PBS Kids’ Super Why Compilation Re-Issue Is A Welcome Addition To Any Family’s DVD Library

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids

PBS Kids will re-issue its Super Why DVD Jack and the Beanstalk and Other Fairytale Adventures on Tuesday, January 13th. The DVD, originally released in 2009, is an enjoyable addition to the home library of any family that does not already own the originally released presentation. The main reason that audiences will enjoy this re-issue is right on the box’s cover. Included with this re-issue is a jigsaw puzzle attached to the box’s cover that can easily be removed, taken apart, and re-assembled. The episodes included on the disc are collectively another reason that audiences will enjoy it. To be more specific, the writing within the episodes adds to the enjoyment. And last but not least of all making this DVD worth the purchase is its bonus material. Included on this disc are games and coloring pages for young viewers, and a handful of activities that parents and children can enjoy together. The combination of those bonuses, the episodes’ writing, and the bonus jigsaw puzzle makes Super Why: Jack and the Beanstalk and Other Fairytale Adventures a joy for any family and a welcome to any family’s home DVD library.

PBS is the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming. Programs the likes of Nature, American Experience, NOVA, American Masters, Antiques Roadshow and so many others are proof positive of this accolade. Just as the programming on PBS proves it to be the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming for the whole family, its kid friendly sister network PBS Kids is the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming for children. In comparison to the likes of Nick Jr., Disney Junior, and even Disney and Nickelodeon, those commercial networks offer very little to be honest, in the way of truly worthwhile children’s programming. PBS Kids’ Super Why is just one of so many great programs offered by that network proving why it is the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming for children. Regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Super Why, audiences will find that it offers plenty to like about it. The most obvious of positives that this re-issue offers audiences is the bonus jigsaw puzzle attached to the box’s cover. The puzzle is attached using rubber cement. So it can easily be removed from the case. And the rubber cement can easily be cleaned off of the case and puzzle. From there, the puzzle can easily be pulled from its sticky backing and just as easily taken apart. Audiences will note that the puzzle matches precisely the box’s cover art. This means that children and parents can–again–easily assemble the puzzle together. Children can use the box’s cover art as a guide to assemble the puzzle. What’s more, they can assemble the puzzle right on top of the box’s cover. That’s because not only does it look just like the box art, but it is also the exact same size as the box’s cover. This also means that there are not a lot of pieces to assemble and take apart. Parents should just find a box or ziplock bag in which to hold the puzzle pieces when they’re not in use. It is easy to lose them. That’s a minor issue since it’s easy to lose pieces with any puzzle. So that in mind, the bonus jigsaw puzzle included with PBS Kids’ re-issue of Super Why: Jack and the Beanstalk and Other Fairytale Adventures is a good reason for any family to add this DVD to their library if they do not already own said compilation.

The bonus jigsaw puzzle included in PBS Kids’ new re-issue of Super Why: Jack and the Beanstalk and Other Fairytale Adventures is a great reason for any family to add this DVD to their home library. The puzzle is easy to assemble and take apart. On a deeper level, it helps young audiences build organizational skills and problem solving skills. The problem solving skills that are built through the use of the DVD’s bonus jigsaw puzzle are just the start of what the DVD offers audiences. The writing that went into each of the compilation’s four episodes offer their own share of problem solving skills. They also offer more. The manner in which the episodes were written is especially smart. For starters, the show’s writers use repetition in the episodes. Alpha Pig teaches specifically the letters of the alphabet in each episode. Wonder Red teaches the sound that words make when they are fully assembled. Princess Pea and Alpha Pig both teach young viewers the process of assembling letters to make words. Wyatt teaches the actual reading of the words in their full sentence structure. He teaches how certain words do and do not work together in given circumstances. And that is only the beginning of how the writing behind the episodes makes this compilation so enjoyable. There is actually a secondary aspect to the episodes’ writing that makes said writing even more important.

The primary lessons that are taught through each of the episodes collectively make for plenty of enjoyment for audiences. Young viewers will catch on very quickly to the letters and words taught thanks to the repetition of those skills. Just as important to note of the show’s writing is the very fact that they promote literacy and the general love of reading. Wyatt and company jump into the books and learn important skills, yes. But on an even deeper level, the series, as is evidenced in these episodes, promotes a love of reading. It uses the most classic children’s books of all time for both purposes. These are books that are taught both in the classroom and the living room. So to that extent, the use of these classic children’s books could easily serve as a doorway to reading more and more books. It’s one more way in which the writing behind this series proves to make the series and this DVD in particular such a welcome addition in any classroom and in any family’s home library.

