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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Monster Math Squad is a colorful animated series for preschoolers that's mild and adventure-oriented. It's about a group of friendly monsters who solve problems for their friends using math concepts. Villains and conflicts are pretty mellow: Garbage isn't being delivered properly; a neighbor can't bake muffins. There are occasional gross-outs, as when the monsters talk about how yummy "slime sauce" is, but kids will be tickled. Viewers will learn beginning math concepts such as counting, estimation, and comparisons; they're urged to "join the squad!" and learn how to use math.
What's the story?
"Somewhere in Monstrovia there's a monster in need, and whenever a monster needs our care, the MONSTER MATH SQUAD will be there!" That's the rallying cry that begins every adventure on the series for preschoolers, starring a trio of monsters: Lily (Julie Sype), Max (Cory Doran), and Goo (Annick Obonsawin). When they turn on their Scream Screen, they can see a monster friend who needs their help. Maybe a pet monster has wandered away during a party in a park, or the Garbage Monster can't figure out how to organize his garbage orders. The squad is there to help. introducing viewers to elementary math concepts such as estimation, counting, and comparison.
Is it any good?
This animated show is educational enough for parents and loopy enough for small viewers. Monster Math Squad is set in a pleasantly Pee-Wee-esque world where chairs have eyes and the viewer is encouraged to shout out math words. The monsters themselves live in a big monster head, and when they need to leave their house, they slide down a giant tongue. Once out in the world, the monsters have to do things such as count monster sounds so they can help their neighbor locate the number-eating bird who ate the numbers off her kitchen scale. "Count with us!" the monsters urge the viewers. And preschoolers will. Parents may find the chirpy monster voices and the endless counting, repetition of concepts, and shouting a little annoying, but this one's OK for small viewers with or without parental supervision.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the characters' many adventures in Monster Math Squad. What type of world is Monstrovia? How were their surroundings different there? What problems arose for them? How did they solve them?
Parents can use the premise of this show to encourage imaginative play with their kids. Pretend you're visiting another place or time, and draw pictures of what you and your surroundings might look like. What sights would you see?
Families can extend the learning by trying out some of the math concepts introduced on the show -- for example, you cold sort objects, show the difference among big, medium, and small, or estimate how many of something you have or need.
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