Archives for February 2019

“Freebie Friday” Hooked On Phonics 1-Year Subscription FREE for Read Across America Day

To honor Read Across America Day on March 2nd, 2019, Hooked on Phonics (“Worked For Me!”) is offering their digital app “Learn To Read” year subscription plan for FREE ($40 value; iOS, Android, Amazon, Web) on Friday, March 1st, 2019 known as “Download to Read Free By HOP.”

WHEN: Friday, March 1, 2019

HOW: Here are the steps to follow:

WHY: Hooked on Phonics wants to share the joy of learning how to read with the proper digital tools honoring Read Across America Day.

Hooked on Phonics.

Yo-kai Watch: Season 1 * Interesting Plots, Vivid Animation, Fun Mix of Humor and Action

Remember that time you passed gas in that super crowded elevator? Or when you lost your sock in the dryer? That was just bad luck, right? Wrong! That was the work of Yo-kai; the invisible Yo-kai all around us that are the cause of our daily annoyances!! Nate is a just a regular boy struggling to be above average at school. One day when he receives the Yo-kai Watch, he gets the chance to see and communicate with these mischievous Yo-kai. With the Yo-kai Watch on his wrist, Nate starts to form friendships with them and learn of the things that make life so complicated. There’s just one problem: they’re everywhere and they love to cause mischief! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “I have vague memories of Yo-kai Watch from when it first came to the states. I never beat the first game and I ended up forgetting about it for a few years. However from what I remember, the show reflects the game and the world pretty well.” Ava L. adds, “This is a very interesting and cool DVD to watch! It has all the qualities that make a good animated series – interesting plots, vivid and clear animation, a fun mix of humor and action all in one!” See their full reviews below.

Yo-kai Watch: Season 1
By Calista Bess, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

I have vague memories of Yo-kai Watch from when it first came to the states. I never beat the first game and I ended up forgetting about it for a few years. However from what I remember, the show reflects the game and the world pretty well.

The story follows a kid named Nate who finds Whisper, a Yo-kai, who gives him the Yo-kai Watch. This watch allows him to see Yo-kai, mischievous spirits that are invisible without the watch. The show mostly follows Nate’s adventures as he helps and befriends Yo-kai.  This seems to be the main plot of the show.  There doesn’t appear to be any overarching story or conflict. Remember, these are only a few episodes from the first season. So maybe there eventually is a set goal or conflict. However, there are a lot of positive lessons. So parents, this show is a good one to watch with your kids.

Nate, the protagonist, doesn’t seem particularly invested in the world of Yo-kai. He’s essentially forced to solve everyone’s problems and he seems to reluctantly just accept it. For example, when he first meets Whisper, a literal ghost, he trie to walk away from the conversation three times and he barely seems to care that he is talking to a magical ghost that appears from a capsule machine. That isn’t exactly a good way to introduce your main character.

Also, the structure of the show is rather confusing. At first I thought the show had the “two 11 minute stories merged into one 22 minute episode” type of structure that many cartoons have, but no. Sometimes it’s one really long story combined with a story that’s really short. Sometimes it’s THREE stories in one episode. It’s really inconsistent. The show also seems oddly inconsistent in its tone. The show is mostly comedic, however one story has no comedy and is entirely serious. It just feels really random, but maybe it ties in with Season 2. It is entertaining overall and a series I would have probably watched when I was younger.

I give this show 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 12. This DVD is already out, so look for it. 

Yo-kai Watch

By Ava L., KIDS FIRST! Film critic, age 10

This is a very interesting and cool DVD to watch! It has all the qualities that make a good animated series – interesting plots, vivid and clear animation, a fun mix of humor and action all in one! I really like when the action in the story, because it makes me feel more excited and enthusiastic to watch what is going on in.

The story is about Nate, a normal boy, except he has a Yo-kai Watch which gives the person who has the watch the power to see Yo-kai. Yo-kai are things that cause your daily annoyances such as, when you have bad luck and fall or, you really have to go to the bathroom but there is a really long line, or you have a song stuck in your head that you hate or dislike. The Yo-kai are mischievous and you never know when they might show up or what they might do. Also, the Yo-kai are invisible, so you can’t see them unless you have the Yo-kai Watch. This DVD reminds me of Pokemon a bit so, if you like Pokemon I recommend this for you! I am pretty sure the creators of this film got inspired or got the idea from Pokemon.

