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Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies - Show Review

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies
Photo © PBS KIDS
TV Rating: TV-Y (All Children)
Air Times: PBS, check local listings
Episode Length: 2 stories per 30 minute episode
Target Age Group: 2-6 years
Network: PBS Kids

Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies - Overview

Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies takes kids on a trip to the African savanna, where they get to join with animated baby animal characters - namely Mama’s inquisitive elephant calf, Max; a cheetah named Bo; a zebra named Karla; and three monkey brothers called Kip, Flip and Chip - as they grow and learn from Mama elephant and her extensive collection of home movies (wildlife movies from the National Geographic and BBC award-winning archives).

As Max and his friends play together, they often come up with questions or need some gentle advice. Thankfully, the motherly and soulful Mama of the savanna, Mirabelle (voice of Vanessa Williams), is there to guide them along. She draws from her vast experience as she wisely explains life and nature through her movies, in which she has "made every creature a star and found beauty in every beast." As they watch the story unfold, viewing children are able to learn about animals, nature, and the world around them through the inspiring, real-life footage.

Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies - Episode Structure and Curriculum Overview

Each episode of Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies finds Max and his friends with some question or dilemma. Mama Mirabelle helps guide the children to an answer through her live-footage movies of animals and nature. Thus, viewing children learn about animals and nature through the National Geographic movies and Mama's explanations, and they also learn lessons about life and problem solving.

Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies - Guide Review

Mama Mirabelle and the sweet young animals on the savanna provide both delightful entertainment and sound education for preschoolers. I love the way Mama uses animals and nature to teach the little ones about life in general. Kids get to learn all kinds of interesting animal facts, but even more important, viewing children are provided with a concrete example of problem solving as the animals work out their answers and apply the lessons from the movies to their own question or situation.

Like most shows on PBS, Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies is heavy on the educational elements and contains less fluff and a little less vibrancy than the preschoolers' shows from the commercial stations. In addition, PBS shows do not have the benefit of huge marketing and merchandising machines behind them, so PBS series do not generally get the attention that they deserve. While some of these shows lack in animation, storyline, and character pizzazz when compared with the highly popular series on other stations, children still love them, and the shows are great supplements to any preschooler's education.

Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies in particular is enjoyable and fun for kids as well as being educational. The animation is simple and cute, and the National Geographic films are obviously very high quality. Unfortunately, in my market the show only airs one day a week. Hopefully, as more kids tune in, the show will garner the support and viewership that it deserves.

Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies - Expand Upon the Curriculum

  • Each episode of Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies highlights an aspect of animal life or animal characteristics. Take a nature walk after watching the show, and help kids identify similar aspects of nature in your own neighborhood.
  • Play charades and have kids pretend to be an animal from a Mama Mirabelle episode.
  • The PBS website has a Mama Mirabelle section with games, activities, and resources for parents and teachers.

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