Wild Kratts (PBS, Television Show)

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Chris and Martin Kratt explore the sea.

         In this television show two brothers explore the wild and teach kids about animals and natural habitats. Intended for children ages 6-8, the show is a mixture of live-action and animation and focuses on teaching through entertainment. Show topics cover a range of animals and insects from land mammals to deep-sea creatures. Each episode contains an animated adventure featuring cartoon versions of the hosts as they solve mysteries or help animals in need. These cartoons are begin and end with live action footage of the Kratts viewing and explaining animals in their natural habitat. In addition to learning about animals the show tries to expose kids to observation and questioning present in many scientific fields.

            The hosts, Chris and Martin Kratt, are charismatic and excited about animals and nature, which shows through in their fun presentation of science. The mixture of mediums is an effective way to keep kid’s interest, yet the show does not shy away from the science within each episode. Also, the cartoons allow the hosts to explore animals in inventive ways not possible in real life, such as shrinking down to the size of eggs, or swimming with animals in the deep. This element gives the show an exciting twist for kids. As the Kratts discuss animals and nature new vocabulary terms are defined and new science concepts are presented with kid friendly comparisons. For example, crocodile jaw force is the same as a dump truck sitting on top of you! This method of discussion and teaching helps keep the show appropriate for a younger audience and presents science an accessible way. As with similar shows in PBS, the content quality is consistent, interesting and in line with the National Science Education Standards. Thankfully the show does not include distracting commercial or marketing elements, although there are a number of movies and books featuring the characters and themes of the show. And as common in PBS Kids shows this series does not contain questionable content or dialog.

            Reviews from online and in print regarding the show highlights the series’ fun approach to science and education. Most commonly praised is how Wild Kratts can inspire exploration or discussions of science after an episode is watched. Such as the review from Common Sense Media, “Because the show’s focus is on wildlife and the content often refers to endangerment or threats to animal habitats, there’s good opportunity to follow up with kids via discussions about current environmental issues and conservation.”[1]  To help with this further learning PBS has a number of free activities and learning tools to accompany the episodes available on their website.[2]

 

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