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Back-to-School Videos Use Popular Characters to Make Learning Fun

28 Jul, 2004 By: Meryl Schoenbaum

August is just around the corner, and every parent knows what that means. Time to drag the kids from store to store to buy supplies for the new school year. But parents can soften the sting of summer's end by including back-to-school videos on their shopping lists so kids can see how much fun learning can be.

Here are some new learning titles you can suggest to parents to ease the transition back to school.

Walt Disney Home Entertainment's new “Disney Learning Adventures” line employs some favorite Disney characters to put the “fun” in learning fundamental skills. The first two titles in the line — Winnie the Pooh ABC's and Winnie the Pooh 123's — street Oct. 12 (prebook Aug. 31) at $19.99 DVD and $14.99 VHS. Disney also offers both titles in a Disney Learning Adventures Gift Set that includes 37 illustrated flash cards at $39.99 (DVD only). Geared for children ages 2-5, both videos feature new stories that entertain children as they learn numbers and letters courtesy of Pooh and his friends Tigger, Roo and Piglet. DVD bonus features include activity and French-language tracks.

Also from Disney come new releases in its “Bear in the Big Blue House” series for pre-schoolers, streeting Sept. 7 (prebook July 27; DVD $14.99, VHS $9.99). Among the new titles are Shapes, Sounds & Colors With Bear and Sense-sational, which teaches children to use their five senses in learning about the world around them.

Targeting the Preschool Set
Pro-Active Entertainment Group also targets the pre-school set with My First Day at Preschool, which chronicles the first day of school for the main character, Buddy Bear. The title, designed to ease children's anxieties about leaving home for the first time, has received several awards, including Parenting Magazine's Video of the Year award. It is available now on both DVD and VHS at $9.98.

Scholastic has a slate of new story adaptations being released in the fall as part of its Scholastic Video Collection. The new titles include How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? … and More Stories That Rhyme, Giggle Giggle Quack … and More Funny Favorites, The Teacher from the Black Lagoon … and More Slightly Scary Stories and Why Mosquitos Buzz in People's Ears … and More Stories from Africa. The titles street Sept. 28 (prebook Aug. 31) at $14.95 DVD and $9.95 VHS.

Sony Wonder is releasing several titles in its popular “Arthur” series. Among the back-to-school titles is Arthur's School of Hard Knocks, which contains three storylines: “Arthur vs. the Very Mean Crossing Guard,” “Buster Makes the Grade” and “D.W., All Fired Up.” Arthur's School of Hard Knocks streets Aug. 3 ($12.98 DVD, $7.98 VHS).

Sony Wonder recently released Miffy and Friends: What I Learned Today (DVD $12.98, VHS $9.98) in which the main characters learn and explore things both inside and outside of school, such as counting, the seasons and creativity. Among other fall titles from Sony is A Celebration of Me, Grover, streeting Aug. 31 (prebook Aug. 5; $12.98 DVD, $9.98 VHS).

The Well-Rounded Child
Of course, the well-rounded child needs to learn more than just reading and math skills. There are many titles available that foster creativity and an appreciation for the arts — and release some youthful energy in the process.

Classical Fun Music, of Clearwater, Fla., teaches kids music appreciation with The A to Z Symphony, streeting Aug. 10 (prebook now; $19.95 DVD, $14.95 VHS). Geared for children ages 0-5, the title includes 26 one-minute videos set to the music of some of the greatest classical composers, such as Beethoven, Bach and Strauss. Along with learning about the classical composers and their works, children learn the alphabet and vocabulary words. The A to Z Symphony DVD was recently voted one of the best vacation products of the year in the children's products category by Dr. Toy (Stevanne Auerback, Ph.D, director of the Institute for Childhood Resources).

Classic literature is part of the curriculum at Monterey Video, with its release of six DVDs, including masterworks such as Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi and a compilation called Shakespeare's Soliloquies ($24.95 each DVD, also available on VHS). All titles street Aug. 10 (prebook now).

For kids with the need to learn about speed, Monterey Video also has a new sports title, Once Upon a Wheel, streeting Sept. 14 (prebook Aug. 17; $19.95 DVD). Hosted by actor/race-car driver Paul Newman, Once Upon a Wheel provides an inside look at the world of car racing, including footage from classic Indy 500, Formula One and NASCAR races. Commentaries are included from veteran race car drivers such as Mario Andretti and Richard Petty as well as celebrities.

Budding ballerinas will be enthralled by the latest entry in Hit Entertainment's “Angelina Ballerina” series: The Magic of Dance, streeting Aug. 24 (prebook now; $16.99 DVD, $12.99 VHS). Both DVD and VHS versions will be packaged with a magical tiara just like Angelina's and an instructional dance-step poster.

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