Hilarious, no? It’s not morbid, though in these trying times, jokes about death might be misinterpreted. But this isn’t about mortality, it’s about fatherly advice…from a worrywart.
Yesterday, I read a section about success and happiness where he recounts flipping through TV channels and heard a teaser for Dateline NBC in which they’d explain one of life’s conundrums: “Why are some people lucky and some people unlucky?”
Mark delights the reader describing the mental shenanigans of deciding he would in fact stick with Dateline to learn this secret to life.
He then went on to dole some more attitude advice to his daughter highlighting Charles Darwin’s “facial feedback hypothesis” saying facial movement can influence emotional experience. Rather than smiling just being a result of our emotion, smiles actually make us feel better.
Mark’s book reminds me of another friend going through what must be a living nightmare. Her husband has been in an induced coma for 19 days due to an extreme case of COVID-19. He’s 42yo and in vibrant health. She dropped him off at the hospital with seeming pneumonia, and because of the pandemic, she wasn’t allowed in. He was immediately intubated and he’s had massive complications and a surgery to amputate his leg in order to save his struggling body.
During this time, my friend hasn’t been able to see him (except for the occasional video call thanks to a generous nurse taking the time to hold the phone up to his comatose ear.)
And oh, yeah – they just moved from one coast to the other and are renovating a house.
Despite this, she has displayed nothing but positivity and grace. She is living a nightmare that would consume the rest of us in bitterness. Delving into darkness would be totally understandable, but she’s choosing not to do so.
She chooses a positive attitude and spreads light across her social posts and updates about her day, her exercise regimen (she’s a trainer) and her husband. Sometimes she’s fighting back tears; sometimes they flow. But she continues living to the best of her abilities for her 10-month old baby, her own sanity, and for her husband.
Our positivity in the time of COVID can be greatly influenced by attitude.
I often get caught up in envy of the creativity of people all across social media. Keeping up with the Joneses, feeling like I’m not applying my creativity, becoming unjustifiably angry with the brilliance of people like Chris Mann.
Another friend of mine recently asked “How’s it goin, Daddy?”
He caught me in a time of annoyance at the end of a homeschooling day. I responded, “Shitty. And you?”
He gave me a virtual hug. Chatting some more, he let me know he’s feeling inspired and creative. Admittedly, he doesn’t have children. But I’ve a feeling even with kids, he’d see the good side. This friend writes “choose joy’ in his email signature. He regularly reminds me that even though I feel saddled with my kids at this time, I can always choose joy and focus on the positive.
I saw on TikTok a high school senior who (rather darkly…so in contrast to my friend with the positive energy) shared pictures of “seniors in 1918” and “seniors in 1941” and “seniors in 1968” with pictures of 18yo boys shipping off to war.
Good reality check, eh? It sucks to be a senior in high school missing out on prom and graduation.
But the fact is we are asked to stay home to save lives, not shipping off to end them.
I hate this pandemic. I’m concerned about the future health of my friends an family. I’m terrified about my future financial stability.
But I’m reminded time and again that I definitely am in charge of my own attitude in a world that’s so totally out of control.
Thank you, Mark, Amanda & James (and Chris Mann?) for reminding me joy is often a choice and we can find positivity in the time of Covid.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all looking for ways to pass of educating to someone else…and why not with the best educational movie musicals for kids?
Occasionally musical theatre is the best story-telling medium to contextualize and educate kids and adults about history.
Many musicals are a delectable treat for sheer escapism. You can watch 42nd Street and She Loves Me on “Great Performances” on PBS. (And that’s a worthy investment of minimal monthly dues.) They meld acting with singing and movement, they’re a feast for all the senses. Further, they demand our children pay more attention than with typically schizophrenic movies.
But others are able to convey more emotion and drama to teach us all more about our ancestors and historic figures.
BroadwayHD is a streaming service presenting dozens of Broadway plays and musicals, mostly in their stage-presented context (as opposed to re-made in a Hollywood studio like Les Miserables.) Disclaimer – this is not a sponsored post pushing BroadwayHD. (Though fellas: gimme a kickback, eh?) It just happens to be about the only place you can watch some of these historic musicals.
Many old classics can be found on library websites. (HBO and Netflix don’t have a lot in the way of obscure musicals beyond Mamma Mia and Disney.)
And in some cases, you might need to seek out YouTube productions, snippets and videos. But that leads to a fun and educational deep-dive down the YouTube dumpster of endless clips. And that’s not a bad thing, if they’re focused and don’t end up on a some weirdo’s site.
