Genre: Childrens educational/comedy
Age range: 6-9 years
Episode length: Approx. 30 minutes
Network: PBS Kids (Fridays, check local listings for times)
The Electric Company - Overview
Based on the shockingly educational show from the 1970s, The Electric Company is a new and updated PBS series by Sesame Workshop. The Electric Company is targeted toward kids ages 6-9 years old, and focuses on helping kids learn literacy skills. According to Sesame Workshop, the The Electric Company "is a multi-media, multi-platform literacy campaign charged with reducing the literacy gap between low and middle income families and advance the ideal that ‘reading is cool.’"
On the show, the Electric Company is a group of kids who have literacy super-powers. They can create words by summoning letters in their hands and throwing them at a surface or in the air, and the four core members have individual skills as well -- Keith can turn words into animation, Jessica has aural recall allowing her to replay speech as text, Lisa is the master solver of word problems, and Hector has a photographic memory that he translates into text.
Each episode of The Electric Company develops a narrative story-line, but also includes music videos, sketch comedy, animation and short films. The Electric Company kids use their powers to do good. They solve problems and overcome challenges often caused by their arch rivals, "The Pranksters." As they watch the zany situations play out, viewing kids will learn about letter sounds, sound blending, phonics rules, and more.
The Electric Company - Guide Review
One thing can definitely be said about The Electric Company: the show accomplishes its goals of helping kids enhance literacy skills. Skits and songs in the show focus pointedly on skills such as letter sounds, letter combinations and decoding. The characters also do a great job at conveying the concept that reading is powerful and essential in many aspects of daily life.
The kids on The Electric Company seem to be a bit older than the target age group of viewing children. The hip-hop music style and older characters attempt to appeal to kids and help them realize the point that "reading is cool," but some of the music may be annoying to parents.
As far as the episodes go, the underlying story plots so far are usually pretty cheesy, but they are probably just interesting enough to keep kids' attention (at least the younger side of the target group: 6-7 year-olds). If you can get kids to watch The Electric Company, they will probably be hooked just enough to keep watching, and the show does provide a good educational experience.
The Electric Company - Expand Upon the Curriculum
- You can view educational clips from The Electric Company on PBS.org, and more online educational material should be coming to the website soon.
- You can easily use some of the word games on the show as a fun way to help kids keep learning at home. On one episode the gang receives a riddle, for example, that contains pictures and words which act as a clue to the answer. Create your own riddle for your kids to figure out. Or, challenge them to come up with words that can be made using the letters from an original word.
- Play family word games such as Scrabble or Boggle.