She’s got my vote

As our nation heads into an uncertain time, and as we prepare to watch the third and final presidential debate this evening… I think the election is weighing heavily on everyone’s minds.

It can be rather all-consuming.

But between you and me, I know exactly who I’m voting for next month:

Becky, of course. Was there ever any doubt?

(Hope you enjoyed the clip and a moment of levity. You can enjoy the full WordGirl episode “Vote for Becky” on Tuesday, November 4th on your local PBS station.)

Clone Wars kicking droid and taking names

movie theater version of Star Wars: The Clone Wars may not have made much of a cinematic splash, but last weekend’s debut of the series on Cartoon Network was a whole ‘nother story.

(And not just because my daughter came flying downstairs to ask me to record it for her, after she’d gone to bed, either. I didn’t even know she was a Star Wars fan.)

No, it turns out that if you show it, they will come… in fact, they will come and make it the most-watched premiere in Cartoon Network history:

The new Lucasfilm Animation series scored as the most-watched series premiere in network history, according to preliminary data from Nielsen Media Research. The one-hour new series premiere also reigned as the #1 program from 9-10 p.m. among all major kids networks in kids 6-11, kids 2-11, tweens 9-14, teens 12-7 and persons 2+, earning triple-digit increases compared to the same time period last year. The weekly, CG-animated series also attracted the largest tweens 9-14 audience for any premiere telecast of an original series in Cartoon Network’s 16-year history.

Not bad. Congratulations, Cartoon Network!

Meanwhile, Toon Zone keeps us informed about various Clone Wars news and freebies, including my favorite: An online graphic novel. Very cool.

Nicktoons Animation Fest in its 5th year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—time for the Nicktoons Network Animation Festival! We look forward to this every year, as the contestant shorts air all month long on Nicktoons. (This is where having a recording device of some sort—a TiVo or a NotVo, as we call ours—comes in handy, as they’ll be airing new shorts every night at 11:00.

If you can’t or don’t want to watch ‘em on television, no worries—they’ll be available on the official website as well.

The grand prize is a $30,000 Nick development award, but I assume most of us don’t watch because of the prizes. We watch because they’re hilarious. (I really wanted to embed the video of last year’s winner, here, but Nicktoons isn’t letting me do that. Instead, I’ll just have to give you a link. Here you go!)

You will want to prescreen these shorts before allowing your kids to watch them, as not all are suitable for little ones, but this is a great way to find some little gems for the whole family. And really, an entire month of new shorts every night. That’s more fresh programming than we generally get out of the major networks in an entire month. Check it out.

It’s time for the Fall TV premieres!

There are many, many things I love about summer, but the television programming isn’t one of them. When all of our favorite shows wrap up in the Spring, a sort of ennui settles over the TV until the new seasons begin. Because there are only so many reruns even the most dedicated couch potato can watch before you just have to admit that there’s nothing good on.

Alas!

But the wait for new programming for the kids is just about over; both Disney and Nickelodeon are stepping up to the plate in the next few days.

Disney is having their Night of Premieres tomorrow night (Friday), September 12th, 2008, starting at 7:55 p.m. Eastern. If you haven’t seen the (rather clever) preview, check it out:

(You can get fresh episodes of six different Disney hits, tomorrow night, but I can tell you that my children are more excited about Phineas and Ferb than may be healthy.)

And as if that doesn’t fulfill your need for entertainment, get ready for the new My Family’s Got GUTS on Nickelodeon, premiering on Monday, September 15th, 2008, at 8:00 p.m. According to the press release:

Each family will face-off in The Extreme Arena and compete in two of 10 extreme sports challenges. At the end of the episode, they advance to compete in the challenge of all challenges — the Aggro Crag! The family who gets to the summit of the Aggro Crag wins and moves on to the next round of the tournament.

This sounds like some prime family viewing, except for the part where my kids will start asking why we don’t go compete on such a show and my subsequent explanation about how their mother loves them very, very much but has all of the coordination of a blind walrus in a box of marbles. (Not that we’ve had to have that conversation before, or anything.)

Election 2008, kid-style

No matter what your political affiliation, you’d have to have been living under a rock to miss the Democratic National Convention this past week. Politics are on everybody’s mind, and our kids want to get in on the act. Finding ways for them to broaden their knowledge without exposing them to mudslinging is a great exercise for all of us—I know that since having to explain things to my children, it’s really changed how I view politics (and how).

Fortunately there’s no shortage of great stops on the web for kids to learn about what’s happening and feel like they’re a part of Decision 2008. Here’s a few of our favorites:

  • Leave it to PBS to come up with something as brilliant as ZOOMout the Vote. I probably have a soft spot for this one because ZOOM was one of my favorite shows as a kid (and I’m tickled that my offspring enjoy it, too), but ZOOM has always had that crucial activist component to it, so this makes perfect sense. Let your kids find out what others are concerned about as we approach the election, and find ways they can make a difference.
  • Scholastic News Online has broad coverage of Election 2008, complete with activities for the kids and tips for teachers and parents. Of course, if you need more than just a few tips, there’s an entire parents’ guide available, too.
  • TIME for Kids offers the Election Connection, with articles and activities aplenty.
  • Of course, once again Nickelodeon is running Kids Pick the President, which has the added bonus of kid reporters on the campaign trial—my kids really enjoy seeing that, and it makes things feel more relevant for them, I think. There are also message boards here for older kids who want to really get into political discussions with others.
  • And if all this political talk is feeling a little heavy, to you, maybe you’d rather the kids just check out Peanuts Rocks the Vote, where the nominees are all characters from Charles Schulz. Maybe this isn’t quite as serious, but how can you resist voting for Snoopy for president??

Frankly, I’m feeling a little jealous that the election resources for adults aren’t nearly as much fun. Hmph.