Blue’s Clues

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

One of the reasons I enjoy blogging is learning from other parents. The more we engage, the more I realize that we’re really quite similar..even if they live on the other side of the globe. Such is the case with, Dominique Goh, a Singaporean elementary school teacher, freelance writer and mom of 3. I recently asked the blogger of Dominique’s Desk a few questions on parenting in Singapore & I confirmed that it is a small world after all.

 

What can we learn from your culture that would allow us to be better parents?

Our climate in Singapore is..more community centered then individual focus. Showing mutual respect to people of other races and religions is strongly emphasized here as we have aim to be a multicultural and multi religious country. It is also stated in our national pledge

To show tolerance to others and accept the fact that everyone is entitled to their own religion and views have kept the people in our island nature away from rioting and violence.  By being better persons we in turn are able to focus more on our own families as we do not need to worry about political instability, racial tensions and other related issues.

Do you still teach?

I’m currently on NPL (No Pay Leave) and home taking care of my 3 kids.  The only kids I teach are my own.  My hubby and I had agreed that I would stay home during our children’s formative years to give them the best care and guidance that they need. From ages 0-2 years old a child has extremely rapid development both physically and mentally and I want to be there to nurture them every step of the way.

I have seen many of my previous students “neglected” by their parents who were too busy pursuing their corporate career or just making enough for survival and are not able or too exhausted to properly parent their own kids. I don’t want to fall into such a category. As a parent it should be our top priority to give the best to our kids.

With 3 children, how do you keep your mind fresh & fulfilled throughout your day?

Having 3 hyperactive kids – 21 months, 5yrs old & 8 yrs old, a lot of my energies get expanded on them on a daily basis. I keep myself active through blogging, interacting online with friends and clients, reading books, cooking and baking. Setting aside time for myself to do things which I love amidst teaching and interacting with the kids and household chores keeps me going from dusk to dawn.

I do schedule activities to do with each child on a daily basis so that I am able to spend equal amount of time with each child of mine.

 

You mentioned (unsolicited by me) that your children are fans of Blue’s Clues & Super Why. How are these programs different than other shows your children might view?

Blue’s Clues & Super Why both have the detective element in the show. Other kids shows which I have seen like Barney, Arthur, Cat in the Hat etc. mostly deal with themes of family, love or just plain fun and entertainment. They do not really show a child how to process information (clues) to solve a bigger problem (issue).

What I like about Blue’s Clues and Super Why is they bring you through the thought process and show the pre-schooler step by step how to analyze what they have at hand to find the answer. It gets the kids more interactive while watching the show and they are able to hone skills which they would need to rely on while they grow up to understand and use (i.e. In the answering of comprehension questions in school)

Sincere thanks Dominique for sharing your thoughts with us!

 

If you have any cultural attitudes that you feel affect the way you parent, please share them with us below.

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

Yes, that’s me.

And mind you, I am thrilled to be nominated!  Really.  It’s an honor.

That being said…. 😉

My shows have been nominated for Emmy awards since 1997 with Blue’s Clues for Outstanding Preschool Series and then again for Blue’s Room and then again for Super Why.  Once Blue’s Clues and Super Why! were both nominated at the same time, in the same category…against Sesame Street.  And guess who won for the 40th year in a row?  And yes, I love Sesame but still…

So, here’s to 2012 giving us our 1st Emmy win!  I owe so much to PBS Kids, our fabulous production teams, writing, animation, research and my mom to bring home the win…

But, I do know that it is not what is important.  Teaching kids to read through media, teaching them kindergarten readiness skills and having them feel great about themselves is what is important.

But still…

I wouldn’t mind just once, hearing our name read from that freshly opened envelope. I’d take a slow walk up to that podium in a gown that makes me feel like a movie star for the night, determined to deliver my most heartfelt acceptance.

Just once.
(Oh, did I mention we almost named our puppy “Emmy”, just to be able to say that I have one?!)
by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Blue's Clues, Kids, Parenting, Stuff We Love

Angela on Pinterest          [Blue’s Clues photo via craftster.org]

We just might need to take this off the clothesline.

Stay tuned…


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

On Blue’s Clues, we intentionally designed our female puppy the color blue. Yes, a girl. And yes, blue. This still amazes plenty of people (especially the older set) upon realization of that little tidbit! We wanted to challenge preconceived notions that things don’t have to be a certain way, regardless of gender or any popular opinion for that matter.

When we categorize or generalize anything, we tend to put limitations on it or reign in our expectations for it. Needless to say, this is a definite no-no in the pursuit of raising an emotionally healthy child.

The problem is that I like personalization and every so often I’ll add an accessory or two with a splash of pink. So should this pink tool set upset me?

