Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sid the Science Kid

My first post of a show not in my header... come on, you know you're impressed!

Today we're looking at Sid the Science Kid. This show is a Jim Henson production. Yes, the very same Jim Henson who came up with the Muppets on Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, etc. However, this is a very different animal than your run-of-the-mill Muppet show. Sid the Science Kid is 100% CGI, or Computer Generated Images. (And now you know what CGI means if you didn't already!) The other thing this show is... motion capture. This is initially what creeped me out about the show, and why I didn't start watching it until recently. MoCap rubs me the wrong way sometimes. But, after watching it for some weeks now, my son has fallen in love. It still took me watching the "making of" video before I could stand to watch it.

See, now you feel better about it too. Science is fun. Or you may be more freaked out than before seeing Sid as a skeletal machine around a tiny woman, I don't know.

The story follows Sid, "the kid who wanted to know everything about everything", as he goes through his day. We start out usually in Sid's home with his parents and younger brother. Sid stumbles upon a scientific problem and asks his parents about it. They start his lessons by giving basic information, like a parent usually does, but then it's time for Sid to go to school and con his teacher Susie into making her lesson plans all about what he wants. I will interject here that one of the things that still bugs me is that apparently Susie never has her own lessons planned and lets the kids do whatever they want. As a former teacher myself, I know child-led learning is important, but so is having lesson plans. I guess it works for her though.

Sid rides to school with his mom, and finds his friends Gerald (pink skin), Gabriella (curly red hair), and Mae (glasses). He then introduces his idea of the day to them, and they follow along in wanting to learn all about it. Susie calls everyone in for "rug time" with a song, and they share what they want to learn about. Susie then leads them in a scientific experiment, encouraging the kids to observe, compare, contrast, and write in their science journals. The show usually interjects film of real kids performing the same experiments and writing in their journals here. That's a feature I really like, because it shows your child that they can do these very same things at home on their own. After this, the kids invite her to sing a song for them about their daily topic, she invites them to play with their new ideas outside, and then Sid's grandma picks him up from school. Sid's grandma usually shares a story on their ride home of some time in her past that she had experience with the topic which Sid is learning about. They get home, play with his family for a little while, and then Sid gets ready for bed and reminisces about his day and what he has learned.

This show is aimed at kids in high levels of preschool all the way through elementary school. The appeal is obviously there for younger kids too, as my two year old enjoys the singing, dancing, and fun voices of the characters. Kids older than elementary may find this show a little on the slow side though.

The program airs on PBS channels, which is available with any basic over-the-air television. Check your local listings for times and channels. There are also plenty of DVDs available for travel and non-air time watching.

The educational value of this show is pretty obvious. It teaches your child about the scientific method, and about how our world works. Your child will also likely walk away with some big "science" words like "estimation", "hypothesis", "experiment", and so on.

What your child learns:
  • Science: How to follow the scientific method, testing, experimenting, journaling their experiences, making guesses, how the world works, nature, astronomy, inventions, testing, compare/contrast, asking questions, and science terminology.
  • Social and Emotional Development: Family bonds, being a good friend, listening to a teacher, caring for the world around them, feelings and empathy.
 As a parent, really the only thing that draws me to this show is knowing the science behind it (see video above). Other than that, I do enjoy that they show real children doing the things the animated characters are, so that it makes the program easy to relate to. It also gives me great ideas for things to do with my future homeschooling. As a child watching, the bright colors, happy animation, and fun personalities of the characters are attractive, and for the most part, younger kids won't be able to detect that they're actually learning something by watching. It's worth a watch or two. As long as it doesn't make your skin crawl.

1 comment:

  1. My kids are all grown up so I've never heard of Sid the Science Kid! Cool!