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Mister Rogers' Neighborhood has been relegated to the 5am Saturday morning slot on the Nashville Public Television syndicate. Therefore, I doubt many kids or their parents are actually up to benefit from this wonderful programming. While lacking the fast-paced pizzazz of much of the contemporary children's programming, the show (and website) offers a wealth of language-based learning opportunities for children and parents. There's a lot to explore on the website (e.g., classic songs with accompanying video clips like "You Can Never Go Down the Drain, imagination via the land of make believe, educational games on letter recognition and narrative creation, video "field trips" to places like an aquarium, musical set, doctor's office, and art museum, and much more). Everything is bound by a thoughtful consideration of what the 2-5 year olds' developmental perspective would be in a given situation. Mister Rogers strives to have meaningful dialogue with his television "neighbors." There are appropriate conversational gaps for "responses" and reflection. In my experience, children are not passive viewers, but actively engage with the material by audibly talking with/responding to Mister Rogers and the other characters. As such, some adults may find the show boring or plodding. However, the goal the show is to engage with and meet children at place whereby THEY can best process verbal information relevant to their real-world experiences and concerns and NOT to entertain parents. That said, most parents - myself included - are captivated by Mister Rogers. The website and program content, when collaboratively enjoyed by both parent and child, provide wonderful foundations for later family discussions and language-based activities AWAY from the TV/Computer. The show's philosophy, as taken from the website, sums up this mission nicely:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/monkey-match/id407251250?mt=8 or search for "Monkey Match" in the App store. Three games: Match upper and lower case letters, match words by initial sounds, match rhyming weds.
www.starfall.com: A great website for pre-readers and early readers. Appropriate for age 2 and beyond. The letter activities include lots of fun vocabulary and activities, making them enjoyable for all preschoolers. Great worksheets for parents to print out as well.