Why We Love Martha Speaks: Unscripted Video Proof

If you follow MommyQ at all, you know I’m a huge fan of PBS shows. In fact, a few months ago I caught a hilarious moment on video of my kiddos playing Martha Speaks games online They were laughing so much, I assumed they were up to no good. Imagine my surprise when I discovered they were playing educational games online. A mother’s dream, right?

Earlier last week, I got an email that instantly caught my attention. “New Studies Show PBS KIDS Martha Speaks Has Impressive Impact on Children’s Vocabulary.” I excitedly read the findings and wanted to share them with my readers. Now remember, I have no connection with PBS. This is just one mom’s sincere love for a smart, talkative, yellow cartoon dog.

My experience is a bit different from other parents, because my oldest son is autistic. At the age of 4-years-old, he was hardly talking and strangers couldn’t understand him at all. That’s why we get very giddy when he likes shows like Martha Speaks that actually make a big effort to help his development. Now this may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but here’s proof of how far he’s come. He’s 6-years-old now and just finished kindergarten. I asked him (totally on-the-fly), what he thinks about Martha Speaks. Get a load of this….


Study Results
Three recent independent studies highlight the impressive impact that Martha Speaks is having on young childrens’ vocabulary development, and its strength as an early-intervention tool across broadcast and online platforms. These studies not only measured the impact on children who viewed episodes of the show, but additionally saw a significant increase in vocabulary skills among children playing with the Martha Speaks Dog Party iPhone app.

A few notable takeaways from the studies include:
• On average, children who watched Martha Speaks had a significantly greater increase in vocabulary knowledge compared to children who did not watch the show.
• Martha Speaks is an effective tool in helping bridge the vocabulary gap between low-income children and their more affluent peers.
• Martha Speaks facilitates inexpensive language opportunities at home.
• Program-specific vocabulary knowledge translated into higher standardized vocabulary scores for urban boys and rural children living in low socioeconomic-status homes.
• Children 3-to-7 years-old who played with the Martha Speaks Dog Party app tested up to 31 percent higher in vocabulary.
• Children were able to retain the increased vocabulary, and showed even greater gains on targeted words weeks after the study ended.

These studies are now available on the PBS KIDS website.

Is Educational TV Fun: You Bet Your Alphabet Soup

Educational kids shows

Before I had children, I always thought “educational” was a nice was of saying “boring.” Now that I’m the mother of two rambunctious youngsters, I’m all about educational. Bring on the stuff that makes my kids brainy. What makes an educational show great? The fact that you might forget you’re actually learning, because your too entertained to think about it.

Today, the big hit in our home is Martha Speaks. This chatty pup (who resides on PBS) began talking after she ate a bowl of alphabet soup and instead of going to her stomach, the letters went to her brain. Now she “speaks and speaks and speaks and speaks and speaks.”

In addition to the television show, the online community for Martha Speaks is incredible fun for my kids. In fact, the other day I heard them laughing and laughing. When I came in to see what all the fuss was about, I found them playing Martha games online. Oh my! They thought one game in particular, Stickerbook Mashup, was hilarious. They kept shrinking the characters and putting them in the soup bowl. If this video isn’t a great testament to educational shows, I’m not sure what is…

I’m so excited they both love this show, because it’s a great learning tool. It’s also perfect for my older son who happens to be autistic, because it really focuses on the importance of talking, expressing feelings and sharing thoughts. Now instead of encouraging him to “use his words,” I tell him to “use your words like Martha does.”  He likes that! In many ways, my son is like Martha. His language has improved so much over the years, he speaks and speaks and speaks and speaks too!

More MommyQ: You can read my posts, Top 5 Reasons Kid Shows Make Me Wince or the less snarky one I wrote for Babble, 5 Kid Shows that Won’t Annoy You. What’s your fave kid’s show?

