Math just got a little more fun with PEG + CAT, the new animated series from PBS KIDS. The show premieres this Monday, October 7, and promises to make problem-solving skills a breeze for your preschooler.
In each 30-minute episode, Peg and her lovable sidekick Cat encounter dilemmas that require some big thinking. Whether they’re trying a hand at adding and subtracting or learning broader concepts like size and geometry, the pair never back down from a number challenge (or a catchy learning tune). With backdrops like a pirate island or futuristic planet, the program proves math can be exciting and happen in the most unexpected places.
PEG + CAT comes at a vital time when children’s math skills are in dire need. National assessments have shown that 60 percent of students are performing below proficient levels in math by the fourth grade, according to the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress Report.
Another inspiring element of the show: The main character is a young girl. While women make up 48 percent of the workforce, only 23 percent are in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). Let’s hope a character as spirited and outspoken as Peg will be inspiration for boys AND girls everywhere to get their brains calculating.
Beyond math, PEG + CAT shows young ones the process of trial and error, such as figuring out multiple ways to move 100 chickens back to their coop. She may not get it right the first time, but Peg eventually learns from her mistakes and seeks help from friends along the way, both awesome life skills for the real world as well.
Want to get a sneak peek this weekend? Visit the show’s interactive website pbskids.org/peg, where you can also find local listings for the show, or download the PET + CAT Big Gig app for games and learning resources now.
Check out the video below to see how PEG + CAT was created!
Staying in tonight? You’ll want to check out Target’s brand new digital video service, Target Ticket. The site features more than 30,000 movies and television shows to choose from, including plenty of family favorites and recent releases. (I know where I’ll be catching up on this summer’s blockbusters!)
With so many online movie services out there now, it can be tough to figure out which one is right for you. But we like that Target partnered with Common Sense Media to give users access to thousands of reviews, each of which include an age rating, important information for parents to know, and even some topics to discuss after viewing. And if your children tend to disagree on what to watch, parents can set up a profile for each user, which allows different movies to stream simultaneously on multiple devices.
Anyone who opens a new account through February is given 10 free downloads on a group of pre-selected movies (among which, there are several kid-friendly films like Fern Gully, Rango and Space Jam, in addition to movies for Mom and Dad.) There are no subscription or sign-up fees, and prices start as low as $0.99.
What do you think of Target Ticket? Download the app or login on your desktop computer, and let us know!
Finding wholesome, quality television that your big kids will enjoy can be a tricky business. That’s why we’re excited to hear that all three seasons of the hit Teen Nick series H20: Just Add Waterwere released on DVD this week. The show—which originally aired in Australia several years ago but has now gained a worldwide audience—focuses on three teenage girls who find their lives changed forever when they become mermaids with magical powers. The best part? H20 is often commended for its strong female characters and positive messages for kids.
I recently spoke with Phoebe Tonkin, one of the stars of the show (she plays Cleo, in the center of the photo). Here’s what she had to say about her work and what it’s like to be a role model for girls:
H20 was your first television job. What was that like?
It was incredibly exciting. I hadn’t ever acted professionally before, and it was a big change from drama class at high school. But I was lucky that Cariba [Heine, on the right], Claire [Holt, left] and I were all in the same boat, so we all learned over the course of the series together.
The show is praised for its positive messages for girls. Was that important to you?
Of course. Throughout the show, the main priority for these girls was their loyalty to each other. The message that stayed consistent during H20 was that friendship is very important, despite the magical elements. That was the biggest underlying theme.
What message would you like young girls to take away from the show?
That leaning on your friends, especially as you are growing up and going through changes, will make everything a lot easier, and a lot more fun!
You finished the show quite a few years ago now, but it’s coming out now on DVD in the US, and it’s been gaining a following here over the last few years. Is that strange for you?
It is! Its so flattering when I hear a young girl with an American accent come up to me on the street and express how much she loves H20. It was always a big goal for us when we were filming to get it into the US, so it’s really amazing that it has been so well received here.
Is there anything else you think parents or kids should know about H20?
The three characters that we play are very real, and even though they are put in the extreme situation of becoming magical mermaids, their issues are very real: boys, school and growing up. And there is always a valuable lesson to be learned at the end of each episode.
