Kids Off The Couch Special Subscriber Discount to The Geffen Playhouse

February 27, 2009


In a mesmerizing one-man show, Darryl Van Leer channels historical figures such as Muddy Waters, Frederick Douglass, Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King, Jr. and makes them come alive. Our kids loved how Van Leer set the stage as a folksy storyteller and then seamlessly shifted into each character using only simple props and the power of performance. Figures that feel as one-dimensional as the books they inhabit seemed to walk off the page and shake our kids hands, providing an exciting glimpse into our country's history. The Power of Earth was a hit -- Van Leer's unique gift for not talking down to kids grabbed them, and his compelling performance held them rapt. Grab the chance to see this popular show, which tours the country and at The Geffen Playhouse for only one day.

WHERE: The Geffen Playhouse , Westwood Village

WHEN: March 14 from 11:00 AM -12:00 NOON. Doors open at 10:30 AM

SPECIAL KOTC SUBSCRIBER DISCOUNT: If you aren't already a member, sign up for Kids Off The Couch to recieve you free weekly kid friendly, mom approved adventure here. Now you are eligible to receive a free adult ticket with every child's ticket purchased ($15 value), use offer code: SCENE. Please mention the code at time of purchase. A service charge/handling fee applies. Discount cannot be applied to previous ticket purchases or combined with any other offer. Call the Geffen Playhouse Box Office at (310) 208-5454 or online at

AGE RANGE: Recommended for 6-12

LUNCH? Head over to one of our favorite lunch spots, The Stand, for excellent hot dogs, burgers and fries after the show, and take 20% off your meal by showing them this email. Offer good in Westwood's store on March 14 only; discount does not include tax.

Diane and Sarah

Founders, Kids Off The Couch


All The President’s Men + Visiting Your Local Newspaper = Kids Off The Couch

February 26, 2009


Kids who expect a multitude of information to magically appear from their computers don’t always understand the power of a free press. Watching All The President’s Men as a family opened up a conversation about how reporters follow a story and tell the truth, which makes this movie newsworthy in our household. It was front page news all over the world when Richard Nixon became the first American president to resign and the film, which won four Oscars in 1976, is a thrilling look at how the investigative reporters at the Washington Post became political heroes. We had fun bringing the headlines home with a tour of our local paper’s printing facility, where our kids watched robots load reams of paper on to four story-high printing presses and enjoyed a sneak peek of the weekend comics section four days before the Sunday paper landed on our doorsteps.

Click here for more about the movie, a link to Walter Isaacson’s article in Time on How To Save Your Newspaper, and our tips on visiting your local paper.


Snow Dogs + Hitting the Slopes = Kids Off The Couch

February 26, 2009


No matter where you live, kids and snow go together like hands and gloves. Whether your kids are starting out with a pizza-pie wedge between their first skis or just biding their time until their next snowboarding trip to a serious mountain, getting some slope savvy at your local ski resort makes for a wonderful wintry weekend. There's not a kid in the world who needs much of a push to slide down a hill, so get yours ready to sled or ski or snowboard by watching Snow Dogs on the drive to the slopes. Ours love this improbable tale that stars Cuba Gooding, Jr. as a Miami dentist who travels to Alaska to collect his inheritance... which turns out to be a team of sled dogs!

Click here for a list of other fun ski films -- we love the vintage James Bond ski sequences -- and a link to our chapter on tracking the Itidarod sled dog race (starting March 7) from your computer.


HOT TOPIC: How Does Your Family Deal with Princess-Mania?

October 15, 2008
Kids Off The Couch

With this week's much heralded re-release of Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Princess Aurora is sure to win over another generation of little girls, just in time for the Halloween costume rush. What's a parent to do? We know that most of our kids just can't resist the allure of those Disney dames strutting their stuff, so we developed our own Princess Counter-Programming, which we share with you this week.

Click here to visit our website and find a book list that serves up a batch of princesses whom reject daft suitors and ditsy life goals. Please come back and share what you do in your houses to make sure your princess-wanna-bes have girl power goals.


