The Cookie Thief Debuts on PBS Kids on Monday February 16

Cookie Monster is up to his regular shenanigans, except this time, he’s starring in The Cookie Thief on Monday, February 16 on PBS Kids. The all-new one-hour special follows Cookie’s adventure at a cookie art museum. When art goes missing, questions arise as to whether or not Cookie had something to do with it.

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And in Sesame Street fashion, this special focuses on important emotions and offers teaching moments. As Cookie Monster hopes to clear his name, kids learn about self-regulation concepts including impulse control, following directions and managing emotions.

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My preschooler, who is learning all about self-regulation concepts himself, absolutely loved The Cookie Thief. Not only did the 3 year old love it, but my 7 year old probably loved it even more. There was action, mystery and culture, what more could we want in a Sesame Street special? Cookie Monster’s starring role in the Cookie Thief is a fun and engaging movie for preschoolers, and one that is perfect to watch while the kids are home for school this president’s day!

Creative Galaxy Inspires a World of Imagination + Glow in the Dark Rocket Ship Craft


If the world is our oyster, then the galaxy is most certainly our canvas.

As a creative person who’s constantly creating, whether plotting projects in my head or in real time, I appreciate it when books and shows encourage the same thing for my boys.  The new original animated series, Creative Galaxy, featured on Amazon Prime Instant Video is an example of a show that gets our artistic juices flowing.

 

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In a galaxy far away, aliens co-exist and create art every day and solve problems by harnessing their imagination and creativity. The main character, Arty, is an inquisitive young alien who often asks questions to his audience. Creative Galaxy may have a familiar format and feel because it’s the product of children’s programming veteran Angela Santomero, the brains behind PBS Kids’ Daniel Tiger, Emmy-nominated Super Why and the classic kid’s favorite, Blue’s Clues. 

Each episode of Creative Galaxy begins with a problem that must be fixed with art.  To fix the problem at hand, Arty makes his way around Creative Galaxy and gathers items for his idea box. Arty tackles problems with his shape-shifting sidekick, Epiphany and friends along the way like Jackson, Shift, Seraphina and Gallaria. 

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Jason Priestly and Angela Santomero at the Creative Galaxy Launch. Source: Zimbio

Creative Galaxy boasts colorful imagery and fun, yet relatable story lines. Familiar voices lend their talent to round out the show: Cloris Leachman is Galleria, Brooke Shields is Seraphina and Jason Priestly is Sketch. 90210 fans will appreciate Sketch’s coy greeting: what brings you to my zip code? 

The show encourages art with a variety of mediums covered throughout: painting, crayon, drawing, paper—even glitter.  According to Amazon, this series is designed to support a child’s natural inclination to use their imaginations, make and create. Art is everywhere, as examined by Creative Galaxy; we are always surrounded by art, and ultimately, art is an important resource is our day to day life.

Geared to preschoolers, this show really struck a chord with my 2.5 year old, as well as my seven year old. Already a super fan of Amazon Studio’s Tumble Leaf, it took my two year old a few episodes to really appreciate Arty’s adventures.  Once he did though, he was really engaged into Arty’s projects.

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Though my older son is beyond these types of shows, I did find him getting into Arty’s adventures just as well as the two year old. Creative Galaxy makes kids feel as though they’re making art alongside of Arty and the kids featured on the show. As for my seven year old, he appreciates the real kids doing craft projects in between, which prompted us to do our own. More on that below!  I love the true educational content throughout the show. Creative Galaxy has a knack for implementing real artists such as Kandinsky and parlaying it into a relatable activity within the show, gives art appreciation a new meaning as a parent. I appreciate the different dimensions of this show. From the fresh-faced characters to the artwork created by real kids in between segments to the fun songs wrapping up story lines… “shapes and lines make everything,” Creative Galaxy is undoubtedly another intergalactic hit for Amazon Kids and Angela Santomero.

 

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As a diehard Amazon Prime Instant Video fan, I absolutely love the depth of kid’ shows that are now available on this streaming service.  Amazon made a smart move by tapping the best in the business when creating children’s programming.  Dr. Alice Wilder, another one of my idols, is the Educational Advisor for Amazon Studios and is also one of the executive producers for Creative Galaxy.  Dr. Wilder is responsible for developing the Amazon Originals curriculum for kids and is helping implement Amazon’s educational point of view into the development of new series. If my kids are going to be watching kid shows, I love knowing that educational professionals like Dr. Wilder are at the helm, helping to craft Amazon Originals’ curriculum for kids.

