If you've managed a trip to the cinema recently, you might have noticed some recent releases have taken classic fairy tales to a new level. Both Mirror, Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman retell parts of the Snow White story.
This is just the beginning of a Hollywood obsession with fairy tales - over the next 4 years over fifty films based on classic tales are set for release, including Cinderella (2), Peter Pan (4), the Wizard of Oz (7 plus a TV series and a silver screen adaptation of the musical Wicked), Hansel and Gretl (3), Sinbad (4) and many more.
Some may sink without trace, but if you enjoy a good old fairy tale, look forward to being indulged over the coming years. Don't expect to take the children along to enjoy these films though, many are being rated PG, 12 and higher, as the various twists make them too black for youngsters, include modern vices in contemporary settings, or have underlying themes of wickedness!
National Schools Film Week runs from 14-22 October 2010, giving children and their teachers the chance to see films at local cinemas free! The idea is to provide teachers and ultimately children with access to films that might help and further contribute to the school curriculum.
Last year some 400,000 students and teachers were involved across the country with 540 cinemas taking part. It is generally agreed that learning outside the classroom is of huge benefit to children. There are all sorts of activities that the children can look at prior to a visit:
- Quick history of cinema and television: chat about the fact some of us/our parents didn't have television at home when growing up!
- History of the building: look at the cinema you go to. Is it a brand new modern building or an older building?
- Walk to the cinema: what do you pass?, how are the buildings different along the way?, how many roads do you cross?
- Talk about films: chat about films you like, films you don't like, character in films, what type of film you would make
- Set up your own cinema: close the curtains, grab some popcorn and watch a film together!
People often feel pressured for their children's first birthday parties, especially for the oldest child; there's a feeling that they have to create an amazing spectacle that everyone will remember for years to come. The truth is that your baby will never remember their first few birthdays, so don't blow a hole in your family finances, do something sensible and make sure you enjoy yourself as much as you hope your little one does!
For the first couple of years, you'll probably want to celebrate surrounded by your wider family rather than having lots of babies over. The first birthday of your oldest child is a memorable milestone for you more than for your baby - you have survived your first year as a mother and no doubt achieved many new experiences along the way. Invite your family around and celebrate your achievements with them. Toast yourself with a few glasses of wine, and if you are still intent on blowing a hole in the family finances, lavish yourself with Champagne!
Eventually your little one will begin interacting with other children in playgroups and at nursery and you will want them to be able to share their birthday with a few of their own friends. If you don't want to spend a lot of money, you can invite friends round for a playdate and hold a birthday tea for everyone. If you have a budget and want to make a more memorable experience then there are all sorts of things you can do:-
- Hold a party at a local soft play centre, toddlers love clambering around play structures and soft play centres accommodate even the youngest party revellers
- Invite an entertainer into your home: look in the Yellow Pages or other local directories to find entertainers suitable for toddlers - clowns, magicians, face painters or balloon modelers may offer a show for your target age group
- Go to a restaurant: probably not suitable below the age of 4 because you need the children to sit still for the meal, and you won't find restaurants with high chairs for large numbers of babies, but a meal out can be a treat for little ones; some restaurants cater really well for children, for example Pizza Hut offer 'Make your own pizza' parties and the staff at TGI Friday are trained to keep young audiences amused with balloon modeling and just being generally fun!
- Go to the park: don't feel you need to hire a venue for a large party - if you have a 'summer' baby, organise a birthday tea picnic in a nearby park; organise a few games to play and invite all the other parents to stay to join in the fun
- Take everyone to a Saturday cinema club for children - although you may not get advanced warning of what will be showing and whether it will be suitable, so this may be difficult to commit to!
- There are several chains where you can hold 'make a bear' parties - each child chooses an empty teddy-bear template which can be stuffed and accessories added
- There are also many 'paint your own pottery' studios around - for really young children just putting handprints on a saucer or mug makes for a memorable gift that they can take back to their families; the only downside is that you can't leave your party with your art, you have to pick it up a couple of days later after it has been fired
We only offer a small selection of ideas for parties for children here, you'll find plenty more things to do in your local area. Post your own ideas and suggestions here and tell everyone what you've done for your early parties...?
Many cinema's run children's clubs on weekend and school holiday mornings and from time to time they'll show films suitable for a toddler audience. Tickets are usually aimed at 'pocket money' prices, often with adults admitted free for each child too. This makes for an economical family outing. New feature releases aren't usually included in these cheaper trips, so if you're looking to enjoy Shrek Forever After or Toy Story 3 (both being released in 3D) with your children, you'll probably have to pay the full admission price for a regular viewing.
At What Age can I take my Children to the Cinema?
Kid's clubs at cinema don't usually have any age restrictions, although preschoolers should probably only be watching 'U' classified films. Films rated 'PG' may contain scenes that will frighten them. At two years, toddlers will become a little restless and probably won't last the duration of a film, but from 3 years onwards, many kids can concentrate through a film and will probably be mesmerised. High noise levels through the film are more than tolerated, and you'll be amazed at how your little ones will barely notice the rabble around them even if you can't concentrate on the film for any length of time! Of course, you need not be worried if your children make noise during the show either.
It is a good idea to take some toys or activity books with you into the cinema in case your children can't last the viewing. If you need to leave then do so, but if you have older siblings who want to stay, you may need to find a way to entertain a younger child until the film ends. Many cinemas leave the lights on a low setting during the children's performances, but this isn't always the case, so do be aware that the cinema may be dark, limiting the range of activities that can be undertaken.