Best Movies for Families [from mostly] 2016

Guest Blog
with Movie Maniac Moe from The Calgary Public Library

It’s always easy to find great movies for the 14+ crowd, being that most flicks are aimed at this demographic. On tap for 2016 were many returning franchises for the older kids (and kids at heart), like ‘Avengers: Civil War’, ‘Star Trek Beyond’, ‘Batman versus Superman’, ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, and ‘Ghostbusters’.

It is a little harder, though, to find something that you can watch with the whole family. Something without nudity, violence, gore, profanity, images of alcohol, drugs, smoking, or frightening and intense scenes, yet still has something to offer up that appeals across a variety of ages… especially if you have managed to talk an older child into sitting with their parents and younger sibling and promised them “you’ll like it”.

Parents know how often a child will watch something they like — we’re talking dozens, maybe even hundreds of times. I know I am guilty of it myself… some of my fave films I have seen upwards of 40 times! Just like grown-up movies, not all children’s movies are created equal, and poorly made children’s movies can be mind-numbing for adults. But we like what we like and children do even more so.

So have a look at these ten suggestions. They will stand up to multiple viewings — visually stunning, creative, funny, and highly watchable… for the WHOLE family.


The entire city of Zootopia is populated by animals living, thriving, and holding down regular day jobs. From tiny shrews to the largest elephant, everybody has a place in this society. For any human who has ever gone to a registry office, you will find the scene with the sloth particularly funny. Rated PG for some very mild rude humour.





For the legions of Roald Dahl fans, the Big Friendly Giant is brought to screen in a manner befitting this beloved story. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the novel by the well loved author, you are in for a real treat. Rated PG for action/peril, some scary moments and brief rude humor, but this should be good for 6 years old and up. Directed by master movie maker, Steven Spielberg.



fqNhnLkg-7U.movieposter_maxresFinding Dory

The sequel to the very popular Finding Nemo, this Pixar release features the return of the friendly-but-forgetful Blue Tang, Dory. This time the search is for her long-lost parents. Along the way everybody learns something new about the real meaning of family. Rated PG for some mild thematic elements. The young kids will love this one.




The Jungle Bookjungle_book

Everyone is likely familiar with little Mowgli, the boy-child raised in the jungle by a pack of wolves. This Rudyard Kipling story has been adapted to film many many times in the past seventy plus years. This version features only one live person, and the little boy is wonderful. The CGI (computer generated images) are so seamless, many times you are certain you are looking at real animals. Lots of A-list stars are doing the voices and parents can have extra fun trying to guess who’s who. Rated PG for some sequences of scary action and peril, but it should be suitable for six and up (with parental guidance). You will love the elephants!

Untitled-1If you can track down the live-action adaptation from 1994 (a little hard to find these days), that was the standard for my young girls

As I mentioned above, the story is of such enduringappeal that it is always being remade. So even though one was just released in 2016, a new version has just wound up production and is due for release in 2018. It stars everybody’s favorite Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch, and will no doubt be a hit.



news-021516b-lgA Beautiful Planet

This film explores the Earth as seen from the International Space Station. Astronauts film what they see as they orbit the planet, and the images are stunning. In the night scenes you can actually see major cities around the world, plus different storms taking place on Earth. From Disney, this is only 45 minutes long, and can be viewed by 5 and up.




Kung Fu Panda 3Kung-Fu-Panda-3-Movie-Poster

In the third installment, Po continues his ‘legendary adventures of awesomeness’, and must fight super villain Kai. To fight him he must try to train his well-intentioned but clumsy fellow pandas. Rated PG for martial arts action and some mild rude humour.




Kukubo_and_the_two_strings_ver13_xxlgbo and the Two Strings

Kubo, a young boy in a fantastical alternative Japan, is kind, clever, and an amazing storyteller. As with other flicks from this movie house, this gorgeously animated offering from Laika Studios tends to be a little darker than the light-hearted, brightly-coloured movies from other creators, but with some parental guidance, this one is genuinely wonderful for 8+, or younger at personal discretion.



moana_ver5 Moana

Not content with infecting a large portion of the adult population with his catchy earworms in hit musical ‘Hamilton’, Lin-Manuel Miranda turns his skills to the younger generation in the delightful ‘Moana’. There’s at least three songs in this one that neither you nor your little ones will get out of your heads. You’re welcome.




song-of-the-sea-posterSong of the Sea

If the songs of the sea form Moana weren’t enough for your heart, and you missed this hit from a couple of years ago (2014), you’ll definitely want to check it out now. There are a lot of titles on this list from heavy-hitters Disney and Dreamworks, so we always like featuring some of the other studios. We can’t wait for the next from Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon!



