Up to date information about children's entertainment – film, TV, DVD and more…. from founder and president of KIDS FIRST! Ranny Levy

Archive for October, 2011

90% of TV Viewing Live Even With DVRs in 44% of Households

Friday, October 21st, 2011

According to new consumer research from Leichtman Research Group, about 44% of American TV households now have at least one digital video recorder and 62% digital cable subscribers now use video-on-demand at least monthly. However, about 90% of all TV viewing in the U.S. is still via live TV, says the report.CTR_Media_Research.jpgAdditionally, 73% of all digital cable subscribers have ever used Video on-Demand. Overall, about 62% of digital cable subscribers used on-Demand in the past month.
Additional significant findings show that:

  • 80% of DVR owners rate the service 8-10 (with 10 being excellent),
  • 62% of cable VOD users rate the service 8-10
  • 74% of Premium on-Demand users rate VOD 8-10
  • 63% of all Netflix subscribers rate the Watch Instantly feature 10 (on a 1-10 scale with 10 being an extremely important feature or benefit of the Netflix service)
  • 20% of Netflix subscribers use Watch Instantly daily, and 57% weekly
  • 78% of Watch Instantly users use it to watch movies and TV shows on a TV set
  • 86% of Netflix households subscribe to a multi-channel video service, and 43% with a multi-channel video service subscribe to a premium service

These findings are based on a survey of over 1,300 households throughout the United States, and are part of LRG’s study, On-Demand TV 2011: A Nationwide Study on VOD and DVRs.

More information may be found in the LRG PDF file available here.

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PBS KIDS Announces 40 New Educational Games

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

PBS_Kids_Monkey.jpgLast week, PBS KIDS launched over 40 new cross-platform games designed to help children ages 2-8 build critical math skills. They include PBS KIDS’ largest offering of interactive math content for preschoolers to date. The games comprise several suites, each of which is centered around a PBS KIDS media property – from CURIOUS GEORGE to THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT!. Available for free on the new PBS KIDS Lab website (PBSKIDS.org/lab), each suite links a set of games across platforms – accessible through computers, mobile devices and interactive whiteboards – so that kids engage with the same characters as they move from device to device. The content is also linked by a curricular framework, leveraging games on a variety of platforms to support key math skills.

The goal of these new gaming experiences is to help kids build the skills they need for school success, which are lacking among America’s children. National assessments show that over 60 percent of students are performing below proficient levels of math and reading by grade four1. However, research promisingly indicates that educational media, coupled with technologies already embraced by today’s children, is effective in engaging and teaching struggling students2.

“As the nation’s children continue to fall behind, we need to embrace new technology to help them learn,” said Lesli Rotenberg, Senior Vice President, Children’s Media, PBS. “Our goal is to leverage the power of media to make anytime a learning time for kids. We’ve tapped the best children’s media producers and technology developers in the country to create this collection of math games that demonstrates the very best of what media can do.”

PBS partnered with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) on this project, which is powered by a Ready To Learn grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

“For more than 40 years, public media has provided high-quality programming and content that is proven to help students succeed in school and in life,” said Patricia Harrison, President and CEO of CPB. “Through a long-standing commitment from the U.S. Department of Education, we continue to support PBS and public television stations throughout the country in developing innovative materials that entertain, engage and educate children in the classroom and beyond.”

To guide this new content, PBS developed a math framework, which maps out key building-block skills such as numbers and operations, shape attributes, and data collection and analysis, and ensured that all of the games featured on the PBS KIDS Lab align with the framework. The games – all of which have been tested in classrooms – put a variety of new technologies to the test; webcams and microphones make use of body movement and sound to further engage children in learning.

Four suites launched today from popular PBS KIDS series THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT!, CURIOUS GEORGE, SID THE SCIENCE KID and FIZZY’S LUNCH LAB. The PBS KIDS Lab will continue to add new content – including literacy-based games from beloved PBS KIDS series SUPER WHY, as well as additional math-related content from series such as DINOSAUR TRAIN and FETCH! WITH RUFF RUFFMAN. The content will be expanded to more platforms as well.

Examples from the new suites of games include:

CURIOUS GEORGE Monkey Jump (Flash, online with webcam): A kinesthetic learning game in which kids jump along with George to fill a toy store bin with bouncy balls (requires webcam) and count along as each ball is added. There is also an equally fun mouse-driven version of the game for kids who don’t have webcams.

THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT! Hermit Shell Game (HTML5, mobile-friendly): In this game about size and shape correspondence, players help the Cat, Nick, and Sally fit hermit crabs into shells that are just the right size and pattern. Playable on mobile devices as well as desktop computers.

SID THE SCIENCE KID Super Fab Lab Science Fair, Mae’s Sorting Box (Flash, online and interactive whiteboard): Players help Mae sort her rock collection by color and texture in this flash online game that can also be played on the interactive whiteboard.

FIZZY’S LUNCH LAB Carnival Count-off (Flash, interactive whiteboard): Kids face off against Fast Food Freddy in the Greasy World game booth where they practice estimation skills and counting by 5’s and 10’s in a set of carnival-themed challenges.