It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown + Corn Maze = Kids Off The Couch

October 15, 2008

Kids Off The Couch Halloween

Our kids' faces lit up like Jack-o-Lanterns when we told them we were upping the pumpkin ante this year by letting them loose in a Corn Maze. After sampling the delicious produce, we set off into plants that reached high above our heads. We bonded together over a map, trying to figure our way out from beneath the stalks and laughed ourselves silly every time we got lost -- our kids triumphant that the adults in the group steered them wrong plenty of times.

Later that night, we popped up some corn and plopped on the couch for It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Charles Schultz's magic pulled us back to our favorite believer, Linus, who waits in a pumpkin patch for the arrival of The Great Pumpkin. Given the current economic crisis, it's nice to know that hearkening back to simpler times can be so reassuring. Click here for more to learn about the corn mazes near your city, and to find a YouTube link to the old television special.


Introducing Paul Newman to Your Family

October 4, 2008

We shed real tears at the loss of Paul Newman, whose legendary looks and powerful screen presence dominated the movies for years and whose charitable work (through the Hole in the Wall camps for seriously ill children and Newman's Own) set an elegant example of how one man can make the world a better place.

The easiest way to introduce your kids to one of our greatest movie stars is to show them Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Starring Newman at the height of his confident power and featuring Robert Redford in his breakout role, the film is a giddy love-poem to the vanishing ways of the West. Cool, even vintage cool, always translates... The kids were immediately grinning along with the comedic relationship between the two stars and can quote the film's most famous lines , "Who ARE those guys?!".

Butch Cassidy has plenty of gun play -- the two heroes famously head out to their deaths in the last frame of the picture -- and shows the men with prostitutes and drinking alcohol. But, we think this classic is fine for kids over 10, as long as parents get on the couch and discuss the racier scenes (fast forwarding works, too.) You'll remember the plot turns -- it's just like riding a bicycle, which is exactly what Redford and Newman do with Katherine Ross to the tune of "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head". (Rated PG for violence, Directed by George Roy Hill).

The Sting reunited Redford and Newman as two card-playing con men in a beloved and complicated film which won 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Don't try to explain (or even understand) the plot. Just sit back and enjoy the Joplin rags as you watch these two movie stars win over a new generation. (Rated PG, also directed by George Roy Hill).

Paul Newman played the voice of Doc Hudson in Cars, a great film for younger kids. We happen to have covered this film last week - for more, please visit our website. Kids get a charge out of knowing Newman was a race car driver in real life, placing second in Le Mans in 1979. (Rated G, directed by John Lassiter and Joe Ranft).

If your kids know Newman only because they've seen his face on Newman's Own popcorn bags and salad dressing bottles, that's okay, too. Be sure to let them know that Newman's Own gives every single penny of profit to charity. For more about Newman, click here to last month's Vanity Fair article - the photos alone are worth five minutes.


Life is a Highway: Cars + Automotive Museum = Kids Off The Couch

September 25, 2008

Kids Off The Couch

Cars is one of those great family films that lures everyone from Grandpa to toddler with its old-fashioned values, cool car stars, hilarity and history. Our kids loved Lightning McQueen, the red-hot rookie race car with a big ego, who pulls off the fast lane and learns that sometimes you have to slow down in order to get where you need to be in life. On his way to the most important race of his life, the Piston Cup, Lightning gets lost and rips up the main road in Radiator Springs, a forgotten town on Route 66. Trapped in the small town while he fixes the road, Lightning falls for a beautiful Porsche, makes a new friend, and unearths a secret about the town's elder Statescar, Doc Hudson. In doing so, he learns about the value of friendship, the importance of keeping a promise, and what it means to be a winner. The movie's fabulous soundtrack and goofy humor gave the kids all the mileage they needed for dancing and laughing in their seats.

Visiting a Car Museum with grandparents and kids in tow is a great way to bring the past alive and two generations together. Our kids have always loved the idea that a car could even be in a museum, and the shiny surfaces to be found in abundance will please even the youngest child. Our local museum has extensive collections dating back to the '20s, making it fun to track the evolution of the automobile. Kids who have grown up with car seats get their wheels blown off when they first see a rumble seat -- and when they heard how long it took their grandparents to travel from one city to another (in the "olden days"). Older kids start to get a sense of how automobiles and freeways changed lives, and our country. Our son, who is obsessed with contemporary high-end sports cars, loved seeing the glamour cars of the past -- while his grandpa whistled in amazement to hear how these cars have held their value over time. Just two boys lookin' at cars... some things never change.  Visit for even more tips, information and great conversation starters.


