Jim Knox’s Wild Zoofari
Producing organizations: Jim Knox’s Wild Zoofari LLC. Producer: Rob Child. Creators: Rob Child, Jim Knox, Bruce Knox. Episodes: 14/30. Status: released on DVD 2006. Distributor: APT, from WSBE, Rhode Island. Age group: 6-11 years. Curricular focus: wildlife conservation. Longtime wildlife educator Jim Knox takes a group of kids on zoo and aquarium adventures to find a “mystery animal.” When they “discover” the animal, they learn about animal habitat, behavior and conservation. Knox also does solo shows on topics such as baby animals and great cats. The only TV series endorsed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies
Producing organizations: National Geographic Kids’ Programming and Production, BBC/CBeebies, King Rollo Films. Executive producer: Donna Friedman Meir. Episodes: 26/30. Distributor: PBS Kids. Age group: preschool. Curricular focus: animal science and behavior. Launched in March on the BBC’s CBeebies in the United Kingdom. Combining animation with live-action footage from National Geographic and the BBC, Mama Mirabelle teaches preschoolers about how animals live. Mama, an elephant, shows movies to her preschool-aged animal brood and talks about issues like learning to share and getting lost or sick. The producers say one aim is “to encourage preschool children to reflect on their own customs and practices, and to consider how their lives and experiences are both similar to and different from those of animals.”
Producing organization: Out of the Blue with Decode Entertainment. Funder: U.S. Department of Education Ready to Learn Initiative. Executive producer: Samantha Freeman Alpert. Creator and producer: Angela C. Santomero. Episodes: 26/30. Distributor: PBS Kids. Age group: preschool. Curricular focus: literacy. Whyatt Beanstalk (younger brother of Jack) and his friends transform into Super Readers and use their literacy-based powers to solve everyday problems. Super Why (Whyatt), Alpha Pig, Princess Presto and Wonder Red literally go inside books—all classic fairy tales—to guide children through early reading skills.
Producing organizations: Scholastic Media and Soup2Nuts. Creator and executive producer: Dorothea Gillim. Episodes: 26/30. Distributor: PBS Kids Go! Age group: 6-8 years. Curricular focus: literacy. Since November 2006, short WordGirl clips have aired in PBS Kids Go! and online. Will run weekly this fall and go daily in fall 2008. The superhero chatterbox WordGirl (who is sometimes just Becky Botsford) and her monkey sidekick Capt. Huggy Face use vocabulary to protect their town from a variety of wacky evildoers. Throughout her adventures, WordGirl introduces new words and explains how to use them.
Producing organizations: Word World LLC and WTTW National Productions, Chicago. Funder: U.S. Department of Education Ready to Learn Initiative. Creator and executive producer: Don Moody. Episodes: 26/30. Distributor: PBS Kids. Age group: preschool. Curricular focus: literacy. In WordWorld, all the characters’ bodies are made up of letters that spell their names: Dog, Sheep, Frog, Duck, Pig and Ant. The friends build words to solve problems, and their humorous adventures teach kids about letter recognition and phonological awareness.
Miffy and Friends
Broadcast on WLIW, New York, in July 2007, debuting nationally on pubTV in fall 2007. Already carried on Noggin cable net. Producing organization: Mercis bv (Netherlands). Based on books by Dick Bruna. Episodes: 21/30. Distributor: WLIW, New York. Age group: preschool. Curricular focus: basic concepts—numbers, colors, seasons, nature, friendship and family celebrations. Miffy explores the world—including Africa and the North Pole—with friends Boris and Barbara Bear, Melanie the bunny, Poppy and Grunty Pig, and Snuffy the Dog.
Peep and the Big Wide World
Offered by American Public Television beginning in April 2007. Already carried on TLC, Discovery Kids Channel and TVOntario in Canada. Producing organizations: WGBH, Boston, and 9 Story Entertainment in association with TVOntario and Discovery Kids. Funder: National Science Foundation. Executive producer: Kate Taylor. Episodes: 26/30. Distributor: APT. Age group: 3-5 years. Curricular focus: science. Peep, a newly hatched chicken, explores the world with friends Chirp (a robin) and Quack (a duck) and learns about the science of such things as shadows and gravity.
