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“It is easier to tone down a wild idea than to think up a new one.”
— Alex Osborne
“Honor isn't about making the right choices. It's about dealing with the consequences.” — Midori Koto
“The true test of character is not how much we know how to do, but how we behave when we
don't know what to do.” — John Holt
Children love to imitate their favorite television characters. They copy the characters’ voices,
quote their “catch phrases,” sing their songs, and much more. This imitation can happen at any
time of day. At breakfast, a finicky 3-year-old who watches Sesame Street might try broccoli
“because Elmo likes it.” On a family car ride, a 5-year-old who loves Little Einsteins might
rhythmically pat-pat-pat his lap, proudly announcing the progression from “allegro” to “presto.” In
her backyard, a curious preschooler might try a simple experiment she saw modeled on her
favorite animated science series, Peep and the Big Wide World.
Knowing their children’s fondness for imitating what they see on TV, many parents carefully
select what programs they allow in their home. They seek out high-quality, educational series that
not only entertain but also enlighten—shows that present positive role models, and use the power
of storytelling to convey worthwhile messages and ideas.
Enter…Zigby! Based on the popular book series by Brian Patterson, Zigby presents a curious,
loyal zebra hero and his best pals, McMeer and Bertie. Through collaborative play, this appealing
trio uses their imaginations and creative problem-solving skills to turn every day into an exciting
adventure. Zigby is a good friend to all, and always goes out of his way to maximize pleasure for
everyone on the island.
Sure, Zigby regularly “trots into trouble.” But he never blames others, nor is he fazed by these
sticky situations. With a strong sense of responsibility, and an irrepressible eagerness to help his
friends, Zigby uses his ingenuity to trot out of trouble again. He always fixes any problems he
accidentally causes, and restores order by admitting his mistakes, and thinking in a fresh, out-ofthe-
box way. Despite being a zebra, Zigby doesn’t see problems in black and white. He knows
that there are many ways to look at a problem. Sometimes we need to consider a problem from a
different perspective, or ask “What if…?” in order to reach a creative solution.
As young viewers laugh at Zigby’s silly situations and slapstick humour, they will see how Zigby
and his friends accept responsibility for their actions, persist in the face of failure, and have a
great time figuring out creative ways to save the day.
Zigby was created for 4-6 year old children, with a special emphasis on 4-year-olds. Children in
this age range are creative and enthusiastic problem solvers. Sometimes the problems they
grapple with involve social skills, such as: “How can I get my big brother to leave my toys alone?”
Other times, the problems can be downright silly, such as: “What would happen if I tried walking
backwards all morning?”
Preschoolers love to play pretend games, as well as imagining themselves in grown-up roles. For
this reason, many Zigby stories are based on the idea of Zigby and his friends taking on
interesting new roles, such as dinosaur-relic hunters or members of a musical band. Whatever
the premise, Zigby approaches problems the way a 4-6 year old might. He leaps before he thinks,
and often relies on hands-on exploration to understand a curious situation better.
Preschoolers are interested in social interactions with peers. They are learning how to share, get
along with others in groups, and figuring out constructive ways to handle their frustration. Zigby
and the other characters provide excellent role models for how friends can support each other’s
interests, and help each other solve problems creatively. Children in this range love to laugh and
act silly, and often use this as quick way of making friends.
What children find funny sometimes offers a window into what they are thinking and feeling,
including some of their concerns. 4-6 year olds, while much more physically competent than they
were as toddlers, sometimes worry about appearing awkward in front of their peers. As Zigby’s
good friend Bertie navigates the world, he frequently bumps into things, knocks stuff over, and
generally makes a fool of himself. Unlike typical child behaviour, Zigby always responds to
Bertie’s accidents with compassion, never laughing at him (even though the viewers will probably
enjoy these slapstick moments).
The Educational Mission of ZIGBY is to inspire children ages 4-6 to follow their curiosity, take
responsibility for their actions, persevere when they encounter challenges, and work with others
to discover fun, creative solutions. By addressing this mission in the context of character-driven
adventure stories that are rich in physical comedy, ZIGBY will engage viewers, educate them
about pro-social behaviors that help develop character, and introduce creative problem-solving
To fulfill the Educational Mission, Zigby has established the following Learning Goals. Please
note that these goals apply across the season. Any given episode will strive to satisfy as many of
these goals as possible.
Let’s look at each of these goals in detail…
Zigby and his friends will model behaviours that will inspire children to:
Some people see things as they are and ask, “Why?” I dream of things that never
were; and ask, “Why not?” — George Bernard Shaw
Zigby and his friends will model behaviours that will inspire children to
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of oneself. — Charlie Chaplin
It's not that I'm so smart; it's just that I stay with problems longer. — Albert Einstein
Zigby and his friends will model behaviours that will inspire children to:
Discovery is seeing what everybody else has seen, and thinking what nobody else has
thought. — Albert Szent-Gyorgi
• All the educational messages in ZIGBY are presented in a dramatic context, in which the
characters are solving fun, kid-friendly problems. To help viewers “play along” with the
action, the writers have sprinkled in clues that might help children at home anticipate the
• During Zigby’s character’s development across the series, the writers have created a
positive role model that children will be inspired to emulate. An important point we want to
emphasize is that “being responsible” and “having a fun time” are not mutually exclusive.