If I’m using a hammer or screwdriver in front of my girls does it matter if it just so happens to match my T-shirt? I’m still modeling the strong, can-do woman that doesn’t need a dude to come home and fix it for little ol’ me, aren’t I?

Perhaps since my kids who played with traditionally colored Tinkertoys, have aged out of the Disney princess stage, it’s less apparent to me now. But especially at an age when they’re spending much longer periods of time interacting with their peers and a variety of adults…now is definitely not the time for me to let my guard down!

If anything, these pretty little tools should be a simple reminder that my kids should be raised to pursue a limitless future for themselves and NOT one defined by their gender.

The following is from a talk that I gave this morning at Kidscreen Summit. The session was entitled Like a Boss:  Honing Your Leadership Skills. I was honored that Donna Friedman Meir had asked me to be among such a smart group of panelists, which was made up of

  • Kate Ebner
  • Thomas Lynch
  • Maggie McGuire

 

WHAT DOES LEADERSHIP MEAN TO YOU?

I believe that a leader is an eternal optimist. She has a vision, has audacity to see that vision through, and has contagious, passionate energy to empower the right people to help make the dream a reality.

My passion is to empower kids.  I want them to know that they have a voice, and that what they say matters…even if it takes them longer to say it.  I believe that if we pause, wait, listen attentively, preschoolers (kids in general) will talk.  And what they have to say is brilliant.  My vision is to create educational shows that kids want to watch.  My approach has been to marry the very best preschool curriculum with the magic and influence of media.

I was that 4 yr old who couldn’t sit any closer to Mister Rogers when he was on…& talking to me. I grew up and wanted to make my own mark on children’s television because I did not like much of what was on for kids.  Blue’s Clues was born out of the desire to have kids learn the skills they needed for kindergarten. I wanted them to practice those skills by using their voice and “interacting”. So, we left a 4 beat pause in.

Super Why is about motivating and teaching kids to read. By leaving the pause in, kids at home are practicing literacy skills by helping our super heroes with the power to read.

With the premiere of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood this Fall, I am bringing the pause back full circle, honoring the man who taught us about the power of the pause in television – Fred Rogers. And this time we use it for the most important skills of all…socio-emotional.

 

I started in the research department at Nickelodeon. And the day that I decided to leave to finish my Master’s Degree because I wanted to “create shows for preschoolers” was the day people called my “crazy”. I got lots of push back. But I saw my future. And I love to prove my neigh sayers wrong.

I remember being on set for the pilot of Blue’s Clues thinking to myself, “This had better work out because I’m never going back!” My father in law was the one who told me that only the best & biggest accomplishments come out of educated risks. I believe he was right.

 

THE BUMPS IN THE ROAD… 

My biggest career obstacle was the day we found out that Blue’s Clues had ended its run. What? 10 years, just under 100 people who were like family working under one roof for this great show. This wasn’t just a job.

As much as I should have known that productions don’t stay around forever, I wasn’t prepared for this day. I took some meetings and my barometer was, “If I don’t feel like throwing up after the meeting, I would pursue it.”. It took a year.

I had pitched PBS’ Linda Simensky my “reading show”, which was Super Why, and the day she called to tell me that PBS wanted to make it, I literally sank to the floor. My identity was back!

ADVICE FOR UP & COMING LEADERS…

Push through the negativity. Don’t follow the status quo. Don’t ask too many people what they “think”. Follow your gut, your passion, have chutzpah, make calls, meet people and follow through on opportunities to learn in the area that excites you even if you don’t know where its going to take you. Be open. Find an outlet to get your vision out in the world. And remember that it takes a village. So find the best and the brightest, be good to them, and have them join you in making your dream a reality.

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Blue's Clues

…wonder who it’s from?

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

I was going through some old bins over the weekend & came across something quite special.

14 yrs ago, I’d sent Mister Rogers some flowers and my little puppy, Blue, to thank him for inviting me to Pittsburgh and for showing me around his set. Shortly after I’d sent the gift, I’d received a photo of Daniel Tiger seated with Blue, in front of the flowers.

Just under the photo was a touching note from Fred. Fred Rogers was authentic…the real deal. He undoubtedly brightened my neighborhood as well as millions of others.

With all of our flaws and busyness, make sure to brighten someone’s world today!

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

One common thread among successful people is that they’ve all been inspired in some way or another. I know that when I created Blue’s Clues, it was my brother, who is 14 years younger than me, who served as my inspiration. When he was six, I saw him physically reacting to a somewhat aggressive show he was watching. So I thought, why not harness that interactive power, but in a positive way? Hence, Blue’s Clues. And when The Fred Rogers Company asked that my team and I create the follow-up to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, what better inspiration than Fred himself? If I couldn’t find inspiration through his helpful ways and pleasant demeanor, I think I would’ve changed careers!

