May
22
2013
by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Blue's Clues, Kids, Stuff We Love

App-Screenshot-iPadMy super friend Traci Paige Johnson, a graduate of Northwestern University, joined me in 1994 to create Blue’s Clues which ran for 10 years on Nickelodeon. Traci’s unique style of cutout animation became the signature look for Blue’s Clues & beyond. Today she is the co-owner/ founder of the media company, Yummico.

 

How was creating Blue’s Clues different than creating Yummiloo?

When you and I created Blues Clues, we had Nickelodeon (with their resources and money) behind us. In contrast, I created Yummiloo with scotch tape and rubber bands – not literally, but certainly in spirit. I came up with the idea and did the design & animation with my husband in our basement. Yummiloo has been a bootstrap operation from top to bottom.

 

Was there a specific instance with one of your boys that gave you the idea that “we need something about food for kids?”

I actually do remember a very significant ‘aha’ moment. When my 3 yr old, Emmet, was around one & a half, I was feeding him and he refused to eat his broccoli. Tired and frustrated, I reached into his toy bin and pulled out a little plastic gorilla. I spontaneously play-acted the gorilla swinging over to his plate, roaring: “YUM… broccoli!” Then I had the gorilla pretend to eat it. I hadn’t planned to do this beforehand, I was just improvising in the moment. But it worked! The gorilla’s interest in the broccoli changed Emmet’s attitude, and he began to eat it too. I took note. Modeling and play, when introducing new foods, is a powerful combination.

Aside from this one particular instance, I’ve felt a general frustration with the way we, as a culture, present food to kids. There are so many things out there that are working against parents who are trying to get their kids to eat right: the ubiquity of unhealthy treats, of relentless commercials, and of kids menus stuffed with only chicken nuggets and white pasta. We parents need all the help we can get.

Yummiloo came out of this frustration, and out of a realization that there wasn’t a nutrition series for preschoolers involving good stories and pre-school relatable characters. I’ve done a lot of research on this issue and it all states that the “window of opportunity is open” in preschoolers and this is the time to introduce a variety of foods. They want to model good behavior and want to do what’s good for their bodies. Yummiloo’s mission is to make “real food” as irresistible to kids as “fake foods”. I want to take the tools of visual media (like those employed in advertising) and use them to get kids to want to eat right, to want broccoli and apples and be a true “food adventurer” setting the foundation of healthy eating for the rest of their lives.Plum

 

You and I share a vision that shows for kids should be richly textured, smart, interesting and layered. How is Yummiloo all those things?

Yummiloo is a world that kids will want to jump into… and it’s made entirely of real, healthy food. The messages and curriculum aren’t “skill & drill” but are couched organically into the story. There’s hide and seek for the youngest viewers while teaching about composting for the older set. We’ve built the message of modeling healthy food into Yummiloo’s very design. It’s “delicious media…good and good for you.” Like all the shows we create, it inspires kids even AFTER the screen is turned off.

Yummiloo is so beautiful! As an artist, what was your process in designing it?

Honestly, I was really inspired by the power of advertising – by the way a gorgeously photographed burger in a TV commercial can make you want to eat a burger (or pizza, ice cream, etc). I wanted to take the tools and techniques of Madison Avenue and employ them in the creation of a world made entirely of healthy food. To do this, we went to the market to get the freshest foods available; we lit and photographed them to bring out their color, their shape – and their overall ‘yumminess’; then we brought them into the computer. These photographed foods were the foundation, the inspiration, out of which the world took shape.

 

Have you heard any feedback from kids? Are they asking to eat more broccoli trees?

Funny you should ask – we just got a post from a mom whose thee year-old asked for a plum while in the produce section of the supermarket… and she had never had a plum before. It’s in its early days, but kids seem sparked. They’ve really responded to the world and enjoy pointing out the foods they see hidden in the landscape. I’m encouraged. This is the perfect age to get kids excited about fresh foods.

 

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May
17
2013
by: Alexandra C | Filed under Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Kids

 

Addi

Miss Elaina is an impulsive & imaginative preschooler. She has a big heart and even bigger ideas! Behind the adorable pigtails is the talented voice actor, Addison Holley.

We had the opportunity to ask Addison a few questions about herself and her role on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

 

Hiya toots! How old are you and where are you from?