Even if they get bored or fidgety, our kids often don’t care as long as there’s a moving image in front of them, amiright? Most of all: they can just learn to be patient and focused.
“Really? You’re bored? Would you rather I get you a stick and a ball and you just go make your own fun like I did as a child?”
(Even if none of us actually didn’t just watch hours of television…albeit not on demand.)
Here is a list of a a few of the best educational movie musicals for kids to entertain/educate them while you go on auto-pilot during COVID Curriculum.
Please share your thoughts and suggestions for more scholarly musicals in front of which we can just park the kids with less guilt and pour ourselves a drink.
I’d start this list for kids 6 and up. Some are heavy topics. But musicals make it art. Push the kids a bit. Should 6 year-olds be taught about Presidential assassins and public lynchings? These aren’t as graphically violent as any of the Marvel movies. Plus it helps teach about injustice, morality and history. So go ahead – push them with the best educational movie musicals for kids.
This is a slightly lesser-known piece of brilliance from 1969 that exquisitely teaches more about the nuances in American history. Before Hamilton re-wrote the musical theatre history books, 1776 illustrates the many different personalities that formed our independence – especially the irascible (but irreplaceable) John Adams. The songs highlight the debates at the heart of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, especially the song about slavery, “Molasses to Rum” sung by delegate Edward Rutledge from South Carolina.
Most important, the musical shows that the debate surrounding the declaration were nuanced and extensive – about political issues, egos, personalities and principle.
(It particularly cracks me up that somehow those 1776 wigs seem from 1976. But I digress.)
Definitely a way to teach your kids about workers’ rights, how the “man” will always keep the “little guy” down, and how grit, principle and passion can unite down-trodden folks to over-come injustice.
And it’s got awesome singing and dancing to entertain the most Scrooge McDuckiest of rapacious capitalists.
Available on DisneyPlus and on YouTube clips by hundreds of high school productions .
Let’s be honest – explaining Holy Week and the impact Jesus had on his contemporaries is very difficult to explain as adults, let alone understand as children. This musical, over-wrought though it may be, does a great job of contextualizing Jesus’ impact on his local society. Further, the show briliantly conveys the cult of personality in which human pbeings love to deify leaders and equally lovs to watch them torn down. JCS is true to the title showing how Jesus was treated like a rockstar of his era and inspired jealousy and fear in the leaders who felt threatened by his cult of personality. Easiest to access on the NBC streaming platform, this version of the Andrew Lloyd Weber rock opera is excellently conceived and stars pop folk your kids might already know: John Legend and Sarah Bareilles. And they both clearly did their homework to give powerful performances.
This is an extra-credit, over-achiever assignment for you. Byond Tony awards snippets (see below) this show is super-smart and super-poignant. It’s almost a psycho-sociological study of the minds of all those who attempted (successfully or not) to assassinate American presidents. The album is badass and is over-flowing with historical trivia that will definitely help your kids (and you) eventually win Jeopardy. (The revival in 2004 starred Neil Patrick Harris when we still thought of him as a washed-up Dougie Howser.) Pop that album into your music-player for a road trip or, hell – you don’t have anything to do during the pandemic. This is excellent for laying on the couch and letting the words, music and history wash over you.
A musical about Presidential assassins? Just trust me. You’ll learn a lot.
Obviously this is the new gold standard for musicals that teach history as well as historical revisionism. It’s safe to say before the award-winning musical (based on the award-winning book by Ron Chernow), Alexander Hamilton had fallen to a secondary position in U.S. history books. But the musical, through deft musicality and astounding vocabulary displays, shows the pivotal role Hamilton played in our nation’s founding. Enjoy a deep-dive into stories about the making of the musical, listen to the album, and even give a stab at reading Chernow’s book. It’s excellent.
One of Rogers & Hammerstein’s best works, Carousel teaches children about life in a New England fishing village at the turn of the century. There are, admittedly, some real clunkers and eye-rolling songs. However, the version on Broadway HD stars Kelli O’Hara, which means the lead character is as good as it gets. It’s old-fashioned, but sumptuous. Go ahead: expand those kids’ horizons.
Available to view on BroadwayHD. This performance of Pippin is not only historic in Broadway history, but it’s also the story of Charlemagne’s son. Now, there’s not that much for historical accuracy, here, but it is based on ancient literature and fables sure to add to any child’s trivial and cultural knowledge. It’s also freakishly 70’s-esque. You’ll love the guitars and laugh at it’s charming datedness.
