Quite a bit ago, we got rid of our television. The Barracuda still has one in his room for the sole purpose of watching movies. We wanted our family to improve its ability to communicate and enjoy each others' company, but we realize the importance of some cultural knowledge to a small boy. Like it or not, television and movies provide for a significant amount of conversation for young children. With this in mind, he has a small selection of old Disney classic movies.
However, this has not stopped our sneaky little son from locating a website on the Internet which contains most all network childrens' programming. Don't ask me how the child found www.4kidstv.com, but he did. This is what I get for helping him learn how to sound out words! He can now actively use Google to locate just about anything he could possibly want.
Tonight he requested that I "watch one of his shows." I was thinking classic Disney, perhaps really terrible childrens' NetFlix that you can now direct stream. Um, No. He just sits right down at the laptop and starts tapping away at the keys like a total pro. Mom just sat back amazed and highly caught off guard thinking, "Do I praise the child for his self directed learning or take away his personal computer completely?!" I couldn't really come to a conclusion because in mere moments the child had produced the show, in full screen, and was so happily snuggled up to watch it with me.
The show is called Huntik. I was totally blown away. Not only does it have a complex story line which builds from episode to episode, but there are flash backs and he actually has to watch the show. He is engaged in trying to figure out a rather dense plot which includes some highly subtle foreshadowing. There is character development. There are twist and turns. Not only that, there is some serious intellectual content going on.
The main premis is that there are Titans which appear to help in epic battles between good and evil. The undertones of Greek and Roman mythology are incredible. One of the Titans which can send messages through flight is named Icarus. Another which is a spider-like thing is called arachnys (or something to that effect). Two of the main characters are named Locke and Dante. Their traits and personalities are highly similar to the philosophers works. Words like amulet, incinerate, invoke, stride, and behemoth are used in normal speech. There are strong female characters who, regardless of short skirts and way too tight pants, are not played up as sex objects. In fact, many times they are underestimated by the "bad guys" only to be the valiant heroes who win the battle for the entire group. Many of the characters are complete nerds who use their brains to figure things out. The theme song is about standing up for yourself even when things seem dark and bleak, seeking your inner light and having faith that you can make it through with your mental strength and perseverance. That is something Mom can get behind. The settings of the two shows I have now skimmed are The Valley of Kings, Egypt and Vienna, Italy. Another episode takes place in Prague, Czechoslovakia. What is more, there are distinguishing landmarks in all these places, yet not stereotypical vast dramatizations. I will say it is frustrating that everyone, everywhere, always, speaks English. But what are you going to do! I'll get over it.
As I was watching I realized that 90 percent of this content was flying over the Barracuda's head. He has no clue who Icarus is, who the Titans were, or why in one episode they are battling Argonauts. However, he is really into this show and why not spring board it into some Greek Mythology schoolwork!
The Barracuda has agreed to begin some spelling words. He wants to be able to write without sounding words out. Though he can now tackle "the", "and", "are", along with a few other sight words, writing fluency is a subject he really wants to get better in. I figure we will take five words from each episode to define and spell each week. The Barracuda is highly excited. If school means he gets to watch Huntik, he is all in! This might fall under the category of extortion...I've decided I'm not beneath that.
This week's spelling words are: hyper, titan, amulet, stride, behemoth. Today he used three of them, defined them (loosely), and is very excited about upcoming Spelling work. Infact, he asked for next weeks words: artifact, scepter, pulse, incinerate, venom. He wants to do ten a week, not just five. He is also now coming up with words himself which he want to learn. Searcher was suggested today. Perhaps this whole freedom equals responsibility thing might just be working.