This month’s videos are diverse and fun for all ages. "Charlie and Lola," a new DVD coming later this month, is one of my favorite shows and provides a quirky and entertaining way to practice critical thinking. "Move and Groove Kids" makes it fun to jump around and get down and "Anyone Can Juggle" refines your child’s motor skills and gives older kids a fun hobby.
So read, watch and drop me a line about the column or the videos. Send snail mail to Chicago Parent or e-mail me at Sylvia@sylviaewing.com.
CHARLIE AND LOLA VOL 4: IT’S ABSOLUTELY COMPLETELY NOT MESSY, not rated, released May 29, $14.98; ages 2-7.
You don’t have to be the mother of a son and a daughter to appreciate "Charlie and Lola," but it certainly adds to my pleasure to see the loving and funny relationship between these siblings. They are clever and just plain pleasant without any of the bratty behavior that passes for humor on too many cartoons and kids’ shows. I have to say that the episode about their messy room showed a pretty realistic-looking space. It is really funny to watch Lola hop over toys on her tip toes while denying there is a problem. In each episode of the DVD, Charlie and Lola provide entertainment and model positive behavior from figuring out how to clean up that messy room to facing the music when a borrowed item gets damaged. These are the kinds of stories that provide teaching moments for parents.
Lola is a spirited little sister in the tradition of another book/TV series—she’s a lot like D.W. from Arthur. I have also said that the love between the siblings reminds me of Max and Ruby books, too.
Sylvia says: A+. "Charlie and Lola" was originally from the BBC and has a unique look. I watched with 5-year-old Tiara and she loved the mix of drawings and film.
MOVE ‘N’ GROOVE KIDS GO TO THE ZOO, not rated, $19.95 DVD, www.movengroovekids.com; ages 2-7.
This live action production has really cute kids and the dance teacher knows her stuff. Your child will be drawn by the movement as much as the story as the Move ‘N’ Groove Kids set out on a trip to the zoo with Deb and Munki. This is an ambitious undertaking in more ways than one. Young viewers are not only encouraged to dance and exercise, they are exposed to a movement curriculum incorporating pretty fancy claims regarding multiple intelligence and kinesthetic, musical and spatial learning. And they learn their ABCs and get a healthy dose of appreciation of nature while visiting the zoo. With childhood obesity on the rise, this video, created by dance teacher Deborah Damast, is a kid-friendly way to promote exercise at home or in other settings. Your child will get a workout from warm-up to cool-down.
Sylvia says: A for active fun—a fitness instructor in a box.
ANYONE CAN JUGGLE, $20 DVD, www.titleset.com; ages 8 and up.
Trying to juggle is fun, and if you are like me you’ve had your share of tossing around fruit and tennis balls. "Anyone Can Juggle" allows your child to step it up to the next level and really learn to juggle. Steve Girman is a good teacher. He goes from his basic mantra of throw, throw, catch, catch to instructions for juggling in groups. But what is really catching is his enthusiasm and encouragement. Girman makes you feel like you can do it and it really pays off with kids in the video and will for your kids, too. There is also a nice segment that shows you how to make your own juggling bean bags.
Sylvia says: A. Juggling can be a great confidence builder and a fun way to play, and this video makes it possible.
Sylvia M. Ewing is a mother of two, an award winning producer and long time on-air talent for WTTW living on Chicago’s North Side.