[Uploaded by lebonldy on 9/30/11]
I think I’m in love!
Right after the emotional Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Breakfast, we were all whisked away to attend the PBS Kids Session.
There, I revealed more about myself, tried not to cry & presented the show’s curriculum & it’s importance for today’s children.
Dr. White, in her own words, let everyone know that many children (& many adults) don’t learn how to deal with their emotions. You might know some adults like this, right?
Not having coping skills to deal with everyday problems (cooperation, sharing, resilience, persistence) will undoubtedly have negative effects on children later in life
This has been my mantra while writing Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. We need to teach children coping strategies so they can reach their full potential in life!
Here are 3 clues that I revealed about myself at the PBS Annual Meeting:
Clue #1: It’s true, that in my crazy Italian family, Mister Rogers was that calming voice that looked right at “me” and told me that he liked me just the way I was and I believed him. I followed in his footsteps and got my Master’s Degree in Child Development just like Fred did.
Clue #2: I went into television to create programs learning taking a cue from Fred’s groundbreaking style and approach. I just hope to do for kids today what Mister Rogers did for me.
Clue #3: I am the result of PBS programming…it creates people like me who wish to grow up and educate children through media.
Thank you everyone at PBS Kids for a wonderful Annual Meeting in Denver, CO to announce the Premiere of DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD this LABOR DAY, SEPT 3RD at 11am EST.
I was close to tears the whole day….
It started at 6:15am as I walked into the room transformed beautifully into the Neighborhood of Make Believe by Karen Fritz and Suzanne Masri from WETA. Incredible work!
Paul Siefken (PBS Kids) started our presentation talking about Daniel as a “signature show” for PBS. He said, “Everyone knows not to interrupt me when I’m with my Daniel. I first have to dab my eyes, because the show is that sweet. And the characters are that cute.”
It was then our turn. Kevin Morrison (CEO Fred Rogers Company) and I gave some “inside scoop” into the show. We talked about our passion for the show and I revealed that they practically had to rip the first script out of my hands. Someone from the Fred Rogers Company said, “It’s not like Fred is going to read it!” But I thought differently. “Maybe he will….. and if he does, will he like it?”
But my favorite moment? Announcing Bill Isler, President of Fred Rogers Company and Mrs. Joanne Rogers to a standing ovation! Joanne got up on stage and gave me the biggest hug. I turned to Bill Isler, he had tears in his eyes, and I flashed back to 15 years ago, when Bill allowed me behind the “velvet red ropes” to greet Fred after a keynote speech at NAEYC. Now look where we are today.
Tears all day…
For Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood we have Daniel, himself, sing to the home viewer for the beginning of the song and we intentionally kept it the same as Fred’s original song. Daniel zips up his red sweater, he puts on his little sneakers and even tosses one a la Fred!
If you look closely to this frame you can see all of our nostalgia elements: Daniel is in the foyer, similar to the Mister Roger’s foyer, there are few different colored sweaters in the closet, there is a stoplight, a little trolley behind Daniel, little models of the Neighborhood (made by hand out of clay by Traci Paige Johnson) & even the fish tank.
In this scene, you can get a sneak peek to Daniel’s character who wants to be big & strong and carry his own birthday cake all the way home on Trolley. Trolley premieres in this clip too, as you can hear her “ding” when spoken to as the beloved character that she is. Mom lets Daniel carry his cake by himself and he’s excited. Perhaps he’s a bit too excited!
We wanted to showcase empowering preschoolers and helping them through natural consequences. Because, as can be expected, when Daniel gets home, and runs in to show Dad his cake that he decorated at the bakery with his friends, it is smushed. Daniel is naturally very disappointed. Dad Tiger (the original Daniel Striped Tiger) takes the time to talk to Daniel about how he feels, letting Daniel have his emotion. Then Dad sings the disappointment strategy to him, “When something seems bad, turn it around and find something good.” Daniel sings the strategy with the home viewer and thinks about how he can “find something good” in a smushed birthday cake. He thinks. And thinks. And then….”HEY! Do you think the cake still tastes yummy, even though its smushy?” He tastes the cake and guess what? It does taste yummy! And that is something good!
So, I remember all too clearly being 9+ months pregnant, on my way to the hospital with my husband, making grand gestures to all my neighbors of “We’ll be back with the baby!” and “Today’s the big day! We’re going to have a baby!”
…3+ hours later we sheepishly returned home
Today was not the day.
Well, that’s how I felt at #SXSW! I was so excited to give everyone a sneak peek of our much labored and beloved Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood! We were ready! We were going to share with the world our new little creation! And then…
…no sneak peek.
Today was not the day.
However, what I did get to do was show everyone who came to have a glorious PBS KIDS SXSW BREAKFAST was our vision, our goals, and a sneak peek at some of our beautiful visuals. Hurray!
Daniel Tiger, the son of the original Daniel Tiger is our star. He’s four years old, he wears a little red sweater and sneakers and talks directly to the preschool home viewers the way Fred Rogers did.
Our characters are “the next generation” of characters from the Neighborhood of Make Believe. All of the original characters have grown up and they all have preschoolers of their own.
Introducing…..Prince Wednesday (King Friday and Queen Sarah’ Saturday’s later in life baby), Miss Elaina (daugther of Lady Elaine and Music Man Stan), O the Owl (nephew of X the Owl) and Katerina ‘meow meow” Kittycat (daughter of Henrietta ‘meow meow’ Pussycat).
The friends live and play together in the newly imagined and expanded Neighborhood of Make Believe created with hand crafted textures and love.
And, WAIT until you hear the music!
Our curriculum is based on little musical strategies that are all singable and relevant to preschoolers (and us, parents) for use every day. So, “What do you do with the mad that you feel?Well, when you feel so mad you want to ROAR! Take a deep breath and count to four….1,2,3,4”.No really, how great would it be if more adults put this this skill into action as well?!
The Fred Roger’s Company is the expert in socio-emotional curriculum and have literally written the book (& thousands of shows) on how to talk to kids about these issues. At Out of the Blue, we’ve painstakingly researched all of these strategies with kids, themselves, to get them just right. We’re proud to say that kids in research can’t get enough of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. They are singing, learning our strategies and using them already in their lives!
So, no, we didn’t birth a baby at SXSW.
But we did get a lot of new wonderful blogger aunts and uncles who came to support us and who will be there, at the ready, when our new baby Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood actually does premiere THIS FALL on (where else?!) PBS KIDS!
We will be discussing a few incredibly cool PBS happenings, both on-air and on the interactive side as well as answering the BIG question of: How do you create content that’s both educational & entertaining?
Within the conversation, we’ll be discussing the exciting development of the new Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood spin off, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and show a special Sneak Peek Video Clip from our 1st episode. I can’t wait to share it!
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
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!
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.