As a parent, I'm constantly amazed at the hit or miss quality of cartoons for kids. I'm often cautious about new programming meant for kids – all too often it falls short of educational and into the realm of pure entertainment. Don't get me wrong – I like pure entertainment too. But I want my kids to be entertained and pick something up along the way.
Sometime in 2006, we found the Little Einsteins on The Disney Channel and we discovered an educational yet entertaining animated series. It managed to merge fun stories and characters while introducing viewers to art, music, and dance. Little Einsteins: Fire Truck Rocket's Blastoff is the latest DVD release to capture four great episodes from the series.
Little Einsteins features four kids (two boys and two girls with a mix of ethnic backgrounds) and their magical craft simply known as "Rocket." Rocket has the ability to transform into whatever type of vehicle the kids need for any adventure they're on — from an actual rocket to a submarine, a train, fire truck, and more. Leo is the little red-headed boy with glasses who leads the group, plays conductor with his magical baton, and pilots Rocket. June is the little dark-haired dancing girl with an affinity for art. Quincy is a little boy who wears a cap and can play any musical instrument. And Annie is the little blonde-haired girl who loves to sing and make up songs.
Each episode features a famous piece of art and its artist as well as a famous piece of music and its conductor. The song is used throughout the episode as the group goes on a mission to solve a problem or help someone. The piece of art is either featured as part of the background for the adventure or the crew actually interacts with it during part of the adventure.
And each episode gets the kids watching involved physically by mimicking gestures and activities to help Rocket or solve part of a problem. This includes activities like patting your belly to match a particular tempo or getting up and dancing or singing along.
With the focus on art, music, and physical activity in an entertaining way for kids, I feel safe leaving my kids watching Little Einsteins on TV or DVD.
The first episode, "Fire Truck Rocket," has never aired on TV before and has the kids rescuing a monkey from an erupting volcano on the island of Java. Along the way, Rocket transforms into a fire engine and gains the ability to use a rescue spreader (Jaws of Life), ladder, and fire hose. The team uses all of Rocket's new tools along the way to save the monkey and his friends.
"Melody the Music Pet" introduces the team to the cuddly "Melody," who is a music pet. Rather than bark, meow, or chirp, Melody plays a little tune. In this adventure, the kids find themselves in France. They must help Melody find her golden ticket on the pet train taking pets to their new homes.
In "Carmine's Big Race," the kids are cheering for Quincy's friend Carmine, the music car, in the Grand Prix race in Monaco. Though Carmine is outmatched by the other bigger, faster cars in the race, the kids help Carmine triumph over adversity by never giving up.
And finally in "Mr. Penguin's Ice Cream Adventure," the team finds itself in the Patagonia region of South America. Mr. Penguin is driving a train full of ice cream to his best friend's birthday party when his locomotive breaks down. Rocket changes into a train engine and with the kids' help they get the ice cream to the party on time.
I know my kids had a great time helping out the kids from Little Einsteins as they helped people with different problems around the globe. And I know I enjoyed the mix of music, art, and activity as I watched along too. If you have children in preschool or early elementary, I can definitely recommend Little Einsteins: Fire Truck Rocket's Blastoff for nearly 90 minutes of fun. Be sure to check it out at your favorite local or online retailer! And take a look at the Little Einsteins website for more information about the series.