Okay. This one’s a toughy. It’s too long, too dramatic, and too much. But you’ll cry in all the right spots in spite of your (my) cynicism. Despite trying to melt a 1,000-page French tome into 2.5 hours of musical, much of it is thrilling. The performances pale in comparison to actual Broadway performers (Sorry, Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway.) But the movie version gives an excellent visual rendition of French revolutionary history. To see the barricades in actual streets, to see the utter squalor in said streets, to see the mud and filth in which these people lived..you really see how misérable were these folks.
For a fun dive down YouTube, check out these best education musicals for kids in snippets, Tony Award highlights and bootleg videos:
Here’s another that’s not based on any actual history but does an amazing job of contextualizing American history in a beautiful package. Unfortunately, you’d have to venture to the NY Public Library to watch it in the confines of a booth where you can only watch it once. But a deep dive on YouTube can thrill you, as well. The album is genius and the original book is one of the 100 best novels of the 20th Century. So there’s plenty to expand your cultural understanding of the conflict between whites, blacks and immigrants in New York at the turn of the 20th century.
The true story of a trial and hanging of a Jewish factory manager who was unjustly accused of raping a young female factory worker in 1913 in a small Georgia town. a racism and anti-Semitism that gripped a small Georgia town in the 1920’s. Yeah – not uplifting. But spectacular music and performances.
The musical based on the real-life Vaudeville lives of the Hilton sisters, conjoined twins exploited on the Vaudeville circuit. (They became the biggest stars of their day, as well.) Some of the songs are confusingly “on the nose”, but “I Will Never Leave You” sung by the (again: conjoined) twins is a classic in the modern American musical cannon.
Okay – bear with me. This one is, well…over-wrought. However, don’t we all go through a slight Titanic obsession at one point in our youth? This one does bring together storylines and costumes! of the many different demographics who went down (or escaped) the ill-fated liner. But for a REALLY fun YouTube moment, pull up a glass of champagne and feast your eyes on this gem from a few summers ago at a regional theatre who staged and ACTUAL sinking of a “ship” into the lake behind the theatre. OMG. I love this.
What about you? Have you got more suggestions for this list of best educational movie musicals for kids?
We are so lucky to be raising children in 2020 and easily find the best books about gender for kids- in an era when their self-expression is supported and celebrated.
Further, there is a growing body of books out there normalizing kids who might not conform to archaic gender norms. (And normalizing is, indeed, the intended word.)
The following best kids’ books about gender have been instrumental in our household for my children to forge their own way and identities.
These books are for gender, not sexuality. There’s another list for sexual identity (pending!)
Further, if your child seems to be even remotely gender non-conforming, you might lack the words for discussion. And there might not even be anything to discuss. But books help give EVERYONE words to comprehend.
Furthermore, these are also great books for kids who are gender conforming, as well. (And their parents.)
This book doesn’t hit you or your kids over the head with gender identity, but it does illustrate marvelously how being mis-labeled is confusing, but also easily solved. It’s a shrug, a celebration, a realization what’s on the outside does not need to dictate and define what’s on the inside. Grown-ups struggle with preconceived notions. Children don’t. But everyone benefits from this most wonderful book. * Particularly great for kids who are gender conforming.*
I particularly loved this book about a boy who uses logic and his own reasoning to defend his love of pink jammies. It’s too bad he feels the need to defend, but it’s a great lessons in sticking up for one’s self. Further, the logic is sound for a society accustomed to saying “pink is for girls and blue is for boys.” Bravo on this one. * Another great one for gender conformers.*
This is the book upon which my gender non-conformer fixated and adored. It addresses the teasing, hurt feelings and resistance. It was my child’s personal narrative wrapped up in a beautiful book. While I try to avoid books that focus on teasing so that my kid is never led to believe teasing is part of her destiny, this one beautifully shows that may happen, but this is also your super power. So soar, little kid. Soar.
Kind of like Jacob’s New Dress, this focuses on a young boy dealing with the stigma of wearing a dress at school. I wish it didn’t focus on the inevitability of being teased, but again, the story focuses on another wonderful mother who imbues her child with confidence to boldly strut and proudly wear a dress.
Who are You? by Brook Pessin-Whedbee and Naomi Bardoff This one’s a bit text book. Like…an actual text book. But luckily, little kids don’t know text books from romance novels. Pictures and colors? Bonus. Thought-provoking text? Double bonus. This one is a wonderful book for discussion and asking questions. It also has no need for negativity or thought so bulling or razzing. Triple bonus. There are pictures that allow kids to identify what they “like” not who they “are”. Plus, there’s an extended parents’ guide for discussion and a fun color wheel kids can play with and line up what might (or might not be) their identity. *This one’s great for everyone.*
Our 10 best of COVID-19 Film Festival for families includes movies that entertain parents and expand the kids’ world. That’s the E.C.Knox standard.
