The Magic School Bus Is Still A Fun Family Ride After Twenty-Five Years

Courtesy: Scholastic/New Video

Twenty-five years is a long time for a TV show to air.  It’s an especially long time for a show that lasted only fifty-two episodes.  Even at fifty-two episodes, Scholastic’s The Magic School Bus has lasted a quarter of a century on air.  Numerous other shows have come and gone since The Magic School Bus first debuted.  But few have had the lasting impression that this family classic has had.  In celebration of The Magic School Bus’ twenty-fifth anniversary, Scholastic is giving families and teachers alike the opportunity to enjoy the series in its entirety on DVD September 4th.

The MagicSchool Bus:  The Complete Series is one of the best DVD releases and best box sets that any family can own this year.  All fifty-two episodes from the show’s original run are contained on eight separate discs.  Each disc is contained in its own slim case contained within the larger box.  This protects the discs, and thus increases their life for possibly another generation.  Scholastic and New Video are to be commended for this. 

The packaging for The Magic School Bus:  The Complete Series is only one part of the whole that makes this set worth the money.  When viewers decide on separate episodes, they are given a short summary of each episode’s story.  These episode summaries are also included in the bonus Activity Booklet and Parents’ Guide that is also included in the set.  The episodes themselves are presented exactly as they originally aired, complete with the post show “call-in’s” with the show’s producer (voiced by Malcolm-Jamal Warner—The Cosby Show). 

Getting back to the bonus Activity Booklet and Parents’ Guide, it is a nice addition to the set.  Not only does is offer a complete episode guide, but it also offers a handful of ideas for teachers and parents alike to use in coordination with what children are learning through the course of their school year.  For instance, it offers viewing tips for parents and teachers.  It mentions for parents to talk with their kids about what they’re learning at school before viewing the episodes.  That will allow parents to decide which of the episodes their kids could watch as an additional tool.  It even mentions viewing the episodes more than once to help kids really get the idea of what Ms. Frizzle and her class are studying.  This applies for teachers, too, as it will help show them ingenious ways to get their students to answer their won questions.  This is such a simple tool.  But it will go a very long way in teaching young audiences today.

Being that there are fifty-two episodes to watch, there’s something for everyone.  Given, there are little dated pieces here and there such as the older style computers, or that Pluto is still considered a planet in the very first episode.  But that can easily be forgiven.  What matters in that first episode is the fun of seeing Ms. Frizzle and her class blast off into space to study the planets.  Of course it isn’t their only adventure.  The class also gets to go to a coral reef, inside the human body (twice), and even to a supposedly haunted house in the episode, “The Magic School Bus In The Haunted House.”  Being that Halloween is coming up, that would be a great episode.  Not only is it a fun creepy episode, but it also teaches about the science of sound in a way in which young audiences would understand.

The MagicSchool Bus:  The Complete Series is a wonderful set for the entire family to own.  It’s one of those rare shows that continue to transcend generations, even a quarter of a century after its debut.  For those that might not be able to get their hands on the complete set, worry not.  That’s because again thanks to Scholastic and New Video, there are also six volumes of complete episodes available at a lower price available now.  Four of the sets are single disc compilations with four episodes each.  And the remaining two sets have three discs each, complete with twelve episodes.  To get more information on The Magic School Bus, parents and teachers can go online to http://www.scholastic.com, http://www.newkideo.com, http://www.facebook.com/newkideo, and http://www.facebook.com/Scholastic.  

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Clifford celebrates a “big” birthday

Courtesy: PBS/Scholastic Media/Scholastic, Inc.

Clifford the Big Red Dog is celebrating a “big” birthday.  Beginning September 24th, Scholastic Media and Scholastic, Inc. will kick off a birthday celebration that will span the entire 2012-2013 school year.  The party will celebrate Clifford’s 50th birthday.  It all leads up to a huge party on February 14th, 2013, the official birthday of Clifford The Big Red Dog. 

The entire year long event will kick off with a “Biggest Birthday Party Ever”/Live Classroom Webcast on September 24th.  The webcast will be run at 10am that morning live from Scholastic Inc.’s New York headquarters.  it will be broadcast to classrooms across the country.  The webcast will include lots of interactive events for kids in attendance and for those watching from school.

