Mythical Creatures Kids Will Love

Who doesn’t love a touch of magic in their life? Kids do! Fairy tales and folklore are abound with fantastical creatures. Their legends are still going strong and they have stepped out of story books; just take a look at the rise in dragon games online and werewolf movies. You will see these mythical animals have become so much a part of our world and yet they retain their otherworldly aura and still evoke a sense of wonder in children and adults alike.

Here are some of the mythical creatures no child should miss out on. Not all of them are cute and cuddly but so what; we all love an element of danger, no?

Dragon

Dragons are the reigning kings/queens of all things mythical. Their legend has survived for centuries and across cultures. We have heard of dragon slayers, which make dragons the bad guys, roaring giants who guard castles with pretty lasses locked up inside. There are also stories where dragons have been on the side of the good. We have learnt that it takes someone exceptional to tame the dragon. Wouldn’t it be lovely to get a dragon to breathe a fury of fire and growl ‘let’s go get ‘em, tiger’? Even if it is only in our heads.

DragonTiamat, déesse dragon” by Martine GAILLARD-CADOZ is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Unicorn

Unicorns, horse-like creatures with a spiral horn jutting out of their forehead, are known to be magical beasts with extraordinary powers. Like the dragon, it has been known to many cultures but under various names. Ancient tales indicate its existence while some speculate that it is a creature that was created out of the imagination by borrowing various features from common animals. According to an old tale, they did not board Noah’s Ark and hence, the species could not be saved.

UnicornUnicorn Dreams” by rubyblossom. is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Mermaid

We have all read the story of the The Little Mermaid, how she tried to turn into a human after falling in love with a man she saved from drowning. But there are darker tales too about how the mermaids lure sailors to their death. They are also known as sirens. Mermaid sightings are almost as common as UFO sightings, and just as lacking in proof. We cannot believe it and we cannot dismiss it.

MermaidMermaid” by Nancy Muller is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Sasquatch

Known as Bigfoot, these ape-like giants are an elusive lot but keep the world buzzing about them by leaving little clues (or rather large ones) like their footprints that are said to measure around 17 inches long. No one is certain who or what Bigfoot is, which adds to its myth and heightens the interest. Could it be an alien, an ape, or a human?

Sassquatch

Sasquatch-sjwPriest_1472b” by terry priest is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Perhaps it is that uncertainty that adds to the allure of these mythical creatures, the chance, however small, that they may be as real as a dog or cat!

Mad about Madagascar

From folklore to fables, animals have been used to teach us how to live. Sometimes stories are about good versus bad. While at other times they are not so black and white. Human traits are attributed to animals (a form known as allegory), making it easier for kids to understand and make distinctions in behavior.

These days we are serving old wine in a new bottle. Instead of fables, we have larger-than-life animated movies that offer valuable lessons in living for children. One such movie is Madagascar. The lovely thing about the Madagascar characters is that they have both positive and negative traits, as humans do. But we don’t criticize them for that, we accept them. There you go, life lesson one – acceptance.

Accept!

People around us have their own individual traits. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so are these traits. We classify these traits as good and bad based on who we are. Accepting people as they are and allowing them to find their way out of their own obstacles is one of the greatest gifts of friendship. We don’t tell our friends what they should do and lay down conditions for being lovable; we show them that we are there for them no matter what. Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman show us how!

Madagascar 2PhotonQ-M.Soleil” by PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Go after your dreams.

As Marty shows us, we cannot waste away our lives daydreaming. To make our dreams a reality we have to get out of our comfort zone. That is not easy. Marty also believes in that old saying, ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ and his optimism is infectious.

MartyMarty the Zebra…” by rmansoorian is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin.

The more comfortable you are with yourself, the happier you will feel. We learn that from Gloria who takes life at a leisurely pace, never losing her cool, no matter what is going on around her. She drives home the point ‘cool head on the rapids’ and enjoys having a good time.

Gloria

gloria & moto moto” by digipam is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Take a Chill Pill.