School Success Rx


Guest Blog by Calgary’s Child — original link here

With Preschool and Kindergarten Registration starting now, Calgary’s Child share their prescription for school success:

Read, read, read to your child

“Being read to is the single most consistent and reliable predictor of academic success later in life,” says Kurumada Chuang. She recommends reading to your preschooler for 20 minutes every night at bedtime. While you’re at it, stop every so often and ask your child a question about the story before turning the page, such as: “Gosh, why do you think she was sad?” Or, “What do you think is going to happen next?” Making reading more interactive makes it more fun and helps build your child’s comprehension skills.

Help your child learn to follow directions

To help your preschooler get the hang of following directions, practice at home by giving simple commands, such as: “Please help me pick up your toys and put them in the
toy box.” Then, encourage your child to follow through by offering an incentive to do whatever it is you’re asking. Tell your child they can play outside, for example, once they’ve finished putting away their toys. An incentive helps your child understand that following directions makes other fun activities possible. If they don’t follow your directions and, for example, don’t put their toys away, calmly explain that they won’t be able to play with those toys for the rest of the day or go, for example, to the park. Keep it positive by focusing on how clean the playroom will look when you’re done. Then praise your child when they’re successful. “You followed my directions so well. Thank you for helping me put your toys in the toy box like I asked you to! That was so helpful.”

Help your child master sharing and turn-taking

From age 3 to 5, children tend to hoard coveted toys and objects. They’re not really ready to grasp the concept of sharing yet. But you can help your youngster practice by having them ‘take turns’ with toys and catching your child when they share on their own. To help them develop the empathy that true sharing requires, state what they did and how it makes others feel, such as: “Thank you for sharing. It makes your sister feel good when you share the ball.” Your child should be able to ‘own’ special or new toys, though, so keep them out of sight on playdates or in their room, away from siblings. By Kindergarten, children are capable of sharing well and taking turns. If your child isn’t there yet, help them get the hang of it by inviting a friend over for a cooperative task such as baking cookies. If things aren’t going well, calmly ask your child to sit out. Pretty soon, they’ll get the idea and want to join in on the fun again. You can also read your child books about sharing and discuss them. In the classic tale, Stone Soup, retold by Heather Forest, two hungry travelers make soup from ingredients everyone in the town contributes. What makes the soup extra delicious is the sharing it took to make it.

Help your child make friends

If you get the sense your toddler or preschooler needs a little help in the social department, try hosting playdates with others your child likes or with whom they have common interests. Playdates offer an opportunity to break away from the group and foster individual friendships. You might begin by asking your preschooler: “How about a playdate with Grace? I notice that she likes to draw too.” If you’re not sure whom to invite over first, ask your child’s preschool teacher if there’s anyone in the classroom who might be a good match for your child. Then feel free to go from there and make the rounds so your child gets the chance to know several children better. To help your child play host(ess), let them pick the snack and ask them beforehand what games and activities s/he and their friend might like to do. On the playdate, feel free to play along and stay close by to make sure everyone stays safe. But give your child and their friend the chance to play on their own too. To help things go smoothly, keep playdates to two hours; children start to get tired after that. And keep it simple by inviting just one child over at a time.

