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Blue’s Clues

Just in time, towards the end of our presidential election, our Wishenpoof Music Videos debuted this week, and as the lyrics state,

It all comes down to me, to be the best person that I can be.  I need to…Believe in Me.”

It dawned on me today that these lyrics underscore my entire career and why I create positive media for kids.  I want to give them the skills and the encouragement to change the world, and nourish them against the bad modeling that surrounds them on a daily basis, that goes beyond election time. AAP

Last week, The American Academy of Pediatrics, retracted it’s guidelines for toddlers & screen time saying it’s all about content, context and co-viewing.  The idea that the “interaction” of live video chat has a potentially positive effect even on babies, plays to my strength in the value of creating media that actively involves the home viewer to think along, sing-along, learn-along and master the skills we put on the screen.  If babies are benefiting from this type of interaction, imagine what we are doing for older kids when we create media that is specifically for them, that asks them to play along? In fact, according to Linebarger and Walker (“Infants’ and Toddlers’ Television Viewing and Language Outcomes”, 2005), “The recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (1999) urging parents to avoid TV for children younger than 2 years old may be premature. The authors go on to state not only do these results further provide evidence that “television matters” (e.g., Anderson et al., 2001; Wright et al., 2001), it’s the interactive format that is the tipping point.  Formats such as “speaking directly to the viewer, providing opportunities to respond, and using and defining vocabulary words”.  Blue's CLuesThe interactive and participatory nature of all my shows, starting in 1996 with “Blue’s Clues” (Nick Jr), where Steve or Joe speak directly to the child were positively related to “expressive language production and vocabulary”, according to Linebarger.  Another Blue’s Clues study by my mentor, Dr. Dan Anderson, et al, has purported that regular viewers of Blue’s Clues benefit from a strengthened cognitive development,  Anderson states, “Blue’s Clues doesn’t only do well, but does good.”

By now, we can’t argue that kids do, in fact, learn from media, good and bad.  As the AAP states, it is all about content.   What we need to look for is the type of content that has the intent to teach – kind of like looking for “organic produce” or checking the labels of food to see what is exactly in there.  If you could “check the labels” of media, we want to look for the shows that are founded in curriculum, that does research, that understands what is put on the screen has enormous impact on the brains of the next generation. I guess because I’m such a research nerd, I’m more proud of the research and learning that has come out of each of my shows than the Peabody wins or Emmy nominations. Super Why, our long running PBS Kids show is grounded in what the National Reading Panel deems critical to reading success, and has thus been proven to teach kids to read.   The Annenberg study, which was headed by Deborah L. Linebarger, Ph.D., Director of the Annenberg Children’s Media Lab, determined whether young viewers learned the key early literacy content in the show, such as letter names and sounds, rhyming, and matching spoken words to print and whether they applied their learning in their daily lives.  Dr. Linebarger has said, “The format of Super Why! provides kids with an engaging platform that fosters literacy skills, resulting in learning the content featured in the program as well as applying that content to other contexts.”

New research out of University of Texas has come out to support that Daniel Tiger (PBS KIDS) “America’s favorite tiger” helps kids with social emotional skills, social cues and problem solving strategies with our very sticky musical jingles (come on, I know you know our potty song!).  In addition, as mentioned in the AAP report today, co-viewing is also important. Anecdotally we have heard about these results for a long time, as documented in the New York Times, Motherlode column in 2015, “Daniel Tiger Becomes a Boy with Autism’s Guide to Social Life” as well in our own formative research.

 

But most importantly, in terms of combining the big three – content, context and co-viewing, how can we, as parents, use media to help our kids understand the world and fare better as adults in it?  This is what keeps me up at night.  In light of the negative modeling of this election, I for one, want all kids to master positive executive functioning skills  – among them, how to get along in the world, be empathetic, take other’s perspectives, be kind, fair, smart and ultimately, “be good people.” Wishenpoof (Amazon Kids, is created to give kids life skills through the stories on the show and through big beautiful, empowering anthems (as cited above with the new “Believe in Me” video). Incorporating Ellen Galinsky’s Mind in the Making, 7 Essential Skills, the life skills that every child needs, according to Lisa Belkin of Motherlode in 2010.

