Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Must See TV

Now that I'm working with young children on a daily basis, I realized my preschool cultural references are woefully out of date. Today I researched some current children's show characters.

I'd forgotten how prevalent commercial characters are on young children's backpacks, lunchboxes, and clothing. The handful that I'm familiar with come from Sesame Street and Disney, although even there I'm fuzzy on some of the newer ones. Fortunately, the important Disney icons in the classrooms I'm assigned to seem to be of the princess variety (Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, and Beauty), or Cars-related (Lightning McQueen). I've seen all those movies, so I'm good there.

I've heard of shows like Dora the Explorer, Blue's Clues, and Sid the Science Kid, but that's about it. This is what I learned from my research (both reading and watching):
  • Dora the Explorer is about a bi-lingual Latina girl and her friends--Boots the Monkey, Backpack, and Map. Another main character is Swiper the Fox, who's always trying to steal Dora's things. In each episode Dora has an adventure, which is divided into several sections, and the episode always ends on a positive note. The show is interactive; all the characters ask questions and viewers are encouraged to respond back, and the viewers are invited to participate in the adventure through movement.
  • Blue's Clues is a mix of animation, live-action, and puppetry. There's a live-action host, a bright blue puppy named Blue, and Blue's friends. In the show, viewers enter into a computer-animated storybook world to help solve puzzles. Just like in Dora the Explorer, the characters in this show break the fourth wall and ask questions they want the viewer to answer. This show hasn't produced any new episodes for a few years, but it still seems to be popular.
  • Sid the Science Kid is about a group of four-year olds: Sid and his friends Gabriela, Gerald, and May, along with Susie the teacher. Sid is always trying to figure out why things work the way they do. The show is based on a preschool science curriculum, and every episode is built around a specific scientific theme or concept. The show uses computer-generated puppets, and is produced by Jim Henson Productions. [Somehow that just seems right; all the time I spent watching Sesame Street decades ago has come full circle.]
It was strange to be watching all these preschool shows with no young people around the house, but the information will come in handy next time I play a game of "Dora The Explorer" dominoes!


  1. Wow! You must really love your job to do that research. I would want you playing with my grandchildren if they were in your pre-school!

  2. Our upstairs neighbours listen to Dora really loud so sometimes I put it on my TV @ the same time. I really enjoy shouting the questions @ the TV. I also applaud the creativity of the names "Backpack" and "Map."

    Dora the Explorer = the original wise Latina woman!

  3. I've become familiar with a variety of kids programs since my niece was born. It's amazing what kids learn from them.

    When my niece was 2, she went to BC on vacation. I was visiting her a few weeks later, and she found a map, picked it up, and said "Show me where BC is". I'm pretty sure I had no idea what a map was at that age.

    I grew up watching Sesame Street (as well as Mr. Dressup, and The Friendly Giant, which are shows that separate people raised in Canada in the 70s/80s from those raised elsewhere). It's amazing to see the variety of kids programs that exist now.

  4. I count on my teaching partner to keep up with pop culture for the teenagers I teach. I am woefully ignorant of what they like.