P.S. – Anyone else notice my son’s Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings jersey? Can you tell my hubby is an OU fan? And he obviously dressed the kiddos that day. 😉

American Idol, Glee: 5 Popular Shows I Don’t Watch

American Idol Judges

The insanity about American Idol has begun. Every other tweet is about the new season. I have nothing against the show, I just don’t watch it. Am I crazy? Maybe so. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person on the planet who doesn’t watch it. I’m a pretty decent TV junkie myself, so it’s not like I have something against TV for its entertainment value. I’m a big fan of Project Runway, Top Chef, Big Love, True Blood, 30 Rock, The Real Housewives, CSI and Dancing with the Stars. And a few others….

Here’s my list of the Top 5 Popular TV Show I Don’t Watch:

American Idol – I know it has 22 million viewers, but I’m not one of them. I watched the season with Sanjaya and that was all I could handle. Seriously, 10 seasons of this show. Really? I’m sure it’s better this season, because I think the combo of Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler is magnificent. I honestly love J.Lo and Steven is possibly the coolest dude on the planet. Should I tune in or save myself some space on the DVR?

Glee – I know! You can unfriend me on Facebook now for this one. I, being a high school drama and musical nerdette, have never watched one episode of Glee. I’ve seen the previews and read all of the glowing comments about it from friends, but it hasn’t made me tune in. I’m not sure why, but I have a feeling I’d really like it. Should I aspire to become a ‘Gleek’ in 2011?

Grey’s Anatomy – I don’t know the difference between Dr. McSteamy, Dr. McDreamy or Dr. McNugget.  Let me tell you, I have lots and lots of friends who LOVE this show. My girlfriends go wacky for it. Another top-rated show I’ve never watched. I know it takes place in a hospital and that’s about it. Do I need help, STAT?

Breaking Bad – This is another one I’d probably love, but I’ve never seen it. It’s gritty, edgy, slightly disturbing and totally unlike any other show on TV. Or at least that’s what I’ve heard. Bryan Cranston is a very talented actor and I believe he was nominated for a Golden Globe this year for his role. Hmmm, do I need more mayhem in my TV lineup?

Lost – Another hugely successful show that I never watched. Not even one episode. Again, I had nothing against the show, it just didn’t make my list. Now it’s over, so I guess I missed the boat.

What do you think? Shall I make room on the DVR?

Take Chances in 2011: My Bloggy Adventure


MommyQ Television Movie

In 2010, I went on my first movie adventure in Portland, OR. Walmart and P&G invited me to experience a real behind-the-scenes experience at the filming of A Walk in My Shoes. It’s part of their initiative for better family entertainment. How could I say no? Here I am talking about my experience. (Yes, I’m doing vids this year – look out!)

From the wonderful folks at P&G and Walmart to the producers to the actors, EVERYONE working on this project is totally aware of the need for better family-friendly television entertainment. Even the youngest actor on the set, 11-year-old Jackson Pace, mentioned how important it is to be able to watch television together as a family. (BTW, what a cute little guy.)

Added bonus? During the trip I got to meet some phenomenal women: @MomStart @mamsphor @eightymphmom @BettyBuzz @OurOrdinaryLife – funny, fantastic, outspoken and talented. In fact, I actively follow these moms on Twitter today and do guest blogging for Betty Confidential.

As we embark on 2011, my advice for you is TAKE CHANCES. In my normal mommy mode, leaving the family for a few days to travel to a movie set was something I’d normally pass up. It required planning and rearranging of schedules and a few other hassles. Instead of being my normal “no thanks” self, I ditched my comfort zone and went. I’m so glad I did! It was an amazing experience for so many reasons. My point? Let’s keep pushing ourselves to take chances, okay? Deal? Deal.

MommyQ’s Faves & Flubs: People’s Choice Awards 2011

Khloe Kardashian New Hair Color

Fave – Rowdy in Red
I actually saw the tweet about Kloe’s big change from her sister, Kim, on Twitter. She said something about Kloe debuting a new look for last night’s People’s Choice Awards. I didn’t even have to change the channel to know what the new do was all about. Thanks, Twitter! It seems one Kardashian sister is stepping out of the velvety world of brunette and into the fun realm of red-head. Above is a pic of her new sassy self in a gray, floor length Alexander McQueen gown.