I personally, want kids to grow up believing in themselves, and believing that what they say matters and how their voice can actually change the world.  That’s why each of my shows has been interactive – – our characters are listening, and care what kids have to say. I want to motivate kids, give them a sense of self worth, and give them a voice.

Perhaps we’re hearing the opposite from a particular Presidential candidiate during this Presidential election process?

xo

Angela

I’d love to hear from you on this below or via Facebook. What traits would you like your child to acquire & do you think the media they’re digesting will assist them in this process. Hmm?

 

Just in time, towards the end of our presidential election, the first Wishenpoof Music Video debuted this week, and as the lyrics state,

It all comes down to me, to be the best person that I can be.  I need to…Believe in Me.”

It dawned on me today that these lyrics underscore my entire career and why I create positive media for kids.  I want to give them the skills and the encouragement to change the world, and nourish them against the bad modeling that surrounds them on a daily basis, that goes beyond election time. AAP

Last week, The American Academy of Pediatrics, retracted it’s guidelines for toddlers & screen time saying it’s all about content, context and co-viewing.  The idea that the “interaction” of live video chat has a potentially positive effect even on babies, plays to my strength in the value of creating media that actively involves the home viewer to think along, sing-along, learn-along and master the skills we put on the screen.  If babies are benefiting from this type of interaction, imagine what we are doing for older kids when we create media that is specifically for them, that asks them to play along? In fact, according to Linebarger and Walker (“Infants’ and Toddlers’ Television Viewing and Language Outcomes”, 2005), “The recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (1999) urging parents to avoid TV for children younger than 2 years old may be premature. The authors go on to state not only do these results further provide evidence that “television matters” (e.g., Anderson et al., 2001; Wright et al., 2001), it’s the interactive format that is the tipping point.  Formats such as “speaking directly to the viewer, providing opportunities to respond, and using and defining vocabulary words”.  Blue's CLuesThe interactive and participatory nature of all my shows, starting in 1996 with “Blue’s Clues” (Nick Jr), where Steve or Joe speak directly to the child were positively related to “expressive language production and vocabulary”, according to Linebarger.  Another Blue’s Clues study by my mentor, Dr. Dan Anderson, et al, has purported that regular viewers of Blue’s Clues benefit from a strengthened cognitive development,  Anderson states, “Blue’s Clues doesn’t only do well, but does good.”

By now, we can’t argue that kids do, in fact, learn from media, good and bad.  As the AAP states, it is all about content.   What we need to look for is the type of content that has the intent to teach – kind of like looking for “organic produce” or checking the labels of food to see what is exactly in there.  If you could “check the labels” of media, we want to look for the shows that are founded in curriculum, that does research, that understands what is put on the screen has enormous impact on the brains of the next generation. I guess because I’m such a research nerd, I’m more proud of the research and learning that has come out of each of my shows than the Peabody wins or Emmy nominations. Super Why, our long running PBS Kids show is grounded in what the National Reading Panel deems critical to reading success, and has thus been proven to teach kids to read.   The Annenberg study, which was headed by Deborah L. Linebarger, Ph.D., Director of the Annenberg Children’s Media Lab, determined whether young viewers learned the key early literacy content in the show, such as letter names and sounds, rhyming, and matching spoken words to print and whether they applied their learning in their daily lives.  Dr. Linebarger has said, “The format of Super Why! provides kids with an engaging platform that fosters literacy skills, resulting in learning the content featured in the program as well as applying that content to other contexts.”

(continue..)

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Blue's Clues, My Projects
Today was no ordinary day.

Today I heard from an old friend..Blue’s Clues’ SIDE TABLE DRAWER, also known as Aleisha LaNae’ Allen, M.S.!!

