Saturday, February 7, 2009

Word World

Word World is easily one of the best children's programs on television today. The show is incredibly clever, smart and funny. More importantly, this cartoon is actually an excellent literacy tool that can help parents build early literacy skills. The best part? Your kids will love it. The learning is disguised by catchy songs, quirky characters and captivating storylines. Your kids won't know know what hit them!

The entire world is built from ... words. That is to say, you can see the letters that make up each object and character. When letters are put in the correct order to form a word, it then transforms into that item. See how cool the barn is? The whole world is full of items like this. If you haven't seen the show, it's difficult to explain how amazing the presentation is. The letters literally expand and reshape themselves to BE that word, in a really neat way.

Designed for ages three to five, word building reinforces the pre-reading concept that letters make words. Kids will see first hand how to sound out letters (hey, if a frog can do it ... ) and learn about rhyming. The fun format gets kids excited about learning to build words.

The creators of this show did an absolutely brilliant job with this core group of characters. The animals have very distinct personalities and characteristics, making up a diverse group. Pig is all about the food. He maintains a large kitchen, from which he hosts a televised cooking show. Frog is a scientist, always laboring away in his log, coming up with crazy inventions. He has a great vocabulary, he's book smart and a little on the geeky side. Duck is ... kind of a redneck. He isn't great at spelling, but he tries hard and he's friendly. We also have Sheep, Ant, Bear and Dog.

Too often the voices on children's television shows grate on my nerves with the squeakiness and high pitch. Thankfully, that is not the case here. These voices are actually humorous - I swear that Duck is a feathered take on Bill Clinton. Like many successful children's shows, this one includes some humor intended for the adults. The result - there isn't another cartoon that I enjoy watching as much as this one.

Word World has is now offering plush WordFriends. Each animal is made of individual magnetized letters, like Dog to the right. Pull them apart, then clip them back to build the word. Or mix and match and make your own crazy animals! There are a ton of animals offered - the seven original characters plus extras like Bee, Zebra, Cat and Tiger. The kids in our test group were having a ball trading parts and making up words.

You can check here to find out when Word World is showing on your PBS station.

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