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!).

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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

My Weekend Plans Have Been Made

Sometimes living in Wisconsin can feel life a little bit of a void. As a kid I didn’t have many friends into comics or Star Wars or wrestling. Getting to talk about pop culture things was rare. But now Taco Bell has just turned us into a cultural Mecca!! Kit Kat Quesadilla’s! Screw health. Screw my heart and screw diabetes! It is now my mission to track down this culinary masterpiece being tested in Wisconsin ! Viva WI

Monday Motivation

Fisher-Price Training Our Children To Overthrow Us

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CNN – The company announced on Wednesday the Think & Learn Smart Cycle, an exercise bike with a tablet holder tacked onto the handlebar. The bike, aimed at 3 to 6 year olds, lets kids interact with gaming apps while pedaling. The Smart Cycle ($150) comes with one free app and works with four others, including SpongeBob SquarePants and Shimmer and Shine apps ($4.99 each).

The included app features an age-appropriate curriculum based on math, science and social studies.

“They’re learning and mastering content as they pedal, fast or slow, forwards or backwards,” Amber Pietrobono, a spokeswoman with Fisher-Price, told CNNMoney. “It’s also how they level up in the games.”

People seem to really be on board with this idea. I for one see it for what it is. A plan to turn our children into superfit monsters ready to overthrow us at Fisher-Price’s whim. What parent is going to be able to deny their kid whatever Fisher-Price toy they wan’t after their kid has been basically becoming a tri-athlete for the last 5 months?

It’s a brilliant plan. Hypnotize the child with “games” on a screen, charge the parents for said games. When mom and dad no longer want buy new apps, child is activated Jason Bourne style to carry out the Fisher-Price mission.

No thank you.

Sorry son you get a stick and ball, go play outside.