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It Iooks like I’m not alone in loving Amazon Prime Instant Video’s Creative Galaxy. Common Sense Media gives this new show four out of five stars. “The stories incorporate valuable prereading skills such as patterns, color identification, and counting in fun ways, and its interactive format encourages kids to consider how they might handle challenges such as the ones that Arty faces.”

 

 And because crafts and tactile activities go hand in hand with fabulous shows like Creative Galaxy, here’s a craft we had fun creating.

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From this creative show, we were inspired to do our own craft à la Arty and Creative Galaxy. Because my seven year old is much better at structured crafts than my 2 year old, he served as my crafting companion. But truly, this craft can be done with toddlers up to grade schoolers. 

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We used two pie tins, some glow sticks and Play Doh to create a simple Glow in the Dark Rocketship. 

IMG 1661IMG 1663We punched holes in the pie ties with hole punchers.  We used two different size hole punchers, and I’m sure you can use a variety of shapes. We did the sides, but we’ll probably do more on our next version.

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I then strung some baker’s twine between the two pans to create a way to suspend the flying saucer. Before sealing our rocket ship we ignited our glow sticks. You can use any lightweight illuminating device, as long as it’ll fit in the pie tins.

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Once the glow sticks are lit up, you can seal the tins with modge podge and pinch the lips of the two tins together. As the glue is drying, you can create your alien who will be flying the saucer. IMG 1689

 

Have your child envision the torso and head of the alien, which will sit atop of the flying saucer.  Once the alien is sculpted with the Play Doh, secure the figure onto of the tin. Ideally, wait until the glue dries before placing the figure on top. Modge Podge usually takes a few hours to dry. 

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Place the plastic cup over the alien, which will serve as the bubble for the flying saucer.  Love my technical terms? To secure the cup, use Modge Podge along the lip of the cup and then center it over the alien.  After everything is dry, decorate your flying saucer as you wish.

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The more colors, the better!  Since glow sticks only last a few hours, it’s fun to make this craft in the afternoon so you can use the Glow in the Dark Rocket Ship as a night light.  Use the twine to create a suspension device to hang from the ceiling!

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This craft hones in on fine motor skills and can serve as a conversation piece to bridge Creative Galaxy to some tactile play and creation. From this craft, parents can engage in conversation on stars, as well as light and dark.

 

As Arty and friends remind us: go and be amazing! That’s a pretty perfect catch phrase if I ever heard one!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Curious George Boo-Fest Returns for Halloween on PBS Kids

Fall and all of the fun that it brings is one of my favorite times of year. Lucky us, so many of our favorite shows underscore the fall fun, including our faves over at PBS Kids.

Later this month, be sure to check out new adventures with everyone’s favorite mischievous monkey, Curious George. New adventures of Curious George will debut on PBS KIDS October 28-30, including George testing his super spy skills and exploring an aviation museum. October 28 features the premiere of “Submonkey,” an underwater adventure that includes the song “Down, Down, Down,” performed by Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Go’s.

 

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Be on the look out for more Halloween fun with episodes from other PBS KIDS shows, including Dinosaur Train, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Wild Kratts and more. 

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To find out more about the Curious George episodes read more after the jump:

Descriptions of the upcoming Curious George episodes via PBS Kids:

Read More

Marvel Universe Live Combines Superheroes, Technology and Live Entertainment

As a boy mom who also happens to write about trending kid products, shows and beyond, it’s safe to say, I’ve become well-versed in the realm of superheroes. It’s superheroes 24/7 up in here.

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A live action superhero show featuring our favorite characters piqued our interest when we first heard about it earlier this year; we’ve been anticipating Marvel Universe Live ever since.

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Feld Entertainment’s Marvel Universe Live, currently in East Rutherford, NJ’s Izod Center, commanded an arena of superhero-adoring children and equally bright-eyed parents.  The hour and a half live show featured choreographed stunts, motocross and non-stop action on a high-tech set, complemented by various aerial props and stunts.  Amidst an audience waving twinkling swords and slurping Spiderman Snocones, the actors/stunt people fulfilled heroic endeavors as they traveled across the globe.

