It’s just about Christmas time, and in between rounds of holiday party planning and Secret Santa drawings, we at Education.com have been excitedly reminiscing about our favorite things for the holiday. One of the best pre-Christmas activities, in our opinion, is cozying up with a blanket, a popcorn snowman, and a cheerful holiday movie. We’ve decided to take our quest for kid-appropriate Christmas movies into the digital age by searching for the best streaming Christmas movies on Netflix. Enjoy these fun Netflix Christmas movies with your family this holiday season.
I Want A Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown
I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown follows an oft-ignored Rerun van Pelt as he pursues his true Christmas wish: to have a dog of his very own. This Christmas special, which revolves around the iconic Peanuts gang, is a great movie for young kids and parents who grew up with Charlie Brown. Rerun feels a little out of control of his life; as the youngest child in a big family, he always seems to find himself getting pushed around by his siblings, stuck in the booster seat of his mother’s bicycle, or disappointed by naivete. Rerun goes through all the motions of a child desperate for a Christmas present: he writes letters to the North Pole, visits the bell-ringing neighborhood Santa, and even buys a leash and collar. The van Pelts don’t get a dog in the end, but Rerun does forge a furry friendship with Spike, Snoopy’s brother from out West. While not necessarily cheerful, I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown is an entertaining and funny holiday special that emphasises the importance of compassion and friendship during Christmastime.
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
In this millennial holiday flick, Jake, a smooth-talking student at a Southern California boarding school, tries to find his way back home by Christmas Eve. However, it’s not fueled by some touching sentiment that you might expect from a Christmas movie: Jake is racing to his home in New York in order to win a bet with his father and the car of his dreams. On the eve of his departure, Jake finds himself alone in the California desert wearing a Santa suit, after an unlucky encounter with school bullies. The film follows his eventful, zig-zagging journey through the United States as he hitchhikes, runs, and sleds his way to his family in New York. I’ll Be Home for Christmas is a cornball teen comedy at its root, but it’s a good throwback film for families who like ’90s movies with Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Christmas pop hits. Even after a series of sketch comedy-esque scenes where Jake bonds with a group of Tom Jones enthusiasts, wins a Santa 5K, and lies his way out of traffic tickets, the story ends with lessons learned and Christmas morals.
The Polar Express
The Polar Express is a new Christmas classic that takes the viewer on an adventure to the North Pole. Based on the classic Chris Van Allsburg book, the film captures the somewhat heartbreaking internal struggle of a boy unsure of his belief in Santa Claus. The unnamed boy lies awake in his bed on Christmas Eve, hoping to hear the ringing of Santa’s sleigh. He hears a different sound instead: the whistling call of a train. The story follows the boy onto the Polar Express and through his adventures with ghosts, caribou, and hot chocolate en route. Told through expertly-used computer animation, protagonist point of view, and animated characters, The Polar Express instills a sense of hopefulness for childlike wonder in its viewers. This film is a perfect holiday feature for kids and families, and it gets our vote for the best Christmas movie on Netflix.
The Education.com staff is still having a great time with Brainzy, our new educational games for early readers! Some of our favorite Brainzy sequences are the interactive phonics games. Phonics games are perfect for teaching young readers about the sounds that letters make and how to sound out simple words. Preview our fun phonics games below!
Each phonics concept is introduced to Brainzy players with a video full of charming melodies, engaging lessons, and dancing letters! Kids will learn the vowel sounds with a song to the tune of “Ten in the Bed.”
Muggo needs help finding the word that will power his friend-making machine! Kids will need to use their phonics skills to find words that start with the given letter. This phonics game helps kids identify the onset rime, or first sound, in a word.
Brainzy players learn phonics through engaging exercises and colorful characters. Kids will learn about phonics through monster letters that appear in teaching moments and storybooks. Kids can listen to the stories to gain familiarity with letter sounds through alliteration, or read at their own pace to practice their new skills.
Brainzy not only makes reading practice fun, but it also helps young children work on the skills that teachers believe are critical for future academic success. Each phonics game reinforces a specific English Language Arts Common Core skill, and allows kids to practice each ELA “building block” in an engaging way until they fully grasp it.
It’s almost time for Hanukkah, and we’re preparing for the Festival of Lights by making fun and festive crafts! We’ve rounded up some amazing and unique Hanukkah crafts from parenting and education bloggers that you and your child can make together this holiday season.
This Hanukkah gift calendar from Busy in Brooklyn is a beautiful and simple craft that kids will look forward to eight days in a row!