Selena Gomez Justin Bieber

Fave – Thinking Pink
These gals and award winners, Taylor Swift (Famous Country Artist Award Winner) and Selena Gomez (Favorite Breakout Artist Award Winner) both wore one of the hot new colors for 2011 – pink! Doesn’t it crack you up when people say “new” color? Who makes these decisions? Anyway, both gals were spotted looking gorgeous in muted shades of pale pink. The only thing missing from Selena’s outfit was a famous hand on her booty…and that would be the hand of Bieber himself, her new bf.  You’ve seen these pics, right?

Twilight People's Choice Awards

Flub – Vampires & Wolves Can Get Along
This Twilight trio, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner, shared an awkward almost-hug-turned-pat-on-the-back after beating out ‘Inception’ and ‘Iron Man 2’ for the Best Movie Award. I don’t know about you, but I’m still not totally getting this Twilight thing. And I’m a huge fan of vampire lore. Twilight is over…next!

That's So Raven People's Choice Awards

Raven Flies the Coop
Oh no she didn’t! I’m sorry, but this outfit is totally wrong for That’s So Raven star, Raven Symone. I get it. She’s 25 now, no longer the little cutie on The Cosby Show. But this is too dark, evil, Lady Gaga-esque for me. Is she making a statement? Yes. If that statement is I’m a dominatrix headed to a Stevie Nicks concert.

And the Winner is…

Favorite Movie: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Favorite Movie Actor: Johnny Depp
Favorite Movie Actress: Kristen Stewart
Favorite Action Movie: Iron Man 2
Favorite Action Star: Jackie Chan
Favorite Drama Movie: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Favorite Family Movie: Toy Story 3
Favorite Comedy Movie: Grown Ups
Favorite Comedic Star: Adam Sandler
Favorite On Screen Team: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner)
Favorite Movie Star Under 25: Zac Efron
Favorite Horror Movie: A Nightmare on Elm Street

Favorite TV Drama: House
Favorite TV Drama Actor: Hugh Laurie
Favorite TV Drama Actress: Lisa Edelstein
Favorite TV Comedy: Glee
Favortie TV Comedy Actor: Neil Patrick Harris
Favorite TV Comedy Actress: Jane Lynch
Favorite Competition Show: American Idol
Favorite TV Crime Drama: Lie to Me
Favorite TV Crime Fighter: Tim Roth
Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show: Fringe
Favorite Talk Show Host: Conan O’Brien
Favorite TV Obsession: Dexter
Favorite TV Guilty Pleasure: Keeping Up with the Kardashians
Favorite TV Guest Star: Demi Lovato (Grey’s Anatomy)
Favorite TV Doctor: Gregory House (Hugh Laurie)
Favorite TV Family: The Simpsons (The Simpsons)
Favorite Family TV Movie: Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam
Favorite TV Chef: Rachael Ray
Favorite New TV Drama: Hawaii Five-O
Favorite New TV Comedy: $#*! My Dad Says

Favorite Male Artist: Eminem
Favorite Female Artist: Katy Perry
Favorite Song: “Love The Way You Lie” (Eminem featuring Rihanna)
Favorite Rock Band: Paramore
Favorite Breakout Artist: Selena Gomez & the Scene
Favorite Pop Artist: Rihanna
Favorite Country Artist: Taylor Swift
Favorite R&B Artist: Usher
Favorite Hip-Hop Artist: Eminem
Favorite Music Video: “Love The Way You Lie” (Eminem featuring Rihanna)
Favorite Online Sensation: Katy Perry
Favorite Viral Video Star: Tarp Surfing

Images: Getty

Actress Nancy Travis Dishes about Motherhood & her New Movie, “A Walk in My Shoes” with Blogger, MommyQ

Blogger MommyQ Nancy Travis

I’m so excited to see Nancy Travis visit Wisteria Lane as Keith’s outspoken mother on Desperate Housewives this season. I’ve always thought she was a talented actress and quite funny too!  From movies like “Three Men and a Baby” to sitcoms like “The Bill Engvall Show,” Nancy brings us lovable, memorable characters. This summer, I had a chance to sit down and talk with Nancy in person, while she was filming her new movie, “A Walk in My Shoes” in Portland, Oregon. “A Walk in My Shoes” is part of a combined effort by Walmart and P&G to bring back family movie night entertainment. Both companies treated me and other fabulous mom bloggers to a unique behind-the-scenes movie experience.