Melman loves getting attention and sometimes gets it by imagining all kinds of illnesses, but what he really needs is to relax and know that letting go is all it takes to be content. He also teaches us to take a stand; we don’t have to always please others and be agreeable in order to be liked.

Melman

Melman” by Luciano Joaquim is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Go with the Flow.

In stark contrast to Melman is Alex, who is a born showman and confident. Alex is also a perfectionist and does not like change. The less you hold on to the way things were and your past, the easier it is to stay open to all the wonderful things life has to offer.

Alex

Alex Dance 0439” by mliu92 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Happiness is but a Move Away.

While he may come across as conceited, King Julien XIII knows the secret to happiness. Let your hair down, dance (it releases happiness hormones) and have a good time every now and then. Another lesson: we need not wait for other people to make us feel special. We can hold our heads high, wear our crowns and know we rock!

Julian

Cartoon Lemurs” by Maurina Rara is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

If you think the Madagascar characters and their shenanigans are farfetched, you will be surprised to learn that animals in real life can make unlikely friends too!

Dragon Ball Z

I am obsessed with dragons in all shapes and forms and shows. One of my childhood favorites is from Dragon Ball Z. I would wait to get home every day from school just to find out if the gang had collected all of the Dragon Balls and if they had summoned the great Shenron.

For those of you who don’t know what Dragon Ball Z is or what it was about, it is a Japanese Animation show, a sequel to Dragon Ball anime. It follows the adventure of Goku and his friends in their quest to defend the earth against a myriad of villains. Battling androids, intergalactic space villains, magical creatures etc., Goku makes the world a much better place to stay in and in doing so, gives us entertainment like never before.

My brother and I are still huge fans and since it is coming up to his birthday, I decided to look for Dragon Ball Z memorabilia on Etsy. The range blew my mind and for Dragon Ball Z fans here, I thought I’d show you the sheer volume of choice I have to pick through. AMAZING. In fact, this even gives me ideas to hand make something he might truly enjoy.

1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 10 Have you seen any similar artwork? What is your favorite Dragon Ball Z merchandise?

Have a Dragon, Eat it Too!

No, no, I’m not suggesting that sort of violence where you find an exotic creature and murder it for meat. No, this isn’t a post like that. This is a post about my sweet tooth and obsession with baking shows – trash TV at its best! I was watching Sugar Stars the other day and one of their very first episodes had a Game of Thrones table with three beautiful dragon egg cakes. They were so realistic that it was hard to believe they actually were cakes and not the real deal.

This, of course, led me to this article idea. Being obsessed with fancy, larger than life cakes, I had to Google dragon themed cakes and I was blown over. The talent of some of these people is just incredible. Cake decoration is an art – albeit one that would easily be destroyed by people such as me because, really, who can resist cake.

Here are some of my most favorite ones!

Dragon Wedding CakeImage Source – http://www.pinterest.com/pin/231935449534926324/

This beautiful Disney Wedding cake with a beautiful white dragon – look at its delicate wings.

HTTYD CakeImage Source – http://www.pinterest.com/pin/169940585915281168/

This How to Train your Dragon themed cake, makes me want to go for a ride in the skies, cake in hand!

Little B Dragon CakeImage Source – http://www.littlebcakes.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Dragon-Cake.jpg

This intricate green beauty must have been the highlight of one great party!

Sweet Spoilers Dragon CakeImage Source – http://www.pinterest.com/pin/169940585915440708/

This gravity defying work of art is such a pleasure to watch and I can only imagine, a great pleasure to eat!

3D Red Dragon CakeImage Source – http://cdn.cakecentral.com/a/ab/900x900px-LL-ab3581a9_reddragon_final_withwatermark.jpeg

This intricate beauty – I can’t imagine how many hours of work went into making this. I wonder if the people for whom this was made ever felt a hesitation to cut this one up.

GIVE ME CAKE!

3 Fun Dragon Games for Celebrating the Chinese New Year

As a preschool teacher, I’ve always found multicultural classrooms to be very exciting and challenging places. Every year we celebrate holidays from different cultures, and this year I decided to incorporate the current mania for dragons within our Chinese New Year celebrations. Unlike online dragon games, the three real life activities I came up with do not depend on technology and are hands-on in the truest sense.