Of course, you don’t have to have a major project on your to-do list to find inspiration. In fact, for many creative people, finding inspiration is almost a routine part of their day. Unfortunately, though, too many people go about their day un-inspired, simply moving from task to task, watching the clock tick away in apathy. Life should involve pleasure, enjoyment and excitement—and finding something that inspires you each day can help you live that kind of life.

To me, inspiration is almost a heightened sense of awareness, where you get lost in your feelings and can spontaneously react to them in some way or another. T. S. Elliot said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” So, let the process take you to that unknown place. Some days are definitely easier than others to allow yourself to get swept away, but if you typically struggle to find inspiration, here are a few ways to find it:

Brush up on current events. If you read or see something that arises a strong emotion within you, get it out! Harness that idea or opinion in a positive way. For example, I was honestly tired of all the bipartisanship I’ve been reading so much of in the news lately, so I wrote what seemed to me like an ideal situation into an upcoming episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. In the episode, we discuss voting and illustrate different groups working together regardless of the outcome of the vote.

Look to friends and loved ones. Tap into the feelings that you get from the special people in your life to create something personal. I think it’s fair to say that the majority of great works of art were inspired by amore. As I mentioned earlier, my first draft of Blue’s Clues was essentially a way for me to give someone I loved dearly, my brother, the tools and lessons that would truly benefit him in life.

Appreciate the arts. Speaking of art, if music, dance or studio art speak to you, expose yourself to it more often. The beauty, the rhythm, the colors can inspire you to create your own masterpiece. Even if you can’t draw a straight line (which I honestly can’t), bring a small sketchbook to an art show or museum and simply doodle—you’ll be surprised at what unconsciously emerges!

Turn to religion. If you’re a religious person, what better muse to inspire incredible thoughts and actions? If you find a certain strength from going to church, then attend services or  various functions held by the church. If a Gregorian chant mentally takes you to a safer, more pleasant place, by all means add it to your playlist.

Get active. Being in tune with and focusing on your body allows you to hear what it has to say. If your body feels good, there’s a definite correlation to how your head feels as well, all contributing to an inspirational frame of mind. Perhaps it’s the effect of allowing more oxygen into the brain, which also allows you to think more clearly after you have physically pushed your body.

Grab a pen. Spontaneously writing in your own private journal allows you to process and reflect on much of what’s going on inside you. Even if you’re not a professional writer, it is a most freeing feeling to get it all down on paper. Many go about their day on auto-pilot, repeating their daily activities without reflecting upon them. This writing will allow you to put your ideas, dreams or desires in front of you in a much clearer fashion, inspiring you to actually obtain them. I have journals and mini notebooks all over my house and office with notes scribbled throughout, as this really helps me with an inspirational game plan going forward. And after a project or episode is complete, what better motivation for me to create the next one than seeing the joyful reaction of children all over the globe after seeing the fruits of my labor?

Whatever your passion might be, get lost within it. It feels great, and you’ll love the outcome!

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

Who else pre-bought tickets to the Muppets?!

We did!

On premiere day, Greg and I took the girls to see the new Muppet Movie.  We were all excited…and we loved it!  I have to admit that I got choked up a few times – especially at the idea that I was sharing this happy part of my own childhood with my girls. And well, a   comeback story always gets me.  And Rainbow Connection?  Bring on the tears.

My girls? They laughed!  And they were sad when Walter was sad.  And they cheered at the end.

And Mommy was a hero!

Why?

Because I know Walter!  Peter Linz, the amazingly talented actor who plays Walter played Polka Dots & Doodle Board on Blue’s Room.  My girls remember meeting Peter who was always so sweet to them.   Congrats to Peter!   You were awesome!

I seriously wish more movies for kids were like The Muppet Movie.  Silly, heartfelt, fun for all ages.  “Forget You” in chicken bok?   Genius.

And my girls can’t stop singing, “Manamana!”   Bonus!

 

 

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

Stay Puft

After careful deliberation of some incredibly creative & just plain cute Halloween costumes, the judges have reached their final decision.

Congratulations to Nathan B. who wow’d our judges with his (or more accurately his Mom Kimberly’s) handmade Mr. Stay Puft Marshmallow Man costume.  He will be receiving $50 worth of Super Why & Blue’s Clues merchandise to share with his family and friends.

Thank you everyone for Liking us on our Facebook fanpage and for sharing your wonderful photos with us in our 1st Angela’s Clues Halloween Photo Contest.

From my house to yours, have a fantastic Halloween!!

~Angela