The promotion of literacy and general grammar skills both prove why the writing in these episodes is so important to its success. There is no denying their importance. In the same vein, two of the episodes on this disc–“Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Three Little Pigs”–also serve as discussions on how to handle bullies. “The Three Little Pigs” presents that discussion point more so than “Little Red Riding Hood.” But that episode, too does delve into that realm to a point. It adds even more value and “oomph” to the compilation. It is never too soon for parents to start discussing bullying with their children. And it is never too soon to start getting children interested in reading and building their ability to read, either. The fact that the show’s writers could promote all of that in just four episodes and do so without letting the episodes get away from them shows without a doubt why the writing in the collected episodes is so important to the DVD’s success. It could even be argued that said writing proves to be even more important than the bonus companion puzzle included on the box’s cover. Speaking of bonuses, the bonus material included in the DVD for both parents and children puts the final touch on the DVD. Whether it be the games and coloring pages for children or the activities for families in whole, the bonus material included in the DVD serves as a fitting final piece to this presentation, proving once and for all why this re-issue is a welcome addition to any classroom or family’s home library.

The bonus material included in PBS Kids’ new Super Why re-issue of Jack and the Beanstalk and Other Fairytale Adventures is the final piece of the whole that makes this DVD such a welcome addition to any classroom or family’s home library. Included for children is a handful of games that drives home the repetition used through the episodes alongside coloring pages that can be printed out and colored. For the whole family, parents can print out a handful of activities complete with instructions on how to carry out each activity. Parents can put those activity sheets into a binder with other printable activities offered on other PBS Kids’ DVDs for use later in any setting. It should be noted that in order to access the games, coloring pages, and activities, families should have Flash and Adobe Reader. Otherwise, they won’t be able to be accessed. Having them, audiences should open the disc directly on their computers. They cannot be accessed by playing the disc. Audiences will simply open the disc from their start menu and double click on the disc in the drive. From there, they can go through folders to get to each game, coloring page, and activity. When they do access them, parents and children alike will agree that these bonuses are the final touh on a disc that is a welcome re-issue for any family that doesn’t already own it and a welcome addition to any classroom and family’s home library.

Super Why: Jack and the Beanstalk and Other Fairytale Adventures was originally released six years ago in 2009. In the years that have passed , little has changed overall with the disc. The bonus puzzle that comes with the disc is a great addition to the whole package. For those that did not have access to the DVD in its previous release, the DVD proves all the more worth the purchase not only because of the bonus puzzle, but because of the episodes and their writing, and because of the original bonus features all included in this re-issue. It will be available Tuesday, January 13th and can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=49575496&cp=&sr=1&kw=super+why&origkw=Super+Why&parentPage=search. Families can watch even more episodes of Super Why and play more games online at the show’s official website http://pbs.org/superwhy. Families and educators can keep up with all of the latest news from the show online both there are the series’ official Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/superwhy. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Wild Kratts’ New DVD Even More “Wild” Fun For Families

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Martin and Chris Kratt are back again with another new DVD that’s loaded with fun for the whole family.  This latest DVD features two more episodes for parents and kids to enjoy.  It also boasts a pair of activities that parents can do with their kids or that teachers can use in the classroom.  One of those activities offers kids the chance to make their very own passport.  The other, a bat box project, is more closely relevant to this latest DVD.  It teaches kids and adults like how to build an actual bat box and where to best place them in order to offer bats a place to live.  Also included is a link to a website that teaches about a fungus that is killing off the bat population.  Together with the two episodes included in this latest disc, it makes for more fun for the whole family.

The first of the two episodes included in this disc is titled “Rainforest Stew.”  Sounds like an odd name, yes.  But it’s this episode that is most closely linked to the bonus family friendly bat box building activity.  “Rainforest Stew” teaches in large part, the importance of how every member of a given ecosystem works together, and the impact that the loss of even one member of said ecosystem can have.  The lesson is taught when the Kratt brothers have to go up against Gourmand once again.  This time they have to stop him from trying to make a “rainforest stew” from animals in the rainforest.  Of course, the brothers Kratt come out on top.  The episode as a whole continues that tradition of offering plenty of entertainment and information for audiences.  And there is also the continued original animation style that sets the show completely apart from other animated and CG-based shows out there.

