Monday, September 17, 2018

The Possibilities of Dinosaurs with Jurassic World - Fallen Kingdom

By first grade, my son knew every dinosaur's name, every detail about their lives, what they ate and where they lived. He couldn't tie his own shoes but he knew how fast a Gallimimus could run and the top speed of a charging Triceratops. He used to sing me the Dinosaur ABC song that he learned that year at the top of his lungs, complete with wild gestures with small hands forming toothy jaws and fingers splayed above his head to resemble the crest of a Dilophosaurus.

He became obsessed with dinosaurs, resting his head on a dinosaur pillowcase and carrying around pocket-sized versions that I'd find in the washing machine. In first grade that year, he was given the assignment to create his own dinosaur out of some kind of everyday material and he relished the idea that he would be the designer of his own dinosaur.

He decided that an Adamasaurus would be made up of scales that resembled his face and that the dinosaur's head would be a gigantic version of his own human head. If I had seen this thing in real life I probably would have fainted. My daughter, years later would do the same assignment only using Skittles to make a Candysaurus Rex. Instead of you tasting the rainbow, the rainbow would be tasting you.

Possibilities. It's what drove John Hammond to take a mosquito encased in amber for millions of years and extract its blood to recreate a living breathing dinosaur. The first time I read this premise in Michael Crichton's book Jurassic Park it made me wonder if it was really possible and at the same time made me hope that it wasn't.

The Jurrasic Park franchise has explored the "what if" in a myriad of movies with each owner of the next iteration of the park writing off the attractions that ate the guests as flukes that could be controlled. There's a reason why they pursue this question. It's possibilities.

Walmart will be supporting this idea of dinosaur possibilities with the release of the Jurassic World - Fallen Kingdom Limited-Edition Blu-ray Funko Giftset. The set includes a Blu-ray, DVD, and a digital copy of  Fallen Kingdom with several bonus features. It also comes with a 2-pack set of Funko Pocket Pop! Keychains which features two of the main characters: Owen played by Chris Pratt and his beloved raptor, Blue.

Jurassic Park - Fallen Kingdom Needle Felted Dinosaurs

To celebrate the release, you can host a movie night complete with a craft using needle felting to recreate your favorite dinosaurs from the movie. My son and I wanted to re-create our own versions of Owen and Blue for the release of the movie. Needle felting is a fun craft to do with kids and it is the kind of craft that helps them think abstractly and three-dimensionally. It is also a skill that I find helps to improve their eye-hand coordination.

Materials: (These can all be found at your local craft store, not necessarily at a fabric store)


2 packages of wool roving - white, 1 package of rainbow-colored wool roving, Needle felting needles/tools, Needle felting finger guards, Needle felting foam block, 24 gauge crafting wire (optional) - If you want your figures to be pose-able, use the wire.

Work area prep:

A foam block is great to have for kids to work on. It will protect the table from getting poked by the needle. You may also cover the table with cardboard or a cutting board.

Have the kids wear the finger guards on their index, middle, and thumb to protect them from being poked by the needles as they work.

Steps for Making a Felted Dinosaur  - Ages 10 and up

NOTE: If you want your dinosaur to be pose-able, you will use the wire as the center of the roving. If you just want to simplify, you don't need to use the wire. For a dinosaur, you will want a long wire that you form into a Z. 

1. Take the plain white wool roving and shape it into a ball in your hand.

2. Push the felting needle into the ball and back out and repeat. Every time you push the needle into the roving, it will grab the fibers and attach them to others within the ball. The more you push in the needle, the tighter the ball will become. This video will show you how to create the rest of the steps.

3. As you work, you will need to rotate the ball so that you are forming something round. Have kids place their balls on top of the foam block which will prevent them from holding it and minimize being poked by the needle. This will be the torso of the dino or person. Kids may get initially frustrated because it may seem like nothing is happening but they need to keep poking it over and over and rotating it while working. IT WILL START TO HAPPEN.

4. Pull apart the wool roving and create three smaller ovals which will be the legs and tail. Roll it between your hands like you are making a snake out of Play-Doh. Push the needle into this form until it starts to tighten up into the shape you want.

5. Place the loosely formed shapes where they would attach to the body. For the legs, attach each oval shape to the side of the main ball by pushing the roving of one shape into the other shape. As you do this, the shape you are attaching will become embedded in the base form.

6. Every time you add to your form, you will want to loosely shape parts with your hands and attach it to the main form this way. Create a neck that will rest on the body and then create and attach a head to that neck. Once the basic form of the dinosaur takes shape, it's time to start adding color.

7. For this step, I like to look at a picture of what I am trying to create. Choose the color you want the main form to be, pull some colored roving off the main ball and drape it across the white roving. Then, all you need to do is push the colored roving into the white roving with the felting needle until it is attached.

8. Details can be added like stripes, eyes etc. just by rolling or pinching the roving to take the shape you want it to be and pushing the needle into the felting beneath it. Eventually, it will become so tight the colors will be on the same level.

9. Twisting the roving can make things stand out and three dimensional. Layers on top of layers will add depth and dimension.  If you make a mistake, just place another color over the original and make it disappear by pushing the felting needle into the underneath color.

