Making Curriculum Pop

Before Saturday April 4, 2009 I had never heard of Sprout. But listening to Betsy Oliphant and Chika really got me intrigued in the show. They did a great job of giving the class a quick overview of what Sprout is, how they got started, what each block consists of, and give a brief showing of each block on Sprout.


Sprout is a PBS show that is targeted for children ages two to five as well as their parents/guardians. The show is a 24-hour show with five main blocks. The blocks are: The Sunny-Side Up Show, The Sprout Sharing Show, The Let’s Go Show, The Good Night Show, and The Musical Morning. Each block last for about three hours. Each segment in the block lasts for thirty minutes. A segment can be a cartoon, making a craft, cooking dance, acting, etc. According to the Sprout website, “Interaction between parents and preschoolers is an important element in everything we do.” This is evident by the many activities on the show that give parents/guardians ample opportunities to interact with their child.

What I like the most about Sprout is that it has a wide variety of activities for children. It is not just all cartoons or singing, or crafts. There are many different things children and their parents can do and if they don’t like what is on then they can just come back in thirty minutes to see what the next segment is! On the “about” section of the website Sprout states, “we follow the day of a preschooler from breakfast to bedtime, with daytime programming designed to get children moving and active and evening programming to help the family gently unwind at the end of the day”. This is so nice. Coming from a babysitter’s perspective, there is nothing worse then when you are trying to get a child ready for bed and they are all hyped up because of the show they just watched. It is nice to know that the Good Night Show helps to bring the child slowly down from all the running around they have done during the day.

My favorite block is the Good Night Show. I really like the fact that it is a show that keeps children active but does not do it in a way that gives kids lots of energy. My favorite part is when the kids are doing yoga. The kids in the clip shown to us were absolutely adorable. I was really impressed with how well some of the kids were doing the poses because I am horrible at yoga!! I would really like a stuffed version of the star puppet. I think it is so cute!!

Here is a clip from The Good Night Show!

The Sprout website is amazing. You can find all the craft projects, stories, and songs from the show on there. There are coloring pages and kids can even make there own cards. It is a very user-friendly site and even has sections for parents.

I can definitely see myself using this website in my classroom. The have great songs to use for starting the day and I would use the videos of how to do different yoga poses with my students. I think that would be a great way to calm them down when the class has a little too much energy. The coloring sheets would be something nice to have as part of choice time. There are many ways that an educator could incorporate Sprout or Sprout materials into their daily routine.

Links to Sprout homepage and homepages of each block on the show!
Homepage
http://www.sproutonline.com/sprout/home/
The Sunny Side Up Show
http://www.sproutonline.com/sprout/ssu/
The Sharing Show
http://www.sproutonline.com/sprout/tss/
The Good Night Show
http://www.sproutonline.com/sprout/Originals/GoodNightShow.aspx
The Let's Go Show
http://www.sproutonline.com/sprout/Originals/LetsGoShow.aspx
Musical Mornings
http://www.sproutonline.com/sprout/characters/?preset=coo

Not sure how you feel about Sprout? Check out these reviews!
http://media.families.com/blog/pbs-kids-sprout
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/316431/review_of_pbs_kids_...
http://www.commonsensemedia.org/tv-reviews/Sprout-Sharing-Show.html


I never watched Electric Company when I was a child. I honestly can’t remember ever hearing about it. When I asked my parents if I had ever watched it they told me no but they did remember my older brother and older sister watching it.


The Electric Company presenter gave us a quick review on how and why PBS brought back the Electric Company. The show is for children who are a little bit too old for Sesame Street but still might need help with literacy skills. In the handout we receive it says, “The Electric Company’s mission is to bridge the literacy gap among 6-9 year old struggling readers”. I am in the Literacy Specialist program and I almost shouted for joy when I read this. I think it is wonderful that there is a show for older kids that who are having difficulty reading. I feel like a majority of the educational programs out there are targeted at pre-school age children and/or toddlers. Everything is about having kids know their ABCs and numbers before they get to Kindergarten. While I think it is wonderful to have so many educational shows focused on very young children, it is nice to know that there is something for the older children.

The show follows four friends as they use their “literacy superpowers” to stop the “pranksters” from creating chaos with their own word skills. The “literacy superpowers” include: turning words into graphics/animation, the ability to replay and display speech as text, super human speed to solve word problems, and the ability to visually recall something seen earlier. While the audience is engaged and waiting with bated breath to find out if the friends will frustrate the pranksters plans, they are also learning “vocabulary in a highly contextualized way”. I am a visual learner so a show like this would have been perfect for me growing up.

Confused about the “literacy superpowers”? Watch this clip!

As the presenter was showing us a clip from an episode I had a sense that I had seen something like this show before. I knew I had never seen The Electric Company so I could not figure out what it was. After much thought I realized that Electric Company reminds me of one of my all time favorite shows, GHOSTWRITER!! I loved this show growing up and it is similar to Electric Company in the fact that both are designed to help kids with reading and writing.

If you did not watch Ghostwriter or forgot what it was here are the opening credits.

The website for The Electric Company is great. Kids can read about each character, play games based off of the show, watch episodes or clips from the show, and check out who is the leader in the battles. There is also a section for parents and educators that gives a little more information about the show. I can see myself using the clip portion of this website. I think they have some great clips that would be really fun for the kids to watch when trying to explain and/or demonstration letter sound recognition, vocabulary, decoding etc. Using the videos from the website would not only integrate technology into my curriculum but also be a new and engaging way for students to learn. The songs are so catchy that they would be fun to use during shared reading. By using the songs as a shared reading kids are not only practicing reading but also learning about a reading strategy. It is a win-win situation!! I would recommend this show to any of my students parents who want to know what they can do to help their child. If a child loves watching TV and can improve some of their reading skills while doing it then why not!!