The celebration will also include the publication of Norman Bridwell’s Clifford Collection.  The collection will compile Bridwell’s six original Clifford stories published from 1963 -1977.  the collection will include some very special bonuses for those who pick it up.  There will also be a publication of a brand new Clifford book, “Clifford’s Bedtime Story” next Spring, along with the publication of “CLifford’s Birthday Party.” 

Publication won’t be the only celebratory avenue for Clifford’s coming year.  There will be a release of brand new apps, a brand new sweepstakes, and the brodcast of of Clifford’s Really Big Movie in December.  To find out more about this year’s upcoming “big” Clifford events, go online to http://www.scholastic.com/clifford, http://mediaroom.scholastic.com/clifford, http://www.facebook.com/officialclifford, and http://PBSKIDS.org/clifford.

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NCircle, PBSKids come “To The Rescue” for parents this summer

Courtesy: NCircle Entertainment/PBSKids

Every year, we see the ads on television about kids losing months of learning during Summer vacation and putting them into this or that learning center for whatever exorbitant amount of money.  In a time when parents and families in general are trying to save money any way they can, those centers are less and less of a logical choice.  Not that they are that logical to begin with.  So what are parents to do if they want to educate their children during the Summer?  Thanks to NCircle Entertainment and PBSKids, a brand new dvd featuring four new WordWorld episodes will hit stores August 21st.

WordWorld:  To The Rescue features four more fun filled episodes for young audiences from the hit PBSKids show.  WordWorld is a wonderful learning tool for preschoolers and Kindergartners.  It literally shows how letters come together to form words, and what those words are.  It’s especially great for those young audiences who are visual learners.  One of the best examples of the show’s genius included in this collection is the opening episode, “Firefighters to the Rescue.”  In “Firefighters to the Rescue”, Duck and Fly are helping Frog build a firetruck.  When Frog tells Duck and Fly what firefighters are and what they do, Duck and Fly ask Frog if they can be firefighters.  Frog tells them that they need to be trained first.  Of course, they don’t go through the rigorous training that real firefighters go through.  But Frog does teach them about spotting smoke.  The problem is that after Frog tells them about spotting smoke, they think that they see smoke everywhere.

At first, Duck and Fly spot steam coming from a train, and mistake it for smoke.  So they run to Frog and tell him they’ve spotted smoke.  The trio get to the train and Frog has to explain that what they’ve seen is steam, not smoke.  And then they spot fog around the lighthouse, and mistake it for smoke.  Again, they go to Frog and tell him about it.  Frog has to correct the pair on this, too.  But then finally, Duck and Fly earn their badges when they really do spot smoke coming from a campfire.  Pig has accidentally set his marshmallows on fire.  The flames are sending up smoke.  So the trio goes to put out the fire.  Once everything’s good, they re-light the campfire safely, and Duck and Fly get their firefighters badges.

On the surface, “Firefighters to the Rescue” is a wonderful way to teach children new words.  On another level, though, parents and/or can use this episode for perhaps Kindergartners to lead in to a discussion of firefighters and fire safety.  It’s a great introduction for fire safety week at a school or simply to teach kids at home about fire safety and what to look for.  So kudos to NCircle and PBSKIds for that.

Another of the really great episodes from this collection also stars Duck.  That episode is “The Best Nest.”  Duck wants to take his nest to school for show & tell in this episode.  But when he tries to pull his nest to school, the letters for the nest come apart because it’s too heavy.  So Duck has to hunt down the letters that make his nest.  He gets the “N” off of his head.  He has to swim after Turtle because the “E” is on Turtle’s shell.  And the “S” is in a branch right above him when he gets back on land.  Last, he catches the “T” just as it’s beginning to head out to sea, only to lose it again on a train car.  When the train stops, Duck falls out.  But luckily, he has the “T” with him.  So he goes in and puts the word together to re-form his nest and show it to his classmates.

The episodes included in this collection are just one part of what makes it a great collection.  When parents put the disc into the dvd drive of their computer, they can link to the PBSKids website.  There’s also a fold out poster that parents and kids can hang together in a bedroom.  Overall, this is a wonderful collection for young audiences.  It’s a great watch for kids whether during the Summer or any other time of the year.

Parents and/or teachers who might be interested in purchasing this dvd can pick it up in stores August 21st, or order it online at http://shop.pbskids.org/?utm_source=PBS.ORG&utm_medium=Main_Nav_Shop_Tab&utm_campaign=Shop_PBS_KIDS_Shop

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