(And Disney need not apply.)
When venturing beyond the Disney/Minions/blockbuster realm, movies get more nuanced and profound. They’re frequently calmer and quieter, which might not cater to our current, fast-paced, frenetic society.
But in the midst of a pandemic, we’ve all got time to slow down and let our attention spans adapt, right? That might be most important for our kids.
The following are a top-ten in our personal “COVID-19 Film Festival”. And even if kids say “this is old-fashioned”, nine times out of ten they’re catatonic when a screen is illuminated, anyway, amiright?
So go ahead: stretch their limits and encourage them to see classics that deal with more mature topics that aren’t Disney-fied and simplified.
Consider it part of their cultural expansion during this hell of online learning and homeschooling.
Our 10 best of COVID-19 Film Festival for families should actually count as “online learning”.
is a high quality movie for the entire family…a Coppola film from the 70’s that doesn’t look or feel like that. It will enthrall your kids, provide the excitement that only horse-racing movies can inspire, and bring stunning visuals less dialogue that will leave you appreciating the silence. Further – you can cash in on the equally interesting sequel, The Black Stallion Returns. Watch on Amazon and Hoopla through your local library. WATCH THE TRAILER.
What particularly moved me was the provocative questions the movie inspired: thoughts about reincarnation, mortality, kindness and mindfulness that are beautifully posed for young viewers. Watch on Amazon and Netflix.
A classic French tale with rapturous views of Paris in the 1960’s. Very little dialogue (luckily…since young kids won’t be interested in scanning subtitles over French speakers). But the simple relationship story of a little boy and his new favorite pet is universal (not to mention the heart-break of bullying) will be thought-provoking for your kiddos. A must-see. Watch here.
One of the few animated movies I wanted to include. Just quirky and bizarre enough with lots of child-appropriate darkness. Remind your kids that Disney isn’t the end-all/be-all for animation. Watch here and on Netflix.
This isn’t the Shirley Temple version, don’t you worry. So you won’t suffer from saccharine perspective of a hard life in the 19th century Alps (pre-Swiss bank accounts and highest global standard of living.) If you’ve never actually read the book (for reals: who has?) you’ll be surprised at some of the twists and turns of this movie. It’s also an excellent bit of exposure to “life in different eras and locales” for the kiddos. Watch on Amazon and Hoopla.
This version of the classic Roald Dahl children’s story is hilariously quirky (directed by Danny Devito, after all). It lacks some of the actual darkness of the book, but it’s still just off-beat enough your kids will see “oh, that’s a fun way of telling a kids’ story.” Buy on Amazon or stream on Netflix.
You know it’s been too long since you watched this with your own family on Thanksgiving. It’s long, it has Nazis, it might not seem like pre-school viewing. But didn’t you watch it in preschool? Exactly. It’s a classic. Re-familiarize yourself with the most classic of American movie musicals. Stream on Amazon.
In that charming way that foreign movies just don’t feel, well…American, Babe is heart-warming and adorable without feeling nauseatingly sappy. Once again, it opens your mind and heart with just the right amount of cheeky humor to delight the parents. Find it here and all the other places you should google. 🙂
Why not show your kids the hilarity of stop-motion animation? It’s an entirely different art form that brings such different expression to stories and characters. And Chicken Run sends enough jokes over the kids’ heads to make you howl. Everyone can learn more from chickens. Stream on Amazon.
Go ahead. Take your kids on a 1960’s head trip. It’s incomprehensible to the non-imbibers of edibles, but the incomprehensibility is also full of dated hilarity. Go ahead. Take the kids on a yellow submarine head trip. They’ll look at you like your crazy, but also it’ll make them the coolest kids on the playground…or at least serve their cool factor amongst the intelligent elite at college.
The lesser-known of the 1960’s family classics like Mary Poppins, this is still a classic movie musical that you won’t hate and the kids will this is cool. Just indulge your inner child, again, and go along for the ride. Hollywood movie musicals at their 1960’s best. Stream on Amazon, free on Hoopla, or on Netflix.
And some honorable, self-evident choices that are must-sees in life:
Please add to our list! We need to grow beyond 10 best of COVID-19 Film Festival for families.
Now’s a great time to work on consuming sustainable products to fight COVID-19.
