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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Blaze and the Monster Machines is an animated preschool series that teaches kids about science, technology, engineering, and math concepts through the adventures of monster truck and human characters. Each episode presents the characters with conundrums that must be solved with knowledge of STEM subjects, exposing kids to the basics of units of measurement, motion, friction, and simple machines. Kids are encouraged to "help" characters solve problems through number sense and color recognition as well, enhancing prereading skills vital to this age group. Female characters challenge traditional gender roles with their expertise on STEM matters, and friendship is a recurring theme. One truck's persistent cheating causes lots of problems for his peers and never serves its purpose, sending a positive message to kids about fair play.
What's the story?
BLAZE AND THE MONSTER MACHINES is set in Axle City, a vibrant metropolis that's home to celebrated racing truck Blaze and his driver and best friend AJ. The show centers on Blaze and AJ's adventures with their new group of friends -- Darington, the fearless trickster; Starla, the jovial cowgirl truck; Stripes, the agile tiger-striped racer; and Zeg, the brutish dinosaur/truck hybrid. Often those adventures involve foiling the plans of their scheming racing rival, Crusher, who will stop at nothing to make sure he not only wins the day but also keeps the fans on his side. Fortunately for this group of friends, they have a first-rate mechanic in Gabby, who's a whiz at fixing anything between the bumpers for her pals.
Is it any good?
This series is sure to win some young fans with its colorful cast and fast-paced storytelling. Each of the monster trucks has personality to spare, and their wide variety of personalities -- from rough-and-tumble to more cautious and calculated -- ensures that kids will find something they like among the characters. What they'll also like is Blaze and the Monster Machines keeping them involved by asking them to say words or phrases and use body motions along with the characters.
Happily, that content is rich in STEM-based learning potential for its young audience, and it's presented on a simplified scale that will resonate with this preschool group. The characters' adventures set the stage for real-world applications of concepts such as mass, magnetism, trajectory, and force. The incorporation of simple machines encourages kids to think critically about how different tools might solve relatable problems, and the process of experimenting reminds them that success doesn't always come on the first try. The bottom line? Blaze and the Monster Machines packs a lot of worthwhile subject matter into a show whose charismatic characters will please the young masses.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the kinds of tools and knowledge the characters use to solve the day's problems in Blaze and the Monster Machines. Did they succeed on their first try? Can you use anything you learned here in your own life?
Kids: Why does Crusher cheat? Does it ever make him a winner? How do Blaze and his friends feel when Crusher cheats?
How do topics of science and math influence our daily lives? What can we learn from running experiments? What simple machines do you have at work in your home?
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