NickJr.com spoke with Bubble Guppies educational consultant Beth Richman, Ed.M. to find out more about this groundbreaking new show. Here's what she had to say about Bubble Guppies, the music, and the educational philosophy that guides every episode.
Tell us a bit more about Bubble Guppies. Who are they?
The Guppies are a diverse group of friends who go to the same preschool. We included a range of characters in the show, and each one brings a unique perspective, personality, and knowledge to the exploration of a daily topic or theme. That way, preschoolers will see themselves in some of these characters and have an opportunity to learn from other characters. And the show models strong friendships; these diverse characters share an innate curiosity about the world, but they don't always share the same point of view.
What can we expect to happen in every episode?
School is a central theme of the show. Each Bubble Guppies episode models a day at preschool, complete with recognizable routines and parts of the day.
At the start of each episode, something catches one of the Guppies' attention on the way to school; this topic is then explored from a variety of angles throughout the school day. Their teacher, Mr. Grouper, acts as a partner in learning. He joins the Guppies in their play and furthers their understanding of the topics.
Each show has a main theme--like planes, dinosaurs, the zoo, or musical instruments--that taps into preschoolers' interests, capturing their attention and their imagination. And there's also a subtheme in every episode. We like to think of the subthemes as the obvious educational "vitamins" that children need--those curricular elements that parents will readily identify, like measuring, shape recognition, opposites, sorting, and vocabulary.
What's the educational philosophy behind Bubble Guppies?
Bubble Guppies operates on the principle that young children are active learners. By tapping into their natural curiosity about people, objects, events, and ideas, we help kids build knowledge. It's a child-directed philosophy that takes a cue from the Reggio Emilia approach to education, where children learn through direct experiences and discoveries, while exploring their own interests.
It's important to point out that the Guppies are always at the center of their own learning. They're investigating, questioning, brainstorming, singing, dancing, and participating in imaginative play around each theme or topic. And the Guppies invite the viewer to interact with the show, giving kids multiple, active entry points into new information.
Will Bubble Guppies help get kids ready for kindergarten?
Yes! Bubble Guppies helps prepare kids for school by taking the basics of key curricular areas and integrating them into themed adventures. In other words, kids engage with science, the arts, literacy, math, and social-emotional content as they explore fun and age-appropriate topics.
Tell us about the music in the show.
There are three different types of music in each episode, and each plays an important part: The pop songs are like lessons set to music, reinforcing educational content and important information about the theme.
There are dance songs, which offer a physical exploration of the show's topic; they get kids to join in simple, repeatable movements like digging for treasure like a pirate; jumping like a kangaroo; and bouncing, shooting, and passing a ball like a basketball player.
We also created original transition songs that help the characters move from one segment to another, the same way kids segue between activities in a preschool.
These three different musical cues help to anchor young viewers within the episode and within the Guppies' school day.
Anything else we should know?
We strongly believe that Bubble Guppies helps set the stage for learning beyond the television screen, because the kind of questioning and exploration modeled in the show can extend to kids' everyday world, as children encounter new places, people, and things. And Bubble Guppies celebrates curiosity, discovery, independent thinking, and personal interests--powerful values that serve children well both inside and outside a school setting. The show offers parents and preschoolers an educational experience full of humor and heart that encourages kids to learn as they play.