It’s hard to draw a direct line between our instant-gratification/disposable society and the cause of COVID-19. (And yet, is it?)
However, it’s not hard to see that altering our sense of consumer entitlement will help us out of this pandemic.
There are several choices we can make, as a society, that simultaneously reduces our impact on the environment, saves us money, AND fights COVID-19. (And might help with online learning and homeschooling. Ugh.)
Everyone one of the following products is meant to reduce trips to the infected outer world.
But also? When you buy them, maybe DON’T go to Amazon (despite embedded links herein).
Try your local retailers or your hardware store.
BARS OF SOAP
You KNOW you don’t actually need to get a plastic bottle for gel soap. Using a bar of soap with your favorite washcloth or loofah or poofy thing is EXACTLY THE SAME. Pretend it’s olden-times. Save a buck. Be as chemically-based, hipstery, or French milled bougie as you wanna be. As a bonus – go LOCAL! The bars last longer, cost less, and serve the same purpose. And when you’re at the end of the bar, you can make your own bars just like your ancestors during the depression!
Reusable cleaning cloths like this bamboo version or this. These mean no more paper towels. And how amazing is that? No more runs on the Target shelves. They last for many months and are made of natural celluloid, saving trees and money and trips to the store.
Use an old-fashioned one that can be re-used ad nauseum. Go ahead and do some role-playing as the maid with an old school ostrich feather duster (or a new-school one). Or at LEAST re-use your Swiffer dusters. Here: I’ve made a video demonstrating the complexity of cleaning a swiffer duster. (Argh – swiffer makes me so mad with their disposability. It’s a RUSE, folks! They just want you to buy more unnecessary crap!!!)
Just get you some cheap aloe vera and some VODKA!!! (or cheap 99.9% rubbing alcohol) and make your own! Cut down on the constant purchasing of Purell bottles, refill your little bottles, etc. So much less waste and indubitably better for your hands and the environment, not to mention PRICE GAUGING.
No more need to give more cash to the big cleaning companies like P&G. Instead, make your own sanitizer and cut down on all those disposable mini-bottles of sanitizer.
Why not a shameless plug, here? Sustainable? Yes (it’s quality and won’t fall apart and you can use it for years after diapering days are over and you won’t be embarrassed by it and choose to trash it). Stylish? Obvi. Fights COVID-19? I mean…have you SEEN the instant access to wet wipes?
Talk about the epitome of single-use plastics. No more saran wrap, folks. It’s necessary and wasteful and definitely kills turtles looking for a jellyfish snack. If you still really want to support mega-corporations, at LEAST use Glad or Ziploc containers. But really – beeswax is sustainable and keeps food fresher.
Seriously – do we really need to have plastic pencils that get trashed? Like when our little kids discover the intense OCD joy of clicked, extract all the lead, and then you’re too lazy to shove all those fragile lead sticks back into the environmentally unfriendly plastic tubes? Yeah – get you a #2 and a fabulous sharpener like this or this. Put the kids to work sharpening, listen to them complain, and then start to sound like your grandmother when you lecture about how good they have it and that “It’s a pandemic, you little entitled shits!”
We are a consumer society. And thank goodness for delivery. Try to shop local, check out the hardware stores (it’s a magical place) and get these sustainable product to fight covid-19. (Can we call it CV19, yet? So much easier.)
This addition to the COVID-19 Film Festival review is a little snobby, but in short – your soul will be filled, the kids might lose focus, but screw ’em – they have the TV on, don’t they? And it’ll make them better little people.
The Little Prince (available on Netflix) is a unique take on the children’s classic, The Little Prince, simultaneously re-telling the tale while reflecting the messages of the book through a modern story of an unexpected friendship between a little girl and an old man.
The entire movie has a certain Netflix-filtered-through-European-sensibility that makes it less aggressively upbeat as American animated blockbusters. There’s more silence, more profundity, more sadness, and more time.
Your kids might fidget a bit, but once they get into the story, they should stay enthralled.
This is a movie that elevates children and expands their vision and appreciation for artistic themes and story-telling, not to mention movies a bit off the conventional path. Give it a try. You won’t be wasting your time.
Our entire focus in our family film festival is to watch things that won’t make me want to tear my hair out and won’t make the kids immediately wish they were dissolving their brains watching crappy YouTube content. This one definitely foots the bill.
And while you’re at it, supplement your COVID-19 film festival viewing by buying the book. It’s also one of those that elevates us with profound stories that children understand so inherently and adults forget with age.