Browsing articles in "Kids’ Panel"

Solange Reveals How Much She Loves Jessie

Oct 19, 2016   //   by Solange   //   Age 4-8, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Solange Reveals How Much She Loves Jessie

Hi, my name is Solange. I’m 8 years of age and today I’ll be happy to tell you about my favourite TV show.

My favourite TV show is ‘Jessie’.

In this video I tell you why.


An Open Letter To Parents From An Adventurous 11-Year-Old

Oct 12, 2016   //   by Maia   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on An Open Letter To Parents From An Adventurous 11-Year-Old

Dear parents,

small boat on a lake

Maia and her sister went swimming and took boat rides close to the cabin they stayed at this summer.

My name is Maia, I’m eleven years old and I love playing outside. Just this summer, I travelled to Norway and visited our family. After that we were off to our cabin. My sister and I went swimming and took boat rides around close to the cabin. We picked blueberries and mushrooms together as a family. We finished our vacation by backpacking from Oslo to Norway’s Arctic.

Even in Toronto we take hikes and bike rides all the time as a family in city parks and ravines. It is not only good for the kids it’s also good for you to bond with your family.

It’s important for kids to go outside because it gives them space to explore, be creative, make new friends and get a little messy.

It is better to get kids outside when they are around 1-6 years old because then they will enjoy it more when they get older. If you do it when they are older they won’t be use to it. That doesn’t mean you can’t start going on hikes and things like that when they are older but it won’t be as easy as it would be when they are little.

I have to admit that I also like to go on my phone and go on the computer, and having a little screen time is okay for kids too, but my parents always find a right time to tell me to go outside. I always have just as much fun outside as I do inside.

making mud pies

Make mud pies gets a little messy and it’s fun!

My sister and I have a tree house but you don’t need a tree house in you backyard to have fun, you can make mud pies, (that’s where getting a little messy comes in) do some gardening, make forts with chairs and blankets, you can make up games like obstacle courses, and find things you and you family like. If you don’t have a backyard you can go to parks and play in playgrounds and climb trees and run around.

You may think that when summer is over the fun is over but there are fun things to do in the winter too. Winter has just as many fun things to do like skiing, (downhill and cross-country) sledding, snow ball fights, making snow people, snow angels and you can come up with a game yourself. It’s also fun to play in the rain. My sister and I jump in puddles, listen to the rain falling and just dance in the rain. (until we hear thunder, then we go inside.)

Thank you for reading this and I hope you start your outdoor family adventure. As my mom always says, “there is no bad weather only bad clothing”.



Noah Reviews the ‘Insignia’ Trilogy

Oct 5, 2016   //   by Noah   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Noah Reviews the ‘Insignia’ Trilogy

The Insignia trilogy by S.J. Kincaid is a fast-paced science fiction adventure series that has been nominated for numerous awards. The trilogy takes place in the future, in the midst of World War III. In the first book, Insignia, we are quickly introduced to the two duelling sides in the war. North America, allied with Europe, Australia and Central America, is now at war with the Russo-Chinese alliance.

A failing student living in poverty, Tom Raines has no hope for a bright future. While at a casino one night with his father, he is approached by a member of the U.S. military who persuades him to be trained as an interstellar combatant. The opportunity to fight in the war using virtual reality is just the break that Tom was hoping for.

Tom begins his training in earnest after receiving a neural processor (brain implant) allowing him to think at a much faster speed than the typical human brain. He soon realizes, however, that unlike the other cadets, he seems to have a special power: the ability to interface with machines. Using only his mind, he can seize control of any computerized device.

In the second book of the series, Vortex, Tom and his fellow combatants rise up the ladder to become mid-level cadets, also called middles. Here, Tom’s loyalty is tested and he is introduced to coalition executives who will decide whether or not to sponsor him. One can only become a true combatant in the war with a corporate sponsor.

The third book, Catalyst, provides a suspenseful and action packed conclusion to the trilogy. A complex plot involving the creator of the neural implants leaves Tom and his friends alone in a very new world, desperate to devise a plan to defeat a ruthless enemy.

The character development in this trilogy is excellent. Throughout the story, the reader sees Tom grow as he learns astonishing secrets about the war. The plot is well developed, and at numerous turns, our protagonist is forced to think big about the world around him. Consequently, readers wonder what the future will hold and whether computers are getting too advanced.

This series has a lot of action, but also incorporates interesting thoughts and concepts. The plot is unique. I also liked the fact that the story takes place in the future, one that could become realistic very soon, given our fast-changing society. One of the few things I don’t like about the series is that each book did not end with a cliff hanger; rather, it simply ends. The reader wonders what may happen next but it does not spark an instant need to read the next book. Still, the trilogy has a novel plot line, one that entranced me. I would recommend these books to anyone who likes adventure, fantasy or science fiction.