Did you know that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah coincide this year? ‘Thanksgivukkah’ hasn’t occurred nationally since 1918, and it won’t happen again until 2070! Celebrate this rare mash-up of winter holidays with a ‘Chanacopia’ like the one on Jew It Up!
All of us at Education.com have been having a lot of fun with Brainzy, our new educational games for early readers. We’ve had a great time seeing kids enjoy Brainzy’s humor-filled teaching moments, fun songs and colorful cast of characters!
Brainzy has a bunch of games that help kids build a foundation for a lifelong love of reading and writing, including a great selection of alphabet games. Alphabet games help young readers practice letter recognition, letter-sound matching, and reading engagement. Check out a few of Brainzy’s fun alphabet games for kids below!
Backpack Sort helps children identify different vowels in decodable words as they pack Floyd and Tutu’s backpacks for school! This alphabet game gives kids great practice with letter recognition and vowel identification.
We’ve seen some very cool activities, games, and crafts floating around the blogosphere recently! To celebrate all of the great things that parenting and education bloggers have been posting, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite handprint and footprint crafts from recent blog posts.
This hand and foot print peacock activity from Rockabye Butterfly is cute and simple for young artists! Squishy paint between toes and fingers is wonderful for sensory play, too. Handprints and footprints would also make a very cute Thanksgiving turkey with a full and colorful tail!
These prints of Frankenstein’s monster from Frogs, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails are adorable! A tiny footprint add just the right amount of whimsy to the title monster from Mary Shelley’s tale of horror.
This canvas handprint tree from Glued to My Crafts is a great keepsake for parents, and it acts as a perfect autumnal decoration! It’s also a nice way to preserve your child’s little handprint in a polished setting that will look good every fall.
We’ve been working on something very special this Halloween season! Last week, we kicked off the 13 Days of Halloween, a spooktacular roundup of our favorite Halloween activities for ghosts and ghouls of all ages.
Each day leading up to All Hallow’s Eve, we’ve been revealing a mystery activity for Halloween enthusiasts. The collection includes the best Education.com Halloween crafts, recipes, and games for kids. We’ve handpicked the activities that we come back to year after year as well as some new craft favorites, and we even designed a special Day 1 activity especially for the 13 Days of Halloween. So far, we’ve constructed haunted houses, baked zombie cupcakes, crafted some cute owls, put together a few fuzzy spiders, and more!
Blogger Christine from Blooming Brilliant has been following along with our 13 spooky activities with her daughter. Christine told us about her experience with the 13 Days of Halloween this far: “The Haunted House calendar was a lot of fun, and my daughter, Isabella really enjoys it. She looks at it everyday and tells me we have to do an activity!” Isabella’s progress with our special Day 1 haunted house calendar is documented in this post on Blooming Brilliant.
If you’re interested in following along with us, check out our 13 Days of Halloween slideshow each day for the rest of October to download our 13 Days of Halloween haunted house calendar and to see our mystery activities revealed. Want more? Here’s a hint for tomorrow’s activity:
I’ll sit and stare on the porch all night,
You’ll bask in my glow of internal light.
The Halloween season is one of our favorite times of year! We love the anticipation of trick-or-treating, perfecting our costumes, grazing on fun-sized candy, and scaring ourselves silly. One of the best ways to get into the fun or spooky spirit is to watch a great Halloween movie! There are a ton of options out there for adults and teenagers, but sometimes it’s hard to find an appropriate Halloween movie for kids. To help you through those cozy October nights, we’ve hand-picked some of the best age-appropriate Halloween movies for kids.
Halloween Movies for Little Kids (Ages 3 to 9)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
This classic holiday special features the Peanuts gang celebrating All Hallow’s Eve with some peculiar traditions. The story revolves around young Linus, who is waiting for the fabled Great Pumpkin, a Santa Claus-like character whom he believes appears each Halloween night. Meanwhile, the rest of the children participate in some Halloween traditions, such as bobbing for apples and trick-or-treating. Each activity ends with a silly twist that kids will love: Lucy accidentally kisses Snoopy while trying to retrieve an apple and Charlie Brown gets a rock instead of candy at each stop on their trick-or-treating route. In the style of Beckett, the Great Pumpkin never does show up, but Linus remains hopeful. Mark the beginning of the Halloween season with a family viewing of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and feel inspired by the promise of Halloween traditions!
