This fall, PBS KIDS will premiere Peg + Cat, a new animated preschool series that follows the adorable, spirited Peg and her sidekick Cat as they embark on adventures and learn foundational math concepts and skills. Co-creators Billy Aronson (Rent, Postcards from Buster) and Jennifer Oxley (Little Bill, The Wonder Pets!) have teamed with The Fred Rogers Company to bring young viewers a new way to experience math through Peg and Cat’s relatable, and often hilarious, adventures.
This multiplatform media property premieres this fall on PBS KIDS with a special one-hour broadcast of two back-to-back episodes, along with integrated online and mobile content. Each episode features fascinating stories in which Peg and Cat encounter a problem that requires them to use math and problem solving skills in order to move forward. The series will air daily following its premiere.
Math understanding and skills are essential, yet national assessments show that 60 percent of students are performing below proficient levels in math by the 4th grade, and this learning gap is more pronounced in children from low-income families.* To help support math learning for young children, the National Research Council’s Committee on Early Childhood Mathematics has highlighted the need for “increased informal programming, curricular resources, software, and other media” to help build key math skills.
The Peg + Cat television series is part of a multiplatform media experience that will also include interactive content online and on mobile. The series currently offers games and other resources online at pbskids.org/peg/. Additional interactive features, including more games, parent resources and a mobile app, are slated to launch along with the on-air premiere in fall 2013.
Every half-hour episode of Peg + Cat will feature two stories, each an eleven-minute adventure in which Peg and Cat find themselves thrust into an unexpected math word problem. But it’s not just an abstract academic exercise for them — it’s a messy and funny quandary they have to solve. The show focuses not only on helping kids build math skills, such as how to add or subtract, but on how to think about larger math concepts as well — concepts that form the foundation for learning math at any level, from kindergarten to calculus. In each episode, Peg and Cat use foundational concepts like relative size, geometry and algebraic thinking to solve the problem and save the day. The series’ curriculum is based on Common Core State Standards.
Peg and Cat’s adventures take them through worlds of infinite possibilities — from farms to purple planets, from 16th-century Verona to New York’s Radio City Music Hall, from a land of pirates to a prehistoric valley — demonstrating that math is everywhere.
Peg + Cat stories are at once engaging, appealing, accessible and age-appropriate. As Peg solves a seemingly insurmountable problem, she has to think through what went wrong and how she can get back on track. Life skills such as cooperation are also important parts of the series, as Peg and her friends have to work together to solve problems; and since Peg might not get it right the first time, viewers also see value of learning from mistakes and experimentation. Music is also used as a teaching tool throughout the math series; each episode features an original song.
Peg + Cat is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education through the Ready To Learn Initiative, a program that supports the development of innovative educational television and digital media targeted at preschool and early elementary school children and their families, and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
Peg + Cat images courtesy of The Fred Rogers Company, (c) 2013, all rights reserved.