My overall rating is 4.5/5 stars.


Kris’s Reflections on ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’

Sep 28, 2016   //   by Kris   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Kris’s Reflections on ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a historical fiction book. It’s written and illustrated by Brian Selznick. The book takes place in Paris following a young boy named Hugo Cabret. The book is 526 pages long, not including the credits and sources.

Stop! Wait, don’t dismiss this book for being long or historical. This book has so much to offer. It gives you a glimpse of the city of Paris and its residence. You’ll follow the life of Hugo Cabret, who is left to fend for himself.

Hugo is very talented with clocks and mechanics like his father. Hugo’s father was working on fixing a mechanical man at a museum late at night. The museum guard locked the entrance, forgetting Hugo’s father was in there. A fire broke out and Hugo’s father died. Hugo stays with his uncle. Hugo’s uncle would leave Hugo unattended for long periods of time, until one day he disappears altogether. When wandering the streets, Hugo sees the mechanical man thrown out and vows to fix it. I could go on but I don’t want to give away spoilers.

The book is fast-paced and primarily composed of illustrations. The illustrations give a soft and dream-like appearance that’ll capture your attention. The Invention of Hugo Cabret is an educational and entertaining book since it’s historical fiction. The book discusses early cinema in France, clockwork, mechanics and automatons.  The book has it’s own website and has also been made into a movie.


Jolie Scratches an Itch for Creativity

Sep 21, 2016   //   by Jolie   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Jolie Scratches an Itch for Creativity

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Scratch is an interactive online game you can play on your computer. It is also a community where you can share your work with people all over the world. You can even work together on the same project. Scratch is made by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab and is free to use and to have an account. It is meant for 8 to 16 years old but can be used by all ages, young and old.

Scratch helps people to think creatively and express their creative side.

To start, you select a background and a sprite (your character). You use a simple programmer interface in order to bring the sprite to life. With the different actions you can put together to program to make your sprite do stuff like dance, climb, run and more! Sprites aren’t only characters, they can be balls, trees, cars, instruments, fruit and more. You can add more than one sprite to make your story complete! Plus, you can add words to make your story come alive.

You use the programming and your keyboard to tell the sprites what to do. You can also make music and add it to make the scene really come to life!

I learned about Scratch at school when one of my classmates taught us about it.

Is it entertaining, educational or a little of both?

It’s mostly entertaining, but it is also educational because it teaches you the basics of programming and lets you show your creative spirit.


Angus Finds Geocaching

Sep 14, 2016   //   by Angus   //   Age 4-8, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Angus Finds Geocaching
kids panellist Angus and GEO bracelet

Angus says geocaching is cool because you can look for them in cool parts of the city. “For some of the caches you can get a prize but you have to replace it with a prize that you bring along,” he says. “I got a bracelet with GEO on it.”

Check this out:


What is geocaching?

It is kind of like a free hide and seek game. People hide geochaches all around Toronto and all over the world. Using the free Geocache app on your phone (you need data so use your parents phone), you locate the geocaches near you, then you have to try to find them. Your phone stops locating them within 20 feet so you have about a 20 foot square to explore! They can be hidden in bushes, tied to trees, and in holes under trees. The geocaches are in plastic containers. If you find them, you open the box and you write your name and your account name in the notebook. Then you click on the happy face on the app that says you found the geocache.

Why it’s cool:

Because you can look for them and go to cool parts of the city. For some of the caches you can get a prize but you have to replace it with a prize that you bring along. I got a bracelet with GEO on it.

Educational or entertaining?

Both! You learn to read maps, and explore parts of Toronto, but also have fun – and it’s great when you find a geocache. We do it everywhere we go. Always bring a pen and a little gift!!


Emily Reads ‘Meg and Mog – Mog’s Missing’ by Helen Nicoll

Sep 7, 2016   //   by Emily   //   Age 4-8, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Emily Reads ‘Meg and Mog – Mog’s Missing’ by Helen Nicoll

Emily reads ‘Meg and Mog – Mog’s Missing’ by Helen Nicoll.


The BFG: Griffin’s Movie Review

Aug 31, 2016   //   by Griffin   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  1 Comment

Guess what!? In June I was one of the first people in Canada to see the highly anticipated movie The BFG!

The BFG is the story of an orphan named Sophie who, one night, sees a giant. The giant takes her from her bed in a frenzy to keep his secret. After much bickering they befriend each other and the “Big Friendly Giant” tells Sophie of his troubles. There are bigger, meaner giants and he is the “runt”. He has a mission to return goodness to Giant Country, eventually getting the Queen of England and Ronald Reagan get involved. Yeah.