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Feld Entertainment has a penchant for live shows and engaging their audiences with original story lines, and Marvel Universe Live was no exception. This show brought 25 iconic Marvel characters together in one performance as they banded together (and against) for the quest of the Cosmic Cube. Because of the Cosmic Cube’s inherent power, it is a coveted treasure that was shattered by Thor to prevent it getting into the wrong hands.  Since all the pieces were scattered around the globe, Thor’s evil brother, Loki, cooked up a plan to clone its powers that would destroy our planet and crush the Universe.  Naturally, it was up to the superheroes to save the Universe.

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With the magic of 3-D projection and the incredible set design, the storyline was fluid as it hopped around the globe. Geographically, we watched superheroes scale snow-covered mountains, battle on top of the Statue of Liberty and conquer evil all on one stage.  The transitions from scene to scene were seamless and unobtrusive. The pyrotechnics, light effects and musical score complemented the set design, and of course the talent of the stars.

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Our superhero-loving family was engaged from start to finish—we didn’t want it to end!  We loved seeing all of the superheroes together defeating the evil forces, live and in person. Some of the superheroes featured included: Iron Man, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor and Wolverine who faced evil forces such as Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Red Skull, Madame Hydra, Aldrich Killian, Electro and more. I was sort of expecting to see Stan Lee show up somewhere on the set!  The excitement of watching a movie in a theater is always thrilling, but to experience a live show with so much detail and fanfare is extraordinary. 

Untitled Untitled This was not a Broadway production, but instead, a stellar live feature geared to its most enamored audience—kids who love and appreciate superheroes.

As guests of The Moms, we were treated to a lovely VIP reception and pre-show activities.  My kids got to sharpen their archery skills, perfect their jabs and uppercuts and earn their own superhero badge at the end.  A big thank you to The Moms for organizing such a fun experience.

 

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Now for the fine print:  this show is NOT for everyone.  If you have kids who can’t sit and focus for an hour and half show, I’d absolutely avoid this, and any show until they could sit still.  In my opinion, it’s hard for not only the parent and kid who can’t sit still, but also for those around them.  My two year old could not and would not sit still.  He likes superheroes, but he doesn’t understand the concept of sitting still.  After letting him run around for a few minutes in the food area, one of the seating attendants let our family sit in a vacant row. If you’re on the fence about your little one who may not sit for the show or be scared by the noise/lights, my recommendation would be to wait until they’re old enough to truly appreciate the show than to force them to sit through something they might hate.

This is a show where it’s dark almost the entire time and lights were constantly being projected.  Sometimes, light effects were strobing, sometimes they flashed more intermittently.  Laser-like lights were evident throughout, as well.  Coupled with loud music and pyrotechnics, I would not recommend the show for sensory sensitive audience members.

Overall, Marvel Universe Live truly did not disappoint with its non-stop action, original story and mesmerizing set design.  This is a concept show that utilizes well-loved characters, harnesses technology and talent to tell an original story before a live audience and a fickle fan base!  This was one of those shows that we can’t stop talking about and will tell anyone who will listen all about it—it was that good!

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Marvel Universe Live will be at Izod Center in NJ until August 10th and will then be at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn from August 13-17 and then LI later in August.  Not in the tri-state area?  Check to see if Marvel Universe Live will be in your town.

Full disclosure: We received complimentary tickets and a parking pass to facilitate this review.  As always, all opinions on NKT are my own. 

Wild Kratts on HuffPo Live Today

Any swamp animal and/or HuffPo fans out there? Today, some of our PBS Kids friends and animal experts, Chris and Martin Kratt of Wild Kratt fame, will be interviewed on HuffPo Live today.  

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They’ll be discussing their upcoming special on swamp animals, as well as sharing an upcoming clip. There will be a some kids video conferencing in for the interview, too!  If you tune in, be on the look out for my big guy, who will be asking a question or two!  Tune into HuffPo Live at 2 for the interview!

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The segment will be a quick one, so don’t blink!  If and when the video becomes available, I’ll be sure to share here!

