It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown + Pumpkin Patch Visit
We don't often label a film classic, but screening It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with our kids reminded us that a traditional Halloween is still the best kind. We remembered our pre-TIVO childhood, when we eagerly awaited Charlie Brown as an annual tradition and wondered whether our kids would fall in love with the Peanuts gang just as we did 40 years ago.
From the first sequence, they were smitten: Linus and Lucy are in the pumpkin patch and as Linus tirelessly rolls his new "friend" home, he chases behind his bossy, big sister Lucy. Once home, Lucy lays out newspapers to carve the pumpkin and Linus wilts: "You didn't tell me you were going to kill it!"
That's the genius of the late Charles Schultz - an intuitive understanding of the world of children that is translated into the memorable words and indelible images we all grew up on: Linus and Sally waiting in the moonlit pumpkin patch for The Great Pumpkin; Lucy tempting Charlie Brown with the football and Snoopy defending his doghouse from the Red Baron. Snuggled on the couch, with a big bucket of popcorn mixed with candy corn, our family's Halloween was off to a sweet, old-fashioned, start.
After the film, our kids started lobbying for our family's yearly visit to the pumpkin patch. Once we chose our pumpkins, we followed Lucy's lead and headed home to carve scary pumpkin faces. As we were carving and roasting, we planned our costumes and mapped the perfect candy-collection route around the neighborhood. Some things never get old - and that, for us, is a definition of classic. The Great Pumpkin must be smiling.
KIDS OFF THE COUCH KERNELS
Want to foster conversation after the film?
Ask your kids whether they would like Lucy as a friend. Is she ever nice, or always a rotten tomato?
Want tips for the Pumpkin Patch visit?
Set a budget ahead of time and help your kids do the math as they make choices between different size pumpkins, pony rides and petting zoos.
A ripe pumpkin is bright orange, has a thick, green stem and a solid surface. Timing your purchase is tricky - shop early to get a ripe gourd, but don't carve too far before Halloween, or the insides will mold. One week ahead is usually fine, unless you live in a warm climate.
Bring a camera. It's hard to beat a pumpkin patch for a Kodak moment!
Want tips for Successful Pumpkin Carving?
Remember to stash your kitchen with washable markers so when your witches and warlocks mark up their pumpkins to carve, they don't also mark up themselves. Ask them to first design the faces on paper, and then transfer the plans to the pumpkin. Poor Charlie Brown - he had kids practicing their drawings on his big, bald head!
For everyone's safety: Parents should carve!
Let your kids help wash the pumpkin seeds - they're slippery and fun.
Kids love their artwork to be appreciated: add a candle to their jack-o-lanterns and use it as a centerpiece on your dinner table.
Want Some More Halloween Movies?
For Younger Viewers:
Monster's, Inc. (2001, G, 92 minutes) Pixar proves that the monsters living In our kids' closets are harmless.
For Elementary Schoolers: Think Spielberg!
Monster House (2006, PG, 91 minutes, DVD just released) Animated action thriller about a haunted house....or E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982, PG, 115 minutes) Hard to beat ET disguised as a ghost in this brilliant Spielberg classic.
For Upper Elementary Schoolers:
Ghostbusters (1984, PG, 107 minutes) Who ya' gonna call for the greatest comic Halloween flick?
For Middle Schoolers:
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948, UR, 83 minutes) Classic horror-comedy film (yes, there is such a genre!).
To rent these and other great films go to Netflix.com. Try Netflix for FREE.
KidsOffTheCouch.com was founded by two moms who are passionate about film and media literacy. They decided to combat the creep of screen time in their kids' lives by getting on the couch and watching great films together with their families. To sign up for your FREE weekly email, CLICK HERE.
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