The funniest thing in the movie was the fact that the giants sometimes made up their own words (none of which I remember). A movie about giants might be scary, and this was from time to time, but most of the time it was all gumdrops and unicorns. My favourite character was the BFG because he was very funny and sweet. The BFG was a dream catcher. He caught dreams. That’s right. Dreams! The BFG did not know English very well and sometimes made up words of his own, which was very cute. I chose this movie for my review because I got to go to a preview for the first time in my life and I wasn’t going to turn it down! I liked this movie because I thought it was really interesting and kid-friendly. Make sure you get to see The BFG!


Why Isabel Says FitBit is Legit

Aug 24, 2016   //   by Isabel   //   Age 16-19, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Why Isabel Says FitBit is Legit

So, my latest fascination has been with FitBit and all the wonders that come with it. I bought my first FitBit towards the end of May and was honestly overjoyed with the knowledge it gave me and the way it worked. Now, I’m not an overly athletic person, so one would think: why would I need a FitBit? However, I certainly have noticed that since the beauty graced my wrist, I have been making an effort to in fact be more active and reach my goal of 10,000 steps.

One of the fun things about FitBit is it tracks your information and logs it to your online account and allows you to connect and challenge your friends (and well, who doesn’t love a good competition that strives to make you more active?).

There are many different styles of FitBit to choose from, ranging from ones intended for the not so athletic person to the highly athletic person. To make sure that you get the best tracker for your lifestyle, FitBit has developed a quiz you can take to place you with the tracker that best suits your needs. I think this is super cool because the company wants you to get the tracker that you will personally get the most use out of and not confuse you with unnecessary items.

Some features I really enjoy about my FitBit (which is the Charge HR), is the sleep tracking capabilities. I admit it is kind of weird having a watch that knows how well you’ve slept, but it does come in handy when I’m trying to figure out why I’m so tired after sleeping all night. Another feature I enjoy about my tracker is that this one tells time, (because not all of them do). It’s super nice to have a tracker and watch all in one and not have to wear a watch and a tracker. But that might just be me. If you want to go for as many bracelets on your arm as possible, then you go for it and you do you.

Another thing I also really enjoy about FitBit is the understanding and kind people they have working in customer support.   I learned this through personal experience after my original FitBit tracker broke, and they were kind enough to replace it for me free of charge. They were also really fast with their replies to my emails. So I was super pleased and impressed with the thoughtfulness and care that were put into fixing my problem and making me go from being sad and upset to overjoyed in less than a day.

Speaking from the perspective of the teenage girl that I am, I love wearing my FitBit and being asked about it, because it makes me feel sporty even when I’m not really as sporty as I used to be. So if you’re looking for a simple way to motivate yourself to get active, I highly recommend using a FitBit and challenging your friends and family to out step you.


Mac Builds a Case for Lego Dimensions

Aug 17, 2016   //   by Mac   //   Age 9-15, Kids' Panel  //  Comments Off on Mac Builds a Case for Lego Dimensions

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Lego Dimensions is a fun video game for kids ages 10 and up. It can be used on Wii U, Xbox One, and PS4. It’s where 3 heroes, (Batman, Gandalf, and Wyldstyle) go to different dimensions to try to stop the evil Lord Vortex with the help of a little robot friend named X-PO. There are levels where you can go to one of the worlds and have fun trying to coexist with the characters you find. My favourite dimensions are: Portal, Dr. Who, and Midway Arcade. These are only some of the 15 dimensions.

You can get to those worlds by buying different packs. There are 3 types of packs: fun packs, level packs, and team packs. Fun packs include 1 character and 1 vehicle or gadget. Level packs include 1 character, 1 vehicle, and 1 gadget. Team packs include 2 characters, and 2 vehicles or gadgets.

Why it’s cool:

It is enjoyable. And, it is fun because when you get a pack, you can build what it is with the virtual instructions, and if you can upgrade it in different sections, you can build it in various ways. At the beginning, you make the Lego Gateway on the Lego Toy Pad, and then you place each character on it when instructed by the game.

The positives are it is fun, easy, and you get to build Lego creations while playing a video game. The negatives are the packs are expensive and some video game parts might be a little frustrating at times. If you are younger, you might have a little trouble building with the Lego pieces.

Is this entertaining, educational, or both?

It is entertaining because you get to build with Lego pieces and it is a fun video game. Mostly, it doesn’t teach you anything, but it shows you things about old shows and movies that you might not have known before. So, it might be a little educational.

I would recommend buying the starter pack and playing the game, and if you like it, then you could start to buy other packs. And, if you really like it, just wait until the next release of packs in September.

I give this game 4 1/3 stars out of 5.



The Kids' Panel

Meet our kids' panel: a savvy group of kids with a strong point of view about the media and the culture they consume. Culturally diverse, a range of age and interests, they'll provide you with an insight into kids' media ... what works, what doesn't and why. Check back often for new reviews. We think you'll be inspired! @storyartscentre