The show is well produced and made me want to keep watching. Sometimes though, I was a little confused as to what was happening. I wished for more details. For example, the film kept switching to other subjects which are a little confusing about what is happening. Sometimes the story is not so specific. Besides that, I really enjoyed it!

This show does have some mature humor. Even my mom and dad laughed at some of the jokes! But for the most part, the series is really kid-friendly and younger audiences will enjoy it or appreciate this DVD! In my opinion it is a really awesome series for kids!

I give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, because anyone can enjoy it. This DVD is already available so look for it!

The Habit’s new Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad is a Must-Try!

The Habit Burger Grill has added
the Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad, a new flavor-filled salad, as a permanent option to their menu. Doesn’t it look delicious?!

Looking for a tasty salad? The Habit Burger Grill has you covered! I just tried their newest salad: The Southwest BBQ Chicken Salad and it’s hit with me! I love it and can’t wait to go and eat it again! It has plenty of chicken, delicious vegetables like corn and red onion and I think it may just be one of my new favorite salads! The house-made cilantro lime ranch dressing, with their zesty ancho chili BBQ sauce is sure to be a hit if you want a salad!

And, of course, the Habit Burger Grill has the best sides! These two (pictured below!) are my faves!

These Green beans have always been my favorite and I’m not a big green bean lover! But, every time I go to The Habit Burger Grill….I MUST buy these!
and I love their onion rings!

Connect with The Habit on social media at,  and

About The Habit Restaurants, Inc.

The Habit Burger Grill is a burger-centric, fast casual restaurant concept that specializes in preparing fresh, made-to-order chargrilled burgers and sandwiches featuring USDA choice tri-tip steak, grilled chicken and sushi-grade ahi tuna cooked over an open flame. In addition, it features fresh made-to-order salads and an appealing selection of sides, shakes and malts. The Habit was named the “best tasting burger in America” in July 2014 in a comprehensive survey conducted by one of America’s leading consumer magazines. The first Habit opened in Santa Barbara, California in 1969. The Habit has since grown to over 250 restaurants in 11 states throughout California, Arizona, Utah, New Jersey, Florida, Idaho, Virginia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Washington and Maryland as well as four international locations. More information is available at

Self Disclosure: I had the opportunity to try the new salad and any opinions expressed are my own. Images: SoCal City Kids.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Brings An All-New Light Projection Experience to Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort

A Powerful Dark Arts Spell Has Been Cast on “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,”

Bringing a Dynamic, All-New Light Projection Experience

to Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort

 Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort invite guests to experience an exciting new dimension of sorcery at “The Wizarding World of Harry PotterTM” with the introduction of the “Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle,” a powerful, original and breathtaking projection experience.

            The “Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle” will illuminate Hogwarts castle and “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” nightly from April 13 – 28 at Universal Studios Hollywood then return from May 25 – 27.

Universal Orlando Resort’s experience will debut later this year with dates to be announced at a later time.

This exciting all-new experience in “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will cast a mesmerizing display of light, music and special effects, unleashing the darkest creatures and villains, including the powerful Dark wizard Lord Voldemort.

Illuminating a darker side of the Wizarding World, this spectacular new light projection experience will be a departure from previous “The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle” and “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle.” “Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle” will bring more intense tones and drama that reflect the Dark creatures and wizards that challenge goodness in the Wizarding World.

Guests will be asked to summon their inner strength and bravery in the face of the all-consuming Dark Arts as some of the awe-inspiring moments and creatures inspired by the films come to life within the majestic light display.

As darkness falls on Hogwarts castle, Dementors™, Death Eaters and other unspeakable creatures from Aragog and Mountain Trolls to Thestrals will cloak the castle with sinister images from the darker side of magic—even conjuring the visage of Lord Voldemort™ himself, until the Patronus spell—one of the most famous, difficult and powerful defense of the Dark Arts charms in the wizarding world—is cast.

The “Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle” will be accompanied by an exclusive musical arrangement that will emanate in a surround sound environment. It was conducted by prolific arranger William Ross and recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra in London, based on the original scores composed for the film series created by Academy Award®-winning composer John Williams.

Inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters that were brought to life in the Warner Bros. films, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort is a masterful recreation, faithful to the visual landscape of the fiction and films, including as its iconic focal point, Hogwarts castle.

From its snow-capped roofs and cobblestone streets to the historic British sensibilities that characterize the whimsical look and feel of the land, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” transports guests of all ages to the very places they watched on the silver screen.

With so much to see and do at Universal Studios Hollywood, the all-new 2019 Season Pass invites guests to experience the fun throughout the year for $149 when purchased online. Blackout dates and restrictions apply. Visit for more details.  