I am 12 yrs old and live in Burlington, Ontario, which is just outside of Toronto.

 

How are you similar to your character, Miss Elaina?

I have fun playing Miss Elaina because we share a lot of the same personality traits. One being we both have big personalities! We also both love playing with our friends. Oh, & we both like doing cartwheels. However I don’t do everything backwards!

 

If you had to pick one favorite episode, which would it be?

I love them all, but if I were to choose one I would have to say the Thank You Day episode. I really liked the message it sent.Miss Elaine & Family

 

What’s your favorite book?

My favourite book is A Series Of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket.

 

When you’re not in the studio recording, what’s your favorite activity?

I love to dance, hang out with my family, play with my dogs, and draw!

 

ADDISON HOLLEY is 12 yrs old & has enjoyed every second that has been spent in the world of entertainment, as her passions include voice work, on camera & live stage where most recently she played Emilie in War Horse. Currently she can be seen in many animated series such as My Big Big Friend as “Lily”, Ella the Elephant as “Ella”, and Peg+Cat as “Tessa”.

Knowing the history of where Daniel Tigers Neighborhood originates from makes it even more special knowing the role Mister Rogers played in children’s lives. Some of her on-camera work include TV series work such as Baxter and Really Me (both on family channel), a reoccurring role on My Babysitters A Vampire, & a short film “Rosie Takes The Train”.  Addison also adds dancing to her list of loves and spends a lot of her time training in all styles.

 

May
15
2013
by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Kids
Photo Credit: Denise Grant

Photo Credit: Denise Grant

Prince Wednesday is our favorite little prince, who despite, his royal upbringing, is quite the silly & impulsive preschooler.

Meet Nicholas Kaegi, the talented voice actor who helps bring Prince Wednesday to life! (…and did you know he played Whyatt in Super Why!?)

 

A rrrroyal hello to you! How old are you and where are you from?

I just turned 14 years old and I’m from Toronto.

 

In what ways are you similar to Prince Wednesday?Prince Wednesday

We are both very adventurous and share a good sense of humour!

 

If you had to pick one favorite episode, which would it be?

I would have to say that my favorite of them all is the episode where Teacher Harriet and the class choose their class pet.

 

If Prince Wednesday could do anything or go anywhere in the next episode, what would you want it to be?

In the next episode, I would like to see the characters go to an amusement park and see all the different exciting things they do there!

 

What’s your favorite book?

My favourite book is “Call the Shots” written by Don Calame. It’s a story about three boys with the goal of making the next big low-budget horror film!

 

When you’re not in the studio recording, what’s your favorite activity?

Outside of the studio my favorite activitie(s) would have to be all forms of athletics, especially soccer. Sports are a great way to make new friends & have fun!

 

What was the funniest moment for you while working on the show?

The funniest moment for me while working on the show would have to be the time when a foreign radio station kept playing in my headphones while we were trying to record! Luckily, we found a way to get rid of it.

 

Toronto native Nicholas Kaegi has appeared in such productions as Saw III, Camille, The Rick Mercer Report, Rookie Blue and Murdoch Mysteries. Nicholas attends a French language school and is bilingual. An avid sports fan, he enjoys skiing, soccer, volleyball & sailing, to name but a few. Nicholas can be seen around Toronto singing & playing lead guitar with his band “Volume”.

May
15
2013
by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Research Parents Should Know About!, Super Why!

SuperWhy

Reading

“Children who watched SUPER WHY! on PBS Kids scored 46% higher on standardized tests than those who did not watch the show.”

 

SUPER WHY! has been successful in supporting learning in a highly engaging environment.”

Children’s Media Lab
Annenberg School for Communication
University of Pennsylvania

 

May
14
2013
by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Kids, Parenting

WinnerVal

In last week’s post (Autism & Unexpected Joy) we spoke with Priscilla Gilman, author of the acclaimed memoir The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy. As mentioned, Priscilla offered an Angela’s Clues reader a signed copy of Gilman’s text, a beautiful exploration of our hopes and expectations for our children, our families, and ourselves.

Well, our randomly selected winner is, Bonbon Break‘s own, Val Vucich Curtis!

The Anti-Romantic Child

We sincerely appreciate your time Priscilla Gilman sharing with us. Congratulations Val & much thanks to everyone who spread the word about this inspiring memoir of positivity in the face of the unexpected.