Nancy was funny, personable, sincere and totally grounded. For someone who has been acting since high school and even married former President of Savoy Pictures, Robert N. Fried in 1994, she shows no signs of being affected by the Hollywood scene. We discussed why she took the role in this made-for-TV movie, how she balances being a mom and an actress, how being a mom has impacted her acting and she listed some of her favorite actresses.

Why she liked this role: The role Nancy plays in “A Walk in in My Shoes” is a stressed-out high school teacher, Trish. Nancy’s character can’t understand her students’ lack of effort in the classroom and why their parents don’t seem to care. Without giving away the whole movie, let’s just say a little bit of magic happens, giving Trish the chance to take a walk in one of the mom’s shoes and experience a new perspective. Nancy said she wanted to work on this movie because she was happy to work on a project that not only brought family-friendly programming to television, but addressed special life lessons.

Walmart P&G present A Walk in My Shoes movie

Life as an actress and a mommy: Nancy spoke about her life as a mom and working actress. She said of a work/life balance, “You can have it all, but not at the same time. You have to figure out your priorities to make it all work.” She said motherhood has helped her become a better actress because, “every part of acting is drawing on your life experiences.” Nancy said she’s very picky about the roles she accepts because she must always take her family and community into consideration. “Nothing shameful or embarrassing,” she smiled.

Thoughts about the biz: When I asked her how she’d feel if her children wanted to pursue acting she said, “They should if they come by it naturally and decide they want to do it by themselves. Then I’ll support them as best as I can. It’s tricky as a parent, because for a child, there’s a lot happening in the business they aren’t ready to fully understand.”

Which actresses inspire Nancy? She named Helen Mirren, Cate Blanchett, Bonnie Bedelia and Vivien Leigh. In fact, Nancy laughed and said of Leigh, “I wanted to be Scarlett!”

You can see “A Walk in My Shoes’ on Friday, December 3rd at 8/7C on NBC. The movie will also feature a soundtrack produced by music mogul Randy Jackson that will be available at Walmart starting December 4, 2010. For more information visit the website!

I Feel Bad about Katy Perry’s Sesame Street Snub

If you didn’t know, musician Katy Perry was booted from Sesame Street. Her segment was taped and it was going to air as part of the show’s 41 st season. She did a spoof of her ‘Hot ‘N Cold’ hit with Elmo. Thanks to a bunch of parents griping about her cleavage, her performance got yanked.

I’m personally so tired of parents acting like Oscar the Grouch about everything. Sure, as parents we have concerns about what our children see, especially on a television show catered to youngsters. But is this really necessary? It seems most of the negative buzz is about Katy’s dress and her cleavage. I’ve seen the video and the outfit in question. You can see it here.

Katy Perry Sesame Street

I think Katy’s dress is just  fine and kids wouldn’t even notice her outfit.  I have two young boys and they wouldn’t care about her dress. They would be looking at her face and listening to her sing. If kids are noticing her cleavage, they are too old to be watching Sesame Street anyway. After all, women have boobs. What is she supposed to wear?  A turtle neck with a bulky cable knit sweater? A Big Love-inspired librarian frock? Come on, people. Why can’t Sesame Street have a little fun. I’m sure Katy’s outfit wouldn’t have caused a stir at all had she done the same thing on Yo Gabba Gabba!

And is it really Katy’s fault? I’m assuming a show as huge as Sesame Street has wardrobe professionals on hand. Why didn’t a wardrobe person question the dress? If it was at all questionable, wouldn’t someone have said something? I think so.  I hope Sesame Street offers Katy a sincere apology, because I think they’re guilty of bad manners here.