This is a great movie for kids who can be intimidated by the scary factors of Halloween. Monsters, Inc. tells the story of best friends James P. “Sulley” Sullivan and Mike Wazowski. These friends take scaring very seriously—they are professional closet monsters—but they are so smart, funny, and caring that they just might make your kids reconsider their fear of things that go ‘bump’ in the night. Kids will see that even monsters get frightened sometimes, when Boo, a little girl from the human world, sneaks through the closet door into Monstropolis and terrifies Sulley, Mike, and anyone she comes into contact with. While this Pixar insta-classic is not strictly a Halloween film, it does teach kids some great lessons for the holiday. Mainly, that everyone is afraid sometimes, and that behind each spooky thing, there’s usually a core that’s not scary at all.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Break out The Nightmare Before Christmas at the end of the October to get your kids excited for the fun of both Halloween and upcoming winter holidays. The iconic Jack Skellington is the leader of the spooky yearly festivities in Halloween Town, a city populated by monsters, ghosts, vampires, and witches. Jack has always loved Halloween, but he begins to grow tired of doing the same thing from year to year. Jack accidentally falls into Christmas Town, where he’s overcome by the beauty of Christmas. Jack returns to Halloween Town to attempt to bring Christmas to his friends, but most of the traditions are lost in translation. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a good movie all around—it has beautiful stop-motion animation, catchy songs, and complex characters—but it is an especially great film to watch in the fall and winter, as it reminds the viewer to appreciate each holiday for the things that make it special.
Halloween Movies for Big Kids (Ages 10 and up)
If you were the type to judge a Halloween film by its title, we bet that Monster House wouldn’t rank as one of your must-see holiday movies. But the assumption that this movie is an ordinary, semi-scary flick for kids about a combination house-slash-monster belies the true amazingness of the film. Monster House tells the story of DJ, Chowder and Jenny, three twelve-year-olds who get entangled in the mystery of their disgruntled neighbor, Mr. Nebbercracker. While this plot of this movie could go in a very obvious direction, the viewer is thrown several unexpected and emotional twists that give the film more complexity. This movie is great for big kids, but it’s even compelling enough for adults to watch with or without children. Fun fact: Monster House was nominated for an Academy Award.
Hocus Pocus combines fantasy, comedy, mild horror and even a little history into one Halloween movie! Directed by Kenny Ortega, of High School Musical fame, this film follows teenager Max as he faces young love, his embarrassing little sister, and the Sanderson sisters: Three witches who have risen from the dead and are fixated on destruction. Hocus Pocus is a little predictable, but it neatly fits the outline of a traditional Halloween movie for kids, with slapstick jokes, random musical numbers, abundant optimism, and talking cats. Turning 20 years old this year, we bet that this movie will bring some fuzzy nostalgic feelings to parents and babysitters, but won’t feel too dated for today’s kids. This movie also has some educational value, as kids will learn a little about the Salem witch trials.
Coraline is a dark and fantastical movie based on the children’s novel by Neil Gaiman. Coraline and her parents have recently moved to a new town, and Coraline is feeling glum about the whole thing. In addition to despising her location, Coraline also feels like she’s being ignored by her work-centric parents and she doesn’t see herself becoming friends with her neighbors. Coraline finds a mysterious miniature door in her house, which leads to a new dimension with attentive parents, neighbors who perform spectacular shows, and a silent friend whom she gets along with well. After a few visits to this other world, Coraline starts to get a bad feeling about her new friends and family, and things start to unravel to show that the alternate universe is not what it seems. This is a great movie overall, and one of the standout features is the animation. Creepy and inviting at the same time, this movie paints a beautiful picture of Coraline’s story. If you have access to a compatible television, rent the film in 3D to see the visuals really shine.
We know we’ve mentioned this before, but we at Education.com love, love, love children’s books! We’ve all got our own childhood favorites that have been classics for decades, but there are also a ton of great new titles in children’s literature. In this post, we’ve assembled our list of the best preschool books from the past ten years. Check out these titles at your local library or bookstore, and share with a child or read to yourself!
Press Here by Hervé Tullet
We like this interactive preschool book so much that we’re reviewing it twice! Press Here, based off of Tullet’s French book Un Livre (“A Book”), is a story without a protagonist or scenes. Instead, the book creates an environment in which the reader is a character, actively manipulating the images in the book with the press of a finger, snapping, and blowing on the pages. This preschool book is great for children growing up in the age of tablets, apps, and video games, as it lives up to children’s expectations that their actions on an entertainment medium will affect change. Though the digital world has its place, Press Here is a great way to get children excited about the magic of literature.