Practice sharing

From age 3 to 5, kids aren’t yet capable of grasping the concept of sharing, but you can help your preschooler get the hang of it by having them ‘take turns’ with toys and catching them when they share on their own. “Stating what she did and how it makes others feel, such as: ‘Thank you for sharing. It makes your sister feel good when you share your toast,’ helps her develop the empathy that true sharing requires,” says Marcy Guddemi, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Gesell Institute of Human Development. You can also read your child books about sharing and discuss them together. Hone your child’s listening skills. At the dinner table and during car rides, help your preschooler hone their listening skills by asking them to wait to speak until their brother (or vice versa) has finished his sentence. When it’s her turn, remind her, “Now it’s your turn to talk. Thank you for being patient and for being such a good listener while your brother was talking.” Explain that being a good listener shows respect for the speaker, whether it’s her brother or her teacher and the other students at school who are trying to hear what the teacher has to say. Mention that it’s a two-way street: When she’s a good listener, she’s showing the same kind of respect that she gets when others listen to her. If she continues to interrupt, keep reminding her that she’ll get the chance to talk. Becoming a good listener, like many things, can take lots of practice.

The Twelve Days of Christmas — Gift Ideas for Families

We know that the holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, and gift-giving is not the least of those stressors. If you need some gift ideas for interesting, novel, and super fun presents for the families in your life that have young children, look no further!


Learn sequencing and patterns with this tactile portable flannelboard from BirdBird Handmade — now with a Christmas Tree pack! We love how precise and carefully made these felt shapes are… and kids love working with miniatures… it makes them feel so big!


Magic Paper (Chinese Calligraphy Paper) is reusable hundreds of times, is perfect for developing grasp & pincer-grip (important pre-writing skills), fine motor coordination, precision, manual dexterity, and patience!

It’s great fun for ALL ages, and is made of ground slate, pvc glue, and flocked fabrics, so really safe ‘ingredients’ for such a magical object!


We’re bundling our favourite books with Gift Certificates for classes! A perfect little present for the whole family at once!

$100+ gst for the bundle! And you can get it gorgeously gift wrapped for a donation to Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta at Northland Village Mall‘s Coat Check/Gift Wrapping centre!


These sweet little Pebbino Birds are made with slate, twigs, silver wire, and air and poly clay, and we love them.

They’re just $15, and if you want one that looks like YOUR family, our artist will make a custom piece for $20.



Our friends at Tribe of Lambs have sent us some of their awesome, unisex ‘Kashish Bracelets’ — if you’re into gifts that keep on giving, you can’t go wrong with jewellery from this amazing company.

Check out more about their mission at

And more about Kashish below:

An open-ended bracelet with square ends, adding just a touch of the Tribe with a small lamb engraving on either side. Molded and handset by Indian craftsmen, this piece looks simply stunning on its own or is perfectly stackable to add a bit of heart to any arm party. ($58)

*Kashish is an 8 year old girl who comes from a family of Tibetan refugees. Northern India has a large community of Tibetans who often live well below the poverty line due to lack of jobs and resources. This results in terrible living and family situations for children, often pulled out of school or just left to fend for their own. Kashish is now happy and flourishing at Sudeshna’s children’s home, one of the Tribes Compassion Project Partners.


On the 6th Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me… an illustrated anthologieeeeeeeeee!!

A whole collection of beautiful stories makes the perfect gift that any child can grow up with and cherish forever.

We’ve got all sorts in store; classic fairy tales, snippets of new favourites, cultural compilations, editions with illustrators and authors from around the world and across time… and at every price range, starting at just $20.00!


On the Seventh Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me… a perfect Wee Free Librareeeeeeee!

Alex loves these little libraries so much she’s got one of her very own at home (that’s it in the pictures!)

You can stock yours up with books to help bring your neighbourhood closer together, or non-perishable food items and warm winter clothing for people that need them this season (Wee Free Pantries)!

We’ve got one in store for you to check out — and ‘Wee Free Librarees’ is giving Rhyme and Reason families a discount — they’re usually $295.00, but you can get one through us for $280.00, AND you can get your initial stock for just $20.00 — they’ll load you up with lots of titles!

The quality of these little shelters is amazing, so the price is totally fair, but we know it’s a tricky time financially for a lot of communities! Why not try splitting the stewardship of a library on the property line between several homes, or fundraising for one in your community!

Check out more at the link below:

For Day 8, we are sharing “Story Box”, a gorgeously illustrated wordless story puzzle, that helps even young children to develop their understanding of sequencing, narrative and conflict, characterization, imaginative and creative thought processes, and improvised oration.

