TV Show Review: Word World

WordWorld, a new animated show aiming to teach pre-literacy skills topreschoolers, is premiering on PBS September 3. I was sent a review
copy, and watched it with my kids. I’ll tell you what I thought of it,
and also how it went over with my 5-year-old and my 2-year-old.

(Disclaimer: I just found out a couple of days ago that a friend of
mine has started doing some freelance work for WordWorld, but she
wasn’t there when I watched it or when I wrote the review initially. It
hasn’t changed my opinion of the show at all.)

WordWorld was created to get preschoolers used to the idea that letters
form words. I think it definitely does a good job of that. All the
objects in the world they’ve created are built out of letters. So the
body of the sheep is made of the letters SHEEP, the bridge is formed
out of the letters BRIDGE, etc. Each episode I watched was 11 minutes
long, with a cute storyline that had some repetition, some surprise and
a lot of talking about letters and showing letters jumping apart and
back together again to form words.

The CGI is nice quality, the colors are bright, and the voices are expressive.

My 2-year-old loved it. He was entranced, and sat through the 11 minute
episodes happily. He’s asked for WordWorld several times (the episode
about the escaped letter O is his favorite of the two), and I know
he’ll want to watch it when it’s on PBS. He had a pretty good grasp of
the concept that letters make words before he saw the show, because we
read a ton, and he sees his brother writing, and we watch Wheel of
Fortune some nights. But I think this is a nice supplement for him that
reinforces the prereading skills he’s developing right now.

My 5-year-old thought it was cool, but got bored with each episode at
about minute 5 or so. It’s really geared to younger kids in terms of
storyline and character, so while he thought the
objects-built-out-of-letters concept was cool, and liked the animation,
it lost him at a certain point. Bear in mind, though, that he’s been
reading fluently for several months, so a kid who was working on
letters and sounds might be more into it even at the age of 5. He was
totally willing to let his brother watch it when the little one
requested it, though, and took the DVD remote and clicked to the
"runaway O" episode for him.

I thought the concept was great and the production was excellent, but I
didn’t want to sit there and watch it. Maybe it’s because it’s my
second child, but I just don’t have the patience with the baby shows
anymore. I’ll watch Curious George and Jakers, but I think I’d use
WordWorld as a way to keep the 2-year-old occupied while I was doing
something else. If I’m going to spend time on the couch with letters
that involve the TV instead of actual books, I’d rather spend it with
the Learning About Letters DVD (Elmo-free) or with Wheel! of! Fortune!

So my quick and dirty on WordWorld:

Definitely yes for 2-4-year olds, no for older kids or kids who are
already reading, and bring your knitting if you’re going to watch with
your toddler.

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