Target Age Group: 4-8 year olds
Television Station: PBS
Based on Marc Browns best-selling childrens books, the "Arthur" TV show depicts the life and times of eight-year-old Arthur and his fun-loving family of Aardvarks. Arthurs kid sister, four-year-old D.W., often takes center stage--or takes over center stage, as little sisters can. Arthurs friends add a variety of personalities, and his Grandma Thora also has a special part in the show.
The stated goal of the Arthur show is to help foster an interest in reading and writing, and to encourage positive social skills. The characters and many of the events and situations in the show are inspired by real people and events experienced by Marc Brown and his family. "Arthur" depicts these real life situations with which kids are commonly faced in a fun and comical way and provides kids with a positive example of how to resolve the conflicts. The show also emphasizes reading through character examples and episodes involving topics related to reading.
"Arthur" Episode Outline
Each Arthur episode contains two mini stories. The stories are separated by a fun spot where real life people and kids talk about or expand upon aspects of the show content.
The storylines in "Arthur" teach kids lessons about things like being kind, respecting others, getting along, telling the truth, and many more. In addition, many episodes incorporate reading and writing related plots, such as winning a poetry contest or waiting in line to buy a coveted copy of a popular book.
Guide Review of "Arthur"
The Arthur series has won several awards including the George Foster Peabody, and for good reason. Arthur presents issues and situations kids can relate to, and teaches positive behaviors and responses to these issues in a genuine and comical way.
The series is fun and engaging to the target age group. Kids will relate to the storylines and characters, and will therefore give thought to the responses the characters demonstrate and outcome of those responses.
Because "Arthur" presents real childhood issues, the show contains some imitative behavior such as name calling or bickering, much like children experience in their own lives. Kids might hear words like "sissy" or "stupid" and see Arthur and D.W. argue. Should children mimic some of these phrases or tactics, the show provides a good springboard for parents to talk about the issues with their children and point out the importance of considering others feelings.
Ideas for Expanding on the "Arthur" Curriculum
In reviewing the Arthur DVDs, I was able to speak with Kim Brown, Marc Browns sister and the inspiration behind D.W., and she was able to give me the following insights and ideas for helping kids get even more out of the Arthur show:
- Many of the characters and situations in the Arthur books and shows are based on real life people and events in creator Marc Browns life. D.W. was modeled after Kim Brown, and they really do have a Grandma Thora! Encourage your kids to write a story of their own and read it to the family.
- Marc Brown and his sister Kim are both talented and creative. Their real Grandma Thora was instrumental in helping them by encouraging them and saving their artwork, which made them feel special.
- Because children love the Arthur television shows, they also get excited about reading the books, so parents can encourage children to read by introducing kids to the books as well as the show.
- While on tour, Kim Brown teaches kids how to draw Arthur. You can find the 7 step method for drawing Arthur on the official website.
*In addition to drawing Arthur, PBS Kids' Arthur website offers games, coloring pages, parent information, and more.