Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

We just got back from watching this as a family. We don’t go to the movies much anymore because of the cost but with the long weekend, we went as a special treat. All of us are big fans of the first one. It is one of those movies that we could watch over and over again. There is just something that appeals to all of us. For me, it is the historical characters that come to life for the kids. Now, I am not saying that this movie is incredibly historically accurate. What I am saying is that anytime my kids think of Easter Island, they know right away what the statues look like (and of course say, “You bring me gum gum, dumb dumb?). But, nonetheless they know what Easter Islandahutongariki is. The first movie brought to life Christopher Columbus, Attila the Hun, and a host of other historical figures. I wish that I had taken some time prior to going today though to do some research on the historical figures in Battle of the Smithsonian.

Some were obvious and needed no introduction to the kids, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, and Amelia Earhart. But there were some people and objects that if the kids would have more background information on it might have added to their enjoyment.

Below is a list of what I wish I would have pre-taught so that maybe you can be more prepared than me:

  • 250px-the_thinker_closeThe Thinker by Rodin- the boys have been doing this little “UH, UH, Fire Power” all week (think gun show with the arms). It comes from a part in the movie when The Thinker gets up and does a ‘gun show’. They probably would have understood the sarcasm of The Thinker being portrayed as a dumb jock if they knew more about the subject.
  • Al Capone-My boys don’t know much about the Italian Mafia. They really had a hard time understanding any of the parts with them.
  • Napoleon-Great reference in the movie to what a Napoleon complex is. Boys will probably easily remember now what that phrase means.
  • Ivan the Terrible-even though he is a central character in the movie, it does a poor job of explaining who he is.
  • 180px-tuskegee_airman_posterTuskegee Airmen-Surprisingly my oldest was able to tell us all about them. He learned about them on a late night history channel show. Who says letting your kids stay up and watch tv is a bad thing?
  • 250px-g_a_custerGeneral Custer-specifically on him you want your kids to understand his Last Stand and why he may not have made the wisest battle decisions. The movie does a bit of spoofing on this and there is a part where he talks about his ‘big mistake’.
  • I am all about finding those teachable moments and while this movie probably won’t win any Oscars, it is a great way to introduce the kids to some historical characters. With a little bit of knowledge from the above list, you may provide them with a frame of reference to make it all that more enjoyable.

    I am sure that I probably left out quite a few characters so if you think of any, leave me a comment and I will try to add them.

    *Most pictures in this post came from Wikipedia and are common use.

    Young Scientist Challenge Entries

    Passing on a great opportunity for your kids to shine:

    The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, the premier national science competition for students in grades 5 through 8, is now open for entries – and the deadline is fast approaching. Students must complete a video entry about the “Science of Everyday Life” and submit it online before May 20th, 2009*.
    The top 10 students in the country will each win a series of prizes, including $1,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to the competition finals in New York City this fall.

    The winning student will receive $50,000 in U.S. savings bonds and be named America’s Top Young Scientist.

    Music Ace Deluxe

    madbox-300As you all know, my kids love music. My oldest plays the guitar and my youngest is a walking dictionary of classic rock (ugh, am I that old that Bon Jovi is classic?). Since my youngest has very poor fine motor skills though due to both of his disabilities (spina bifida and autism) it has been hard to really teach him an instrument. But, he is very interested. So, when I was contacted by a very nice PR rep for Harmonic Vision and asked to try Music Ace Deluxe I was thrilled. Harmonic Vision claims:

    “This interactive program gives homeschooling parents a fun way to bring music into their kid’s (aged 6+) lives. The game-type Windows and Mac-compatible CD-ROM features 36 self-paced lessons shored up by games that introduce kids to the basics of music — rhythm, pitch, note reading, listening and the keyboard — while entertaining them at the same time.”

    and it certainly delivers. My youngest (10) and I sat down to do a few lessons together before I turned him loose on it alone. He seemed to really benefit from the visual clues given in the pitch lessons. And even I learned some new terminology. Maestro Max (the animated teacher) provides a fun and non threatening way for everyone to learn music theory.


    So, would I recommend this? Absolutely! Music Ace Deluxe is available directly from Harmonic Vision, for the MSRP of $79.95. More importantly, it is available from other sources such as and for between $45 and $50. Also, a Homeschool Instructional Guide is available for download at no charge from the Harmonic Vision website for owners of Music Ace Deluxe. I love it when companies realize the power of the homeschool community and provide products tailored to our needs!