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Math skills for preschoolers: Peg + Cat to PBS KIDS

By April MacIntyre Jan 15, 2013, 10:24 GMT

Math skills for preschoolers: Peg + Cat to PBS KIDS

Today at the Television Critics Association Press Tour, PBS KIDS announced production for the newest addition to the beloved PBS KIDS lineup. PEG + CAT will premiere this fall on PBS KIDS with a special one-hour broadcast of two back-to-back episodes, along with integrated online and mobile content.

Today at the Television Critics Association Press Tour, PBS KIDS announced production for the newest addition to the beloved PBS KIDS lineup. PEG + CAT will premiere this fall on PBS KIDS with a special one-hour broadcast of two back-to-back episodes, along with integrated online and mobile content.

From PBS

Aimed at preschoolers, the series focuses on math learning in a fun and engaging way. Co-creators Billy Aronson (Rent, Postcards from Buster) and Jennifer Oxley (Little Bill, The Wonder Pets!) have teamed with The Fred Rogers Company to introduce viewers to the adorable, spirited Peg and her sidekick Cat as they embark on adventures and learn foundational math concepts and skills.  Please see the full press release here or below for more information.

This multiplatform media property premieres this fall on PBS KIDS with a special one-hour broadcast of two back-to-back episodes, along with integrated online and mobile content.

Each episode features fascinating stories in which Peg and Cat encounter a problem that requires them to use math and problem solving skills in order to move forward. The series will air daily following its premiere (check local listings).

Math understanding and skills are essential, yet national assessments show that 60 percent of students are performing below proficient levels in math by the 4th grade, and this learning gap is more pronounced in children from low-income families.* To help support math learning for young children, the National Research Council’s Committee on Early Childhood Mathematics has highlighted the need for “increased informal programming, curricular resources, software, and other media” to help build key math skills.**

“PBS KIDS is committed to using media to open up worlds of possibilities for all children, and developing content that focuses on math is a critical part of that,” said Lesli Rotenberg, General Manager, Children’s Programming, PBS. “We’re excited to launch PEG + CAT this fall, adding a math media property to our preschool line-up that includes popular series like The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, which teaches natural science, and Curious George, which focuses on engineering. With its adventurous storylines and engaging characters and music, PEG + CAT will encourage kids to discover how to use math concepts, as well as core skills including cooperation, perseverance and resiliency, as they explore the world around them.”

The PEG + CAT television series is part of a multiplatform media experience that will also include interactive content online and on mobile. The series currently offers games and other resources online at pbskids.org/peg, and additional interactive features, including more games, parent resources and a mobile app, are slated to launch along with the on-air premiere in fall 2013.

Every half-hour episode of PEG + CAT will feature two stories, each an eleven-minute adventure in which Peg and Cat find themselves thrust into an unexpected math word problem. But it’s not just an abstract academic exercise for them — it’s a messy and funny quandary they have to solve. The show focuses not only on helping kids build math skills, such as how to add or subtract, but on how to think about larger math concepts as well — concepts that form the foundation for learning math at any level, from kindergarten to calculus. In each episode, Peg and Cat use foundational concepts like relative size, geometry and algebraic thinking to solve the problem and save the day. The series’ curriculum is based on Common Core State Standards.

Peg and Cat’s adventures take them through worlds of infinite possibilities — from farms to purple planets, from 16th-century Verona to New York’s Radio City Music Hall, from a land of pirates to a prehistoric valley — demonstrating that math is everywhere.

PEG + CAT stories are at once engaging, appealing, accessible and age-appropriate. As Peg solves a seemingly insurmountable problem, she has to think through what went wrong and how she can get back on track. Life skills such as cooperation are also important parts of the series, as Peg and her friends have to work together to solve problems; and since Peg might not get it right the first time, viewers also see value of learning from mistakes and  experimentation. Music is also used as a teaching tool throughout the math series; each episode features an original song.

“Creative partnerships are the key to great children’s television, and we fell in love with PEG + CAT the first time we saw it,” said Kevin Morrison, chief operating officer of The Fred Rogers Company. “This is a math series, and if you add up Jennifer’s beautiful visual style, Billy’s sense of humor, The Fred Rogers Company and PBS, the sum will be a hit.”

PEG + CAT is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education through the Ready To Learn Initiative, a program that supports the development of innovative educational television and digital media targeted at preschool and early elementary school children and their families, and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

“Parents, caregivers and teachers have long trusted public media to help children build critical math and literacy skills that will prepare them for success in school,” said Debra Sanchez, Senior Vice President of Education and Children’s Content Operations at CPB. “We are proud to partner with PBS KIDS through Ready To Learn to support PEG + CAT, which continues a long tradition of developing educational programming and content that gets preschoolers excited about learning.”

*Source: National Assessment of Education Progress Report (2011)

**Source: “Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood: Paths Toward Excellence and Equity” Committee on Early Childhood Mathematics, National Research Council of the National Academies (2009)

              



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