 

You can catch Wild Kratts weekdays on PBS Kids or anytime on Apple Tv!  The PBS Kids Video App is now available on Android and Chromecast

Marvel Universe Live Sneak Peek

And speaking of superheroes, we’re getting pumped up for the Marvel Universe Live.  Marvel Universe Live, a live-action area stunt show, kicks off at Barclay’s Center on August 13. Here’s a peek at the behind-the-scenes “white model” video, which gives us a glimpse into this show that promises to be action-packed with excitement through the roof.

I don’t know about you, but they caught my attention with the guy on fire. Yowza!

To find out more information about Marvel Universe and to see if they’re coming to your town, check them out here.

Meeting Cookie Monster and other highlights from the 2014 PBS Annual Meeting

Once again, I’m attending the PBS Annual Meeting as part of the PBS Kids VIP ambassadorship program.  This time, the meeting is in beautiful San Francisco, where we’re getting a chance to enjoy the local restaurants after sessions, as well as take in a few sights.

 

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The agenda for the PBS Annual Meeting serves as a preview for the upcoming year for the channel’s various shows and specials.  It’s a chance for the executives at stations across the US to engage with PBS execs, show creators and others involved in creating content for PBS’ platforms.  

Lots of great independent programs, Martha Stewart, How We Get To Now with Steven Johnson are among the highlights so far.

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Because so many of us embrace PBS for their stellar programming, it’s safe to say that we can relate to one—or all—of their current and upcoming  shows.  Like many of you, I grew up watching Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow and the Electric Company.  In a home where English was my first language, yet my parents spoke a different language, these educational shows served as a supplement to my immersion to American culture, and ultimately, my version of preschool.  

 

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Of course, this was *ahem* 30 something years ago, nevertheless, this sentiment rings true today for many families of different socio-economic backgrounds.

My fellow PBS Kids VIP @urbanmama tweeted this today during an earlier session:

@PBSKids is the leader in school readiness.  For families who don’t have access to preschool education #PBSKids DOES teach #PBSam

 

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After a long day of traveling (ignore my crazy hair and loco face), yesterday we had the pleasure of meeting THE Cookie Monster and his muppeteer, Emmy nominated David Rudman.  Cookie and the man who brings him to life were so lovely in making us laugh.  But really, as if meeting Cookie wasn’t amazing enough, he answered questions for us and did personalized videos too.  I mean, really?

 

Here’s the quick chat I had with the Muppet of the hour, Cookie Monster.

A big push on the PBSKIds pipeline is Oddsquad.  It’s a little bit Men in Black, Airplane and SpyKids.  Like other PBS Kids’ shows, this new live action show embraces math concepts to solve problems.  It looks like they hope to tap into the school age demo, perhaps that 5-10 category.  Including the snappy humor and strong female leads, I personally appreciated the pronounced diversity among the characters. 

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One of the lead boys looks just like my older boy—this is huge for mixed kids who have often wondered why other shows don’t have characters that look like them.  In a few hours, we’ll be meeting Tim McKeon and Adam Peltzman, the witty creators of OddSquad.  I can’t wait for this one!

 

Stay tuned for more PBS Kids updates on here or catch me on Twitter or Instagram for live updates at #PBSam

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The Doozers Debuts on Hulu + Giveaway

If you’re a huge fan of furry, cute monsters like I am, then surely, you’re a fan of Fraggle Rock.  From the imagination of Jim Henson, the Fraggles was a hit show from the 80s that followed the world of their name sake.  It was a musical, muppet-centric world that made many, many children happy!

And from the Fraggles, several characters emerged as cult faves.  One of the all-time favorites were certainly the Doozers, who are all set for a modern reboot with a new preschool show on Hulu.  

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If you know anything about the Doozers, they’re all about construction and doing things together with their crew. They’re doers and put ideas into motion. The Doozers focuses on four little Doozers, dubbed the Pod Squad, who are a group of best buds who play together and share a love of inventing.

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 We had a first look, and so far, we’re loving what we’re seeing.  It doesn’t appear as though there’s a curriculum, but the show is fun, fluid and engaging.  I love the vibrant colors, helpful interaction and relatable language. I can’t wait to see what sort of things Spike, Molly, Bolt, Flex, and Daisy Wheel get into on The Doozers. 

