Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dora, Dora, Dora, The Explorer?

My almost 2-year-old boy has recently developed an all-consuming obsession with Dora. We have Netflix, so he's been streaming the episodes to our TV through the Wii, starting with Season 1 and moving on up....and down....and up...and down...

Season 1 is pretty okay, I think. Granted, Boots is annoying and makes me hope desperately that my son does not try to emulate him. However, Dora is okay, and the show is definitely educational. I love the repetition of key words or points. The characters count everything there is to count, so I feel that the show is beneficial in that regard, as well as having the obvious advantage of exposing children to Spanish at an early age. I don't think the show is going to teach my son fluent Spanish, but even a small amount of exposure will help him more easily learn a second language later in life.

As the seasons progress, the repetition decreases, which is unfortunate. The characters still count things, but the shows feel rushed. The map's song and the backpack's song are shortened and faster. The shows begin to have more events packed into them, and odd things like star collecting are added in. I could definitely do without the "collecting stars along the way" portion. I don't find any benefit to it, and I consider it ridiculous. The show begins to include things that are more "cute" than educational, with talking insects and flying horses.

Now, I realize that I'm not the only one in the world, and that the makers of the show are trying to make more than a show - they're trying to make money. Therefore, I have no doubt that they are creating the changes that viewers claim to want. However, I don't necessarily believe that these changes are good for the children, and I don't believe that they are in line with the initial concept of Dora. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Quest For The Mighty Sword Review

Today, I thought I would turn on some instant play Netflix for the kiddos to watch while I worked on crocheting some gnome hats. Browsing through the selection, I ran across "The Quest for the Mighty Sword." This title reeked of low-budget fantasy junk. So I hit play.

This movie was not the most horrible movie I've ever seen. In fact, surprisingly enough, it wasn't even any worse than I expected it to be. I think they may have even had more than $10 to spend on graphics. The storyline is your basic epic tale of the boy whose father died, passing on to the young son the duty of claiming the magic heirloom sword and leading his people back to their homeland or some such.

Of course, I either missed the shot of "his people" or else they didn't really show them; but it did include a rescue scene of some scantily clad woman, and a whole lot of love going around. It also included some really ugly critters that looked kind of like the troll from the movie aptly named "Troll". I think these guys were a little uglier than that troll, but I'm pretty sure "Troll" based their troll on these. In fact, there were a lot of ugly people in this movie. I wasn't overly impressed with the hero guy, nor did I consider the female lead to be particularly beautiful. Not to worry - their acting wasn't any better than their looks; however, that said, I think they were the best actors in the movie, other than the pimply and/or scarred guy who liked to make statues out of people.

Overall, I'd have to say this movie didn't even give Ed Wood a run for his money. If you'd like to see a movie in a fantasy epic-style setting with bad (but not horrible) acting, pretty bad (but again, not horrible for the time) graphics, a sketchy storyline, and a scantily clad, not-quite-beautiful female lead, this may be the movie for you. Or you can save yourself the trouble and watch the old version of Clash of the Titans. You decide.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Helping Teachers Is Hard!


I sell things on eBay. It's not always the most exciting hobby, but I do often learn quite a bit in the process - not only about the items that I'm selling, but also about the eBay community, people in general, and life itself. One of the most recent things that I have learned is that it seems as though some teachers just don't want to be helped.

In the course of my eBaying, I discovered a nonprofit organization called With this truly awesome organization, you can donate not to some nefarious organization that may or may not have children's best interest at heart, but rather to the teachers themselves! Additionally, you as the donor actually get to see where your money is going.

Here's how it works: a teacher signs up for the site and makes a wishlist from the catalogue on the site. A donor may then donate toward a certain item, or make a general donation toward a certain teacher. Once the teacher accumulates enough money to order an item, he or she may do so, and will send the item to the school that teacher works for. Now, I would suggest that the teacher wait until he or she accumulates an order of $60 or more so that there is no shipping charge!

And now for the part that makes it hard to donate to these teachers: most teachers haven't made wishlists! How am I supposed to donate to your classroom wishlist if you don't have one? If you're a teacher, get on that site and show me what you want. If you do, be sure to leave me your name in a comment so that I can actually donate to you. As it stands, there is only one teacher on there that I am interested in donating to. I'm afraid he's going to get all of the things he wants, and then where will I be?

If you're not a teacher, please spread the word to any teachers that you know, or let your child's school in on the existence of this site. Donate to your own child's teacher. It's the best investment you can make.