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The Electric Company
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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Electric Company is an update/remake of the popular 1970s series of the same name. It uses comedy, music, and animation to teach young readers important language skills. Phonics, grammar, and language rules (a silent "e" creates a long vowel sound and the like) are introduced and illustrated within the plot. The main characters are able to enhance and manipulate computer-generated images of words and phrases right on the screen, so kids can visualize and absorb the lessons. While there's no iffy stuff for viewers of any age, the educational level of the show's content is primarily targeted at grade-schoolers and may be lost on younger viewers.
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What's the story?
THE ELECTRIC COMPANY teaches grade-schoolers important language skills like letter sounds, reading, grammar, and sentence structure. This updated take on the same-named 1970s classic centers on four friends united in their passion for language and the power of words. Blessed with superhuman abilities to conjure and manipulate words and phrases (thanks to the show's top-notch CGI), the friends -- a.k.a. The Electric Company -- use their powers to squash the troublemaking endeavors of their neighborhood nemeses, The Pranksters. As in the original version of the show, a sketch comedy format combines animated shorts, song-and-dance numbers, and instructional lessons that are all focused on a common educational theme.
Is it any good?
If you have fond memories of the original series from your own childhood, this great remake offers an opportunity to sit down with your kids and share some common ground. Since the show revives a few of the '70s series' classic sketches (remember those word-building silhouettes?), it's a fun way to revisit a part of your past while you connect with your kids and help reinforce their learning in a unique way.
English class has never been as fun as it is with The Electric Company at the helm. With lessons woven into humorous, kid-friendly storylines, upbeat music inspired by a variety of genres, and graphics that bring words and their letter components to life onscreen, the show gives kids multi-dimensional instruction that builds on traditional education. Brisk transitions between segments and a varied cast of characters and animated clips maintain kids' interest and entertain so well that they might not even realize the show's true intentions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the media and shows like The Electric Company can be used to educate. Kids: Did you learn anything from watching this show? Did it reinforce what you've learned in school or teach you something entirely new?
Which of the show's methods most helped you understand what was being taught? Do you think shows like this are reliable ways to learn things? Why or why not?
How have digital media like email and text messaging changed the way we communicate? Is their influence making language and grammar skills less important? Is that OK?
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