COMMENTARY: PBS Kids Has Still Got it!

pbskidsIt’s Friday afternoon and like all Fridays this summer, I’m struggling to find something interesting to watch on TV. There’s only so many re-runs one can watch without actually wishing that school was back in session. In between channel surfing and lamenting on days spent in the classroom furiously copying down chemistry notes, I stumble upon a channel I hadn’t bothered paying any mind to in some years.

Somewhere along middle school and now, I’d decided there were better things to watch in the vast pool of cable channels than enjoying some good old educational shows on PBS. Don’t get me wrong, PBS has produced some stellar television like Masterpiece Theatre since its launch. I adored Masterpiece and still do (Downton Abbey anyone?), but anything on the network regarding the PBS Kids block had lost its appeal to me as soon as I’d discovered Lizzie Mcguire and Even Stevens on the Disney Channel. Sitting in despair however, I realized I had nothing better to watch, so I resolutely dropped the remote and left the channel on PBS.

Arthur                                                   

Abby August 8The first show that caught my eye was Arthur, and I was surprised it stood the test of time. As that all too catchy theme song came on (“Every day when you’re walking down the street…”), I quickly remembered why it had been one of my favorite shows. Arthur is based on the book series by Marc Brown, and follows an eight-year old aardvark and his friends and family as they intermingle with each other and deal with different experiences and problems. Yes, Arthur is an aardvark, but he’s not your archetypal aardvark. For one he doesn’t go around eating ants, and is anthropomorphic meaning he has human attributes such as wearing his trademark jeans and yellow sweater and eating sandwiches and ice cream. [Read more...]

Mindshapes, The Jim Henson Company Launch Sid the Science Kid-Sid’s Slide to the Side

Kids and families can now take Sid the Science Kid on-the-go with a new mobile app available for iOS devices. The app, which launches today, coincides with the DVD and iTunes release of Jim Henson‘s Sid the Science Kid: The Movie, a feature-length film following the adventures of Sid and his curious friends.

sid's slide to the side screenshotSid the Science Kid – Sid’s Slide to the Side is the first in a new app format from Mindshapes called an “Appisode,” enhanced story–based adventures that feature rich learning and game and play activities, all wrapped around a storybook. This fun and interactive Appisode is a new approach to mobile learning sure to get kids engaged and entertained with their favorite franchises. The Appisode features  songs, interactive games, reinforced learning activities, and colorful characters from the Sid the Science Kid television program on PBS.

Angelina Ballerina Dance Academy Comes to U.S. and Canada

HIT Entertainment has tapped AB Studio Licensing to license a nine-month Angelina Ballerina Dance Academy curriculum to dance studios across the U.S. and Canada.  The Angelina Ballerina Dance Academy will commence this fall.

The 34-week program is inspired by the CG-animated series airing on PBS and Sprout, Angelina Ballerina The Next Steps, and it will focus on one story book per month. Targeted at children ages 3 to 6 years old, the program teaches beginner ballet at two levels. The Angelina Ballerina Dance Academy curriculum was developed by dance education specialist Beverly Spell, master teacher and author of the Leap ‘N Learn program. Angelina Ballerina’s voice will guide aspiring dancers through their movement lessons, and the program incorporates music from Angelina Ballerina The Next Steps, and custom music developed by Spell and composer Scott Killian. Participating studios will also have access to Angelina Ballerina posters and signage, costume items such as tutus and mouse ears, and placement mats.

To date, more than 100 studios across North America have applied to become Angelina Ballerina Dance Academy partner studios. The program already exists in the UK and Ireland, as well as Australia and New Zealand. Angelina Ballerina Dance Academy partner studios will also be listed in the national directory of official studio partners linked from the Angelina Ballerina website.

To learn more about the program or to find participating studios,  visit www.angelinadanceclass.com.

