Wednesday, April 22, 2015

6 Reasons to Love (I mean REALLY LOVE) "Wild Kratts"

A few weeks ago, a couple mom friends and I were chatting and the conversation turned to the PBS television program Wild Kratts.  One of my friends said, "I think my daughter has a crush on the Kratt brothers."  "Hahaha, I think I have a crush on the Kratt brothers," I quickly confessed.  (I was in good company, and I knew my secret was safe with my friends ;) )

It all started last November... remember that November when the majority of the household was sick, and I was nearly at death's door, and Thanksgiving was cancelled??  Yeah.  That November.   I couldn't get off the couch, and the kids (who were a little less sick) needed to be contained, so... Netflix.  Netflix is a vital part of our Standard Illness Management Protocol.  The mind-numbing effect it has on the children allows the mom to be in the room, but not consciously supervising (or doing anything, for that matter) her offspring.  The mom can drift in and out of the restless sleep guaranteed by any over-the-counter cough syrup, and occasionally "care" for her children by saying, "just go to the next episode."  But you can only take so much of some shows until you begin to feel worse instead of reaping the benefits of rest and recuperation that Netflix is supposed to offer. I was so *sick* (haha.  get it??) of The Magic School Bus that I shrugged my shoulders and clicked on Wild Kratts.  And what a wild and wonderful ride it's been!

There's Wild Kratts on Netflix, on DVD's from the library, and on Amazon Prime streaming.  (I hear it's also on our local PBS stations, but we don't have a tv.)  With so many opportunities for watching, it didn't take too long for me to realize that there really was a lot of worthwhile stuff happening during the 25 minutes you get to spend with Martin, Chris, and the gang in each episode.  

So here it is... Six Reasons Why I Really, Really Love Wild Kratts...    

(1) The brothers are brothers.  They're bothers in real life.  They're brothers in the show.  They make a great co-star team.  They clearly love working together and enjoy each other's company, and I think their friendship - in both the live sequence scenes and the animation portions (in which they are the voices for themselves) - is the winning feature of the show.  I mean the show could be about any number of topics, like the change in yearly percentage of rainfall in Albuquerque due to the underpopulation of the Yukon Territory - but I would still let my kids watch it so that they could witness the Brothers Kratt being brothers.  Good, wholesome, crazy fun brotherhood.  They're encouraging and supportive of one another, they come to each other's rescue, their non-cheesy "team work" works because they acknowledge one another's strengths and unique abilities.  But they're brothers... so there's plenty of active and friendly competition, verbal sparring, taunting and daring, and they take their fair share of jabs at one another, but they're always good-natured and never disrespectful or disparaging.  In short, I love the model of life-long sibling friendship  that they model for my children.  

(2) My kids learn crazy amounts of awesome stuff about animals that are not typically featured in your run-of-the-mill "Kids' First Books/Shows About Animals."  This becomes very apparent in games like Charades.  The game card says "monkey" and the kid is acting out "monkey" but my five and three-year-old are guessing things like "proboscis monkey!" or "spider monkey!"   Or someone is acting out "bird" and the little kids are throwing out guesses like "bird of paradise!" "peregrine falcon!" "burrowing owl!"  My kids can give me very detailed information about the habits and habitats of honey badgers, thorny devil lizards, gila monsters, and frog fish.  Words like subnivean zone just roll off their tongues.  They are definitely getting their college Zoology 101 out of the way early, and that's fine with me :)

(3) "Creatures" imply a Creator.  The Wild Kratts are all about "creatures," and creatures, to me at least, imply a Creator.  The brothers and their gang obviously don't reference God, but when they refer animals they speak about creatures and the various ways in which they are designed.  (They do also mention adaptations and Mother Nature, but not exclusively.  I keep an ear out for these things... ;)  )  There might not be anything to it - it could just be the words the writers chose without thinking.  But for me, it's a selling point - nothing in the show is in conflict with our belief that God is the Creator and designer of creatures.  I'll take it.  

