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Boys' and Girls' Brains: What's the Difference?

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Welcome to Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood!

by Angela Santomero

Angela Santomero

Angela is the creator and producer of PBS KIDS shows Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood and Super WHY! Read more »

Sorry, Angela Santomero is no longer taking questions.

I am beyond thrilled that the premiere of DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD is just days away. For the last several years, I have been extremely passionate about this new preschool series, and soon millions of children and their parents will tune in for the very first time. On September 3, DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD debuts on PBS KIDS and will introduce a new generation to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe with fun and practical strategies and skills necessary for growing and learning.

Creating DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD has been a labor of love for me. I remember sitting very close to the television watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood whenever it was on my PBS station as a little girl. Like millions of children, I loved everything about the show and especially Mister Rogers, himself. For me, he was that calming voice that looked right at me and told me that he liked me “just the way you are,” and I believed his every word. Fred Rogers has been both an inspiration and a major career influence for me, so imagine how honored I am that the Fred Rogers Company has trusted me to create their very first show since the iconic Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and introduce his timeless pro-social curriculum years later.

In the early stages of development, we knew that we could not find another Fred Rogers. There will only be one Fred Rogers and one Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. A common question that I keep getting about the show is why animation. We decided to animate the Neighborhood of Make-Believe because it allowed us to put a unique spin on the “neighborhood,” and make the stories visual. For example, we can let viewers peek inside Daniel Tiger’s vibrant and colorful imagination in each episode to give viewers a kids-eye view of his life.

Our approach to Fred’s pioneering curriculum was planned with today’s preschoolers in mind because we wanted to make sure that we were reaching them most effectively in terms of appeal and learning. DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD is grounded in research that proves social and emotional competencies are the building blocks of doing well in school and in life. The research-based curriculum in DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD helps hone the skills that prepare young viewers to be optimal learners in kindergarten and beyond. The engaging and interactive stories revolve around relevant themes for preschoolers such as self-control, patience, sharing and cooperation.

But how do I make sure that our show stands out?

We came up with the idea to highlight each curriculum theme using catchy, musical strategies. The musical strategies are carefully crafted with our research department to be easy to sing and easy understand for kids and for parents to use. We want them to be both groundbreaking and sticky! We drive the theme home with a one minute “strategy song” at the end of every episode. In addition, Daniel Tiger is a preschooler’s best friend. He shares his innermost thoughts with the home viewer, his feelings, his excitement and even his imagination. Every 11-minute story includes an “imagination moment” in which Daniel plays out a preschool fantasy set to music.

In the premiere episode it’s Daniel Tiger’s birthday, and he’s bubbling with excitement to pick out his birthday cake and carry it home in time for his party. However, he doesn’t plan on his cake getting smushed on the way home from the bakery, and is disappointed. The musical strategy in this case is “when something seems bad, turn it around and find something good.” Daniel realizes that his birthday cake still tastes yummy and doesn’t let the fact that it’s smushed spoil his birthday celebration.

When you see the show, you’ll notice that nostalgic nods of “love” to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood are included throughout each episode. The characters are the children of the beloved puppets from the Neighborhood of Make-Believe that many of us remember watching as children. The star is Daniel Tiger and he is the son of Daniel Striped Tiger. Like Fred, Daniel wears a red sweater and sneakers and speaks directly to preschoolers to include them in his day. Fred’s music can be heard, in some cases as cover songs, and in others as inspiration for new musical strategies. In doing so, we are able to honor his legacy while making a new show to meet the needs of today’s children.

I really would love to be able do for millions of kids, what Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood did for me with this show. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, isn’t it?

Sorry, Angela Santomero is no longer taking questions. Feel free to comment on the article and let us know what you think about the topic.

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