At Universal Orlando, guests can take advantage of an unprecedented offer featuring up to six months free on any Universal Orlando Annual Pass if purchased before April 4, 2019. Click here for more details about Annual and Seasonal Pass options.

About Wizarding World

More than two decades ago, a young Harry Potter was whisked onto Platform 93⁄4 at King’s Cross Station, and readers everywhere were swept along with him into a magical universe, created by J.K. Rowling. In the years since, the seven Harry Potter bestsellers have inspired eight blockbuster movies, an award-winning stage play, and, more recently, the start of the Fantastic Beasts five-film series. People of all ages have been enthralled by these extraordinary adventures, set within an expanding universe, inspired by the vision of J.K. Rowling.

For today’s growing worldwide fan community, and for generations to come, the Wizarding World welcomes everyone to explore more of this magical universe — past, present and future. The Wizarding World also provides fans with an instant, trusted kite-mark of quality and authenticity.

About Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood is The Entertainment Capital of L.A. and includes a full-day, movie-based theme park and Studio Tour. As a leading global entertainment destination, Universal Studios Hollywood delivers highly themed immersive lands that translate to real-life interpretations of iconic movie and television shows. Recent additions include “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™” which features a bustling Hogsmeade village and such critically-acclaimed rides as “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” and “Flight of the Hippogriff™”.  Other immersive lands include “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” and “Super Silly Fun Land” as well as “Springfield,” hometown of America’s favorite TV family, located adjacent to the award-winning “The Simpsons Ride™” “The Walking Dead” daytime attraction and the DreamWorks Theatre featuring “Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor’s Quest.” The world-renowned Studio Tour is Universal Studios Hollywood’s signature attraction, inviting guests behind-the-scenes of the world’s biggest and busiest movie and television production studio where they can also experience such authentic thrill rides as “Fast & Furious—Supercharged.”  The adjacent Universal CityWalk entertainment, shopping and dining complex also includes the all-new multi-million dollar, redesigned Universal CityWalk Cinema, featuring deluxe recliner seating in screening room quality theatres, and the “5 Towers” state-of-the-art outdoor concert stage.

More information is available at Like Universal Studios Hollywood on Facebook and follow @UniStudios on Instagram and Twitter.

About Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort is a unique vacation destination that is part of the NBCUniversal Comcast family. For more than 25 years, Universal Orlando has been creating epic vacations for the entire family – incredible experiences that place guests in the heart of powerful stories and adventures. 

Universal Orlando’s three theme parks, Universal Studios FloridaUniversal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay, are home to some of the world’s most exciting and innovative theme park experiences – including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. Universal Orlando’s on-site hotels are destinations unto themselves and include Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal’s Aventura Hotel. Its entertainment complex, Universal CityWalk, offers immersive dining and entertainment for every member of the family.

Universal Orlando Resort continues to unveil all-new guest experiences, including powerful attractions, incredible dining options and dramatically-themed hotels. Now open is Fast & Furious – Supercharged, where guests can join the Fast family and step into the blockbuster Fast & Furious films at Universal Studios Florida. And at Universal CityWalk, Voodoo Doughnut is now serving more than 50 types of delightfully weird and sinfully delicious doughnuts.

Follow us on our blogFacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

HARRY POTTER characters, names and related indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. J.K. ROWLING`S WIZARDING WORLD™ J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s19)

Credit: Universal Studios.

Books of the Week: Black History Month favorites for young children!

This one is such an inspirational book!

BRAVE BALLERINA: THE STORY OF JANET COLLINS by Michelle Meadow; illustrated by Ebony Glenn (Henry Holt BYR, January 8, 2019, Ages 4-8)

This is a lyrical picture book that is sure to inspire! It is a tribute to Janet Collins, the first African American principal dancer at the Metropolitan Opera House. It is a beautifully told story of a gifted African-American pioneer in the arts.

  • For fans of the award-winning picture books Firebird by Misty Copeland and Radiant Child by Jean-Michel Basquiat.
  • With a spotlight on one of the most distinguished African-American dancers of the century, this is an important diverse offering from two African-American creators who are passionate about their subject. 
  • Lyrical rhyme fortified by strong back matter makes for a great read-aloud and classroom tool.