(4) There are intelligent STEM girls on the team.  The Kratt brothers couldn't do what they do without Koki and Aviva helping to power the Tortuga and engineer the guys' Creature Power Suits.  It's refreshing to have active and engaging gals modeling math, science, and technological know-how to support the guys in their adventures and missions.  They're intelligent, inquisitive, and adventuresome.  They're dedicated, faithful, and delightful.  They're not squeamish, they aren't silly or flirty or flighty.  Sound like a list you want to use to describe your daughters?  Yeah, me too.  These girls got it :)  
(5) The villains are so ridiculous they're hysterical. Donita Donata, the fashion designer hoping to find her next show-stopping design in nature (not inspired by nature, but made from nature) -  she cracks me up.  As does her henchman, Dabio.  And somehow Zach Varmitech - a goatee-d tech geek who's afraid of animals but wants to harness their power and use them as workers in his various schemes and developments - is the funniest of all.  They're simple, text book kids' cartoon villains, but their ridiculousness adds a fun dimension to the show.  (They even have the stereotypical over-the-top evil villain laughs.)  (The third villain, Gourmande, hasn't really grown on me.  Sorry, bros :( )

(6) The show Wild Kratts inspires creativity in my kids like no other television show has.  (Well, Mighty Machines has inspired a lot as well, now that I think about it...)  My kids watch other "educational" cartoons, most notably The Magic School Bus, but they don't play Magic School Bus.  Even though my children may zone out a bit when they're staring at the computer screen, what they learn in Wild Kratts sticks and it energizes their non-screen play time.  They use their plastic animals, blocks, construction paper, and old paper towel cardboard tubes to build African savanna scenes on the coffee table.  They'll dress in all dark clothes (including dark hats and gloves), turn off all the lights in the house at night, and slink through the shadows like jaguars, after they remind Russ and I that "you can't see jaguars, but they can see you.)  (It's actually a little creepy for me.  I startle easily...)  Aaron has built the Kratt's Tortuga and Createrra vehicles numerous times out of Legos, each time more elaborate than the last.  And they're always drawing their favorite Wild Kratts animals, or detailed habitats, or Chris and Martin "on the job." 

I'm definitely one of those moms who frequently ponders the benefits of a screen-free life for her children, but we obviously don't live that way :)  Especially in the winter months, the kids often watch about 45 minutes of something "educational" on weekday afternoons because I just need a break.  But I stopped feeling guilty about it years ago, and when the screen time is Wild Kratts, I'm happy as a clam.  There's so much that I love about that show, and now you know why :) 

Thank you, Kratt Brothers, for creating quality children's programming.  It's fun, educational, and doesn't make this mom want to tear her hair out -- a rare and much appreciated combination.   As you can well imagine, you're pretty darn popular around here, and if we ever have any more sons you may realized just how grateful we are when we let the kids name them Martin and Chris ;)  Love, Theresa.  


  1. We love the Kratt brothers! My husband used to watch them when it was "Kratt's Creatures" when we were kids.... I have to hand it to them that they really seem to actualy inspire my kid to get outside and oh my goodness the HOURS he spends with animals books, etc. Thanks to one Wild Kratt episode my four year old can tell you about baleen whales, giant squids, the different types of whales, squids, etc. it's great. And there's no bad behavior or back talk to correct either.

  2. When my big kids were little kids, they watched PBS every day at 5:00 so I could get dinner started. The Kratt brothers had a different show back then. Zaboomafoo. They were just as awesome back then. My little kids love Wild Kratts. We don't have Netflix or any other streaming thing (I don't even think I know what that means.), but they sometimes see it on PBS.
    Um, TV was made for sick moms. You described the sick mom/TV relationship quite well. :)

  3. Yes to all 6 reasons!! What a great show!!

  4. You describe the sick mom-screen time relationship perfectly. :). I had to laugh out loud. I love how Wild Kratts fulfills the super hero niche my kids seem to have,, without the way-too-mature nature of the marvel movies.

  5. My boys loooove Kratts Brothers and it's pretty much the first show they've ever watched with any consistency (Is it absolutely horrible I just typed that out? My boys are 3 and 2 :/). Either way, we watched our fair share of these fun brothers this past sick season because it was relentless!

  6. We love Wild Kratts! Our only problem is when it comes to picking an episode "Under the ICE!!" "NOOOO - Googly eyes!!!!" And yes, yes, yes to it influencing their play. It is awesome to see it as a spark for their own creativity.

  7. My kids love Wild Kratts too. And you're so right about all these things. My kids love playing Kratt brothers and I'm sure they know tons more about animals then I ever did.

  8. While I'm not a huge fan of the Wild Kratts (the cartoon quality is a little grating but I know that's the style these days) I like it's educational value *because* it's educational without being mind-numbingly dull like Dora. When I was a kid I loved watching the Brothers Kratt on Zoboomafoo which featured a talking ring-tailed lemur (that would be Zoboomafoo) and lots of zoology. When I was first introduced to Wild Kratts by a preschooler I babysit I was really excited to see that they're still in the game of kids' animal shows. Love your kids' drawings and the coffee table Savannah scene!


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