Target Age Group: 3-6 year olds
Television Station: PBS
"Mustard Pancakes" Overview
The childrens television show Mustard Pancakes takes place in the comfortable home of singing/storytelling grandmother Courtney Campbell. Courtney shares her home with four kind-hearted and child-like puppet characters: Oogleberry Ink Dog, a scruffy and thoughtful dog; Tiny Tina Ten Toes, a free spirited beagle who loves to dance; Mo, an innocent and playful Chocolate Labrador; and Mr. D, a slightly self-absorbed cat.
Combining the art of storytelling and the element of song, the series presents everyday situations in an age-appropriate way to help children learn about solving lifes little problems. Education consultant Shalom Fisch, Ph.D., who was a consultant for "Sesame Street," helped develop the educational goals for "Mustard Pancakes." The show producers explain:
"The issues that are raised in Mustard Pancakes are gleaned from those same issues that kids are dealing with on a daily basis, ranging form the emotional (sharing, caring) to the practical (practicing, tenacity) and always with core values."
"Mustard Pancakes" Episode Outline
Each episode of Mustard Pancakes begins with a situation or problem that is affecting one or more members of the household. The storyline is developed through communication between the puppets and Courtney, until the whole thing reaches a point where everyone needs to take time for a story.
Courtney generally begins with a personal story about her life, which she relates to the current conundrum the family is facing. Following her story, the puppets participate by acting out a story also based on the recurrent theme, and Courtney sings a song related to the story. Through the stories and discussions, the puppets are able to resolve the situation or problem using what they have learned.
At the end of the day, Oogleberry summarizes the lesson of the day as he writes in his journal. The episode then ends at the round table, where Courtney opens a package she's received containing something interesting that pertains to the story of the day. After pointing out the place of the packages origin on a globe, Courtney holds up a book about the place and encourages kids to read and learn more.
Guide Review of "Mustard Pancakes"
Mustard Pancakes presents a show for children that is as unique and captivating as its name. From the beautifully cozy sets and warm, fun-loving characters to the artful storytelling and enchanting songs by Courtney Campbell, the show will delight children while delivering a simple, pointed message about learning to be a positive part of the world around them.
Because of the inviting set design of Courtneys home, along with the charming sets used in the storytelling sequences, Mustard Pancakes is a joy to watch. Everything works well together Courtney's home, the story sets, and the puppets presenting a welcoming and homey feel that draws the audience in.
Mustard Pancakes also sets itself apart from other educational childrens programs by the distinctive and well-executed curriculum. The introduction and discussion of the life problem or situation in each episode is perfectly simple for the target audience. The show sticks to one, very obvious idea and resolves the dilemma with the learning of a straightforward principle which young children can easily relate to and put into practice.
Not only will children learn about an important life principle, but they will experience the magic of Courtney's wonderful stories and songs. The many elements of the show combine through her music and storytelling to create a delightful and educational treat for children.
Ideas for Further Learning Based on the "Mustard Pancakes" Curriculum
In an interview with Courtney Campbell, I asked her for tips on the art of storytelling:
- To become a better storyteller, Courtney suggests telling your kids stories about your own life. In this way, storytime will give your child a glimpse into who you are.
- In order to encourage young children to tell stories, start out by having them fill in the blanks to a story you are telling. Once upon a time there was a Encourage and praise them as they fill in the blanks.
- Play a storytelling game such as Pass the Stone. One person, the holder of the stone, begins telling a story. At a good breaking point, or after a specific amount of time, the stone is passed to the next person, who must continue with making up the story. The stone is passed from person to person until the last one finishes the story.