recess radio program

6/30/04

Just a Peep at Peep

    by John Cech

Brief sound clip

That's the theme song, sung by Taj Mahal, for Peep and the Big Wide World, a new animated television show for preschoolers that is meant to introduce them to some basic scientific ideas and practices, like careful observation, experimentation, measurement, classification, and elementary deductions. The main character, "Peep," is a little, yellow fuzzy, just-hatched chick, who sets out to explore "the big wide world" with his friends. Like Peep and all the other animals in their neighborhood, his pals are onomotopoetically-named: "Quack" the duck and "Chirp" the baby cardinal.

These sweet, primal-colored creatures are based on original cartoon characters created by the Canadian animator, Kai Pindal. They have a kind of loosely-drawn, almost Krazy-kat-like, minimalist abstractness to them. But they're totally kid-like: curious, joyful, ready to play at a moment's notice. And ready to begin learning, in each of the two, 10-minute story segments that form the core of the show, something about the nature of their world. In one episode, Peep follows Sweek, his friend the little mouse, on a night-time adventure and discovers some of the differences between nocturnal animals like snails, bats, and owls and daylight creatures like himself, who live on the opposite cycle. The animated segments are followed by brief films with kids who explore and extend the action of the cartoon. In one episode, for example, after Quack has experimented with the principles of bouyancy at the bottom of the pond with a group of fishes he's made friends with, a group of real-life children try out some of these ideas with various food and beverage containers.

The show has been on since April on the Discovery and Learning Channels, and it also hoasts a very interactive website with an excellent list of activities, some science-oriented video games, book lists, and other science resources. There are also four very useful tips for parents about introducing science into young children's lives, including the awareness that, in "Peep's" words: "A huge part of science is awe, wonder and delight in the natural world, and an appreciation of the beauty, order, and complexity of all its forms."

Copyright 2004 John Cech

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Tuesday, 25-May-2004 15:35:07 EDT


"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."