A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Kids learn a lot about concepts of science, technology, engineering, and math as the characters use their knowledge of the topics in each episode. From watching simple machines such as pulleys and catapults in action to predicting whether an object will sink or float, viewers are encouraged to think critically about what they see and how things work. All the educational content is age-appropriate for the show's preschool audience. Many episodes also incorporate basic skills such as counting and color identification.
Kids see the characters use their perseverance and knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and math to solve problems. Male characters outnumber female, but the two girls in the main cast prove they're up to any challenges. A problem-causing truck's persistent cheating never yields the results he hopes for, reminding kids that cheaters never prosper. Friendship and the joy of friendly competition are recurring themes.
Positive Role Models
Most of the characters are positive behavioral models, demonstrating helpfulness and friendship in all their actions. The exception to this rule is Crusher, whose ego and desire to win at all costs make him do some mean-spirited things to the other trucks. The presence of Gabby and Starla show kids that it's cool for girls to like trucks and fix things. AJ is smart and quick with a plan, which often saves his friends from one mishap or another.
Violence & Scariness
No violence, but the trucks sometimes find themselves in precarious situations that look dangerous. In one scene, Stripes hangs from vines over a cliff, but all turns out well in the end.
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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.
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.
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