Gourmand isn’t the only villain that Martin, Chris, and their friends have to face off against in the Kratt brothers’ new DVD.  They also have to face off against Zach Varmitech again. This time, Zach is after a rare Black Jaguar in South America.  Chris and Martin have to intervene and protect the young jaguar from Zach as he intends to use it for his own evil reasons.  Just as with “Rainforest Stew”, “Shadow: The Black Jaguar” offers audiences even more entertainment and information expertly balanced.  The show’s writers are yet again to be commended as young viewers especially won’t even know that they are learning about biology through this episode.  They learn about the difference between dominant and recessive traits in this episode.  That this lesson is made so viewer friendly is more tribute to the work put in by the show’s writers to keep kids entertained while also teaching lessons that could be referenced in the classroom.

The writers behind this wonderfully entertaining show did an outstanding job of mixing entertainment and information in both of the disc’s featured episodes.  And the artists behind the show continue to play their own part in making Wild Kratts stand apart from all the other kids’ shows out there today, both on PBS Kids and on mainstream television.  This all comes together to make this latest DVD just as enjoyable as previous Wild Kratts DVDs.  The bonus activities included on the disc make this new disc even more enjoyable.  Parents, kids, students, and teachers alike will especially appreciate the “Bat Box” activity.  It teaches how to build a “bat box” that bats can use for a home away from home of sorts.  And thanks to the link included in the activity, everybody can learn more about a fungus called “White Nose Syndrome” that is killing bats.  There is also a listing of books and other websites that parents and teachers can use to help learn even more about bats and their impact on different ecosystems.  The information on the page raised via the link explains in depth what “White Nose Syndrome” is.  It’s definitely interesting, and will interest viewers, too.  As in depth as it is, it’s still easy enough for the average viewer to comprehend, and then understand the importance of trying to help the bat population in one’s own region.

As one should be able to note from all of this, while this new DVD may boast only two more episodes, those two episodes  alone have more than enough entertainment and educational content to please both adults and children alike.  The same can be said of the bonus activities that can be accessed simply by putting the disc in one’s computer and opening by going to “My Computer.”  By the time kids and their parents—or teachers—have taken in everything that this disc has to offer, they’ll agree that it’s proof that one should never judge a book—or a DVD—by its cover.  It is available in stores and online now, and can be ordered online direct via the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org.

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New Dinosaur Train DVD Offers Kids More Undersea Fun And Facts

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids

It’s time to get back on the Dinosaur Train again!  Tiny and the gang are back for more adventures in the latest release from Craig Bartlett’s hit PBS Kids show.  This time out, Tiny and the gang are headed back underwater for four more adventures in which they discover even more new species of dinosaurs.  They discover the hydro dynamically designed undersea dino, Otto Opthalmosaurus.  Because of his tear drop shaped body, Otto can swim really fast through the water.  He also has very good eyesight.  It helps him both in hunting and to get away from predators.  He’s just one of the prehistoric pals that the kids meet in this new collection.  In the set’s second episode, they meet another new friend named Shoshana Shonosaurus when they travel to the Triassic ocean.  Shoshana looks similar to Otto, except her body is more elongated instead of rounded.  And her long nose helps her when she tries to hunt smaller fish.  Even more interesting to learn is that Shoshana has to surface every now and then, much like today’s dolphins and whales.  She has to surface so that she can breathe.  Along the way, they learn how the undersea environment changes as they travel deeper.

Otto Opthalmosaurus and Shoshana Shonosaurus are just two of the new dinosaurs that the Pteranodon family gets to meet in the adventures included in this new DVD.  The kids also get to meet Maisie Mosasaurus and a group of baby sea turtles, too.  Kids will love the facts taught by all four episodes thanks to the easy to understand delivery of facts about each dinosaur.  Just as with previous Dinosaur Train DVD releases, those easy to understand facts and catchy tunes will have kids watching and singing along over and over again.  Adding to the enjoyment of this new release is an interactive DVD game that parents and kids can play together.  There are also downloadable coloring pages and other activities for kids and parents.  And what episode of Dinosaur Train would be complete without extra information from Dr. Scott the Paleontologist?  His segments are included, too as bonus features.