The new PBS KIDS Lab also offers a myriad of resources for parents and teachers. PBSKIDS.org/lab aggregates games by age and skill area so that adults can search for the games that will be the best fit for their kids. Parents and teachers can also search the game library by familiar and trusted PBS KIDS series. Additionally, the site helps parents and teachers learn how the games support learning by providing details on the games’ curriculum-based content.

This new collection of games furthers PBS KIDS’ efforts to innovate across platforms to both educate and entertain America’s children. PBS KIDS is increasingly serving children wherever they live, learn, and play – online, on mobile devices, on TV, and in the classroom.

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PBS Kids Celebrates Halloween with some Cool Shows

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

DinosaurApp.jpgOctober is shaping up to be a “monstrously” entertaining month for PBS KIDS with Halloween-themed episodes of kids’ favorite series and a dedicated “Predator Week” from popular animal exploration series WILD KRATTS.

PBS KIDS gears up for Halloween with a bevy of Halloween-themed episodes, including brand new episodes of science-focused series DINOSAUR TRAIN, SID THE SCIENCE KID, THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT!, and WILD KRATTS. From October 17 through 31, children can ride the Night Train to a “haunted house” with DINOSAUR TRAIN, learn some “spooky science” with Sid, trick-or-treat with the Cat, and attend a creature costume party with the Kratts in this lineup of new episodes.

“Halloween is such a fun holiday for kids, and gives us the opportunity to tell entertaining stories while also covering interesting concepts, from learning about predators and prey to experimenting with the chemistry of making slime,” said Lesli Rotenberg, Senior Vice President, Children’s Media, PBS.

The “creature-filled” fun also includes WILD KRATTS “Predator Week,” which will feature four brand new episodes from October 17 through 21. The series will cover natural science concepts through storylines about predators such as great white sharks, wolves, cheetahs and raptors.

PBS KIDS’ Halloween and “Predator Week” episodes premiere on-air starting on October 17, and select full episodes and clips will be available online on PBSKIDS.org/video and PBSKIDSGO.org/video in October.

PBS Parents provides an array of Halloween resources for parents – from trick-or-treating safety tips to how to make your own Buddy (from DINOSAUR TRAIN) costume – all of which are available here: http://www.pbs.org/parents/special/halloween.html.

Following is a listing of the Halloween-themed and “Predator Week” episodes airing this October (check local listings to confirm air dates and times).

“Halloween Spooky Science Special” (premieres October 17)
It’s Halloween time and Sid and his friends have dressed up in the spookiest and scariest costumes possible. Sid is a bat with big fangs. May is a spooky black cat. Gabriela is a furry, yucky spider. And Gerald is a super spooky skeleton that goes boo! Susie (dressed as a silly mad scientist) loves their costumes, and helps the kids discover that Halloween can be spooky and scientific! The kids investigate how bats are helpful creatures that catch mosquitoes, spiders are expert engineer web builders, cats are leaping aerial acrobats, and skeletons help hold up our body frames! At the Halloween party, the kids also investigate how to make icky, gooey green slime. Susie then ends the day with a special “Halloween Parade” song so the kids can march around and show off their spooky and scientific costumes!

“Haunted Roundhouse/Big Pond Pumpkin Patch” (premieres October 20)
“Haunted Roundhouse”
Dad takes the kids on a special Night Train to Troodon Town, where the Troodons have decorated their Roundhouse into a “haunted house” for a spooky party. The kids end up meeting a strange new nocturnal creature – a mammal named Vlad Volaticotherium, who was hiding in the roundhouse trying to get some sleep.

“Big Pond Pumpkin Patch”
The Pteranodon family learns more about the customs of their neighbors, the Lambeosaurus family, when they are invited for the first time to accompany them to the Big Pond to celebrate “Gourd Day” – a kind of Mesozoic Halloween. The kids see their first pumpkins, and Larry Lambeosaurus even shows our family how to hollow them out and carve faces into them.

Two Halloween stories, “Aye Aye!” and “Trick or Treat,” premiere in October, first as parts of two separate episodes and then in encore presentations as one episode.
“Sniff and Seek/Aye Aye!” (premieres October 20)
“Trick or Treat/King Cecil the Seahorse” (premieres October 21)
“Aye Aye!/Trick or Treat” (airs October 28)
“Aye Aye!”
Nick and Sally are making Halloween masks, but they want to make them really scary. Cat takes them to meet Aiya, the Aye Aye, in the forest of Spookywoowoo. Aiya shows them, that even though he may look scary – his big ears, huge eyes and long fingers help him to find food. And now Nick and Sally know just how to make their masks scary!

“Trick or Treat”
It’s Halloween! The Cat in the Hat takes Sally and Nick trick or treating – his way! Around the world they go, meeting three new friends who teach them each of the tricks they do and share the treats that they like to eat. Back at home Nick and Sally are ready to go trick or treating, with plenty of new tricks to share!