WOKE BABY by Mahogany L. Browne; illustrated by Theodore Taylor III (Roaring Brook Press, December 31, 2018, Ages 0-3)
  • WOKE BABY jokes about babies’ sometimes unpredictable sleeping patterns and finds parallels with how social activists don’t fall asleep when fighting for justice. For parents and gift givers who bought A IS FOR ACTIVISM and FEMINIST BABY. Theodore Taylor is an up-and-coming artist working in a new, rounder, more baby-friendly style. This book is both bright and fun, as well as adorable. WOKE BABY is not only inspiring but also fun to read aloud. This one certainly made me chuckle!

POCKET BIOS: Nelson Mandela By Al Berenger (Roaring Brook Press, July 17, 2018, Ages 4-7)

POCKET BIOS: Rosa Parks By Al Berenger (Roaring Brook Press, July 17, 2018, Ages 4-7)

POCKET BIOS: Martin Luther King Jr. By Al Berenger (Roaring Brook Press, July 17, 2018, Ages 4-7)

These are must-reads for young children! I love the cheerful illustrations and the kid-friendly infographics!

  • Biographies with personality! These colorful, commercial, bite-size biographies introduce readers to fascinating figures from U.S. and world history, and feature engaging storytelling, cheerful illustration, kid-friendly infographics, along with puzzles, quizzes and games.
  • Pocket Bios titles include men and women from history, exploration, the sciences, the arts, the ancient world, and more. These are engaging stories, packed with cheerful illustration and kid-friendly infographics — plus puzzles, games, and mazes.

Self Disclosure: I received free samples of the above books but only feature books that I highly recommend, Images were also provided.

Free Kids’ Fishing Derby Returns to Mile Square Regional Park March 2nd!

OC Parks, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Angler Chronicles invite families to enjoy the annual Kids’ Fishing Derby at the North Lake at Mile Square Regional Park on Saturday, March 2. Register for the free event from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and enjoy the derby from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“The Kids’ Fishing Derby has become an annual community tradition at Mile Square Regional Park and we’re thrilled to have families come out and enjoy a morning of outdoor fun,” Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do, First District, said. “We’re excited for youngsters to cast their lines, learn some new skills and spend time outdoors with their family.”

Kids ages 6 to 15 can fish for free at the Fishing Derby and compete to win multiple prizes in different age groups. The kid with the overall winning catch will get his or her name inscribed on the legendary Mile Square Fishing Derby Trophy. The lake will be stocked with more than 1,000 pounds of trout and catfish for the derby, and there will be a limited amount of fishing rods available for loan. Participants can learn fishing tips and tricks during fishing clinics, and food will be available for purchase.

Join OC Parks for a fun-filled day of friendly competition and fishing at Mile Square Regional Park.

Kids’ Fishing Derby

Date: Saturday, March 2

Time: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. 

Derby Registration: 7:30– 8:30 a.m.

Location: Mile Square Regional Park

Address: 16801 Euclid, Fountain Valley, CA 92708


Cost: Free

Parking: Free

Public Contact: (714) 973-6600 or (714) 973-3197

Credit: OC Parks.

Dana Point Harbor Welcomes 48TH ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF WHALES

Gray whale calf breaching in front of Dana Point Harbor, seen during Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari in Dana Point, California

Whale watching, excursions, competitions, live music, educational programs, culinary offerings and family-friendly fun at Dana Point HarborMARCH 2, 3, 9 & 10, 2019 

