Maya & Miguel: Double Delight or Double Trouble?

Scholastic Entertainment has created yet another awesome show that spans across cultures. “Maya and Miguel” does an excellent job of portraying Latino culture.  Maya and Miguel Santos are two young fraternal twins that love to have adventures in their community and at school.

For instance, in one episode, Maya encourages her friend Maggie to run for class president.  Maggie wanted to place pink puff balls on the tops of pencils and change all of the white paper in the school to pink paper.  However, upon further examination of her motives, Maggie realized that she was not good at the things that truly matter, like paying attention to other people’s problems.  One she realized this she gladly stopped running for class president and gave the nomination to Simon, a fellow classmate.

The show does an excellent job of teaching about diversity.  It also places emphasis on serving the family and community, which is a great message for any child to hear. Click here more fun and interactive games with Maya and Miguel.

For even more cool stuff, why not try kids backpacks? We also have clothing, birthday invitations, and more, all of which you can personalize.  In the words of Maya,  “¡Éso es!” (That’s it!).

Get ready for Earth Day!

Earth Day is coming, and that can only mean one thing—you have extra guilt to use as leverage when your kids leave the lights on. Oh, I guess that’s not all it means. But you’re certainly going to want to seize the opportunity to get your kids excited about sharing and caring for our planet, right?

Don’t forget that the U.S. Government has a special page of Earth Day links for kids, to get you started. FamilyEducation.com has some great ideas, too.

Over at the Iddy Biddy Blog, you can read all about the PBS KIDS GO! rev-up for Earth Day, including special themed episodes of many of your favorites, from Curious George to Clifford to Maya and Miguel. And speaking of the Idbids, have you shopped the Idbids Store lately? We have organic cotton Idbids Earth Day shirts ready for personalization; they’re sure to be a hit with your little eco-warrior.

(Of course, we have all of your favorite characters from this month’s eco-themed episodes on PBS here at Ty’s Toy Box, but you already knew that.)

However you choose to get ready for Earth Day, we hope you’ll celebrate!

Maya and Miguel go trilingual

Do you know Maya & Miguel? My kids largely eschew PBS for Cartoon Network, these days, but they still love Maya & Miguel.

What’s not to love? From a kid’s perspective, you have a couple of very human, fallible kids (read: Maya makes a lot of bad decisions that come back to bite her, but it works out okay in the end) doing extremely kidlike things. From a parent’s perspective, you have a couple of very human, fallible kids (read: Maya makes a lot of bad decisions and hopefully seeing the consequences play out will teach your kids not to err in a similar fashion) doing kidlike things while teaching your children Spanish on the sly. Oh yeah.

(And this is not even mentioning the huge advantage of PBS over Cartoon Network, from a parental perspective: No pesky commercials.)

(I also won’t mention how you can get hard-to-find Maya & Miguel party supplies in Ty’s Party Palooza section, because that has nothing to do with this, really.) (Whoops.)

Yesterday was a landmark day for the series, as—in celebration of Deaf Awareness Week—a new, deaf friend was introduced in the debut of “Give Me a Little Sign.” From the show’s website:

Tito befriends a new boy, Marco, who is deaf. Marco starts to teach Tito some American Sign Language, and they decide to do a project together for the schoolââ¬â¢s ââ¬Å“Contraption Convention.ââ¬Â But when Tito makes some pronunciation mistakes in school, he decides he doesnââ¬â¢t want to do the project anymore (since it involves public speaking). Only when he sees how Marco persists in getting across what he wants to say ââ¬âœ even when people misunderstand him at first ââ¬âœ does he realize the value of practice and determination, and decides to go ahead with the project.

The New York Times has a great article (registration required) about the backstory on bringing this episode to life.

The logistics of animating sign language that was detailed and accurate enough to read on the screen stretched production of the episode to nine months, far longer than typical, and pushed costs up by 50 percent.

Worth it? Absolutely.

The idea for the show originated with Lupe Ontiveros, the actress who voices the role of the childrenââ¬â¢s grandmother, Abuela Elena. At a taping session Ms. Ontiveros, the mother of two grown sons who are hearing impaired, broached the idea of a sign-language-theme episode with Deborah Forte, creator of the show and the president of Scholastic Media, which produces the show for PBS.

“The deaf community is hungry to see itself in the most positive way,” said Ms. Ontiveros, who lives in Pico Rivera, Calif. “They are always proud to see themselves, their images, their role models, up there.”

Scholastic liked the idea for many reasons, Ms. Forte said. “It had someone who was hearing-impaired who was teaching another child a language. The whole message behind this is that no matter what language you are learning, it still takes practice.” She said that the show also promoted the need to plunge in to a new language without feeling embarrassed.

Did you miss it? Don’t worry; it’s rerunning every day this week. Pay close attention to the signing animation; it really is quite good. Thumbs up to Scholastic on this one!