Monday, November 14, 2011

Super Why

Here's a super hero team that any parent can get behind... although I'm still partial to Spidey and the X-Men, don't get me wrong! Super Why, also known as Wyatt, is a story book character who comes to the rescue of his story book world friends by using books with characters who are experiencing similar dilemmas.

Now, you're probably thinking, "I don't know of any story with a character named Wyatt in it," and you would be right. However, when I tell you more about Wyatt's family, you might recognize him... or at least his older brother. They reside in a giant beanstalk house, and his older brother's name is Jack. Jack is now a teenager (recently headed off to college, in fact), and Wyatt has taken over the job of being the rambunctious boy of the family.

Wyatt's friends, also known as The Super Readers, are also popular storybook characters. There is Red, who roller skates to and from Grandma's house now. Pig is the smallest of the famous three, and loves to build things. Finaly, there is Princess Pea, who is known for her sensitivity to a particular legume beneath her mattress. All four have special Super Reading powers: Pig turns into Alpha Pig, who is well versed in the alphabet. Red becomes Wonder Red, who loves to rhyme and find similar sounds. Princess Pea becomes Princess Presto, with super spelling powers. Wyatt becomes the titular Super Why, with the power to read using his Why Writer, which highlights words as they are read, and helps him zap the right word to complete a sentence.

In more recent episodes, a new character named Woofster has been added. He's Wyatt's new pet dog, and he has Dictionary Power, to help define words that are new to the Super Readers. What kid doesn't love a cute puppy?

Viewers are also encouraged to watch for "Super Letters", which Wyatt plugs into his Super Computer to give them the answer to their dilemma. The letters tend to pop up throughout the story, and are sparkly and red. My son gets quite excited when he spots them, and loves "yelling to Super Why" to "alert" him to their presence.

Super Why currently airs on PBS, a free over the air channel, and PBS Sprout on certain cable network providers and satellite services.

Suggested ages for this program are toddler to about age 6 or 7. I think older kids may find the reading lessons a bit below them, but may still benefit from spelling and sentence completion lessons. Younger viewers may not enjoy the reading aspect as much, but rhyming and finding the Super Letters will be a lot of fun for the 2-3 set.

What your child learns:
  • Reading Readiness: Identifying letters (both upper and lowercase), completing sentences with the correct word, context, rhyming words, spelling.
  • Social and Emotional development: Helping others, compassion, friendship, following directions, listening to others.
  • Critical Thinking: Identifying and solving problems, using context to answer a question, finding similarities between parallel situations. 
As a parent watching, you might find the pauses to allow your child to answer to be a tad on the long side, and some of the situations may be overly basic. There is a little humor thrown in for the adult crowd, in that some of the story book characters the Super Readers meet are obviously neurotic, but aside from that, there isn't going to be much you'll enjoy other than watching your child respond to questions.

It's a cute little show, without loud and obnoxious characters. That's always a plus in my book. The reading aspect of this show, I find, is almost unparalleled in other programs. Your child will love having a super hero of their own to identify with, and seeing characters they recognize from some of their favorite stories on screen is a special little bonus.

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