A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this podcast.
Lot's of social-emotional learning content. Gives definitions and examples of basic concepts including gratitude, curiosity, and ancestors, in a realistic setting of a multigenerational family home. Main character Penny asks direct questions and gets direct answers from her family on topics like grief after a death in the family, kitchen safety, and hearing and visual impairments. Penny's grandmother explains racial discrimination in clear preschool-appropriate language. Lessons are not always confined to a single episode. Clear language, clear speech, and repetition reinforce understanding the story and positive messages. The show is created by early-childhood educator Toni Kennedy.
Overarching themes of gratitude and curiosity, especially about family. Penny learns that it's normal to have mixed and difficult feelings when a loved one dies, that waiting can be made easier by grounding in the five senses, and, "Even when we are at our most curious, we have to follow the rules to keep us safe."
Positive Role Models
Penny models kindness, integrity, curiosity. She speaks honestly with her family (and her talking teddy bear and cat) about her difficult feelings of sadness and anger. All members of her family provide nurturing caregiving and have thoughtful, loving relationships with one another. Penny's mom raises her voice to warn Penny against touching the oven, then apologizes for scaring her, explains why it happened, and makes a plan with Penny to ensure she can be both curious and safe.
The podcast listens in on the life of a fictional multigenerational family living in a brownstone house. Main character Penny is described in the theme song as a little girl with brown skin and curly hair, and her father Jabari has a Jamaican American accent. Characters are kind, realistic, and relatable, with no negative stereotypes. Penny learns to value her family traditions and heritage through food and stories, and is taught in preschool-friendly terms that some people have partial or full blindness or deafness.
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Violence & Scariness
Penny shows mild signs of fear and sadness with sniffles and tears, but trusted adults or her teddy bear comfort her and help her talk through her feelings. Her family is grieving Penny's grandfather who has recently died. Penny's grandmother explains racial discrimination in clear and simple terms, and Penny is briefly upset at the unfairness.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that What's Poppin' Penny? is a fictional podcast about a preschool-age girl living in a multigenerational household. Penny's family and magical teddy teach her positive lessons about embracing family traditions with gratitude and curiosity, staying safe while exploring, and managing difficult feelings such as grief. Plot points and themes are spoken slowly, explained clearly, and repeated to help lessons stick for young listeners. This podcast is diverse and inclusive in an authentic way. It explores multigenerational households, learning from ancestors, connecting with heritage and culture, and learning how to be inclusive and accepting of others who are different. Episodes range in duration from 6 to 18 minutes, and the podcast is available widely for free.
Is It Any Good?
If you want a slow-paced and positive fiction podcast with examples of nurturing relationships for the young listeners in your life, put this podcast at the top of your playlist. What's Poppin' Penny? is what happens when an early-childhood educator busts onto the podcast scene to grace families with content that feels sweet, inclusive, and important. The youngest listeners will benefit from plot repetition and consistent characters, while adult listeners will gain ideas about explaining concepts to littles with care and accuracy, and how to patiently help them through challenges. Follow-up conversations are essential in this age range to help kids understand and relate to the positive themes. With content this good, you're sure to have a solid place to start.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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