Scott Walker’s Voucher Fight; School Safety Questions
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker first tangled with his state’s teachers union when he signed a bill that upended collective bargaining. (via Huffington Post)
Shedding New Light On Infant Brain Development
A new study by Columbia Engineering researchers finds that the infant brain does not control its blood flow in the same way as the adult brain. The paper, which the scientists say could change the way researchers study brain development in infants and children, is published in the February 18 Early Online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). (via Science Daily)
Excessive TV in Childhood Linked to Long-Term Antisocial Behavior, New Zealand Study Shows
Children and adolescents who watch a lot of television are more likely to manifest antisocial and criminal behavior when they become adults, according to a new University of Otago, New Zealand, study published online in the journal Pediatrics. (via Science Daily)
Arkansas Senate Passes Bill to Ban Abortions After 20 Weeks
The Republican-controlled Arkansas state Senate approved a measure on Monday to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy except in the case of rape, incest or to save the mother’s life. (via Reuters)
Sugar mist Makes Veggies More Palatable to Kids
A light mist of sugar could help the broccoli (and other veggies) go down, according to new research that tested ways to make vegetables more palatable for children. (via Fox News)
No Exercise, More Than Couch, Tied To Fat In Kids
For kids, time spent inactive seems less of a factor in higher body fat than does a lack of exercise, according to a new study. Researchers found that the more minutes kids spent exercising at the pace of a fast walk each day, the lower their body fat percentage was. But the time they spent as couch potatoes made no difference, according to results published in the Journal of Pediatrics. (via Reuters)
Childhood Trauma Leaves Legacy of Brain Changes
Painful experiences early in life can alter the brain in lasting ways. A difficult reality for psychiatrists and counselors of child abuse is that young victims are at high risk of becoming offenders themselves one day, although it’s unclear why. But now a team of behavioral geneticists in Switzerland report a possible reason: early psychological trauma may actually cause lasting changes in the brain that promote aggressive behavior in adulthood. (via TIME)
Sleep Stealers: What’s Keeping Children From Getting Enough Shut-Eye?
The latest research homes in on the biggest sleep robber. Children are sleeping less, and there’s no shortage of reasons why: with television, video games and the internet, they are finding it harder to shut down and go to sleep. (via TIME)
Some Children Lose Autism Diagnosis: Small Group With Confirmed Autism On Par With Mainstream Peers
Some children who are accurately diagnosed in early childhood with autism lose the symptoms and the diagnosis as they grow older, a study supported by the National Institutes of Health has confirmed. The research team made the finding by carefully documenting a prior diagnosis of autism in a small group of school-age children and young adults with no current symptoms of the disorder. (via Science Daily)
Risk To All Ages: 100 Kids Die of Flu Each Year
How bad is this flu season exactly? Look to the children. Twenty flu-related deaths have been reported in kids so far this winter, one of the worst tolls this early in the year since the government started keeping track in 2004. (via Yahoo News)
Ohio Third Grade Reading Guarantee Law One Semester In: PBS Reports On Progress
Ohio schools are one semester into its first year of the new “Third Grade Reading Guarantee” law, but some 30 percent of students — about 40,000 statewide — are still not reading at grade level. (via Huffington Post)
Healthy School Lunch: America’s Obsession With School Meals
With the passage of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010 and new school lunch requirements from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2011, America’s school menus are healthier than ever – even if kids aren’t always happy about it. (via Huffington Post)
Modern Parenting May Hinder Brain Development, Research Suggests
Social practices and cultural beliefs of modern life are preventing healthy brain and emotional development in children, according to an interdisciplinary body of research presented recently at a symposium at the University of Notre Dame. (via Science Daily)
U.S. Launches Study into Youth Sports Concussions
The U.S. government launched on Monday a sweeping study of rising sports-related concussions among the youth, amid concerns that the injuries may have contributed to the suicides of professional football players. (via Reuters)
Review Questions Blood Pressure Tests for Kids
Despite long-standing recommendations that doctors check children’s blood pressure at every office visit, a new review of research says there is not enough evidence to support that guideline. (via Reuters)
Fussy Infants Exposed to More TV
Although doctors say babies should not watch television, some mothers may use the tube as a way to calm fussy infants, a new study suggests. (via My Health News Daily)
According to the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board, about 72% parents have rules about TV use. Even if you limit your child’s TV watching to just a few hours in the afternoon/evenings or a few hours on weekends, you may still need a refresher course on how to monitor what your child is watching and how much.
“Every new school year introduces a unique set of changes for each family, and the TV season is no different,” says Jim Dyke, TV Watch Executive Director. “Children are a year older and television rules may have changed based on age and the family’s tastes and values. It is a perfect time to consider those rules and review the available tools to enforce standards.”
TV Watch (televisionwatch.org), a non-profit organization that “educates parents about existing tools to manage their families’ TV viewing,” shares the following resources to keep an eye on your kids.
It’s a very lucky family tree these days that doesn’t have a least one of its branches spliced by a split-up. We have several divorces in our extended family, and now that our ever-curious kids are old enough to notice (4 and 5), I’ve had to explain several times why certain grandparents are unattached and other relatives are out of the picture all-together. Tricky stuff. So when I got an invite for a screening of HBO Family’s documentary, “Don’t Divorce Me,” which touchingly follows several preschoolers and elementary schoolers as they cope with their parents’ split, I RSVPed yes. You’ll blink back tears, but also come away with real-life ways to help your kids cope in the wake of an event that truly does rock their little world. My favorite tip (from a tween who hadn’t cut her hair since before her folks called it quits): Let your children hold onto their memories. “Don’t Divorce Me” airs Thursday September 21 at 6:30 p.m., and might be the most well-spent 30 minutes of your day.