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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tree Fu Tom is a preschool series created specifically to encourage therapeutic movement from kids with physical difficulties, but the active nature of its content is beneficial to any viewer. Tom is a boy who summons magic through a series of body movements to transform into a tiny tree creature, and he asks his audience to join him as he performs his "movement magic" multiple times throughout each story, giving kids reason to get up off the couch while they're watching. What's more, the characters' experiences with emotions and relationships will ring true for preschoolers, and the show's messages about solving problems and positive social skills are worthwhile as well.
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What's the story?
TREE FU TOM is set in the enchanted land atop a tree in young Tom's (Adam Henderson) backyard. With a series of magical movements called "Tree Fu," Tom is transformed from a human to an animated treeling (voiced by Sophie Aldred) and transported from his home to Treetopolis, where he joins his friends Twigs (David Tennant) the acorn sprite, Ariela (Samantha Dakin) the ranch-hand butterfly, and Zigzoo (Tim Whitnall) the crafty inventor. Tom and his pals share adventures and mishaps, often at the hands of the pesky Mushas, Puffy and Stink (Aldred again), who delight in causing mayhem for their neighbors. But when trouble ensues, Tom summons his active magic to save the day.
Is it any good?
It's nothing new for a TV show to virtually interact with its preschool audience. Many have followed the example set by Blue's Clues and Dora the Explorer, putting characters face-to-face with kids to engage them physically and to solicit their involvement in the story. But Tree Fu Tom takes this style one step further, designing a show around physical gestures that are therapeutic for kids with movement difficulties and a great developmental exercise for everyone else. Multiple instances of varying sequences of sweeping arm movements, stomping feet, and the clenching and relaxing of fists keep kids engaged and physically active, all while drawing them into the magical nature of the show.
Tree Fu Tom benefits from vibrant animation and creative characters, each of whom fills a unique niche within this society and rounds out the show's total package. The stories do a great job of illustrating lessons important to kids' social development, from the repercussions of cheating to the importance of making good on a promise. Viewers see problem-solving, critical thinking, and cause and effect in action, learning through the characters' experiences how to relate to others and cope with adversity.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Tom's magical world. Who are his friends? How is each one unique? How is magic helpful to them?
Talk about the lessons in that day's episode. How does what they learned help them to be better people? Have you ever experienced a problem like they had? What did you do to solve it?
This series encourages kids to get up and move while they're watching. Discuss with your kids the benefits of physical activity. How does exercising make you feel? What are some fun ways your family can stay active together?
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