Why you should watch black and white movies with your kids

Via lifehacker – I’m not sure what this says about my aspirations as a parent, but one exciting thing about my kid getting older is that we can now watch more TV together. We’ve been finding more shows to get into as a family—when it’s time for MasterChef Junior, for instance, the three of us will stop what we’re doing immediately, migrate to the sofa, snuggle up under a blanket and get ready to watch a group of tiny home cooks dazzle us with their culinary creations. Television viewing now feels more like real bonding time rather than please-sit-here-and-watch-this-animated-drivel-so-I-can-get-stuff-done time.

A genre we’ve recently added to our TV queue is silent films. I first read the recommendation on Reddit—parents noted how great some of the classic comedies are for children. Charlie Chaplin films. Buster Keaton’s stunt-driven masterpieces. Anything with Laurel and Hardy. Kids are drawn to these shows because the stories are relatively simple and told purely through physical theater—they can dive right in without much context. Many are shorts, so they’re ideal for those with limited attention spans. And since there’s little or no dialogue, the films force kids to build their imaginations. Their brains must fill in everything that isn’t spoken—what the characters are feeling, why they made certain decisions and what they’re hoping will come next. Parents can also add in their own prompts and dialogue, making the whole viewing experience surprisingly interactive.

With my five-year-old daughter, we started with Modern Times, Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 silent-talkie hybrid about a factory worker who subjected to being a cog in the grinding wheels of the Industrial Revolution. It’s absurd fun—I figured the kid might check out because the film is in black and white, but she didn’t. She couldn’t take her eyes off of Chaplin, and chuckled at his antics for a good 45 minutes. Throughout the show, I read the written words that would appear, and it kind of felt like we were moving through an interactive book. At one point, she astutely noted: “Mom, this movie isn’t silent at all—there’s music.” She was right. It was neat to notice together how music can make things feel more exciting. When it was finally time to turn off the TV, she asked, “Can we watch more of that show later?” We can and we will.

As some viewers have pointed out, it’s important to guide kids through the adult themes that can appear throughout these old silent movies—some films show smoking, drunkenness, vandalism and theft. There was an early scene in Modern Times when I thought to myself, “Yeah, that is definitely sexual harassment in the workplace,” and murmured to my kid, “Should we chase people who do not want to be chased?” (She replied “no.”) That said, I think it’s great to give your kids an appreciation of the dying artistry, flaws and all. A cool thing about watching these films now is that there’s all sorts of behind-the-scenes content that you can also show your kid if they’re curious—for instance, you can see how they filmed with famous rolling skating scene in Modern Times (it’s so neat!).


Family Recreates Oscar Nominees And It’s Great

It’s Oscar season, if that excites you first off what’s wrong with you? Second you need to meet the Storino sisters. The family has a yearly Don’t Call Me Oscar contest that are great. This is a much better spend of time then actually watching the Oscars.

Monday Motivation

Building The Crib

Picking out the crib was much more difficult than I imagined it would be. So many designs, colors, options. After lots of debate we settled on the Delta Children’s Royal Fixed-Side Crib ‘n Changer.  It came with a changing station which pretty much sold me since it could be an all in one unit. It also can be converted into other beds as the child ages. Once we got it home the fun began. They did an excellent job of labeling all the individual pieces of the crib itself. The hardware was also labeled but that was a bit more confusing to read. Also the hardware opened a bit tough sometimes destroying the label for it so be ready to memorize part numbers. The technical drawing in the manual was also difficult at times and more than once I used the wrong piece. Thankfully though Delta seems to understand we lose things and make mistakes. There is a bag of extra hardware that should cover all your needs. My build time was around three hours by myself with a few breaks tossed in. The changing table connects easily to the crib and makes up one side of it. The shelving was a bit difficult to lock in place but once it did it was sturdy and has remained in place. At the same I bought the crib I also picked up a changing pad for the changing station. This ended up being a mistake for two reasons. First it comes with a very thin, but functional pad. Also because the crib and station are one peace the changing station is actually smaller than a station you would buy separately. So the pad we bought , which was on display next to the unit , ended up being way to big for the station. In the end though I’m happy with all the storage it provides. I’m happy with the variable heights you can set the crib mattress atvandvim very happy it can convert to other beds down the road with a few extra purchases.