In praise of Peanuts--culture cues and life lessons from Charlie Brown

The Peanuts Movie 65 years after Peanuts cartoons appeared, "The Peanuts Movie" came out. It opened November, 2015 and eight months later, its popularity continues to escalate. Multiple theater and Broadway versions of Peanuts-based stories have been done and reprised in the comic's long and illustrious career. One of the most famous is "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." The off-Broadway production opened in 1967 and had many revivals. The most recent is the York Theatre Company 2016 revival, nearly 50 years later.
What is it that has drawn fans to the Peanuts gang for seven decades? Peanuts has a kryptonite appeal for adults and children alike. '60s and '70s kids were surely powerless over the addiction. They read Peanuts comics in the paper, bought paperbacks of Snoopy comics, rushed home to watch Charlie Brown specials on TV (back when they came on once a year and if you missed them, sucks to you.)
Back in the day, all kids knew of culture came from Charlie Brown and Looney Tunes. If it weren't for them, baby boomers would have been a bunch of ignorami. Who knew, for example, what "psychiatric help" was till Lucy VanPelt opened her booth and charged five cents for it? (Don't judge, a nickel was a lot of money back then!) Who'd ever heard of VanGogh till Snoopy decorated his doghouse in it? Snoopy also taught history-deprived kids about WWI flying aces, Sopwith Camels and the Red Baron.
Kids knew the name Pavlov thanks to dog-dish-wielding Snoopy, if they didn't get the reference. From Schroeder, kids got music appreciation of Beethoven and Rachmaninoff--though how he got "Prelude in C-sharp minor" out of that toy piano, no one ever figured out.  And blanket-toting Linus's philosophical lectures were head and shoulders above most adults let alone kids.
Kids learned life lessons from and with the Peanuts gang. Raise your hand if you yelled "no, Charlie Brown, don't do it!" when P.I.T.A Lucy tries to lure him into kicking that blasted football, again? A generation learned how to avoid kite-eating trees, thanks to Peanuts comics. And who didn't feel just a little bit better about limited athletic skills compared to Charlie Brown? Having said that, this author can't be the only one annoyed that pitcher Charlie Brown took all the flak when the whole team screwed up. Even Snoopy--his own pet--was a bit of a douche-dog to Charlie Brown. Snoopy definitely had better friends and a cooler social life.
But Charlie Brown took it with Zen. As Lucy so aptly put it, "of all the Charlie Browns, Charlie Brown, you're the Charlie Browniest." Why does Peanuts continue to resonate? Je ne sais quoi--but it probably has to do with that wonderful Tao plus chutzpah of Charlie Brown!  

Poetry party: Teen poetry writing prompts, poems, creative writing activities

Looking for teen party activities for safe, fun (not wild) teen birthdays? How about a teen poetry party with creative writing activities? Young people love expressing themselves in poems, Those who say they don't like poetry or creative writing activities just think they don't. They just don't know how much fun teen poetry and creative writing activities can be. You can use these teen poetry writing prompts and creative writing activities for an April poetry party. (April is National Poetry Month) Or you can use teen poetry writing prompts a teen birthday party. Or throw a poetry party World Poetry Day! Use teen poetry writing prompts in school, homeschool or any group. Adults will enjoy these poetry party creative writing activities too. Help kids access their inner poet laureate.   Poetry party: Teen poetry writing prompts, poems, creative writing activities

Educational movies on May Day, labor unions, Labor Day American history lessons |

 Labor Day, the first Monday in September, was designated to celebrate the achievements of organized labor unions in protecting workers' rights. Labor Day is about more than just BBQs and the last summer holiday. Here are educational movies on labor unions to watch for Labor Day or May Day on May 1. May Day is the actual Labor Day that unions recognize. May Day commemorates the May 4, 1886 Haymarket Riot (also called Haymarket affair) in Haymarket Square in Chicago. Use the educational movies for May Day American history lessons and to celebrate Worker Memorial Day on April 28. Educational movies on May Day, labor unions, Labor Day American history lessons

Cinco de Mayo party activities, crafts, games for Mexican cultural festival |

Cinco de Mayo translates to "fifth of May" in Spanish. It celebrates the Mexican victory at the Battle of Pueblo. It's not the Mexican independence day though it sounds like the U.S. 4th of July. My Latino friends tell me Cinco de Mayo is bigger in the U.S. than in Mexico. And what do Americans do with a holiday? Throw a party! Or in this case, fiesta. Here's a kid-friendly Cinco de Mayo fiesta with games, crafts, lesson plans, cultural activities and food!  Cinco de Mayo party activities, crafts, games for Mexican cultural festival |

Earth Day activities: School recycling, ecycling, freecycling, upcycling

 Environmentalism get a lot of airtime on Earth Day. Business Wire released a report on sustainable products on April 19 in anticipation of Earth Day. Earth Day activities should be part of school lessons, but not just on Earth Day. Unfortunately, school Earth Day activities often fail because they focus on boring, paper-and-pencil lessons. And wasting paper is hardly earth-friendly! Here are Earth Day activities to teach environmentalism every day in hands-on ways. Earth Day activities: School recycling, ecycling, freecycling, upcycling

Harry Potter wizard chemistry magic tricks, science experiments from literature

March is National Reading Month and one of the best adventure series for kids is Harry Potter. Would you like to make has some wizard magic like Harry Potter? He can't do magic outside Hogwarts but you can with these chemistry magic tricks and wizard science experiments. Hocus pocus up some Harry Potter fun with kitchen science experiments. Teachers and homeschool parents, impress, educate and engage apprentice wizards with these chemistry magic tricks from Harry Potter. Use these weird science experiments for a Harry Potter Halloween party! Children's literature selections are given for follow up.   Harry Potter wizard chemistry magic tricks, science experiments from literature |

Preschool science in art learning centers: Dramatic play animal habitat dioramas

Just in time for Earth Month in April how about interactive preschool science lesson plans for learning centers? Here's a cross-curricular one that involves art, science and dramatic play learning centers. Dramatic play develops the preschool child's social, emotional, artistic, creative and communication skills. Dramatic play learning centers teach expression, self-awareness and confidence. Dramatic play lends itself to all content even for science learning centers. Here are homemade costumes, props and settings for preschool science within dramatic play learning centers. Children will create life-size habitat dioramas which I call bio-drama. Using recycled materials teaches real-life environmental science!   Preschool science in art learning centers: Dramatic play animal habitat dioramas |

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