The amount of “screen time” children get may be a hot topic, but there is no denying the high quality educational programming available for kids, parents, and teachers, that covers a wide range of subjects.
This was enforced last week as “Peg + Cat,” a PBS cartoon focused on using fundamental math to solve everyday problems, received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to be used toward 25 new episodes, outreach activities, research, digital games and apps. The grant is part of NSF’s Advancing Information STEM Learning Program.
“Supporting this type of programming, which yields valuable insights about how to engage young children and their teachers, furthers NSF’s goal of encouraging STEM learning at an early age,” Sandra Welch, program director at NSF, said in the Oct. 7 announcement.
The STEM program is, in part, geared toward encouraging young girls to participate in science, technology, engineering, and math. “Peg + Cat” encourages basic math skills as she encounters everyday problems, looking at angles, addition and subtraction, and more.
This isn’t the only quality educational program available to kids. Below are six programs on a variety of networks that help children connect with everything from science and nature to empathy for others.
This PBS show alternates between real-life actors and cartoons, teaching children about wild animals and nature. Amidst comical storylines in which these quirky brothers navigate through problems, children learn about animals all over the globe and their habitats.
Another show that focuses on science and nature, Octonauts teaches children all about life under the water. Each episode focuses on solving a problem for one sea creature, requiring the team to learn all they can about that creature’s diet, habitat, and temperament.
This Disney Junior show not only works to alleviate the fears children have about visiting the doctor, it encourages young girls toward the STEM program by casting a female in the lead role. “Doc,” whose mother is also a doctor, talks to her stuffed animals and other toys which come to life when no one else is around. She is the resident toy fixer, but, does so as a medical doctor rather than a handyman.
Moving into language arts, this PBS show makes reading cool! Whyatt (yes, it’s spelled that way) and his friends encounter problems in their “real” lives and opt to “look in a book” for the solutions. The result is each child transforming into a book superhero with powers such as spelling, definitions, and letter sounds. The characters help to fix the stories they are in, ultimately teaching them how to solve their own real-life problems using the same skills.
Another show focused on language, Nick Jr.’s Dora The Explorer follows Dora as she solves daily problems with her friends in both Spanish and English. The supporting cast includes Boots, her monkey, Backpack, and Map.
Another show focused on the arts, Disney Jr.’s Little Einsteins celebrates one piece of classical music each episode while the cast goes on adventures involving nature, the arts, and world cultures. While Little Einsteins is no longer on the air, families can watch it on demand.
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