Who can Catch the Dragon’s Tail?

This traditional Chinese dragon game needs plenty of space (preferably a playground) and at least 10 players.

How to play

  • Invite the kids to stand in line.
  • Then have them place their hands on the shoulders of the child in front.
  • The first in line is the dragon’s head, the last is the dragon’s tail.
  • The dragon’s head must catch the tail (hands firmly on the shoulders of the child in front) by manoeuvring the dragon’s “body.” He/she is not allowed to break the line.
  • The players in the “body” must do their best to prevent the head from catching the tail.
  • When the head manages to catch the tail, they exchange positions and the game starts again with all the other kids moving back one position.

Dragon Bowling

This fun dragon game-cum-craft was a great hit among my students!

You will need

  • 10 half gallon milk bottles
  • Water
  • Construction paper
  • Permanent markers

How to make dragon bowling pins

  • Invite the kids to decorate the bottles to make them look like dragons.
  • They can use the construction paper to create tongue, scales, wings and ears and draw eyes and nose with permanent markers.
  • Next, fill up the bottles with water and seal the lids tightly.
  • Set up the bottles like bowling pins and let the fun begin!
  • (Hint – If the pins don’t knock over easily, reduce the amount of water.)

Dragon Puppets

The kids can play any number of imaginative dragon games with these pretty puppets.

You will need

  • Paper bag, googly eyes, green paper, red paper, scissors, glue and black marker for each child

Instructions

  • Supply each child with the materials.
  • Have them cut the green paper into triangle and ear shapes and glue them onto the bottom of the bag.
  • Next, have them glue the googly eyes and use the marker to draw the dragon’s mouth and nose.
  • Once this is done, they can cut out the tongue from red paper and glue it in the mouth.

These fun dragon games certainly added zing to our Chinese New Year festivities!

Reviewing Penguins of Madagascar

I caught a show of the rib-tickling penguin adventure, Penguins of Madagascar, and boy was I glad! Everyone knows I’m a huge fan of Dreamworks and therefore I thought I’d do a review here, even though I want this to be a dragon related site.

You’ll see the sidekicks from the Madagascar series globetrot across Antarctica, Venice, Shanghai and America to forge an alliance with the North Wind to defeat the villainous “Dave” (Dr Octavius Brine, voiced by John Malkovich). Led by the highly trained and arrogant Agent Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch), “North Wind” specializes in spy missions, this being their one of the most high-profile cases.

The Plot

There’s nothing super innovative and ingenious about the plot, but it is still entertaining. In their quest for Cheesy Dibbles, our featherless four from the Madagascar series – Skipper (the unquestioned leader of the gang), Kowalski (the brains behind every operation), Rico (the ammo expert) and Private (with his heart always in the right place) – find themselves the target of Dave, an evil Octopus masquerading as a scientist. Dave’s mission, since the penguins stole his limelight at the Zoo many years ago, is to turn all the penguins of the world into ugly monsters. To save them from Dave, the interspecies task force, North Wind, comes to their rescue.

What follows is a rollercoaster ride. Mad antics typical of the adorable flippered birds and great punchlines every now and then ensure that the guffaws keep coming!

Catch It or Miss It?

DreamWorks has done a commendable job by giving the penguins of Madagascar the roles and screen space that they deserve. The impressive animation coupled with witty, rib-tickling dialogues of all the characters makes the movie a wonderful family adventure. Not a moment goes by without some shenanigan or the other by the characters or quick, witty repartee between them. Going by the number of laugh-out-loud moments I saw my kids have in the movie hall, I can safely say that this movie has found fans in my kids.

On the tech side of things, Penguins of Madagascar is a colorful journey with careful details that have gone into the animated 3D scenes. Aesthetic camerawork, crisp editing and superlative animation thoughtfully contribute towards the flamboyance of the North Wind and the cuteness of the penguins. The fine movements of the octopi’ tentacles to the ten-in-a-second flapping of the penguins’ wings make for brilliant visuals alongside the plot.

