Let PBS Help Your Kids Learn All Summer

Summer is finally here and I’m sure your kids are very excited! After countless hours spent studying math, science, and reading during the past nine months, that final school bell signifies freedom to them. The sun is out, the pool is open, and it’s time to stop learning, right? Wrong! Summer doesn’t necessarily mean the learning ends; it simply means that parents may have to find creative ways to keep their kids’ minds turned “on” while still allowing them their much-needed vacation from school. Thankfully, our good friends at Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) are already on the task, providing multiple television shows that will engage your children in fun while educating them, too. The programs that PBS Kids provides, both on television and their kid-friendly website, will provide both entertainment and a quality education for your children on these days off.

Some of our favorite PBS Kids programming:

Sid the Science Kid- This show is perfect for preschoolers and early elementary school children who have a natural curiosity and interest in science and discovery. The show follows a funny preschooler named Sid as he searches for answers to questions such as, “Where did the water go?”

Super Why!- Does your child need a little extra help developing their literacy skills? Or maybe your child simply loves books! The PBS show Super Why! follows four young storybook characters as they use their special literacy powers to solve a problem in a different story.

Dinosaur Train- This is the perfect educational programming for children who love dinosaurs, trains, or both! In Dinosaur Train, we meet a family of dinosaurs who have adopted a dinosaur of a different species as one of their own. Together, the family travels on the Dinosaur Train to visit and learn about other species of dinosaurs.

A note to parents: Be proactive about educating your children, even when school is out of session! PBS provides an excellent online resource for parents where you can find information about their programming, lessons and projects related to the shows themselves, and general ideas for continuing your child’s education year-round.

What’s in Your WordWorld?

WordWorld

In WordWorld, kids can see the letters in every object! The creators of WordWorld, Don and Jacqueline Moody, created the show in response to a study that discovered that if there are both pictures and words simultaneously on a screen, children will pay more attention to the pictures than they do to the words. Don’s response was to build letters into the objects shown in the show.  If the characters are discussing something, they will spell out the word.  Once they spell out this word, the letters actually change into the object that it spells, with the letters still visible. It’s a really unique show that I think your kids will enjoy!

The show is geared towards 3- to 7-year-olds.  It premiered on September 3, 2007 on Disney Junior and CBeebies.  WordWorld has won an Emmy three times. It currently airs in over 90 countries around the world, and has been translated into more than 12 languages.  The show’s writers continue to base its curriculum on recommendations from the National Reading Panel and create episodes based upon the needs of children in the age range the show targets.  For instance, an episode called “Runaway O” helps children learn the letter “O.” Once the children in the show catch the “O,” they are able to use it to build the word “BOX.”

As many parents can already attest, this is a fun and exciting way for kids to learn letters and words.  For even more fun at home, draw a picture of a shoe with your child. Spell the letters S-H-O-E inside of the shoe. Color it, and then hang it on the wall. Just like the WordFriends, you too can help your child build words to save the day!

A New Diet with Fizzy’s Lunch Lab

Fizzy's Lunch Lab

Fizzy’s Lunch Lab was created to address the problem of obesity in America, especially with young children. The series is currently only offered online, but provides valuable information on how to cook simple meals, choose healthy snacks, and also gives nutrition tips.

 Fizzy’s goals are as follows:

1) To create a positive change in the current state of childhood nutrition.

2) To encourage daily physical activity and exercise.

3) To promote basic nutrition and proper portion-size, the importance of eating three meals a day (especially a good breakfast), and the value of family meal-time interactions.

You know that the show is on track because the advisory board consists of quality people, including someone who specializes in diabetes and metabolic diseases, food writers, and a health education professor.  The board has established and set scientific and educational goals, and relies on standards which are set by the USDA.

Sounds pretty good, right? Now if only they could make a cartoon that airs on PBS every day, they might have more reach. If all goes well with the popularity online, perhaps that can be the advisory board’s next goal.

Hats off to you, Arthur!

arthur, arthur the aardvarkArthur is the second longest running animated series, just behind the Simpsons.  I had recently re-watched a few episodes of this show. No wonder PBS chose to renew another season.  What contributes to the success of the show?

Unlike other T.V. shows or cartoons, Arthur touches on some pretty heavy stuff.  For example, the death of a family member, a family member with a disease (like Alzheimer’s), diversity, sibling relationships, exercising to be healthy, growing up with divorced parents, and fitting in at school, to name a few. Not your average every day cartoon, is it?

This show appeals not only to children, but adults as well.  Watching this show allows people to relate it to their own life. Perhaps one of the most important aspect of the show is that the characters in the show take initiative in social situations, which encourages viewers to do the same.  Executive Producer Jacqui Deegan said: “We’re hoping to empower our young viewers to go after their goals and dreams — whether that means becoming a wheelchair basketball champion or expressing yourself through writing, drawing or making movies.”

Another reason Arthur may appeal to adults is because of its satirical parodies of pop culture. For example, the rivalry between the Elwood City Grebes, Arthur’s hometown baseball team, and the Crown City Kings, is a clear allusion to the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.  Also parodies of popular adult T.V. shows and movies, such as Indiana Jones, Antiques Roadshow, and Jeopardy, can help adults to relate.

Celebrity guests also make occasional appearances on the show.  Whether it’s Lance Armstrong showing us how to be determined in facing challenges, or Koko Taylor teaching us how to sing the blues, these individuals act as role models and serve to improve an already good show.

Parents: let me tell you, this show is quality! Do you enjoy it? What are some of your kids other favorite shows? Feel free to leave a comment below.

New Caillou Products

Attention hockey fans!  We have introduced a new product into the Caillou product line: The Youth Hockey Jersey! Caillou loves winter sports.  You can show your support of this adorable 4 year old by sporting his shirt and joining him on the ice with his friends Clementine and Leo.  Caillou’s Youth Hockey Jersey features a large “C” on the front and is based on the Canadian TV Series.

We also have introduced the Caillou Bath Time Sail Boat. Included are figures Caillou and Rexy which actually float! The sailboat actually makes waves because it comes with a string that you can wind up to propel the sailboat forward.  This toy is wonderful because it helps to stimulate creativity, the imagination, and refine motor skills. A helpful hint for when you buy this toy is: keep all of the parts together in a plastic bin after bath time. Because there are multiple parts, they can get easily lost in the bath!  (That way, when your child goes to take a bath, there will be no tantrum over missing parts.)

Furthermore, with spring coming, a good project to work on with your children is planting a garden.  While still indoors, you can help cultivate an interest in gardening with the Caillou Green House Playset. This playset includes more than 20 pieces, including the gardener Caillou and Gilbert!  Your children can be just like Caillou, planting things and watching them grow.

Caillou shows are airing on PBS Kids.  If you are looking for more fun winter indoor activities in addition to episodes of Caillou, try the PBS Kids website.  There is a puzzle game, a memory game, and a magic keyboard, all of which are quite fun for young children.  Click here for games and activities, all of which are educational.