...when I watch how the kids relate to these characters, I feel they have a way of reaching the kids that’s very different than anything else I've seen.
Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) August 28, 2014
To give educators a proven tool to kick off the new school year, WonderGrove Learn is offering free access to 20 Back-to-School instructional animations.
“Research shows young children model their behavior after animated characters who they feel emotionally connected to. We have created engaging animated characters who reinforce positive behavior at home and in the classroom,” says Terry Thoren, the CEO of WonderGrove Learn and former CEO of Klasky Csupo, Inc., creators of the Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys. “We are offering these lessons for free on a trial basis to help make the transition back to school easier for students and educators alike.”
“Teaching appropriate behavior during the first few weeks of school encourages better behavior throughout the entire school year. The animated videos are a strong foundation for our year-round tool for success and they are in English and Spanish. Young students develop language skills rapidly, and they quickly absorb whatever they see and hear in cartoons. This accelerates their understanding of new words at an incredibly fast rate,” explains WonderGrove President Rudy Verbeeck who speaks six languages and is the brains behind WonderGrove’s proprietary animation software.
Thoren has spent decades studying the effects of animation on children. As CEO of Klasky Csupo he was the executive in charge of production of 600 TV episodes. He oversaw the production of Rugrats when it was Nickelodeon’s number one animated show, as well as the popular cartoons Rocket Power, The Wild Thornberrys, and Emmy-nominated As Told by Ginger.
“Cartoon characters are the biggest stars in entertainment. They are in countless TV series, in video games, and in Hollywood’s most profitable movies. Every waking hour before and after school, cartoon characters are prevalent in most children’s lives,” says Thoren. “However, between 8:00 am and 3:00 pm when students are in a classroom, there are no animated characters. The classroom is a wasteland for animation. There are very few animations that satisfy educational standards that can be used in a classroom today.”
To develop the lessons, Thoren went straight to the source - the classrooms. “We worked with educators to define the core intention of each lesson. Then we created storylines that used our age-appropriate characters to address each lesson. We produced instructional animations to bring the stories to life. Then, we tested the animations in the classrooms and made alterations and edits.” The finished product is the result of direct teacher and student feedback, addressing the needs of everyone in the classroom.
The Back-to-School animations address critical challenges that educators face when students transition into the first few weeks of a new school year. Each instructional animation models appropriate behavior for students in Pre-K through 2nd Grade. The animated stories focus on listening in class, standing quietly in line, raising your hand before you speak, how to handle a bully and 16 more. Each animation comes with a full set of printable extension lessons that align with the Common Core State Standards.
Janelle Vargo, an educator at Morrison Elementary in Dayton, Ohio, uses the lessons several times a day in her classrooms. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen anything that is literally at my fingertips all day,” says Vargo. “You never know when you’re going to need it. Even if it’s just adding a cartoon to your fluency group, or adding a cartoon to your behavior check-ins, it’s going to make a huge difference in your day and in your relationship with students,” she adds. “Videos that model appropriate social skills, like Pay Attention When the Teacher is Teaching and Ask the Teacher for Help are lessons that every student needs. But, no one talks about them until you and the student are both frustrated, and this frustration never ends with a positive outcome. The nice thing about WonderGrove is that you can implement a video each day for only three minutes and know that the students are learning the right way to behave.”
Guidance Counselor Joan Swank also understands the importance of the program. “Because I’ve been doing this for 28 years, I have resisted technology and animation. But when I watch how the kids relate to these characters, I feel they do have a way of reaching the kids that’s very different than anything else I’ve seen.” says Swank. “The bottom line is that if students are going to be successful in school, they have to have good behavior and good social skills. And the stories featuring the WonderGrove Kids give me a great tool to cut right into what that skill is.”
Teacher Betsy Jones says her Pre-K through 4th Grade classes are benefiting as well. “I was using the lesson Raise Your Hand and Wait to Be Called On and we did some role playing after they saw the video. One of the students really struggles with raising his hand and you could see the light bulb go on when he knew he wasn't doing it. The videos help to reinforce social skills by giving students an age appropriate visual and by giving them ideas and strategies of what they should do. And they start acting that out in the classroom.”
The Back-to-School lessons will be available to educators for free for 30 days. Registration must be completed by Sept. 12, 2014. After that date, the lessons will return to the full subscription model, $98/year for access to all 150 of WonderGrove Learn’s instructional animations and 1500 extension lessons.
About WonderGrove Learn
WonderGrove Learn was founded by former Klasky Csupo, Inc. CEO Terry Thoren and famed software producer Rudy Verbeeck. Together they have created the education website to inspire children in Pre-K, Kindergarten, First Grade and Second Grade to realize their full potential. WonderGrove Learn provides teachers and parents with a well-rounded selection of 150 instructional animations to help children prepare for the daily challenges of life both inside and outside of school. WonderGrove Learn uses engaging animated characters immersed in fun stories to target eight crucial areas of growth essential for every child's success. These areas include Social Skills, Life Skills, Health & Science, Safety, Nutrition, Fitness, Creative Play, and Vocabulary in Spanish and English. For more information, please visit http://www.WonderGroveLearn.com.