“A Bat in the Brownies” (premieres October 24)
When a little brown bat crash-lands into a plate of Jimmy Z’s famous brownies, Martin and Chris out set out to convince Aviva, Jimmy Z and Koki that bats are nothing to be afraid of. With bat activated Creature Power Suits, the bros follow join their new friend on a nocturnal fly about, and the entire crew must come to the rescue when the bat colony’s roost is destroyed by a lightning bolt. In the end the Wild Kratts crew “goes batty,” as they gain a new appreciation for bat ecology, predators and insects and echolocation, and learn to love bats.

“Masked Bandits” (premieres October 25)
As they prepare for a creature costume party, the Wild Kratts team begins to notice all sorts of strange things happening in the Tortuga HQ. Jimmy is sure there is a ghost or monster living with them, but the Kratt brothers are convinced it’s some kind of creature. When the gang sets out to discover who is causing all the trouble, they discover that certain animals gravitate towards human habitation because it provides food and protection from predators.

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Cat Premiere for Puss in Boots!

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

PussnBoots_1.jpgAlora, Dreamworks Animation hosted a “cat premiere” for their new animated feature, Puss in Boots starring Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zack Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris.

Check out the “Cat Premiere” here. 
The film, which will be released on October 28 tells the story of Puss in Boots long before he met Shrek. A notorious fighter, lover and outlaw, Puss in Boots becomes a hero when he sets off an adventure with the tough and street smart Kitty Softpaws and the mastermind Humpty Dumpty to save the town. This is the true story of The Cat, The Myth, The Legend … The Boots.

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Real Steel – Violent but not Gory

Monday, October 10th, 2011

RealSteel.jpg“Real Steel” is the action packed, intense movie about Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) a robot boxer that could use some money at the current moment, who spends the summer with his 11-year-old kid Max Kenton (Dakota Doyo). When the two have no luck with a fantastic robot, they go to the junkyard looking for parts, and Max finds an old sparring bot that turns out to be a force to be reckoned with. I though the movie was very entertaining. The CGI really made the robots and the sets come to life. I also thought that the acting was good. The disbanded relationship between Charlie and Max was not only well acted, but provides some well-placed comic relief from the fight sequences. Although a great movie, it does have some violence. Even though the robot fights aren’t gory, the fighting is some replicable behavior that little kids could bring home. I recommend “Real Steel” for kids 13 and up, and it deserves a 4 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed by Daniel Menengaz age 13, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

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Dr. Toy’s Best Pics Press Release for 2011

Friday, October 7th, 2011

“Dr. Toy’s Best Picks Children’s Products 2011” awards announced today is now available to parents, teachers and others in the online magazine, Dr. Toy’s Guide, at http://www.drtoy.com.

“Dr. Toy’s Best Picks Children’s Products” Awards Program 2011 was developed by noted play and child development authority, Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D. (a.k.a. Dr. Toy) as a service to consumers who desire to purchase safe, affordable, educationally oriented, stimulating new toys and products for children.

“As a childhood specialist for over 40 years,” says Dr. Toy, Director of the Institute for Childhood Resources, founded in San Francisco in 1975, “I have seen the continuous, essential need for more year-round resources for consumers to identify and choose the most appropriate, safe and engaging learning and developmental products for all children.”

Dr. Toy reports that in the years the innovative on-line magazine, Dr.Toy’s Guide has been available “thousands of visitors daily from around the world have easily accessed information.” The site was the first on-line resource to evaluate toys and children’s products.

The report, “Dr. Toy’s 100 Best Picks Children’s Products for 2011”, is being released according to Dr. Toy to “encourage parents and teachers to focus on the value of play as essential to the learning process.”

She adds, “Smart play products selected from many excellent companies across the U.S.A., Canada and other countries provide children with exciting new developmentally appropriate tools to help them do better in school, and also provide more constructive activities after school.”

Dr. Auerbach believes “parents and grandparents need help to gain a head start locating new, diversified products that children will enjoy while increasing skills, enhance instruction, and expand imagination.” The products balanced among large and small companies, range from low to high tech for “hours of active, creative, educational, and stimulating fun.”

“Children learn best through play,” says Dr. Auerbach, “and these smart new toys and products encourage children to maximize their potentials.”

“This is a good time to ‘take stock’ and do an inventory of what your child is playing with, what is not used and what they need next in their development.” adds Dr. Toy.” Dr. Toy’s Guide offers excellent ideas for choosing new products for use in learning, after school play and the holidays ahead.”

“Dr. Toy’s Best Picks ” were carefully chosen as worthy of attention from among thousands that she has reviewed at toy fairs, catalogs, and through many other sources, and by using extensive criteria she has developed over many years. Among the criteria used are: safety, age-appropriateness, design, durability, lasting play value, cultural and ethnic diversity, good transition from home to school, educational value, learning skills, creativity, improvement in the understanding of the community and the world, good value for price, and, naturally, fun.

Complete information about these smart toys and products are included in the full report www.drtoy.com).

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