Save for being stretched at a few points, like the penultimate fight between the villains and the heroes, Penguins of Madagascar makes for a wonderful watch with family this Christmas!

Have you watched the movie? What did you think of it?

The Secret Sauce for Sequels – Why Some Nail it and Some Don’t

When a movie succeeds at the box office, a sequel is almost guaranteed. After all. it’s only human to want more of a good thing until the law of diminishing returns kicks in and it doesn’t seem like such a good thing anymore. Another important reason why sequels get made is the good old financial aspect – a sequel (unless it’s exceptionally bad) will almost always rake in more money than the original.

“Movie night” by Ginny, Licensed under CC BY SA 2.0

Movie night” by Ginny, Licensed under CC BY SA 2.0

But sequels are tricky things that must live up to sky high expectations; a good movie has scores of exacting fans, all ready to cry “The original was better!” But most of us are always willing to give it a chance before pronouncing judgment. So what are the factors that contribute to the success of a sequel?

A good sequel plays on its strengths

A good sequel uses the original as a launchpad – that’s expected – but it avoids repetition and is unafraid to play with the dynamics of the story. It always expands the scope of the plot and takes the characters forward without entirely losing touch with the original.

How to Train your Dragon, for instance, wowed critics and audiences alike the first time round. But the makers refused to rest on their laurels; How to Train your Dragon 2 moves on to explore new worlds that lie beyond the Isle of Berk, introducing new and interesting characters like Valka the vigilante dragon rider among others; characters who keep the plot moving. Old characters face new challenges and come up stronger for having faced them courageously; new ones keep viewers riveted to the screen.

Similarly, Toy Story hit theaters in 1995 and was an instant hit with kids and adults alike. Made on a (relatively speaking) shoestring budget, Toy Story is a charming coming-of-age story about the toys in Andy’s Room that come to life when no humans are around. Toy Story 2 is able to replicate its success by using the same beloved characters of the original but expanding the story to include the toys out there in the world and what happens when they are discarded by their owners. As the box office figures testify, toy Story 2 was a whopping success, just like the original.

The Touch of Originality

Everyone knows that the original is ALWAYS better than the sequel. But sometimes the sequel does a much-needed spot of course correction, gets rid of the blemishes and ends up putting the original in the shade. Nobody’d say Batman Begins got it wrong but Batman’s war on crime in The Dark Knight wouldn’t have been as interesting without the genius criminality of The Joker, played by Heath Ledger.

Similarly, The Fast and the Furious series wasn’t exactly earning rave reviews until Fast Five brought Vin Diesel back and introduced the sizzling Dwayne Johnson into the comedy-cum-action movie. The sequel went to become the highest grossing film in the franchise. A touch, or in some cases, a hefty dose of originality makes the sequel far more successful that the movie that spawned it.

These sequels got it right the second time around; sadly the same cannot be said about the scores of me-toos that Hollywood produces each year.

Dragon Sports Teams

Photo Courtesy - http://hockey-blog-in-canada.blogspot.in/2010/09/reptiles-and-rampage.html

Photo Courtesy – Hockey Blog in Canada

I told myself I would upload this blog this week but was going through a bit of a writer’s block. This had in part to do with all the sports that was on TV. You know what it’s like when you’ve settled down for a nice long, lazy weekend. You can hardly motivate yourself to get food. Last minute panic made the idea bulb go off. How about teams that have dragons as their mascot? Et voila! My blog topic of the week!

Baseball –

Sichuan Dragons, China

Chunichi Dragons, Japan

Dayton Dragons, U.S.A.

Basketball –

Jiangsu Dragons, China

Welcoat Dragons, Philippines

Football –

Dublin Dragons, Ireland

Dudelange Dragons, Luxembourg

Delft Dragons, Netherlands

Barcelona Dragons, Spain

Los Angeles Dragons, U.S.A.

Ice Hockey –

China Dragon, China

Verdun Dragons, Canada

San Antonio Dragons, U.S.A.

