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 Odd Squad incorporates math concepts such as counting and patterns into a lively multimedia presentation grade-schoolers will enjoy. Each episode sees two kids confronted with a problem that can only be solved by relating numbers through addition, subtraction, fact families, and other grade-school math skills. Viewers can hypothesize along with the characters as they work out the problems using the data presented in each story, and the fact that the agents never lose sight of their goals or succumb to negativity -- even when a solution is elusive -- reminds kids of the value of learning from mistakes.
What's the story?
When something unusual happens in town, folks call on ODD SQUAD to solve the problem and save the day. With agents Olive (Dalila Bela) and Otto on the case, no mystery is too big, especially when they use their formidable numbers skills to help them work things out. From bad luck befalling the town's basketball team to mythical book characters running amok in the streets, these aren't your average strange occurrences, but Olive and Otto prove that when it comes to math, a little knowledge goes a long way in setting things right again.
Is it any good?
This show doesn't try to hide the fact that it's teaching viewers about numbers and how they work, but it's such a fun series to watch that even kids will agree it hardly feels like learning at all. There's a lot of creativity at play in Odd Squad -- in the agency's all-kid staff, in how they transport from underground headquarters through a maze of tunnels, in the tools they use to identify clues to the puzzles, and even in the humor -- and the show's mixed-media format incorporates graphics that pull off all the tricks. Of course, all that's for naught if kids can't relate to the cast, but exuberant Olive and Otto ensure their viewers will want to stick around until the story's end.
As for the learning quotient, parents will appreciate that math skills are embedded in stories that are at least meant to reflect real-life scenarios ... give or take a few romping dinosaurs or songs with magical powers, that is. Not only are addition and subtraction skills at work, each story takes kids through the problem-solving process from the very beginning, showing how the characters determine what information they need and how they can use it to work toward an answer. This focus on concepts as a whole rather than on standalone skills is a real boon to kids who watch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about math. Do your kids like working with numbers? What concepts are they learning right now in school? How does number sense relate to their lives? Did they learn something from Odd Squad?
Kids: What makes Olive and Otto good agents? How do they show that they're leaders? Why is it important to have a positive attitude when you're confronting a challenge?
Parents and kids can work together to devise real-world applications for age-appropriate math skills. Cook or build something together to illustrate how numbers and measurements are crucial to these activities. For some digital options for math practice, check out this list.
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