This particular set is a fragmented fairy tale, so it uses archetypes that kids are familiar with to help build confidence in their storytelling!

$22.50 in store!


We pull out these Dandelion Seeds Tonal Bar sets in class all the time, but we don’t use the framework that they come with nearly as often as we’d like to!

Arts for the Very Young International has the bells on for just $29.95, which is a phenomenal deal, but better than that, you can get their education framework as pick-and-pulls, which we can guarantee are so fun, entertaining, and informative. It’s a colour-coded method of learning musical notation that also helps develop your child’s sense of pitch, timbre and tempo. Instrumental play is always such an amazing thing to witness, and is so, so good for little brains!

We can’t say enough good things about it! Check out the AVY-I online store here:!/c/0/offset%3D18%26sort%3Dnormal


Think ‘Apples to Apples’ or ‘Cards Against Humanity’ but… you know, really lovely and educational and fun for young families instead!

We’ve played this game with kids as young as 3, though you have to adapt it a little. One player says a word (like ‘love’ or ‘sadness’ or ‘playing’) and the other players choose a card from their hand that best represents that word! You can play as a card-collecting game or a race, and you don’t need the original game to play, you can simply use one of the booster packs.

The artwork is indescribably beautiful, and this is MASSIVE for developing our children’s symbolic and creative thinking, narrative and literacy skills, and empathy. Learning to lose at a game is also important for emotional maturity, although really, when you’re playing this game, no one loses, and it can be an amazing collaborative opportunity! Try playing in teams!


Day 11 sees us pricing our Cubeebs to move!

Normally $15, we’re pushing at $8! And our tactile cubes, with a different fabric on each face (perfect for sensory stimulation, problem solving, and gauging force and pressure exertion) are just $10!

Get yours before they’re gone!


For the last day of our Twelve Days of Christmas features, we wanted to share the love with a couple of socially-conscious local clothing companies!

The first is Full Steam Gear, and if the force is strong in your family, you’ll want to check out their tiny clothes for nerdy fams. A portion of all their proceeds goes to Heart Beats Children’s Society, which supports families dealing with congenital heart disease. Their Etsy store can be found here, although the majority of their work is on demand:

Our second company is Fabric of our Lives, and their seamstress, Donna, refashions heirloom fabrics into new items. You could make a onesie out of Grandpa’s favourite sweater, or a blankie out of Auntie’s old linens. It’s a great way to repurpose fabrics otherwise sitting around, and in such a joyful way that carries on the spirit and specialness of our loved ones! You can contact them through their Facebook page for more information or for a consultation!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

National Child Day 2016 — Celebrating Every Child’s Right to BELONG

Sunday November 20th marks “National Child Day”, the day we recognize Canada’s commitment to the United Nations’ Declaration of, and Convention on, the Rights of the Child.

On this day we celebrate every child’s right to dignity and respect, and their abilities to be active participants in their own lives and communities!

national-child-day-logo#WeBelong Sign

This year, we asked children of all ages to create images that show ‘what belonging looks like’. We also asked the people that work with these children, adults from all different disciplines and domains, to describe what ‘belonging’ means to them, to create a collaborative art exhibit.

We love what resulted — an explosion of colours and connectivity that helps us remember our own early understandings of belonging, how far we’ve come, and the ways that we still have to grow!

Thank you to all of our families for participating in the early art invocation, and to our colleagues across Calgary for their insight and honesty into this topic.











There are some amazing activities happening in Calgary this weekend to celebrate National Child Day! We recommend that you check at least one of them out, to help your child live out their ‘Right to Belong’!

Upcoming Workshop: Gathering of the Geese


Saturday November 5th 2016

11:00-2:00 at Rhyme & Reason (in Northland Village Mall)

Early Childhood Educators and Caregivers gather together to share new songs, rhymes, games, and stories, and discuss best practices and new early childhood research!

We will start the morning with a meet and greet, and will then swap content in our own circle time!

Add new material to your program repertoire and grow your network of other service providers in Calgary in this fun and educational workshop.

The day will include a potluck lunch, door prizes, and Words & Lyrics Handout


$15.75/Person + a Potluck Contribution Proceeeds donated to The National Parent-Child Mother Goose Program