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems
Based on a true story, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale tells the story of a toddler named Trixie who loses her toy Knuffle Bunny when running errands with her dad in New York. The pre-verbal Trixie throws several public temper tantrums to alert her parents that Knuffle Bunny is missing. When they realize what’s wrong, the family looks all over Brooklyn to find KB. While the story is cute (and totally relatable for almost any parent) on its own, Knuffle Bunny’s stand-out trait is its illustrations, which feature black and white photographs of Brooklyn with the colorful characters drawn in the foreground.
Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
This picture book is a new classic, and meditates on the theme of reaching for your dreams, even if you have some failures. The title Kitten is sitting outside when he sees his first full moon. Thinking it’s a big bowl of milk, Kitten chases the moon through the night, jumping through fields, climbing up trees, and even falling in a lake. Kitten is not easily discouraged, and in the end, he is awarded for his perseverance. Told with simple text and black-and-white illustrations, Kitten’s First Full Moon is a great preschool book because it encourages readers to dream big and pursue their passions.
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin and James Dean
Pete has four groovy buttons and boy, does he like to sing about them! Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons has all the makings of a classic children’s book, with a memorable main character, a refrain about buttons, and surprising and hilarious twists that kids will love. PTC&H4GB is a great learning tool too; not only does it teach children the word “groovy,” but it also contains an ever-present lesson in counting and subtraction.
Olivia and the Missing Toy by Ian Falconer
The Olivia character is featured in several amazing books by Falconer, and Olivia and the Missing Toy is one of the best. Olivia loses her very favorite doll, and looks all over the house to find it. With the character’s active imagination and Falconer’s surreal illustrations, Olivia turns a seemingly normal toy hunt into an all-out mystery, in the style of a suspenseful horror movie. While this is a fun and slightly spooky book year-round, Olivia and the Missing Toy is a particularly good Halloween preschool book.
This will come as no surprise to you, but the Education.com staff reads a lot of children’s books. We’ve all got our favorites from our own childhoods, but with a constant influx of advance copies from publishers coming through the door, we’re always finding new ones we love as well. As an outlet for our enthusiasm, we’ve decided to start up a series of blog posts that pay tribute to our favorite children’s authors.
Our first featured author is James Marshall. Marshall was a prolific writer and illustrator, who contributed to over 80 children’s books in his career, both as James and under the pen name Edward Marshall. His trademark style is succinct, tastefully humorous, and smartly moral. Marshall’s books are funny for both children and adults, so they make a great addition to any family library. Here are some of our very favorite James Marshall books:
George and Martha is a book of five short stories about two hippos who are best friends. With Victorian-inspired clothing, footed bathtubs, and a hot air balloon, George and Martha are oddly noble hippopotami who work through everyday problems and friendly fights. The two hippos are totally sincere and always striving to be the truest friends possible. These stories are straightforward with miniature morals on friendship, vanity, and perseverance. George and Martha is a great read for children, as it shows them how to be true friends.
Spud Jenkins and Joe Turner are the kids that every child aspires to be in their naughtiest dreams: mischievous, clever pranksters, also known as ‘cut-ups.’ Spud and Joe star in a miniature series of picture books, in which they play tricks on local adults and attempt to impress their new fancy friend, Mary Frances. Kids adore reading about the hilarious and wicked antics that the Cut-ups get into at school, at camp, and at ballroom dance class. In true Marshall fashion, each book presents a subtle moral for the reader.
Marshall wrote and illustrated several fairy tales, and Hansel and Gretel is among the best of the group. This is a great retelling of the classic story, with simple and relatable characters for kids. While many children’s retellings of Grimm fairy tales are gutted to exclude some of the more complex elements of the stories, Marshall’s Hansel and Gretel is expertly told with simple dialogue and detailed pictures. The illustrations fill in the descriptive and symbolic gaps from the original story, while clearly depicting characters’ moods for young readers.
As the title suggests, this is another Marshall book about friendship between two animals. Harriet, a well-read and sensible hen, attempts to save her wide-eyed friend Winnie from the Mr. Johnson, a rogue fox in disguise. Through costumes, chases, and clever tricks, Winnie narrowly escapes Mr. Johnson’s fricassee pot. We love this story’s message that reading and working to be bright will keep you from being eaten by a fox (hey, we’ve all been there…).
Written in conjunction with Harry Allard, Miss Nelson is Missing! is one of Marshall’s most famous books. Through stark illustrations with muted colors, Marshall and Allard tell the story of the world’s worst substitute teacher, Miss Viola Swamp. This book showcases Marshall’s tendency towards satirical story telling, with the characters subtly poking fun at kids’ dramatic imaginations. This is a great book for classroom read-alouds, as it contains vivid characters, and also teaches the reader a lesson about the importance of good classroom behavior.