• KIDZONE: A —YOUR MONEY
Volume 20 Number 6
The "Kidzone" series, produced in British Columbia for educational television, employs the increasingly popular device of using juvenile actors (and a few "token" adults) to explain, interpret and dramatize a variety of concepts relating to science, consumer education, and social issues. The nine programs available on videotape are organized by themes such as communication, multiculturalism, the environment and substance abuse. Each separate video tape consists of four brief sketches relating to a single topic.
The promotional material accompanying the videos informs us that the "Kidzone" series has recently received two awards of merit for educational broadcasting and children's programming. Judging from the three programs I previewed - Your Money (money management), Telephone Line (communication), and I Am What I Am (multiculturalism) - the accolades are well deserved.
In general, the episodes are very well done and successfully meet the challenge of communicating information, elucidating a concept, or delivering a message in just a few minutes without either boring or losing the viewer. The visual quality is excellent, the dialogue is clear, and the young performers are impressive. Simple settings and a minimum number of props are used to good effect.
The individual segments vary in both quality and format. A pastiche of techniques - conversations, simulated activities, dream sequences, and even rap songs - are used to get the message across. For example, in "Buying Time" (from the Your Money program), Sarah, worried about debts she has incurred, falls asleep and is visited by her brother and a girlfriend, cleverly disguised as a gangster and his moll. In "Cree Story Teller" (from the multiculturalism program), a Native man relates a Native legend to one group of children, while another group acts out the scenes and provides part of the narration.
The use of such current expressions as "rad" (for a pair of brand-name running shoes), "awesome" (for a state-of-the-art bicycle), and "that totally sucks" (to describe racism), as well as references to cultural icons such as Michael Jordan and Madonna, will probably increase the appeal of the programs for the younger set; the same references, however, may appear dated one or two years from now. And although the members of the cast represent various cultural groups, the programs are resolutely middle class. Young viewers who do not receive at least $10 allowance money, who do not have $400 cash on hand to purchase a new mountain bike, or who can only dream of flying to Europe may very well feel left out of the picture.
These criticisms aside, the "Kidzone" programs provide high-quality Canadian content and a good balance of entertainment and information. The series would be a worthwhile purchase for most school libraries. The value of the programs to the classroom teacher is enhanced by the availability of extensive teacher's guides, which provide vocabulary lists, brief summaries of each segment, discussion questions, and group activities. The complete Teacher's Resource Guide for the set is included with the purchase of the series; individual guides may be purchased separately.
Recommended for school libraries.
MaryLynn Gagne is a reference librarian in the Education Library, University of Saskatchewan, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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