It is widely acknowledged today throughout our society that children must build a strong foundation of language and literacy skills at an early age if they are to prosper in school and beyond. Scientifically-based research has validated this general understanding and government initiatives have placed this need at the forefront of our educational mandate.
While there is no substitute for the conversations a child has with an adult such as a parent or teacher, television does afford opportunities to enhance overall language and specific vocabulary skills beyond what can be attained through personal interactions. Through conscious and creative programming, the time children spend watching television, rather than detracting from their language and literacy growth can alternatively be a medium for advancing these capabilities. What television offers is the possibility of carefully controlling the input to the child in a medium that children have access to and interest in. By drawing upon scientifically-based research to design that input, substantial learning possibilities are created. In terms of building toward key aspects of language and vocabulary development, television programming can offer these important opportunities. Television can be a powerful tool for engendering the enduring love of language and words necessary for children’s deep vocabulary acquisition and overall literacy success.
Toward tgis end, the Emmy Award-winning series WordGirl will premiere five new episodes on PBS KIDS starting March 11 as part of “(M)Arch Enemy Week,” during which WordGirl will fight against a variety of the series’ most popular – and fan favorite – villains. WordGirl’s adventures that week will include battles for word domination against such formidable villains as Big Left Hand Guy, InvisiBill, Granny May, Dr. Two Brains, and many others.
Now in its fifth season on PBS KIDS (check local listings), WordGirl breaks through the stereotypes of girls in media by putting forth a female character that is strong and independent. Becky Botsford is an ordinary girl but when trouble strikes, she transforms into the super-powered (and super-eloquent) superhero WordGirl! WordGirl is a hero because she faces her issues, finds a way to rise above challenges and teaches vocabulary to kids in a fun, engaging way.
“Every day, WordGirl shows young viewers that being smart is powerful,” says Scholastic Media President Deborah Forte, who also serves as Executive Producer of WordGirl and Executive Vice President of Scholastic Inc. “WordGirl resonates with children and parents because of its humor, engaging characters and a relevant and robust curriculum.”
The following episodes are scheduled to premiere during ‘WordGirl’s (M)Arch Enemy Week’:
Monday, March 11
“PLAIN OLD MISCHIEF MAKERS”
When best friends Big Left Hand Guy and InvisiBill risk losing their super villain status, they decide to pull off their biggest heist to date. Can WordGirl stop this determined duo who always manage to escape her at the last minute?
Vocabulary Words: Diminish, Declare
While Chuck’s jail cell is being painted, he’s put under house arrest at the Botsfords’. Becky is stuck spending more time waiting on Chuck than fighting the other villains. Vocabulary Words: Release, Rowdy
Tuesday, March 12
After a battle, WordGirl accidentally leaves Captain Huggy Face behind (again), so he spends the day doing all of his favorite things. When an overzealous Chuck strikes, it’s up to Captain Huggy Face to single-handedly save the day.
Vocabulary Words: Recall, Zeal
“SAY IT AGAIN, EILEEN”
Eileen won’t stop copying Becky – and it’s driving Becky nuts! Can WordGirl stop Eileen from transforming into the Birthday Girl before the bake sale (and Becky’s treasured crumpets) is ruined? Vocabulary Words: Stymie, Guidance
Wednesday, March 13
“DAY AT THE MUSEUM”
Scoops takes Becky, Bob and Violet to the museum to find inspiration for his news story for The Big City Times. The team goes on a search when they hear a rumor about a haunted treasure – with The Butcher close behind! Can Scoops, Becky, Bob and Violet find the treasure and evade The Butcher in time for Scoops to meet his deadline?
Vocabulary Words: Rumor, Deadline
“BEST FAN CLUB MEETING EVER”
TJ plans a meeting to divulge a secret about WordGirl to International WordGirl Fan Club members. However, when Tobey finds out that a secret about his love/nemesis will be revealed, he crashes the meeting with an eavesdropping robot and threatens to destroy the clubhouse. WordGirl has to spring into action to save the clubhouse and her fans!
Vocabulary Words: Divulge, Eavesdrop
Thursday, March 14
“WHO’S YOUR GRANNY?”
Granny May decides to become more notorious by committing bigger crimes involving crazy contraptions. Meanwhile, Becky is frustrated that she does not appear in any yearbook photos since she always has to escape to fight crime as WordGirl. Will Becky/WordGirl ever be able to get her photo in the ye
arbook and find time to interact with the new, high tech Granny May? Vocabulary Words: Interact, Contraption
“WIN A DAY WITH WORDGIRL”
The Big City Times announces a writing contest prize: win a day with WordGirl! A chance at a full-day encounter with everyone’s favorite superhero causes Tobey, Scoops and TJ to go to extremes to win – ending in a robot-filled squabble at the library.
Vocabulary Words: Encounter, Squabble
Friday, March 15
“DINNER OR CONSEQUENCES, PART 1”
Dr. Two Brains is stealing the entire city’s milk and using it–with help from the unusually talkative Energy Monster–to superpower his new ray and turn the whole city into cheese! It’s up to WordGirl to find the disappearing dairy and stop Dr. Two Brains, even if it means missing her family feast and having to face the consequences. Vocabulary Words:
“DINNER OR CONSEQUENCES, PART 2”
Becky has to rely on an old Botsford tradition – the family trial – to convince her family that she vanished from the feast for a good reason. But when the Energy Monster breaks Dr. Two Brains out of jail and the two head over to the Botsfords’ to take back a powerful invention, will Becky be able to prove her innocence and transform into WordGirl in time to stop two super villains?
Vocabulary Words: Vanish, Rely
These lesson plans engage students in the exploration and creative use of vocabulary words. Students learn about key concepts such as verbs, synonyms, antonyms, onomatopoeia, the use of persona and visual imagery, all while expressing themselves creatively through gaming, acting, and writing.
The following three goals serve as a model for harnessing the educational opportunities a program such as WordGirl offers.
- To engage children in a language-filled world that will provide a meaningful context and rich experiences to help build children’s deep word knowledge and engender a lifelong enthusiasm for language.
- Direct instruction of important targeted vocabulary words presented in multiple and interesting contexts in order to build children’s deep word knowledge and overall vocabulary interest.
- To provide role-models for children illustrating the power of words within a rewarding social/emotional and cultural context that includes positive character models from groups underrepresented or negatively stereotyped in the mainstream media, promoting the value of our diverse society.