Still confused about what The Electric Company is? Check out this clip!

Homepage
http://pbskids.org/electriccompany/#/Home/
Educators Site
http://pbskids.org/electriccompany/parentseducators/

Still debating if you like the show or not? Check out the reviews!!
http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/tv/ny-ettel6003542jan19,0,5797...
http://kidstvmovies.about.com/od/theelectriccompany/fr/ElectricCor.htm
http://www.metacritic.com/tv/shows/electriccompany2009

Views: 180

Replies to This Discussion

Great post Callie! I love when you talk about playing clips from Sprout that show the children doing yoga. That would be a great movement activity for the morning, The Electric Company show with the "literacy super powers" is such an interesting take on all of the literacy classes we have taken this year. I wonder what our professor would think about it! There is so much potential in both the Electric Company and Sprout as you have shown. I guess i still am up in the air whether this is deemed as appropriate literacy activities. Can our principals see how this might be more beneficial then independent reading or writing workshop everyday?

Blair
Hey Blair,
glad you liked the post! I don't think using this in place of reading and writing workshop would be very beneficial. If you could incorporate them into the workshop model or along with the workshop model then I personally think they could be a great teaching tool. Sometimes it can get a little boring learning something the same way over and over again. By incorporating Sprout and/or The Electric Company you can spice up a lesson or unit of study!! But I agree that it might be an uphill climb to convince some principals (like Amy's) that using the videos is a pro and not a con. Thanks for the reply!
I have not heard about Ghostwriter for the longest time! I loved that show! I was a late bloomer when it came to learning how to read and would definitely be termed a struggling reader. With parents working two jobs, Ghost Writer was the reinforcement that I needed.

I also checked out the clips that Callie mentioned in her reflection. I checked out some of the clips on the website and they have a ton. I especially liked the ones that had to do with spelling. This is a way to spice up my weekly spelling lessons.

Be sure to checkout this link:
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I apologize to all that looked at this reply and did not see the link. The link that I mentioned above is

What I like about this site is that it gives a very clear definition of a term and provides examples. Not as animated as Electric Company, but is still useful in the classroom.
This is great Callie - thanks for creating so many resource links! Just wondering how or if Dr. Cherow-O'Leary's presentation helped frame your thoughts about these shows.

Ry:)
Dr. Cherow-O'Leary's presentation was very interesting. I had no idea that it took so many people and so many different versions of a script to make one show. It is nice to know that so much work and research go into making these shows. As a teacher I want to know that shows I recommend to parents have really researched and tried to incorporate good reading strategies and practices into the show. I don't want to recommend a show that just throws anything on the screen. I think PBS does a great job of making sure that all the shows have really researched and made sure everything is perfect before it airs. Dr. Cherow-O'Leary's presentation really made this clear to me. I would definitely recommend Handy Mandy to parents.
I agree with you- I think it's great for some children to see/watch that there are other kids who struggle to read. It makes me sad to when I find out some students avoid reading because they don't want their reading difficulties to be visible to others. Educational shows with struggling readers who try can have an impact on those viewers in the same situation. They could be encouraged to put some effort in!
Callie, I loved your post! I agree about... all of it! The idea that kids need to see that others have trouble reading too is a strong one, I know my struggling readers feel better knowing that every person has trouble at times. I also loved your idea of doing yoga in class with kids, I had a fellow teacher doing this with her students and it caught on like wildfire throughout the school! Soon all of us were doing it in our classrooms, especially in the morning to wake the kids up, or after recess to bring them down from the sugar high:) I think using these clips to show kids "the moves" would help to inspire them all to get involved.
BTW I loved Ghostwriter! Somehow it made its way all the way to Saudi Arabia!
Callie- great post! I love the idea of the Sprout programing and how they follow a preschoolers morning to night schedule. I feel like that is such an innovative and cool idea! Lately with the stressful end to the semester, I have been wondering if the good night show would help put me to bed :) Thanks for the reminder about Ghostwriter! I haven't thought about that show in years. You brought up The Electric Company as being a good resource to tell parents about and I couldn't agree more. I feel like it is important for us to expand our repertoires for ways to help with home literacy. Thank you for posting all those great websites and clips- what great resources!
Hi Callie
I too loved the Electric Company and Sprout presentation. It was so amazing to see how they were gearing television programs to center on the development of kids. It is so nice to know that there continues to be programs for kids that are positive and beneficial to their growth, both intellectually and socially. When I think about the shows that kids are exposed to and watch daily a lot of them are full of violence and crude humor. It worries me to see so many kids glued to the television set watching these show and I wonder what these shows are teaching them and in what ways they are influencing their mind and growth. Thus it is so great to see that such programs like the Electric Company and Sprout are working hard to provide educational programs that generate learning but at the same time making it fun and exciting for the kids. These two programs are great examples of how you can teach and engage kids without omitting the fun and excitement. Lets bring play and laughter back in to the classroom! Electric Company and Sprout clearly shows us that learning can be fun!


Liz
Callie, Great post. I looked at the sprout sites you linked here and I could definately see myself using them to teach a few lessons. In response to Blair,I too wonder what Lucy would think about the electric company. There is so much that can be used from these shows and others such as sesame street. This is definately has some good literacy material! What about admins though? would they go for it?
Hey Callie!
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I never heard of Sprout or The Electric Company before this conference. I thought it was so great that the Electric Company was targeting an older audience. I wonder how the kids respond to these educational shows and if they realize how much content information is embedded into the storylines. I was especially taken back by the clip where the vocabulary words were presented. I could see myself using this in the classroom to teach new words in a unit.
Daniella

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