The “lost continent” of Laramidia

Perhaps you are new to Dinosaur Train, or perhaps you are a long time fan. Either way, you should note that the Jim Henson Company released Dinosaur Big City last year.  Dinosaur Big City is a one-hour Dinosaur Train movie, which kicked off Dinosaur Train’s second season.

The first season taught children about paleontology, natural history, and science.  The second season will focus on natural phenomena and exploring the outdoors.  “Big Dinosaur Week” will be featured, and so will the “Dinosaurs A to Z” song.

The movie itself is based on scientific research.  Scientific advisors were sought to help present the research and make the history of dinosaurs more appealing and exciting to young children.  The movie takes place in “Laramidia,” a part of the North American continent, during the Late Cretaceous period.  The “lost continent” of Laramidia was formed when a shallow sea covered the middle part of North America, separating the eastern and western portions of the continent.  The climate was swampy and subtropical and situated in what is now thought to be modern day Utah.

Despite its small size, enormous amounts of dinosaur fossils were found in Laramidia, representing a great diversity of dinosaurs.  Dr. Scott Sampson, a dinosaur paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and author of Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life, explains that many species of specifically large dinosaurs existed in this part of North America; a mystery that many paleontologists are still trying to unravel.

The movie itself was incredibly fun and educational. I will give a synopsis in one of our later blogs. In the meantime, feel free to check out our online toy store for some cool stuff. And of course, be sure to pick up a copy of the DVD itself.

 

Olivia: A recipe for success

Since cupcakes are Olivia’s favorite food, why not bake some for a party?  I recently had the opportunity to bake some cupcakes to celebrate my niece’s birthday.  She is a huge fan of Olivia the Pig.  I went looking for good recipes that I might find, especially cupcakes with an Olivia the Pig theme.

I did find one, which I would love to share!  Here is a recipe for Olivia the pig cupcakes, courtesy of Nick Jr.’s website:

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. Dutch cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 bottle (1 oz.) red food coloring
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups pink candy melts (like Wilton® Candy Melts® available at party supplies stores)
1 can (16 oz.) vanilla frosting
Red food coloring
1 tube chocolate or brown decorating frosting

Muffin pans (for 24 cupcakes)
24 cupcake liners
Olivia Cupcake Templates
Wax paper

Directions:

Step 1
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

Step 2
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat the butter and the sugar in another bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until well blended.

Step 3
Combine the buttermilk and the food coloring in a measuring cup. Add the flour mixture to the butter and egg mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Combine the vinegar and the baking soda in a small bowl and immediately stir into the batter until well blended.

Step 4
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 12 to 17 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Step 5
Meanwhile, melt the pink candy melts in a medium bowl until smooth, about 45 seconds. Spoon into a resealable bag. Place the ears and nose template on a sheet pan topped with a piece of wax paper. Snip a very small corner from the bag with the melted chocolate. Pipe outlines of the ears and nose and fill in with more chocolate. Repeat to make 24 sets of ears and 24 noses. Reheat the chocolate if it becomes too thick. Place the chocolate pieces into the refrigerator until set, about 5 minutes.

Step 6
Tint the vanilla frosting a light pink with the red food coloring. Remove 1/3 cup of the frosting and tint it a darker pink with the red food coloring. Spoon the darker pink frosting into a resealable bag. Spread the light pink frosting on top of the cupcakes and make smooth.

Step 7
Peel the chocolate pieces from the wax paper and insert the ears into the sides of the cupcakes. Add the nose in the center. Snip a very small corner from the bag with the darker pink frosting and pipe outlines on the ears and the nose and pipe the mouth on top of the cupcakes. Pipe the chocolate frosting for the nostrils and the eyes.

I have to say that every last cupcake was eaten at the party. The kids loved them as did the parents.  I had also bought this book for my niece, which she loved!  I can’t wait until the next party.  Keep reading my posts in the future for more options on how to plan a party.  For more options on what to choose for a themed party, check out our kids party supplies. For more birthday gift ideas, check out Olivia toys.