10. Details take time and kids may get frustrated. Adults, you can help the kids out by fixing areas or suggesting fixes. This project isn't a quick one but I spent two hours on a Saturday with my 10-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy making these and they loved them!

Celebrate the release of Jurassic World : Fallen Kingdom on September 18th by heading to Walmart and picking up your own  Limited-Edition Blu-ray Funko Giftset. If you make a needle felted dinosaur, tag @dadncharge on social media along with #JurassicWorld #FallenKingdomArrives and #dinosaurs to show off your creations!

**This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Universal Pictures at Walmart. The opinions and text are all mine.**

Monday, February 5, 2018

New Year, New You : Shows You Need To See For 2018

The thing that is great about the new year are the opportunities for new experiences. There is nothing like a new year to make a person feel like they could do more with their life, experience more, or try more things that they have resisted the year previous. Sometimes, it is the champagne talking or maybe it's that kiss at midnight before you realize your coach is about to turn into a pumpkin that it suddenly dawns on you; you've been given another year to make a change in my life that means something to me.

What ends up happening in the new year is an influx of these people at bookstores and gyms making a concerted effort to make the actual change they seek. Some are running more, others are reading more. Still others are going to bed early or spending more time with their kids. It's admirable really, when we look at ourselves as humans who are capable of real change, to realize that variety is the key to keeping things fresh.

That's why in January of 2018, I decided to dedicate myself to try new things and mix them up with some of my favorites. I look at it this way. If I vowed to go to the gym everyday and didn't allow at least one cheat day, my goal to watch new stuff would never happen and I'd be watching Breaking Bad on repeat night in and night out. Below are the shows I am most anticipating this year.

The Cloverfield Paradox - Now Streaming 

In the near future, a group of international astronauts on a space station are working to solve a massive energy crisis on Earth. The experimental technology aboard the station has an unexpected result, leaving the team isolated and fighting for their survival.

Everything Sucks! - February 16th 

A quirky, funny coming of age story that follows two groups of high school misfits, Everything Sucks! follows an A/V club and a Drama club who collide in 1996 Oregon. The series stars Peyton Kennedy (American FableThe Captive) and Jahi Winston (The New Edition Story) as students Kate Messner and Luke O’Neil, with Patch Darragh (Sully, Boardwalk Empire) and Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako (Grimm) as their respective parents. The series also features Sydney Sweeney (“Emaline”), Elijah Stevenson (“Oliver”), Quinn Liebling (“Tyler”) and Rio Mangini 

Mute - February 23rd 

Berlin, the future, but close enough to feel familiar: In this loud, often brutal city, Leo (Alexander Skarsgård) – unable to speak from a childhood accident – searches for his missing girlfriend, the love of his life, his salvation, through dark streets, frenzied plazas, and the full spectrum of the cities shadow-dwellers. As he seeks answers, Leo finds himself mixed up with Cactus Bill (Paul Rudd) and Duck (Justin Theroux), a pair of irreverent US army surgeons on a mission all their own. This soulful sci-fi journey from filmmaker Duncan Jones (Moon, Source CodeWarcraft) imagines a world of strange currencies in which echoes of love and humanity are still worth listening to.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - Season 2 - March 30th

Based on the internationally best selling series of books by Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler), season two of the Netflix original series plunges further into the epic world of this darkly comedic mystery. Executive produced by Emmy Award-winner Barry Sonnenfeld and Daniel Handler - the new season of A Series of Unfortunate Events consists of ten cinematic one-hour episodes, and premieres worldwide spring 2018, exclusively on Netflix. Starring Emmy and Tony Award-winner Neil Patrick Harris, A Series of Unfortunate Events recounts the tragic tale of the Baudelaire orphans – Violet, Klaus, and Sunny – and their extraordinary encounters with the devious Count Olaf who will stop at nothing to get his hands on their inheritance. Foiling his many dastardly plans and disguises, the young siblings discover clues to their parents’ mysterious death, links to a covert organization, and begin to unlock long-held family secrets. Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, Presley Smith, Patrick Warburton and K. Todd Freeman (among others) return for season two. New additions to the cast include (but are not limited to) Lucy Punch, Nathan Fillion, Tony Hale, Sara Rue and Roger Bart.

Altered Carbon - Now Available 

Based on the classic cyberpunk noir novel by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon is an intriguing story of murder, love, sex, and betrayal, set more than 300 years in the future. Society has been transformed by new technology: consciousness can be digitized; human bodies are interchangeable; death is no longer permanent. Takeshi Kovacs is the lone surviving soldier in a group of elite interstellar warriors who were defeated in an uprising against the new world order. His mind was imprisoned – on ice – for centuries until Laurens Bancroft, an impossibly wealthy, long-lived man, offers Kovacs the chance to live again. In exchange, Kovacs has to solve a murder … that of Bancroft himself.

Marvel's Jessica Jones - Premieres March 8th 

Disclaimer : This post was brought to you by Netflix and my relationship with them as a #StreamTeam influencer. All opinions expressed are my own.