Throughout the years in kids’ media, we’re involved in so many interactions with actors, artists and all types of creatives. But when you reconnect with them down the road, and see where their lives have taken them..there’s nothing better!
 Here’s a kind note from Aleisha, who has apparently moved on from simply holding Steve/Joe’s notebook.
 Side Table Drawer Blue's Clues

Hello Angela,

My name is Aleisha L. Allen; I was the voice of Side Table Drawer for the Blue’s Clues Series! I hope all is well! 

I wanted to reach out to you because I graduated from Teachers College (Columbia University) this past May with an M.S. in Communication Science and Disorders (CSD)- Speech Language Pathology. Shortly after, I found out that you, too, attended TC! Similarly, we both studied subjects regarding Childhood Development!  

It was such a pleasure to be THE Side Table Drawer and always be there for Steve when he needed his “Handy Dandy Notebook”. It was one of my first reccurring roles, and one that is my favorite, as well as the favorite of so many. So, I owe you a HUGE “Thank You!”.    🙂

As a recent graduate, I am aiming to resume my acting, particularly voice overs, as well as culminate what I’ve learned about Childhood Language Development and talents to be innovative! The goal with having my degree is to bridge both of my careers in order to provide effective services for individuals with communication disorders.

Again, thank you so much. Congratulations on your successes and innovations, and I hope to hear from you soon.

 Screenshot 2016-06-17 11.42.49

Best Always!

Aleisha

Thanks so very much, for taking the time to reach out and say “Hi”, my friend, Side Table Drawer
xo
Angela

 

“How Do You Make a Hit Children’s Show?” is the question I typically hear from parents, students, artists and writers as I meet them for the first time. While everyone’s got their own system to create educational media for children, I shared mine this week at The 4th Annual International Children’s Media Conference in Istanbul, Turkey, via live stream.

I was excited to journey outside my typical neighborhood with this project because a key to a better tomorrow lies within the education and happiness of children, on a global scale.

During the talk, I mentioned the importance of understanding one’s vision and the necessity of creating aspirational characters. Using Blue’s Clues, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Super Why!, Creative Galaxy & Wishenpoof as tangible examples of how I implemented such features, I explained their characters’ development and how each show’s curriculum helped to enhance their stories. I typically allude to the secret sauce and timing when discussing my projects, which are both imperative to a “Hit Children’s Show”.

Screenshot 2015-11-25 09.54.42

 Special thanks to Hatice Şehime ÖZÜTLER (TRT Çocuk) for inviting me to share, amidst an educated panel, for this special project.

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Blue's Clues, Parenting, Super Why!

EHnBlue

I really wish I could tell you that I break into song every time the mail arrives just like Steve/Joe from Blue’s Clues does. But well, I don’t.

I’d love to say that when one of my daughters has a problem, my usual response is to cheerfully chant, “When you have a problem, we look…in a book!” just like my characters from Super Why. But no, I don’t do that either.

So, what do I do?  And what have I learned from writing hundreds of preschool episodes for television?Super Why Reading Camp

Singing helps.

Seriously.  Singing anything.  We even sing when the mail comes on Blue’s Clues.  Because, well..mail is exciting when you are four!  And truthfully, most mail is exciting.  It’s like a little surprise present.  Singing about it makes it celebratory.

 

So why not sing about other things?  Sing when we are cleaning up, which preschool teachers have been doing forever! Sing when we are sad (Hello, Taylor Swift?).  Sing when we are excited (“I’m so excited!  And I just can’t hide it!”).  Sing when things don’t go our way (“You Can’t Always Get What you Want”).

 

Feel free to belt out a tune today. Just watch how it helps!

 

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Blue's Clues, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Parenting, Super Why!

Happy ThanksgivingA cornucopia of thanks to all of you that give Daniel Tiger, Super Why, Blue and the rest of our imaginary characters an open door policy into your home.

There isn’t a day that we take your trust for granted and we’re proud to meet the challenges of bettering the lives of children across the globe.