Producing organization: Animalia Productions in association with PorchLight Entertainment. Executive producers: Graeme Base, Ewan Burnett, Bruce Johnson, Murray Pope, Tom Ruegger. Based on the book by Graeme Base. Episodes: 40/25, runs weekly. Status: debuts fall 2008. Distributor: PBS Kids Go! Age group: 6-9 years. Curricular focus: language and communication. Two kids, Zoe and Alex, visit a world inhabited by intelligent, talking animals. But the kingdom of Animalia is in danger of falling apart, and Zoe and Alex—along with their new friends, Gogo the green gorilla and Iggy the iguana—must restore peace to the kingdom.
Betsy’s Kindergarten Adventure
Producing organization: Corner Stone Animation LLC, OBX Capital. Executive producer: Michael Pietrzak. Creators: Betsy Quinn and Fred Crippin. Episodes: 26/30. Status: debuts fall 2008. Distributor: PBS Kids. Age group: 2-6 years. Curricular focus: transitioning from home to school environment, academic and behavioral lessons. Betsy’s adventures address the unfamiliar aspects of formal education and include both moral and academic lessons.
Producing organization: WGBH. Funder: U.S. Department of Education Ready to Learn Initiative. Executive producer: Carol Greenwald. Based on books by Susan Meddaugh. Episodes: 40/30. Status: debuts fall 2008. Distributor: PBS Kids. Age group: 3-6 years. Curricular focus: literacy. Martha, a family dog, eats alphabet soup and gains the ability to talk. Her adventures are built around words, providing narrative context that supports vocabulary. For example, she wants to be a fire dog but learns she can’t do all the things a fire dog does. In the episode, kids learn words such as “fact,” “fiction,” “reality” and “fantasy.”
Nate the Great
Producing organization: WNET, finalizing deal with a new production partner. Executive producer: Kristin Martin. Based on the books by Marjorie Weinman. Episodes: 40/30. Status: debuts fall 2008 or winter 2009. Distributor: PBS Kids Go! Age group: 6-8 years. Curricular focus: multidisciplinary problem solving, critical thinking. Nate is a pancake-loving kid detective who solves mysteries about history, math, science and social studies. His friends’ gang—and their comical pets—help him investigate.
Producing organization: Granada International (U.K.), originally produced and broadcast in Spain. Creator and executive producer: David Cantolla. Episodes: 26/30 (four 7-minute stories in one half-hour). Status: debuts February 2008. Distributor: Executive Program Services. Age group: preschool. Curricular focus: early learning concepts such as numbers, space, color, patterns. Pocoyo, an inquisitive little boy, discovers new objects and creatures during playtime and explores what they are.
What’s the Big Idea
Producing organization: Jim Henson Co. and KCET, Los Angeles. Episodes. 40/30. Status: debuts fall 2008. Distributor: PBS Kids. Age group: preschool. Curricular focus: problem solving and how things work. Josh talks with his stuffed animals about questions he wants answered. For example, why is sickness called a “cold” when you actually feel hot?
Producing organization: WNET with Decode Entertainment and CORE Digital Pictures. Executive producers: Sandra Sheppard, Jill Peters. Episodes: TBA/30. Status: pilot phase. Distributor: TBA. Age group: 5-8 years. Curricular focus: art education and appreciation. Star character Nina has the power to travel to Artopia, an alternate universe where inanimate artworks come alive. Nina meets characters from paintings and sculptures—including Streak, a boy she painted. Nina and Streak have to keep the different cultures, styles and ages in Artopia in line.
Electric Company 2.0
Producing organization: Sesame Workshop. Funder: U.S. Department of Education Ready to Learn Initiative. Episodes: TBA. Status: in development. Distributor: TBA. Age group: 6-9 years. Curricular focus: literacy. A reinvented version of the 1970s show that made literacy hip and happening.
Producing organization: WGBH. Funder for development: National Science Foundation. Status: in development, to debut in fall 2010. Distributor: PBS Kids. Age group: preschool. Curricular focus: math.
Producing organization: WNET. Episodes: TBA/30. Status: in development. Distributor: TBA. Age group: 7-11 years. Curricular focus: invention, science and technology, history. This time-travel series will take kids back in time to find out where basic things in their lives—such as paper—came from. The kids thwart villains who, for example, try to prevent the invention of paper.
Producing organization: WNET and National Geographic Kids. Episodes: TBA. Status: in development. Distributor: TBA. Age group: 4-6 years. Curricular focus: math and science. Violet wants to know how things work—why the moon looks so tiny, for example. So she travels to the moon in her imagination. Her other questions take her on fantasy trips to the answers.
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