This post was originally written by Ali Mierzejewski and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

“Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” Inspires Spin-Off

The launch of the first spin-off of the beloved Mr. Roger’s NeighborhoodDaniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, is just one month away. An original animated series from The Fred Rogers Company, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood premieres Monday, Sept. 3 on PBS Kids. The show stars 4-year-old Daniel Tiger, son of the original program’s Daniel Striped Tiger. Daniel Tiger talks directly to viewers, warmly drawing them in and making them feel like one of his neighbors.

Recent research proves what Fred Rogers knew all along: social and emotional competencies are the building blocks of doing well in school and in life. Each episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood consists of two engaging stories that center on a common early learning theme, such as dealing with disappointment. Every story includes an “imagination moment” in which Daniel plays out a preschool fantasy set to music.  Then, the day’s strategy is reprised in a full song at the end.

Angela C. Santomero, leading production partner for Out of the Blue Enterprises and the imaginative force behind Super WHY and Blue’s Clues, provides the creative vision for the new series.  Santomero and Kevin Morrison of The Fred Rogers Company are executive producers of the show, which is animated by  9 Story Entertainment.

This post was originally written by Lindsay Gordon and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

Child’s Play Adds LeVar Burton’s RRKidz to Client Roster

LevVar Burton

Child’s Play Communications has added LeVar Burton’s RRKidz brand to its client roster. In addition to launching RRKidz, Child’s Play will relaunch the company’s Reading Rainbow brand, promote the Reading Rainbow classic library of episodes (DVD and streaming), and announce the Reading Rainbow Kidz app.

Reading Rainbow ran for 26 years on PBS (1983-2009), and was co-produced and hosted by actor LeVar Burton. RRKidz will bring Reading Rainbow to today’s digitally connected children beginning with a reading and book discovery app that will initially launch for the iPad early this year. RRKidz aims to become a leader in digital publishing and a major, multi-platform, kids’ educational and enrichment brand. Burton, Co-Founder Mark Wolfe, and CEO Asra Rasheed run the brand.

This post was originally written by Elizabeth A. Reid and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

Sesame Street Airs Special on Food Hunger

Lily, a new Sesame Street Muppet whose family struggles with food hunger

Last Sunday, Sesame Street premiered Growing Hope Against Hunger, a one-hour primetime PBS television special produced by Sesame Workshop. The special included documentary films by Academy-Award winning director and filmmaker Cynthia Wade and starred Brad Paisley, Kimberly Williams Paisley, and the Sesame Street Muppets.

The special, supported by Walmart, presented families’ personal stories to raise awareness of the widespread issue of hunger in the U.S., as well as strategies that have helped these families find resources and grow stronger together. Growing Hope Against Hunger also introduced a new Muppet named Lily whose family has an ongoing struggle with hunger. A Spanish version of the special will air on October 22 on Univision and on October 23 on Telefutura. All materials are available online at sesamestreet.org/food.

PBS Debuts PBS Kids Toy Line at Toy Fair

PBS has announced its first-ever PBS Kids toy line, selecting Happy Kid Toy Group as the line’s master licensee. Happy Kid will manufacture and distribute the PBS Kids toy line, with the first products being available this spring. The line will initially include more than 20 individual wooden toys for preschoolers across key toy categories, including the PBS Kids Sounds of the World Rhythm Set, PBS Kids Puzzle Playset Safari, PBS Kids Exploration Blocks sets, and PBS Kids 3-Layer Puzzles.

Scholastic Presents an Elementary Showdown for “Word Domination”

On May 11, students in the first, second, and third grades will compete in Scholastic’s WordGirl Definition Competition, battling for “word domination.”

Inspired by WordGirl, which airs daily on PBS Kids Go!, the WordGirl Definition Competition will be held in a game show format and hosted by WordGirl herself, as well as Beau Handsome of the “May I Have a Word” segment of the show. The event will consist of three short rounds and a one-minute bonus round, challenging contestants in questions pertaining to word usage, reading comprehension, definitions, and using words in different contexts.

[Read more...]