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 A few years ago when The Doozers first hit the tv radar, I reported about the news of this upcoming show.  It sounds like that show was a totally different premise, but I’m just glad The Doozers show came into fruition, and I just love that they landed over at Hulu.  I appreciate that The Doozers are a Hulu Plus exclusive; this brings a new dynamic to subscription-based viewing for families, and one that I’m thrilled to see expand.  

The Doozers is a Hulu Original produced by The Jim Henson Company and DHX Media.  The Doozers launched last week with seven episodes on Hulu Plus, followed by a cycle of three more new episodes every third Friday.  

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Giveaway

In honor of the Doozer debut, we’re giving away a 3-month subscription to Hulu.  Just comment to let me know why you’re excited about the Doozers on Hulu.  I’ll pick one winner at random at the end of the week!

 

Watch Doozers on Hulu at http://hulu.tv/i7M

 check out the trailer right here:

 

Welcoming Spring with Julius Jr.

The snow has finally thawed and Spring is starting—just barely—to sprout.  We’re anxiously waiting for warmer weather so we can enjoy the playground again, but until then, we’re keeping busy with crafts and games.

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For March, Saban sent us a fun outdoor-themed packaged with Julius Jr. in mind.  In order to get ready for spring, they sent us some fun activity sheets, which were created  in partnership with the Center for Childhood Creativity.  The activities highlight the CCC’s overall goal with Julius Jr.’s themes of adventure active play, imagination and imagination. Parents, caregivers and teachers can access these materials on the Center for Childhood Creativity’s website or pick them up when visiting San Francisco’s Bay Area Discovery Museum.

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Sadly, it’s either been way too cold for us to all of these activities, but we’ve tried a few when we had a reprieve in the weather.  The Nature Hunt, which is something that both the toddler and six year can participate in, is a prefect way to rediscover nature after our brutal winter.  The best part, though, is watching the toddler collect items or discover items he’s not familiar with!

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And of course, to go along with the fun activity sheets, the boys got their own tumblers to help us stay hydrated outside.  Crossing fingers for more sunshine and warmth and playground. 

Julius Jr. can be seen on Nick Jr. on weekdays at 5 and Sundays at 10am.

Full disclosure: as a Saban brand ambassador, I received products to provide content for this post.

Frozen’s “Love is an Open Door” Clip Released; Blu-Ray Combo Set to Release 3/18

With Frozen winning an Academy Award for best animated feature, among a few other accolades, the insta-classic Disney tale of two sisters is still all the buzz.  

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Idina Menzel (or Adele Dazeem, depending on whom you ask) was just on Fallon last night belting out the movie’s signature song, accompanied by the Roots who played children’s’ toys.  It was epic to say the least.

 

 And since Frozen is still flying high this winter, the movie’s other star, Kristen Bell sings quite a few of our favorites.  Her duet with Santino Fontana (Hans) in Love is an Open Door was recently released exclusively by Disney Movies Anywhere. In case you weren’t aware, Disney Movies Anywhere is Disney’s all-new, cloud-based digital movie service. Frozen is now available digitally to own.

Santino Fontana was the prince in Broadway’s Cinderella so my older son and I are totally smitten with this clip.  To watch a Broadway star on stage and then to have him voice a Disney character is pretty cool for a young kid to appreciate.

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Photo credit: Theatermania

Frozen Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Combo Pack to be Released on March 18

With all this talk about Frozen, even though it’s already availably digitally, I’m excited about for when the Blu-Ray/DVD drops on March 18th.  Like many Blu-Ray and DVDs, Frozen will have quite a few exclusive features. 

Here are a few of the exclusive features that will be available on the Frozen Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital combo pack.

  • The Making Of Frozen (Blu-ray, Digital)
  •  D’frosted: Disney’s Journey From Hans Christian Anderson to Frozen (Blu-ray, Digital)
  • Breaking The Ice – The Real Making Of Frozen (Blu-ray, Digital)
  • 4 Deleted Scenes with introduction by Directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
  • Original Theatrical Short – “Get A Horse” (Blu-ray, Digital & DVD)
  • “Let It Go” Music Videos by Demi Lovato, Martina Stoessel & Marsha Milan Londoh (Blu-ray, Digital & DVD)
  • Frozen Teaser Trailer (Blu-ray, Digital & DVD)

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 If you’re anything like us, when we find a favorite movie, we watch it non-stop, sometimes til the disk breaks. We can’t wait for this release!