Saturday morning TV for children
“Baby boomers” who grew up with the advent of television, probably nurture some fond memories of Saturday mornings in the 60s when cartoons, puppets and adventure serials kept them entertained while slogging through a breakfast bowl of Malt O Meal. Times changed and children’s programming now occupies less time on the Saturday morning tube, interspersed with more commercials. Hold on! The Kern County Superintendent of Schools’ instructional TV channel, KETN, has just gone back to the future on Saturday mornings with a commercial-free, four hours, from 7-11 a.m., of cartoons, puppets and adventures. Throw in state-of-the art interactive animation, Hollywood celebrity actors, and programming that adheres to California standards-based curriculum, and suddenly, Saturday mornings are for children, once again.
Almost any household in Kern County that has cable TV can catch the creative, entertaining and educational fare that features many award-winning PBS programs in the lineup which includes: “Read-Alee-Deed-Alee,” “Between the Lions,” “Postcards from Buster,” “Weston Woods Collection,” “Reading Rainbow,” “Math Monsters,” “X-Power” and “Maya & Miguel.” Just click the remote to Bright House Networks Ch. 15.
Two people who deserve a “Between the Lions” share of the credit are the superintendent’s Instructional Services Administrator Pat Alexander and KETN Coordinator John Lenko, who brought the concept from the discussion table to the living room on the first Saturday in June.
“We like to say, ‘Saturday mornings come alive,’” Alexander said. “It is an opportunity for us to extend our regular high quality, educational programming on KETN to families and young children. This new programming is not only entertaining, but it reinforces the learning that is occurring in our schools everyday."
Lenko could not wait to get started. When he talks about it now, a smile comes across his face as he rubs his hands together recalling his own fond memories of Saturday mornings as a kid.
“When we first started talking about it, I thought, ‘maybe we can capture Saturday mornings the way they used to be — for kids,’” Lenko said. “I don’t know of another instructional outlet offering educational material of an animated nature like we are. Where else can children be entertained by the likes of celebrity performers-turned narrators such as Lavar Burton, Randy Travis and Cindy Lauper? And the programming? How imaginative can you get when all the characters in ‘Math Monsters’ are animated math symbols? And with ‘Between the Lions,’ Muppet-like puppets exist in scenes that shift between real and animated. It’s like picture book animation with no two stories alike. I am excited.”
The programming appeals to all age groups, starting with “Read-Alee-Deed-Alee" for preschoolers and kindergartners at 7 a.m. right up to “Maya & Miguel," a more cultural-based adventure series geared to high school students, at 10:30 a.m. Even parents who watch with their children are entertained. It is standards based and reviewed by educators before being inserted into the lineup. Both Alexander and Lenko say the beauty of the Saturday morning time slot is that it allows children to be entertained at a time that does not conflict with homework or after school activities. They view it without pressure, on their own time, when it is subliminally most enjoyable and easy to learn.
Although the Saturday morning programming has only been airing for a little over two months, Lenko says it has received some great feedback.
“One parent called me and followed it up with an e-mail to tell me how her child had stumbled upon the programs while flipping through the channels — that she was enthralled and the programming has become standard watching fare ever since,” Lenko said. “Then, there was the father who called to tell us that his young child, who was watching us, woke him out of a deep sleep on Saturday morning to ask what channel the TV was on because he wanted to watch it again. Those are great stories to hear, and we are looking forward to hearing many more as more children in Kern County find out what we have to offer for them, commercial free, with no interruptions from 7-11 a.m."
Here is the lineup. Check it out yourself:
7:00 a.m. — Read-Alee-Deed-Alee
7:30 a.m. — Between the Lions
8:00 a.m. — Postcards from Buster
8:30 a.m. — Weston Woods Collection
9:00 a.m. — Reading Rainbow
9:30 a.m. — Math Monsters
10:00 a.m. — X-Power
10:30 a.m. — Maya & Miguel
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