Dinosaur Train: Submarine Adventures offers so much enjoyment for both parents and kids in just four episodes.  It’s proof of the old adage that big things come in small packages.  From its easy to understand science lessons to its catchy songs to even the bright colors that will entertain and educate young viewers at the same time.  It’s one more fun DVD to add to any family’s Dinosaur Train library.  It will be available next Tuesday, February 19th and can be ordered online via the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org.  And for more games and fun from Dinosaur Train, kids can log on to the Dinosaur Train website with their parents at http://pbskids.org/dinosaurtrain/.  Kids can learn about even more dinosaurs, play more games and lots more here.

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PBS Kids Debuting New Episode Of Curious George

Courtesy:  PBS Kids

Courtesy: PBS Kids

PBS Kids debuts a brand new episode of Curious George next Monday, February, 4th.  The new episode includes two brand new shorts that teach some very valuable lessons about different kinds of safety.  The first of the two new shorts in Monday’s new episode teaches about pet care and pet safety in “Where’s The Firedog?”  The second of the new shorts couldn’t come at a better time as we enter the homestretch of Winter and the annual flu season.  “Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye” re-introduces the blues-singing germ, Toots.  It teaches young viewers about health safety and ways to keep from spreading germs and especially germs that can cause colds and the flu.

The first half of Monday’s new episodes introduces two brand new friends to George.  He meets Blaze the firehouse dog and his fellow probationary, Sam.  One of Sam’s tests to pass is to keep Blaze from running away, as that’s the biggest problem that Blaze has; he likes to run off, causing Sam to have to chase him.  Eventually it leads Blaze to be caught by the dogcatcher and sent to the local animal shelter.  This is where kids and parents can learn a valuable lesson together.  Sam and George pick up Blaze and in order to keep him from being caught again, they take him to the local pet shop to get a leash and his very own collar and dog tag.  The tag has Blaze’s name, Sam’s name and all the information to the firehouse including phone number.  This is a very important lesson to teach young viewers; especially young viewers who might be first time pet owners.  An equally valuable lesson taught is that some dogs do better with others.  In the end, it turns out that it was Blaze wanting to connect with another dog that was leading him to run out.  So instead of one dog, the firehouse welcomed two dogs.  And thanks to that, not only did Blaze stay at the firehouse, but Sam also become a full fledged firefighter.

In short, the first half of this episode teaches younger viewers the importance of being a responsible pet owner.  Pet owners have to keep track of their pets to keep their pets safe and keep them from being taken to a shelter.  The weather across the country will be turning warmer in the next couple of months.  So what better time than before the weather gets warm to teach potential new pet owners about being responsible and keeping their pets safe and keeping track of them?

The second half of Monday’s new episode is equally well timed, as the nation is coming down the home stretch of Winter and its associated flu season.  When the man in the yellow hate comes down with the flu, George tries to help him get better.  When George nearly eats from the same spoon that the man had just used, George learns about how germs spread and how to keep them from spreading.  Along the way, there’s a dream sequence that leads George to chase down an old foe named Toots.  Toots is a germ whose only goal is to make everyone sick.  George has to stop Toots from infecting everybody around the man.  Kids learn two very important ways to prevent the spread of germs in this short.  One is obvious.  The other one is more subtle.  The more obvious way in which George learns to keep germs from spreading is through washing his hands.  The other way is more subtle.  As the doctor comes to visit the man in the yellow hat, he sneezes.  Rather than sneezing into his hands, the man sneezes into his sleeve.  This is the more commonly used manner to keep germs from spreading if one doesn’t have a tissue immediately at hand.  As subtle as it is, this is in itself just as important for young viewers to learn, so that they can help prevent the spread of germs both at home and at school.

The lessons taught in both halves of Monday’s new episode teach some very important lessons to viewers.  They’re lessons that offer excellent opportunities for both parents and teachers to use as discussion points with children.  Given they cover different topics.  But there is one theme that runs through both episodes.  That central theme is responsibility.  Responsible pet ownership keeps pets safe.  And responsible personal hygiene care keeps a person and everyone around said person safe and healthy.  It makes for one more wonderful reason for kids and their parents and even teachers to sit down and check out Monday’s new episode of Curious George.  Viewers should check their local listings for exact air times for Monday’s new episode.  And to keep up with all the latest from Curious George and other PBS Kids shows, parents and kids can “Like” the PBS Kids Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/PBSKIDS.

