sneaky summer learning

Brains are vacationing, sitting lakeside, sipping umbrella drinks this summer. While our bodies are more active, our brains are sloths. As much as I encourage these soon-to-be fourth grader twins to read—we take many trips to the library—it’s often a battle. But then, miraculously, they’ll surprise me with some stellar vocabulary, and I feel that they’re doing okay.

Years ago Abigail ridiculed Lucas for playing with dolls. “These aren’t dolls,” he said. “They’re my minions.” This was long before the Minion movies were released. Still, I was impressed. Then, I realized that he’d learned the vocabulary from watching the movie Megamind. Kids definitely pick things up from watching TV, good and bad.

The other day, I heard myself telling Abigail to hurry up. Lucas clapped and added, “Yes, Abby, make haste! Chop, chop.” I know he didn’t learn it from me, because when I want them to focus and put some action into what they’re doing, I tell them to “Put a verb in it.”

“Where did you learn that expression, Luke?” From a Netflix show, no surprise there.

Fuller House: Season 1, Episode 2

Abigail has learned a surprising amount from Ace of Cakes and Worst Cooks in America (she loves Anne Burrell). “You glaze the top of the strawberry before you put it on top of the frosting.”

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas on Netflix

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas – Now on Netflix

I don’t know the proper age to introduce your child to certain topics. I think it depends on the approach, the family, and the child. You know your kids. I talked to my nine-year-olds about the Holocaust after Abigail and I watched the film adaptation, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (PG-13). Wow, what a movie. “When his family moves from Berlin to Poland, a young boy befriends a boy who lives on the other side of the fence, unaware he’s a Jewish prisoner.” This is a dark film, for sure. But it opened up so many questions and opportunities for discussion. Next up? The Color Purple (PG-13)

These documentaries are at the top of our family watch list: Blackfish and Happy

This week we’re headed to Los Angeles for more television! We’ll be sitting in on table-reads and filmings, and touring the sets of the kids’ favorite shows: Henry Danger and Game Shakers.


Disclosure: I’m a member of the #Netflix #StreamTeam and receive occasional product and early access to programming. You know every opinion I share is mine, all mine. Because I’m selfish like that.



  1. Have you seen Blackfish? Might want to watch that before the rising 4th graders do…I watched last year and it haunts me still.

    Another one for the adult viewer (especially those with college bound children) – the Hunting Grounds. Absolutely riveting.

    Happy vegging! Happy to hear that relaxation is the focus this summer.

    1. Author

      Phil and I saw it before it was available on Netflix. I will often watch something with the kids and if there’s stuff I think will bother them, I have them leave the room OR, I tell them at the beginning exactly what happens in the film. Like, the trainer gets killed and they show it. I can’t wait to see Hunting Grounds! Adding it to my list ASAP. Thanks for the suggestion!

    2. Author

      Also, I just added it to my Netflix list, and saw that the preview images feature the Low Library Steps at Columbia University, where I went to college. And yeah, I have more to discuss with you about this OFFLINE.

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