don’t have to order food at all or you can go with the traditional popcorn and soda.

From what I researched Studio Movie Grill’s ticket prices are the same as other theaters. They are not charging you extra for the nicer theater and the wonderful food service.

Although I had a rough start, in trying to get information from their website and box office, it turned out to be a wonderful evening. I would highly recommend the Studio Movie Grill for a unique family activity or possibly a special date night for a parent and child. It would also make a great date night for mom and dad. They deserve and need a special night every once in a while. I know we will be returning. Maybe we will see you there.

You might also enjoy:

Review: Walt Disney’s Frozen 3D

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Rhythm! Discovery Center Review

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Rhythm! Discovery Center Review

Review: Rhythm! Discovery Center

Review: Rhythm! Discovery Center

On Saturday, September 28th, we took advantage of the free admission offer by Smithsonian Magazine and headed to the Rhythm! Discovery Center. I would describe Rhythm! Discovery Center as an interactive percussion museum. There are several “hands-off” displays of different percussion instruments but I must admit that I didn’t really pay much attention to them. We were all about the hands-on pieces; and since we brought a 2 year old with us there was plenty of “hands-on” everywhere we went.

Here are a couple of the “hands-off” displays:

Rhythm! Discovery Center: "Hands-off" Displays

Rhythm! Discovery Center: “Hands-off” Displays

Let me warn you, if you or any of your children are sensitive to noise then this is not the place to go but if you don’t mind some good old fashion racket then you will have a blast.

One of the very first things we encountered was this huge drum. No, that it not just a large display, it’s a drum.
Rhythm! Discovery Center -

There are so many opportunities for learning at the Rhythm! Discovery Center. You could experiment with rhythms or the way different instruments made from different materials sound. For instance, how does a drum with an animal skin head sound different from a drum with a plastic head? Listen to how the drum sounds different from the cymbals.

Rhythm! Discovery Center: Different Mallets

Rhythm! Discovery Center: Different Mallets

You can experiment with how the drum sounds different if you hit it with your fingertips, the palm of your hand or your fist. There were also different things to play the instruments with so you can listen to the differences of playing with a hard mallet, a soft mallet or a brush (the musical kind, not the hair kind). You could also learn the names of the different instruments and from what country they originated.

The lessons we came to learn this day were simple (since we brought a 2 year old). We were simply experiencing the joy of sound and music. And there were secondary lessons like sharing and learning to wait your turn (which actually, he does very well).

Below are some of the pictures from our day:

The Cymbal

Rhythm! Discovery Center: the cymbal

Rhythm! Discovery Center: the cymbal

The Chimes
Children of all ages enjoy Rhythm! Discovery Center.
Chimes Collage


Wooden Instruments

Rhythm! Discovery Center: Wooden Instruments

Rhythm! Discovery Center: Wooden Instruments

The Percussion Wall

Rhythm! Discovery Center: Percussion Wall

Rhythm! Discovery Center: Percussion Wall

Crash Cymbals
The cymbals were actually way too big but Jeremiah listened very closely to Uncle Pat’s instructions. I love the joy on his little face once he was able to crash them together.
Crash Cymbals Collage

So Much Fun
We truly enjoyed our time at Rhythm! Discovery Center and look forward to going back many more times.

Rhythm! Discovery Center Collage

Rhythm! Discovery Center Collage

Related Posts:

Fun with Music – Percussion Instruments
Fun with Music: Overview
Music at an Early Age by Shannon at Mamamusing
Fun with Music – Brass Instruments
Fun with Music – Woodwind Instruments
Bongo Boy Music School Review

Posted in Music, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Headless Horseman at Conner Prairie Review

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The Headless Horseman at Conner Prairie Review

Disclaimer: I was given 2 tickets to attend The Headless Horseman at Conner Prairie, as well as a backpack with some goodies. However, I was not influenced by the promotional materials or any of the Conner Prairie staff. All opinions and insights are my own.

It has been approximately ten years since we last attended The Headless Horseman at Conner Prairie. Our daughter was somewhere between 10 and 13 years old. At that time we chose to take the hayride after dark. We thought it would be a little scarier and I guess we were right. When talking to my (now adult) daughter about that night, I said, “Remember how much fun we had?” Her response was, “No! I’m still scarred!” I guess we were right; that going after dark was scary.

Headless Horseman at Conner Prairie

Headless Horseman at Conner Prairie

Since, currently, my blog posts mainly center around activities for younger children we opted to go on the Hayride before it got dark. First of all, let me tell you that the lines are extremely long. Once our turn came up a guide
walked us back to where we climbed into the hay wagons and waited to start our adventure. We were asked not to take pictures during the hayride because it could spook the horses and we definitely wouldn’t want to do that. But I was told that I could take a picture before we pulled out.

I’m not going to give out all the details because I don’t want to spoil the fun for future adventurers but I will share my general thoughts. It is a nice hayride with spooky sights and sounds around every turn. There was a 3 year old little girl in the wagon with us and her older brother who seemed like he was between 5 and 7 years old. The 3 year old cried on and off through the ride. She was visibly shaken and nervous even when she wasn’t crying. Her older brother just seemed to enjoy the whole thing. As for me, I loved it, but I must be honest, when the Headless Horseman rode right up to our wagon and hit the outside of it with his sword it made me laugh nervously, lean forward a little and watch him out of the corner of my eye.

My advice would be to take the hayride during the daylight for younger children. It was still plenty spooky without scaring you out of your wits. I personally wouldn’t take a child 3 years old or younger on this hayride at all but if you have a tough little one that loves monsters and being scared then they may be just fine. For the real adventure, wait until after dark to go. It is pretty scary when the Headless Horseman comes riding out of the dark after you.

Even if you aren’t interested in the hayride there are plenty of other activities to do with the kids so don’t write the adventure off yet. Tomorrow, I will post about all the other fun things that were going on during this special evening.

Related Posts:

October Family Friendly Events
Review: Spooky Fun at Conner Prairie
Review: Conner Prairie on President’s Day (with a 2 yr old)
Review: Conner Prairie with Young Children

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