Dora vs. magic school bus

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  • 1. Kashina AyalaCom 410 Mass Media and ChildrenProfessor Hobbs28 September 2012 Is Dora the Explorer the modern Magic School Bus? Dora the Explorer is a fantastic, imaginative, interactive, animated show for children thatcan be found on Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. Its target age group is preschool to young elementary(ages 2 to 6). The show offers great creative ways for children to learn shapes, colors, numbers,and problem-solving skills. Not only is this show kid-friendly, but it offers a way for families tocome together and have some fun for at least 30 minutes a day. Each show is approximately 30minutes, which includes commercials, offers problems and puzzles to solve, and has great musicfor the whole family to sing a long too. The show grabs the audiences’ attention right away bystating a problem that Dora and her friends are having, and they ask for the audiences’ help to
  • 2. solve it. This interactive way of learning is great for children of all ages. Problem- solving andcritical thinking are excellent skills for a person of any age to learn, so why not have yourchildren start learning crucial skills at an early age? Perhaps this is what the creators of the showwere thinking? Not only does the show provide an interactive way of learning, but Dora also provides astep-by-step style of solving problems. Each obstacle that she and her sidekick, Boots theMonkey, faces is an educational twist to the show. The obstacle helps the child feel they arehelping the animated characters, but it also provides time for the child to critically analyze whatthe right option or solution to the problem is. The educational aspect of this show is seen notonly within the main character Dora, but within her family and other animal friends. What elsedoes this show provide? As if you didn’t think this show could get any better for kids, Dora the Explorer teacheskids the Spanish language. Dora is a Spanish character who is bilingual and she speaks thelanguage throughout the show. She says one word and then teaches the audience what the wordmeans and how to say it. Kids are not only learning how to solve problems, critically analyzeproblems, learn how to create solutions to problems, but they are also learning about a newculture. Many of the episodes offer facts on traditional Spanish food, dance, events, and thelanguage. What better way to spend quality time with your child, than to help them understandthe importance of other cultures? While watching Dora the Explorer for the first time the format of the show reminded meof the animated cartoon The Magic School Bus. Perhaps I am showing my age by bringing up ashow that was created in 1994 and originally aired on PBS, but the familiarity in themes between
  • 3. these two shows are phenomenal (tvguide.com). The Magic School Bus had many morecharacters than Dora the Explorer, but both shows had a narrator that helped solve problems. InThe Magic School Bus Ms. Frizzle, the spunky science teacher, proposed that her class learntopics by experiencing them, similar to how Dora interacts with the at home audience. Ms.Frizzle would teach her students about the digestive system, the water cycle, the plant life cycleand many other things by bringing her students on class field trips. What child doesn’t like afield trip? The animated show would provide vivid animation of the theme at hand within a 30minute episode. Not only did the cartoon show children on a field trip, but the kid’s school budwould shrink and become the size of the animal, cycle, or topic at hand. For instance, thedigestive system episode, showed the children, the bus, and Ms. Frizzle inside of a stomach. Thecartoon did a great job of providing visuals for the audience. I realize that the animation was not as great in 1994 as it is now, but the way that TheMagic School Bus provided education with a twist of fun helped promote learning in school.Both shows have done a great job of helping expand children’s imaginations by providing great
  • 4. pictures and themes in each episode. The amount of adventure in each episode helps create athrilling atmosphere. Both shows have not only been hits on the television, but they both haveproduced books, movies, and merchandise available globally. Although The Magic School Busstopped airing in 1997, reruns still show on many networks because of the great success it oncehad. Each show provides great family fun, educational learning, and imaginative creativity thatpromote the importance of children education. Although The Magic School Bus came out beforegreat animated technological advances were made, it is important to see that shows like Dora theExplorer and The Magic School Bus are positive ways to help enhance children’s minds,attitudes, and willingness to learn. It is apparent that each show as its own tactic of promotingchildhood learning, like Dora the Explorer using the interactive way of learning and The MagicSchool Bus using the visual and come along with me approach, but each show has similaritiesthat show telling a story is not the only way for a child to listen; rather providing examples,explanation, and critical thinking techniques provide a greater gratification for children and theirfamilies.