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Being Elmo is fuzzy fun for the whole family

He’s red.  He’s fuzzy.  And he’s one of the most beloved characters on television today.  For those who perhaps haven’t already figured it out who is being referenced here, it’s Elmo!  Yes, Sesame Street’s Elmo.  Elmo is just as well known and beloved–if not more than–Big Bird, Oscar The Grouch and the rest of the gang on Sesame Street.  And now, thanks to docurama films and New Video, fans and families world wide finally get a glimpse behind the scenes at the man who has made Elmo a house hold name in the documentary, “Being Elmo:  A Puppeteer’s Journey.”

“Being Elmo:  A Puppeteer’s Journey” is a wonderful, touching look into the life and career of a man who is a star unlike any other.  Kevin Clash is the very body behind Elmo.  His love of the craft and art of puppetry has made what would have otherwise just have been another puppet into a worldwide phenomenon.  Yet in it all, audiences see in this documentary, a man who is entirely humble, and wants only to entertain.  It’s his love for his art that has brought joy to children and adults the world over, including a young terminally ill child.  It’s that same love of performing and entertaining that brought tears to the eyes of not only that child, but to those of Clash himself.  And it’s that same love that has even given Elmo his very own segment in the “new” version of Sesame Street.  That love of the art of puppetry all began thanks to the legend himself, Jim Henson.

Audiences will be enthralled as they experience Clash’s journey from backyard puppet shows to a spot on Captain Kangaroo to his amazing start with Jim Henson’s company after having turned down job offers from Henson himself twice.  Yes, twice.  Most people wouldn’t get a second chance after turning down such a legend only once. But for whatever reason, Henson believed so much in Clash that he gave Clash a third offer.  He offered to let Clash work on his movie, “Labyrinth.”  Clash took the job, and impressed Henson so much that he was offered a spot on Sesame Street.  The story of how Clash eventually became the voice and life of Elmo is just as interesting as the story of how he reached that point.  What’s even more interesting is the impact that he has had to this day as Elmo’s puppeteer.  There are lots of funny moments in that story.  And there’s also an equally touching story of the impact that he and Elmo had on a young, terminally ill child.  Seeing the tears welling up in his own eyes as the little girl smiled while she hugged Elmo will bring even the strongest person to tears, too.

While the documentary about how Kevin Clash came to basically be Elmo is so impressive, one can’t ignore the bonus features included in the documentary.  One might think what could bonus features add to this documentary.  But the bonus features here really do add a whole extra dimension to Kevin’s story.  Audiences learn that a lot of Elmo was influenced by Clash’s own parents.  His parents constantly showed love and support to him.  That love is reflected in Elmo’s love for children.  What’s more, even in public audiences see how genuine Clash is about wanting to make children smile.  It’s another truly touching moment.  On the opposite hand, one of the funniest moments comes when it’s explained that his mother’s love of something as simple as mowing lawns was infused into Elmo.  That childlike love of the simple things in life made Elmo relateable to young audiences. 

Elmo’s relateability to young audiences is wonderfully exhibited in a combination of the bonus features and the final sequence of the documentary.  As the documentary closes, Clash welcomes a young viewer into his office who he took under his wing, just as Kermit Love took Kevin under his own wing years prior.  That young man got his first taste of fame as he joined Clash and the other Sesame Street Puppeteers in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  He was the actor behind the Baby Bear character in the parade.

“Being Elmo:  A Puppeteer’s Journey” is a wonderful piece of family entertainment.  It does hold a “PG” rating though.  However, parents should note that that is mainly thanks to a clip from the Rosie O’ Donnell Show.  The clip was taking during the height of the Tickle Me Elmo craze.  A star had asked her about getting a Tickle Me Elmo doll.  To that, she joked that she felt like a drug dealer.  Other than that brief moment, “Being Elmo” is an otherwise wonderful documentary for parents and kids alike. 

So much could be written and spoken of this documentary.  But doing so would take entirely too long and would take far too much space.  So audiences would be best to experience it for themselves.  From the story itself, to the equally  entertaining bonus features, “Being Elmo:  A Puppeteer’s Journey” is one of the best documentaries of 2012, if not the best. 

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