 

Ben 10 live action motion picture in the making

 

Ben 10, Ben Ten, Ben 10 Alien ForceAttention all you Ben 10 fans! Joel Silver of Silver Pictures is putting together a live-action Ben 10 movie along with Cartoon Network this year. They have hired Albert Torres to write a script for the film. Torres recently helped to rewrite the Warner Bros. motion picture, “Akira.” A distributor is still being sought, but most likely Warner Brothers will be chosen, given the relationship that Joel Silver has with them.

This is extremely exciting, as Joel Silver has almost single handedly reinvented the action film genre with the production of such movies as The Matrix and the Sherlock Holmes series. His current motion picture, “Project X,” as well as “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” have already grossed nearly $500 million worldwide (Sounds like he won’t have any problem pulling in the cash for this movie!).

Torres has been given the task of pulling out all the stops and turning Ben 10 into an impressive, big budget, action-oriented adventure. Although Torres’s work has been somewhat adult oriented in the past (Very Bad Things, Chuck Palahniuk’s Survivor), he may be ready for lighter hearted fare with his more recent contributions, including Akira.  Akira is the adaptation of the 1988 anime film, in which the leader of a biker gang tries to rescue his friend who has been kidnapped and used as the subject of a supernatural experiment (sounds like it’s right up Ben 10’s alley, doesn’t it?).

To get ready for the release of this film, you may want to stock up on your Ben 10 action figures and Ben 10 costumes. We may only have these for so long, and we don’t want to sell out.

 

The Kratt Bros. endorse the scientific method

Kratt BrothersWild Kratts is a show that was developed to help interest kids in science.  Kids in America have generally shown a lack of interest and engagement with science as compared to children on an international level.  The show targets 6-8 year olds and helps to build on their natural interest in animals.

The show intentionally has a diverse cast of characters to reach a magnitude of audiences to further help a greater variety of children engage in the show. The Kratt Brothers love to research and explore the world around them.  They present their research in a fun and exciting way. Whether it’s revealing clips from whales that dwell in the deep sea or discovering why earthworms come out of the ground when it rains, count on these gents to stir your interest in the wild and unknown!

The National Science Education Standards (NSES) lays out the curriculum standards for science content. It is especially important for this age group to discover the scientific method, which includes asking questions, forming a hypothesis, making observations, and presenting results.  This inquiry-based approach is a central part of the story and the Kratt Brothers model it in each and every episode.  The Kratt Brothers also use this model to succeed, while the unsuccessful villains do not.  This inherently shows children how valuable it is to use critical thinking skills and the inquiry-based method not only in science, but also in life.

 

The Care Bears are making a comeback…to your t.v.

It’s those lovable, cuddly bears, making a comeback as your favorite animated T.V. show! Many popular cartoons from the 1980s have already made a huge comeback-Thundercats, the Smurfs, and Transformers, to name a few. Similarly, remakes of popular comic strips have been marvelously popular today, including the remaking of Captain America, Thor, and the Avengers into movies.

These cuddly characters first started out as an American Greeting card in 1981.  The Care Bears, like many other characters, are celebrating their 30th year anniversary! American Greetings plans to re-launch the newly animated TV Series much like they re-launched the Strawberry Shortcake series. They first launch the cartoon series. Then, if the audience likes the cartoons, they produce a line of plush toys the following year. To me, this seems like a brilliant idea. Why waste money on producing toys when no one likes the show to begin with?  This concept really seems to be working well for American Greetings, as the Strawberry Shortcake series are really solid and in no danger of disappearing anytime soon.

American Greetings is looking to target girls from ages 2-7 with the new Care Bears launch. They are also hoping to help parents reconnect with a brand that they may have themselves grown up with (I know I’m one of them) :)

Regardless, the Care Bears still exude great message of caring and sharing with one another. This could be one of the secrets behind their success, and why they are still hugely popular even after 30 years. Check out out Care Bears kids party supplies today.