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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that preschoolers will be drawn to Ni Hao, Kai-lan, a well-rounded cartoon that exposes kids to the basics of the Mandarin language and Chinese culture. Kids will easily relate to the stories of 5-year-old Kai-lan and her friends, and they'll learn constructive ways of handling social-emotional issues like fear, sharing, and jealousy. Song, dance, and plenty of interactivity add to this entirely kid-friendly package, and parents can feel good about both its educational quality and positive lessons.
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What's the story?
In NI HAO, KAI-LAN, five-year-old Kai-lan (voiced by Jade-Lianna Gao Jian Peters) is an enthusiastic Chinese-American girl who loves to play with her best friends: Rintoo the tiger (Jack Samson), Tolee the koala (Khamani Griffin), Hoho the monkey (Angie Wu), and Lulu the rhino (Beverly Duan). Whether the group is racing dragon boats down the river, decorating for the traditional lantern festival, or heading out on a backyard safari, Kai-lan's adventures always mix fun with glimpses of her rich Chinese heritage. And when conflict arises, Kai-lan and her wise grandfather (Clem Cheung) are always ready to pitch in and help resolve the problem.
Is it any good?
This cartoon blends audience interactivity (ala Blue's Clues) with culturally and linguistically diverse content and thoughtful storylines, ensuring that preschoolers will be both curious and entertained. In each episode, viewers will pick up a new Mandarin word or phrase (starting with "Ni hao," which means "hello"), and basic skills like counting are used repetitively to encourage long-term retention. Stories always reflect some aspect of the Chinese culture, so youngsters will quickly learn to recognize and identify them.
Ni Hao, Kai-Lan also wins points for its emphasis on positive messages; parents can feel good about its lessons in interpersonal problem solving. The stories are well crafted for the preschool audience, and kids will easily relate to the conflicts that arise among the friends and learn from the way they're resolved.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about dealing with emotions and working out problems with friends. Kids: Have you ever felt the way Kai-lan and her friends do in Ni Hao, Kai-lan? What did you think about how they handled their issue? Could you try that the next time you're in a similar situation?
Families can also discuss their own cultural heritage and how it compares to Kai-lan's.
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