Dragons de Rouen, France

Rugby –

Engadine Dragons, Australia

St. George Dragons, Australia

St. George Illawarra Dragons, Australia

Shellharbour City Dragons, Australia

RC Dragon Brno, Czech Republic

Catalans Dragons, France

Newport Gwent Dragons, U.K.

Soccer –

AS Dragons, Democratic Republic of the Congo

AS Dragons FC de l’Ouémé, Benin

Dragón FC, Equatorial Guinea

Darwin Dragons SC, Australia

A.S. Dragon, Tahiti

AS Dragon, Guadeloupe

Chesapeake Dragons, U.S. A.

Jersey Dragons, U.S. A.

Thomasville Dragons, U.S. A.

C.D. Dragón, El Salvador

I had no idea there were that many teams. You should check out the dragon teams in Lacrosse, Cricket and various other sports! I’m off to see if I can follow the careers of some of the more fascinating teams on this list.

How to Train your Dragon Halloween Costumes

Halloween is just around the corner and it is time to get your costumes ready to trick or treat. Some of you may have planned and executed a fabulous costume months in advance. But for those of you who are trying to catch up and get a costume ready in time, here are a few Halloween costume ideas for your kids inspired by the movie How to Train your Dragon (HTTYD).

If your kids are HTTYD fans, they will love dressing up as one of the movie characters this Halloween. To get them into the mood and to figure out which character excites them, get your child to play a game of How to Train Your Dragon, or, if you have the time, grab some popcorn and sit down to watch the movie to find the right fit.

HTTYD Characters

A few of the popular HTTYD characters are Hiccup, Astrid and Toothless Night Fury. Here’s how you can dress up like them this Halloween!

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III

Hiccups’ costume is easy to put together. You start with brown pants and a green shirt. Hiccup’s belt can be replicated by using brown scrap fabric. You need to get your kid a pair of boots if he doesn’t have one yet. The fur vest and fur on the boot can be made using coarse brown felt. You can also go ahead and cut a V-slit on the front of the shirt and run a brown string through it for a more authentic look.

Toothless – Night Fury

A sweat suit in solid black works well for this little costume project. This is the easy part. Next, you need felt material to make Toothless’ big eyes. It can be sewn onto the hood. Likewise with the horns. Batting can be stuffed into it and sewn before you attach it to the hood. All that’s missing is the dragon wings, and here’s a simple way to make your own dragon wings.

Astrid Hofferson

A lot of details go into Astrid’s costume, so it would require more effort than the other two costumes. A striped top and a pair of leggings can be bought from the store. You will have to work on the rest – from the boots and head band to the skirt and armor. You can put together the entire look by following this comprehensive how-to tutorial.

Happy Halloween Pumpkins

Attribute – “Happy Halloween!!” by binkley27 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

While these costumes are available in stores they might be sold out this close to Halloween, in which case you can easily whip up these costumes in time for Halloween night.

Dragons Vs. Robots

I had an amazing dream the other night about two of my favorite things in the whole world – Dragons and Robots. I woke up thinking that before the day was done, I would’ve fleshed out my dream into a tale of epic proportions that would -

  1. Speak of the childhood trauma of a dragon that got caught in a time warp and found himself treading the past and the future. Only, in the future he took on the shape of a robot.
  2. Draw out a beautiful story of an unlikely friendship between arch nemeses who take it on themselves to bring back the now extinct dragons.
  3. Have the most AMAZING battle between a dragon and robot in which you couldn’t pick sides because both had good and evil in them.
  4. Become viral – leaving in its wake, petitions upon petitions to make this dream the next big movie script.

In this state of excitement and day dreams, I sat in front of the computer. Before writing the dream down, I decided to do a harmless little google. You know how they say you never come up with an idea that hasn’t been thought of already? Well, here you go.

Not only did I find this gem, I also found a Peter Shinkoda film that is due to release in October this year called Dragons Vs. Robots – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3765282/

And this video –

Is it possible they stole my idea off my dreams? No? No fame and glory for me then?

 Aah well, until next dream!