A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this animated series based on books by Susan Meddaugh expands preschoolers' vocabulary by introducing complex words ("remedy," "opinion," and "deserted," to name a few) and incorporating the words' meanings into the characters' dialogue. Since the show centers on a pet dog who gains the ability to speak after she's accidentally fed alphabet soup, kids may need to be reminded that it's not a good idea to give human food to pets in real life.
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What's the story?
MARTHA SPEAKS is based on Susan Meddaugh series of kids' books about a beloved family dog that gains the ability to talk after she eats alphabet soup and the letters are diverted from her stomach to her brain. Now graced with the gift of gab, Martha (voiced by Tabitha St. Germain) is eager to share her many opinions with anyone who will listen. That's all well and good until Martha's inexperience with the social intricacies of talking -- like when to stop! -- gets her into some hilariously sticky situations, and her 10-year-old human, Helen, must teach her the responsibilities that accompany her new skill.
Is it any good?
Who doesn't love a story about talking animals? It's always fun to see the world through their eyes, and Martha's no exception. Kids will quickly fall in love with the charming yellow canine at the heart of this series because she's fun-loving and excited to learn new things. What's more, kids will probably relate to her ups and downs as she discovers there's a lot more to responsible communication than just saying whatever you want whenever you feel like it.
From an educational perspective, Martha Speaks does a good job of exposing kids to new vocabulary. Four new words related to the story's theme are introduced in each segment; the new material is reinforced with a brief recap at the end. The show also makes an effort to weave in positive messages about qualities like self-confidence, friendship, and civic responsibility -- all great lessons for young kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about communication. Before Martha could speak, how did she communicate her needs to her family? Do you think they were able to understand her? How would you communicate if you couldn't talk? Have you ever gotten into trouble because of something you've said? What did you learn from the situation? What does Martha learn about when to share her opinions? Can you think of a time when it might be better to not give your opinion?
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