Dana Point Harbor invites families to experience the 48th Annual Dana Point Festival of Whales, March 2-3 and 9-10 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors can explore Dana Point Harbor during the gray whale’s annual winter migratory ritual, and enjoy engaging activities including whale watching, first day Parade and street fair, sand sculpting, live music, the Dinghy Dash, Art in the Park, Chowder Cook-Off, Ocean Awareness Day, delicious harbor eats, educational programs, and much more. Home to over 400,000 common dolphins and five species of whales, Dana Point is the “Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital of the World.” Locals and destination seekers alike can experience the near perfect conditions and enjoy exceptional whale watching year-round. Dana Point Harbor is the ideal location for whale watching with quick and easy accessibility to open ocean. Winter celebrates the Gray Whale and year-round regularly viewed whales include Blue Whales, Fin Whales, Humpback Whales, and Minke Whales.Many believe Dana Point is a reference landmark for the whales and is famous as a gathering area. During their southern migration, they tend to hug the shore. This allows for visitors to approach the whales in a peaceful manner letting us make more intimate contact with them.
The Dana Point Festival of Whales, one of Southern California’s largest and longest running celebrations, offers two weekends of outdoor fun and will attract an estimated 50,000+ visitors. Festival highlights include an opening day parade, street fair, art and craft shows and sales, classic car exhibits, stand-up paddling and sailing opportunities, sand sculpting and chowder cook-off competitions, concerts on land and water, environmental activities, educational opportunities, interpretive crafts, kids activities, culinary delights, spirits/beer gardens, and whale watching excursions aboard a variety of vessels.The Festival of Whales Parade kicks off the festivities on Saturday, March 2 at 10 a.m. Attendees can view the parade from the side of Pacific Coast Highway between Selva Road and Street of the Golden Lantern, where onlookers can enjoy the parade featuring giant helium balloons, community organizations and more.
Whale watching excursions will depart every hour on the hour, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., from the wharf during both festival weekends, offering views of majestic ocean life found off the coast of Dana Point. Prices and trip durations vary.Music has long been a highlight of the Festival and 2019 offers a new attraction, the Ocean Institute’s presentation of Whale Songs & Other Tails from the Opera: A Musical Event with Lyric Opera of Orange County on March 9 at 6 p.m. The performance is being hailed as an elegant evening of eclectic opera, featuring whale songs, cat calls, bird trills, and other operatic animal music, plus refreshments.
Additional family-friendly festivities happening throughout the Dana Point Festival of Whales include:
March 2, 3, 9, 10  Dana Point Fine Arts Association Show & Sale at the Harbor BoardwalkClassic Car & Boat Displays along the Harbor walkway Harbor Music Series in the Harbor CourtyardsMarine Mammal Lecture Series at Harpoon Henry’s
March 2    Festival of Whales Parade & Street FaireWhale of a Sand Sculpting Competition at Baby Beach 
March 3, 10  Kids Free Fishing Clinic & Free Fishing Trip at Dana Wharf Sportfishing 
March 3 Diamond Dig at Baby BeachOcean Awareness Day at Baby Beach
March 9  Cardboard Classic & Dinghy Dash at Baby BeachWhale of a Clam Chowder Cook-Off at Baby Beach Grassy area Captain Dave’s Under the Sea Eco Carnival
March 10   Concert on the Water at Baby Beach
Experience a variety of events and activities during the 48th Annual Festival of Whales. For more information and to view the full list of events visit and

Dana Point Harbor.


The Angelic Auxiliary of Children’s Bureau will host its 17th Annual Carnival at the Pier on Sunday, March 3, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier. Approximately 650 children and parents are expected to attend the event for Children’s Bureau, a nonprofit leader in child abuse prevention and treatment. The event is expected to raise over $110,000 for child abuse prevention.

Admission includes private use of the park, unlimited amusement park rides, free parking, and game tickets. Carnival treats will be provided by Fresh Brothers Pizza and Shake Shack; beverages will be supplied by La Colombe Coffee.

Carnival at the Pier is an event that families look forward to every year, not only because it is a day of fun, but because it is an opportunity to give back to the community. We are so proud that all of the funds raised will go toward helping the 40,000 at-risk children and parents that Children’s Bureau serves,” says Deepthi Brown, President of The Angelic Auxiliary.

The Carnival’s major corporate sponsor is AECOM, with special recognition to Keitha Russell, an Angel-level sponsor who is a longtime supporter of Children’s Bureau. Additional sponsors include Deepthi and Patrick Brown, and Marianna and John Linfesty at the Crusader level; Mar Vista Charitable Foundation, the Pack Family and Carleen and Bryant Riley at the Defender level, and many more. Deepthi Brown, Marianna Linfesty, Jacqueline Pack of The Pack Family, and Carleen Riley are all Angelic Auxiliary members and residents of the Los Angeles Westside.

Pre-event ticket prices are $90.00 for adults (ages 16 & up) and $50.00 for kids (ages 3 – 15) with pricing to increase at the door. Tickets will be held for guests at check-in. To purchase tickets, visit and watch more details unfold on Facebook.   


Credit: Children’s Bureau

Since 1904, Children’s Bureau ( has been a nonprofit leader in protecting vulnerable children through prevention, treatment and advocacy. The agency is unique in that it focuses on three key areas for creating impact: strengthening families and communities, building peer capacity and transforming systems and communities.  Children’s Bureau helps 40,000 children and parents each year throughout Southern California with services that include school readiness, parenting classes, family resource centers, support groups, mental health counseling, foster care and foster-adoption and more.  Children’s Bureau is one of the largest investors in child abuse prevention in the country and is developing a national model to transform an entire at-risk community through its Magnolia Community Initiative.