Check Out What’s New From Jim Henson Studios!

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Hey All!

I recently got invited to the Jim Henson Studios to cover their Series Summit, which included a bunch of awesome new info about their upcoming shows. I couldn’t attend, but our fabulous new contributor Amy was able to attend for us. Check out her experience from the event! Take it away Amy!

Hi everyone! This is Amy of Cozy Reverie and I am still gushing over the recent opportunity to cover an incredible event for the Bubbly Squad. The Henson Family Hub hosted their Series Summit at the Jim Henson’s Studios, where they gave us the lowdown on their current popular children’s shows. Being a mother (and a gal that grew up with the Muppet Babies), I knew I was in for one inspiring afternoon.

Let’s begin by how amazing this place is! The Jim Henson Company is headquartered on the legendary Charlie Chaplin lot in Los Angeles, and it encompasses all things Henson. The moment you step foot on the lot, you are immersed in a world where you are almost certain an adventure is about to begin. I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but you are greeted by a dinosaur, for goodness sake! This place is magic.

We began our morning by exploring the lovely quad (coffee and snacks!) and getting up close and personal with Splash from the new series, Splash and Bubbles. I later discovered that these shows use motion capture in their animation. Digital puppetry! The panels we heard actually took place in the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio where the puppeteers work on Sid the Science Kid, Dinosaur Train, Word Party, and Splash and Bubbles. If you are curious about how digital puppetry works, watch this clip here.

The first panel was eye-opening to say the least! Curriculum advisors are an integral part of every single one of these shows. With eight preschool shows currently airing, the curriculum ensures to follow the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) standards, and every advisor has experience in education, specifically with young children. As the Director of Curriculum for UCLA Early Care and Education, Moises Ramon (Dinosaur Train, Sid the Science Kid), contributes to what is described as “Mythbusters for kids”. Stage director, Johanna McKay (Julie’s Greenroom), works towards helping children become better people with performing arts. Award-winning child psychologist, Yalda Urhls (DOT.) is committed to digital responsibility and is careful to research how digital media affects children. Not only are they focused on teaching young preschool children, but they strive to make it relatable and fun. The teams make a true effort to represent the diversity in their audiences, whether it be race, social economic, health, personality, and non-traditional family structures. The Jim Henson Company wants all children to be included when they watch their shows . “They’re just like me!”

You can hear more from the curriculum panel via the Henson Family Hub Facebook live feed here!

Left to right: Moderator Nicole Goldman (EVP, Marketing) Halle Stanford (EVP, Children’s Entertainment), Johanna McKay, Moises Roman, Yalda T. Uhls

During lunch, we were able to hang out with the amazing puppeteer, Dorien Davies, who is the voice behind Fizz from Julie’s Greenroom. Davies was so talented that even though she was in broad daylight, she completely disappeared behind the character, creating the illusion that you are speaking to Fizz.

Look who else was posing for photo ops: Buddy the T-Rex! We matched! My young boys absolutely love Dinosaur Train so they were super jealous. Haha!

The second panel is where I geeked out because we got to hear from the imaginative show creators. I am always fascinated by the backstories of projects so it was quite inspiring to hear each story. Director and puppeteer, John Tartaglia (Splash and Bubbles), was deeply influenced by Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock, which clearly shows in his creation. Producer and writer, Alex Rockwell (Pajanimals, Word Party), noticed how her kids liked to play caretakers because that is what they experienced in their own lives. This helped develop the concept for Word Party. Animator, Craig Barlett (Dinosaur Train), watched his son put his dinosaur toys and toy trains together and in that moment, the concept for a show was born. Working with the curriculum advisors and maintaining their own vision, while also staying true to the Henson whimsy and beauty is not an easy feat, but they’ve done it and raised the bar for children’s educational television.

You can hear more from the show creators via the Henson Family Hub Facebook live feed here!

Left to right: Goldman, Stanford, Craig Bartlett, Alex Rockwell, John Tartaglia

Watching clips from each show and hearing from the advisors and creators made me truly appreciate the work that is being done by the Jim Henson Company. Rockwell mentioned that she hopes to create parents in the shows that “parents wish they could be” and I loved that. In this day and age of technology, it has become harder to be fully present for your children. The fact that the Henson company shows also strive to be co-watched by kids and adults provides a great way for us, as parents, to become more present. Each show even provides resources and materials online so that we can learn with our kids outside of the episodes!

Many thanks to the Jim Henson Company for having me at their first Series Summit! It was a fantastic and inspiring afternoon. I highly encourage everyone to follow the Henson Family Hub on Facebook. The Hub encourages us to become a true part of their family, and as a parent, it is so refreshing to here that. This is how engaged they are with their audience! They want to hear from us: the children and their parents! Their work isn’t just about ratings; it is truly about what are the children learning from the programming. Check out what it currently airing:

Science shows Sid the Science Kid, Splash and Bubbles, and Dinosaur Train can be found on PBS.

For those with toddlers (like me!), Word Party is now streaming on Netflix and Pajanimals is currently airing on Sprout.

Preschoolers will love Doozers on Hulu

I definitely plan on watch Dot. on Sprout so that the whole family can learn about digital citizenship.

Julie’s Greenroom is already on my list on Netflix because I love all things about performing arts and I’m sure the boys will love it too!

Thanks so much to Brite & Bubbly for letting me cover her this week! Learning about these incredible television shows for my young boys has encouraged our whole family to start watching together. Word Party has quickly become a favorite!

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