An on-going goal during story development is to show the benefits of accepting
responsibility, and figuring out ways to fix tricky problems.
• To enable viewers to learn some of the “nuts and bolts” of creative problem solving, Zigby
sometimes shows his thought process as he tries to make sense of a sticky situation.
Viewers have the opportunity to hear him ask questions, pose wacky ideas by wondering,
“what if…” and more. Ideally, children at home might try some of these approaches as
they grapple with creative challenges in their daily lives.
• The series features a number of catch-phrases to help viewers cue in on the key problem
solving moments. When Zigby realizes that he has indeed “trotted into trouble” he
exclaims, “Crazy coconuts!” At the point that he figures out a creative solution, he calls
out, “Cool bananas!”
Educational Objective: Encourage children to stand by their friends, take an interest in
special experiences in nature, and to be persistent and creative when they encounter
Educational Objective: Encourage children to admit their mistakes, and accept
responsibility for their actions, as well as use creative thinking and persistence to fix any
trouble they caused.
Educational Objective: Encourage children to be sensitive to others’ feelings during
playtime, and to see how a competitive attitude can interfere with everyone having a
good time. By thinking creatively, it is sometimes possible to turn a competitive game into
a collaborative one.
Educational Objective: Inspire children to clean up their personal belongings (clothes,
toys, etc.), be team players in collaborative efforts, and look for the “fun factor” in any
Educational Objective: Encourage children to be curious about the natural world, and to
keep asking questions, and pursuing clues until any mysteries are solved.
Educational Objective: Help children understand that, when pursuing worthwhile goals,
they should keep trying, even when initial efforts lead to failure. If you persist, sometimes
problems can get solved in surprising ways. In addition, help children appreciate the
challenges of being a parent trying to get children to sleep.
Educational Objective: Inspire children to create their own imaginative costumes out of
assorted “stuff” they find around the house (old boxes, towels, etc.) As they create these
costumes, encourage them to experiment, be open to wild ideas, and use their
Explore Creativity (PBS)
Helping Your Child Learn Responsible Behavior with activities for children
How to Teach Kids Responsibility Raise More Responsible Children
I DIDN'T DO IT!
Why children lie, and the words you can use to teach responsibility for actions.
VIII. Jordan D Brown Resumé
Jordan D. Brown
Curriculum Advisor for ZIGBY
As a writer, editor, and educational consultant, Jordan Brown creates books, articles, Web
sites, television programs, and educational guides for children, teachers and parents. His
clients include Nickelodeon, Nelvana, the American Museum of Natural History, Sesame
Workshop, Scholastic Inc., TIME for Kids, Joseph Henry Press (National Academies of
Sciences), Newbridge Educational Publishing and Thirteen/WNET.
He currently serves as the educational advisor for Dinosaur Train, a science preschool series
produced by The Jim Henson Company, which will air on PBS in Fall 2009. He was also the
educational advisor for My Friend Rabbit, an animated preschool series produced by
Nelvana, based on the Caldecott Award-winning book by Eric Rohmann, which focuses on
divergent thinking and collaborative creativity. This series will air on NBC’s “qubo” lineup in
Fall 2007. Brown was also the educational advisor for Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends, a
preschool TV series on Nickelodeon (2004-5). Its curriculum focuses on social-emotional
development and the wonders of the natural world. Nickelodeon hired Brown to develop the
original curriculum goals for the preschool TV series that became The Backyardigans.
As a writer and consultant for OLogy (www.ology.amnh.org), the American Museum of
Natural History’s award-winning kids’ Web site, Brown wrote science content, activities,
humorous interviews, and song lyrics about topics including marine biology, paleontology,
astronomy, and genetics. (Highlights include Stella Stardust’s interview with the Sun, and a
lively song about bioluminescence in the ocean.)
His non-fiction books include Robo World, a biography of MIT roboticist Cynthia Breazeal for
middle school kids (Joseph Henry Press, 2005), Everyday Inventions (Newbridge, 2004), A
Student’s Guide to Mental Health and Wellness (Greenwood Press, 2004), and Easy
HyperStudio Projects That Fit Into Your Curriculum (Scholastic, 2000). His fiction for children
includes Just Kidding! (2001), and Animal E.R. (1999), both published by Scholastic. Since
2003, Brown has written a monthly newsletter for Sesame Workshop about the joys and
challenges of parenting.