The Past Roars to Life: The Land Before Time + Walking With Dinosaurs = Kids Off the Couch

September 16, 2008

Are your kids dino-obsessed? Do you remember when they read Danny the Dinosaur and dreamt of riding a dinosaur's back? Our kids slept with their dinosaur books, memorizing each name -- Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus Rex -- and have always wondered what it would be like to meet a real life dinosaur. But wonder no more, because...they're back! Walking With Dinosaurs is a live, theatrical show where science and animatronics meet imagination as 15 snarling, growling, life-sized dinosaurs roam the arena. Putting your kids face-to-face with a Stegosaurus, T. Rex and a Utah Raptor is not as scary as it sounds, though we don't recommend the show for kids under six. To get your kids dinosaur-ready, we review "The Land Before Time" for little ones this week. If your bigger kids are stalwart, there's nothing like "Jurassic Park" or the show upon which this traveling stage show is based, the BBC's "Walking With Dinosaurs".

Visit  for a subscriber discount to the show, which is only in Los Angeles for THREE DAYS -- September 25 through 28, and for details on the new Dinosaur Encounters show at the Natural History Museum for younger dino-fans.


Bringing History To Life: Movies That Teach + Family Movie Night

September 9, 2008

With kids back in school, it is often hard to carve out family time. Since there's nothing as cozy after a long week of classes as a Family Movie Night, we have created a list of great films that will complement your kids' history courses. Take a moment to choose movies that help kids connect to their school curriculum. With these kid-tested and approved films, there's no need to tell your children that these movies are educational. We promise -- once you pop in Kit Kittridge: An American Girl or Seabiscuit when your child is studying Depression-era America, meaty conversations will ensue and your kids will naturally connect to what they have learned at school.

Click here to see our list and get started on your own cache of films for fall.  Also, please tell us about movies you have used to connect your kids to their school subjects.


A Brief Introduction to

August 25, 2008

Kids Off The Couch

Staying connected to today's busy kids who are balancing school, sports and social schedules, is a challenge most parents face. Two Middle School moms have launched a website, that gives parents great ideas for creating family time beyond soccer games and birthday parties. Sarah Bowman and Diane Shakin have spent years exploring the city with their kids, but what makes their ideas unique is that each of their adventures is inspired by a fantastic film. After screening “A Secret Garden”, they explored a real secret garden at The Descanso Gardens in Pasadena. After watching All The President's Men with their Sixth graders, they toured the Los Angeles Times' printing facility and learned how the paper arrives on our doorsteps each morning.

Every week, Kids Off The Couch introduces families to a new film and adventure, but also provides plenty of details for parents to go beyond the basics. For example, the moms suggest conversation starters about each film: “Freaky Friday” is a perfect conduit for discussing body image with pre-teen girls and “Goal: The Dream Begins” opened the floodgates to a conversation with young boys about the ambition and opportunities available to immigrants in Los Angeles and the U.S. In addition, Kids Off The Couch offers up book lists that relate to each film contributed weekly by “The Center For Excellence in Education", Lucy Rafael.  If the adventure involves watching E.T. and visiting the planetarium, parents will find a well-edited selection of books on space - appropriate for kids in pre-school, elementary school and middle schoolers.

While it may sound unusual to advocate getting on the couch to get kids to unplug, Sarah and Diane insist that film opens the door to culture and family discussions. After a long week, it's cozy to flop on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and watch a film that makes everyone happy. From husbands to grandparents, family film night has become a cherished part of these moms' family life. As the two moms are fond of saying, "sometimes you've got ON the couch with your kids - to get OFF the couch!"

Since launching the site, they have written about nearly 100 film and adventure pairings they've road-tested with their families. Past adventures are listed in the Archives section of the site, and if parents sign-up, they'll receive a free, e-mail every week with a fresh idea to get kids off the couch and into their world.