Weekly family rail, with family-activity tips for spring, a review of “Pinch Hit" and more.
Tip of the Week
This is the perfect time to start looking for signs of spring with kids. These signs return every year, so teach children to experience Mother Nature using the five senses: touch, taste, sight, smell and sounds.
- Touch: For a "hands-on" experience, gather spring garden elements. Soil, water, seeds and light all work together to help plants grow - the basics of photosynthesis. Even if it is still too cold for an outdoor garden, get kids gardening indoors by planting a small tabletop garden.
- Taste: Spring greens are some of the first tastes from the garden. Pot a "grown-up" tabletop container garden or visit the first local farmers market selling home-grown ingredients for salads this spring. Maple syrup is another great taste of spring. The first maple tree sap flows right before the leaves appear, sometime between late February and early April. This is when maple sugar and maple syrup production is at its best. Celebrate by learning how to tap a tree or visit a sugar house. Kids will love seeing how much work goes into making the syrup they put on their pancakes, and might even get to sample maple candy or maple sugar for a delicious treat.
- Sight: In spring, flowers bloom, leaves bud, birds build nests and the backyard fills with life. One of the most obvious signs of spring's arrival is the appearance of flowers. Even before the snow has melted, tiny crocuses can often be seen peeking out, making the statement that spring is, indeed, approaching. Make a scrapbook or photographic diary of which flowers are spotted first in your area.
- Smell: Spring brings soothing scents like lilacs, apple blossoms, hyacinth and daffodils. Sweet aromas turn a stroll through the garden into a delicacy for the nose. The smell of fresh, cool air wafting into an open window or the scent of laundry that's been hung out to dry in the sun are some of the greatest moments of spring. And, of course, the pleasant smell of freshly cut grass after that first mowing of the year is a reminder of all the summer fun just around the corner.
- Sounds: In the spring, birds returning from long migrations are busy building nests, looking for food and laying eggs. Their singing and twittering are a welcomed signal that spring has truly arrived. Set up a bird feeder in the backyard or patio and take turns documenting which feathered friends visit most frequently. In addition to the birds, frogs are also making their spring appearance in many parts of the country, filling the night air with song. Listen for their high-pitched calls in the evenings, especially around wet areas like lakes and ponds.
Family Movie Night
Length: 103 minutes
Synopsis: With the help of three fans, The Muppets must reunite to save their old theater from a greedy oil tycoon.
Violence/scary rating: 2
Sexual-content rating: 1
Profanity rating: 1
Drugs/alcohol rating: 1
Family Time rating: 2. This is a fantastic family film in line with previous Muppets movies, and it was critically acclaimed as well.
(Ratings are judged on a five-point scale, with 5 being “bad for kids” and 1 being “fine for kids.”)
“Pinch Hit,” by Tim Green
Synopsis: Trevor and Sam look alike. But their lives couldn't be more different. Trevor is a movie star, living the Hollywood life in a huge mansion with his own limo, pool, and bowling alley. There's nothing he doesn't have except the one thing he wants most: to play baseball for real. Sam is a regular kid who seems to have what it takes to make it to baseball's Major Leagues. He's determined to get the scouts at the big USC tournament to recognize his talent. And he really wants to see his dad, a struggling screenwriter, realize his own dream. When Sam signs up at Casting Central to make some extra money, he and Trevor come together on a movie set and see the chance to trade places—to pinch hit for each other and make everyone's dreams come true. At first, it's all good. . . . But what happens when the boys take their game too far? - HarperCollins Publishers
Did You Know
According to a study published in Pediatrics, children of pregnant women who use methamphetamine have a greater risk of behavioral and emotional problems.
GateHouse News Service