Happy Thanksgiving one and all!

xo

Angela

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Blue's Clues, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, My Projects, PRESS

DTN nprSincere gratitude to NPR, in particular Erika Beras, behavioral health reporter at WESA-FM, for your NPR Morning Edition piece: Daniel Tiger: Won’t You Be His Neighbor which aired this morning.

I can’t begin to explain how grateful we are for our 36 million video streams per month!

While high ratings and streams aren’t frowned upon around here, it’s truly because they serve as a testament that parents yearn for quality, “good for you” programming for their children.

For many of us, such positive reviews help make the labor and the difficulties of work, take a backseat.

Thank you to my incredible Out of the Blue Enterprises family, as well as our team over at The Fred Rogers Company, PBS Kids, 9 Story EntertainmentVoodoo Highway Music & Post.  The magic that is Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood couldn’t happen without each one of you!

 

Have a listen to the NPR piece Daniel Tiger: Won’t You Be His Neighbor right here & let us know what you think about the show by commenting below:

And a special shout out for Blue’s Clues as well! #happymamma

 

I recently talked to Seattle’s GeekWire boys, Todd Bishop & John Cook, about Creative Galaxy (Amazon Prime Video). They had some interesting questions about the unique, non-broadcast process and what makes the world of Creative Galaxy inspire a love of arts and creativity within children.

In an age that unfortunately contains more than our fair share of sub par content and an abuse/overuse of technology, we cut through the clutter during this GeekWire podcast segment and dive right into how we can properly embrace and utilize new media for our kids development and enjoyment. And yes, you’ll find a shout out or two for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Blue’s Clues

Click below to enjoy the show & let me know if you have any questions please.

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Blue's Clues, Parenting

Back to School

Throughout the years, the back to school theme has made its into many of my preschool TV scripts. Probably my favorite one is the Blue’s Clues script I wrote when Steve (our main character) goes back to school, leaving for college in 2002..YIKES! Feel free to not do the math here. Blues Clues Logo

We wrote 3 episodes leading up to the introduction of the new host, Joe and Steve’s going back top school. This way, when Steve left for college, Blue and the kids at home were already comfortable with the idea of Joe. The key was getting the audience used to the change before it actually happened. Who knew that, still today, many parents are up in arms about the change?! But back to my point, which is that the process was pivotal.

I try to always look at everything from the kid perspective. So, every fall I have a few back-to-school prep steps that seem to help the kids with the transition.

I hope that these 5 Tips will help you through a seamless transition:

Start the back-to-school routines a week before school starts: We go to bed on “school time”, start doing some “homework” and try to keep our nights low key. This especially helps with the stress of the mornings, when school starts back up.

Get the wipe on/wipe off calendar ready: We keep track of everything two months at a time. My kids are encouraged to add to the calendar as well. However, they think: “If it’s on the calendar then we do it!”..hence all of the waterpark and trampoline room notations

Blues Room Back to School

Put a bulletin board up in plain sight:  We use this for all of the paperwork that goes back and forth (permission slips, projects, field trips). Sounds simple but it’s amazing how quickly our papers get lost or overlooked without it.

Have a spot for the inevitable miscellaneous stuff: We empty a whole drawer in the kitchen for each of my girls for them to put all of their “stuff” in. We keep art projects (big paper plate man? Cute! On the fridge then in the drawer!), homework that has been returned, anything that comes home in the “folder!” Then we organize it into a big bin, labeled with each child’s name, at the end of each month. This keeps everything in one place while we’re busy during the school year.

Schedule Playdates: If my girls are feeling anxious about seeing old friends, playdates with our school friends are imperative. It also gets them excited about seeing the rest of the gang at school.

Please let us know what tips have helped you & your family get over the September Blues

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Blue's Clues, Kids, Parenting

EHnBlue

Happy Birthday to my (newly) 10 year old! There are no more children with single digits in my home [sigh].

But while there’s a lot I miss about her younger years, there’s so much I have to look forward to on the road ahead.

 

Thank you for your inspiration and for being the incredible person that you are! Enjoy 10!