Welcome to the second post in my Gift Guide Series! Check out my educational gifts (with 3 giveaways) Featured today are great movies, games, and apps for the family. Everyone needs a bit of a break and some fun, and it’s even better when a family can do it together. Over the past few weeks we’ve been having an unusual amount of screen time…all in the name of research! Such rough lives my children live! From furry wildlife in Canada’s arctic to fantasy lands, from educational to just plain fun, I have a little of everything.
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The Journey Home
The Journey Home is a touching coming-of-age movie about Luke, who finds a baby polar bear in his garage (it’s mother has just been captured and airlifted north, away from human dwellings). Luke does not want it left for the authorities to take care of and he ventures off on his own to reunite it with its mother 100s of miles across the arctic tundra and melting ice flows.
Along the way, Luke is met with many challenges; the fierceness of nature and of family. He meets each challenge head-on and learns about himself and those around him while his friendship with the bear strengthens.
The landscape of Canada’s north is amazing and had me pining for my homeland. It’s long been on my bucket list to travel to Churchill, Manitoba for a polar bear experience, but this will be the closest I’ll get for the foreseeable future.
My daughter said last week that she wants to learn all about polar bears, so the timing was perfect and she says she loves this movie – even above her favourite of the past two years.
Yes, some of the situations in this movie are a bit of a stretch, but that’s what fictional movies are all about-imagination and escape. Children learning about themselves and what they are capable of, and the adults that must learn to trust them.
As the wind howls outside, we’ve enjoyed being cuddled up indoors watching this movie together. A feel-good movie with the main character standing up for nature is refreshing.
This movie is rated PG; there is some occasional ‘language’ in it, but not too far off what would probably be heard in the situations. I was a bit surprised to hear it as it could have been replaced, but although I do not condone this in our family, my children have heard it outside of our home.
Alpha and Omega: The Big Fureeze
Alpha and Omega are back again in this un-fur-gettable heart-warming, animated holiday adventure!
Winter has come to the valley and Kate and Humphrey have become lost in the woods, trapped by a fearsome storm. Fearing their parents won’t make it back in time for the holidays, the wolf pups — Stinky, Claudette, and Runt — take matters into their own paws and venture out into the blizzard to rescue them. Joined by Brent the sleepy bear cub and Agnes the feisty porcupine, the pups prove that neither blinding snow, nor rival wolves, nor hungry bears will keep them from spending the holidays together as a family.
Farming Simulator 17
I think I’ve created a new fan club for this game with my family! Once they got going with it they didn’t want to stop and have been taking turns with it all afternoon. Generally I wouldn’t condone this much time in front of the screen, but I love to see everyone working together.
Plant your crops using a life-like tractor (it even has radio stations to listen to), tend to them lovingly, and they’ll grow so that you can sell them and make some money. Make enough and you can hire help. Need more cash? Work for a neighbour. Expand your farm as you can (even take out a loan from the bank).
Raise some livestock, learn about finances and this game becomes addicting and educational at the same time.
The scenery is realistic and leaves me longing for the wide open prairies and mountains of Canada (this could easily be set near Revelstoke). Farming Simulator 17 has been keeping my family busy during the weekend as they learn more of the ins and outs of farming.
Farming Simulator may be purchased in store or online:
Mark McMorris Infinite Air
If you have a winter sports enthusiast in the family, check out the just-released Mark McMorris Infinite Air game! Bronze Winter Olympics medal winner and gold winner at the Winter X Games, Mark McMorris now has his own video game!
I chose this game for our family in part because I love winter sports, and in part because Mark and I are from the same hometown and have mutual friends. I love to support local talent so we’ve been playing and having fun with this game as an early Christmas gift.
We don’t play a lot of video games, but this game had everyone cheering and calling out together and giving directions to the player (even before they’d ever had a turn)! The laughs were amazing.
The controls can be a bit awkward, at least for the adults; but that didn’t stop my six-year-old daughter from learning the tricks of the slope and putting the rest of us to shame!
For a full report of this game, see our review here.
Mark McMorris Infinite Air may be purchased in store or online:
Toca Life: Vacation
Toca Life: Vacation is an app that will keep the kids happily occupied while waiting in the airport (or in lines at the till before Christmas). Get them dreaming about warmer climates and getting away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
We’ve had this app since the summer, and I feel secure when the kids play it as there aren’t any in-app purchases or third-party advertising. It won’t cause aggravation as there aren’t any rules, levels or scores. It’s all clear sailing! Every time I play (yes, of course I tried this out before the kids did…for ‘research purposes only’) I find some new aspect to it that I haven’t come across previously.
App features include:
- Four locations to explore: airport, hotel, beach and sightseeing
- 34 new characters to create new stories with
- X-ray luggage at the airport! Visit the cockpit and have a snack on the plane.
- Fill up at the hotel buffet or raid the fridge in a hotel room.
- Shop for souvenirs in the gift shop, take photos in the cut-out stand and have a hot dog on the boardwalk.
- Play on the beach and surf above the ocean animals.
- Discover the island mysteries!
Toca Life: Vacation is available on the App Store, Google Play and Amazon.
Ginger: Beyond the Crystal
Published by BadLand Games and developed by Drakhar Studios, Ginger: Beyond the Crystal is a 3D platformer/simulation combo that tells the story of Ginger — a survivor tasked with rescuing his people and helping them rebuild their homes after a massive crystal explosion.
Travel through the Crystal to keep the cartoon-like world of Ginger in balance and help your friends by exploring ghostly craters, coral planets, sleeping caves, and terrifying crypts filled with exciting puzzles and cunning enemies. Navigate beautiful landscapes and environmental platforms, jumping (and double jumping!) to reach collectible crystal fragments and the occasional imprisoned villager. Be prepared to face toothy clams, whirling dervish-like critters, giant stone golems, meteorites that fall from fiery mountains, and much more!
Between platforming sessions, you’re tasked with rebuilding homes — recreating the towns of your ancestors before disaster hits. Place different types of houses in the villages to restore happiness — and in the process, heal the world itself.
Ginger: Beyond the Crystal is now available from:
Disclaimer: This game may not be suitable for all families; please remember that each family is unique and should base their gifts keeping this in mind.