Team Umizoomi is a relatively new show airing on Nick Jr. Premiering in January 2010, this show focuses on math skills for kids aged 2-8. I don’t mind sharing that I was a little skeptical about this show in the beginning, but like many preschool shows it has grown on me quite a bit- and made a tremendous impression on my three year old daughter and even my one year old son.
The basic premise of each show is the same- a child in Umi city needs help- they’ve left their lunchbox, or can’t find their ball, or maybe the parts of their kite have blown away. Whatever the problem, Team Umizoomi is contacted and, using their “might math powers”, the problem is solved.
Each member of team Umizoomi has a special power. Milli, the female member, is a six year old with “pattern power”. She has the ability to make any pattern with her dress, and then project that pattern elsewhere when needed. She can also use her ponytails to measure anything, from small items to skyscrapers.
Geo, Milli’s brother, is a shapes expert and master builder. Whenever the team is looking for something, he helps them find it by reminding them what the characteristics of the shape are. He also builds vehicles out of shapes when needed for special travel, such as a helicopter fashioned out of triangles and an oval.
Bot is their robot friend. When the distress call comes in, the message is portrayed on Bot’s “Belly Belly Belly Screen” and they can hear and see the child in trouble. He takes us through how things work when that information is needed, and his hands can transform into all sorts of helpful tools. His arms and legs also have the ability to extend to reach things that are far away.
Throughout the show, the team takes kids through a journey on how to solve the problem. Each member of the team takes turns leading their part of the rescue mission, so in each episode we learn about shapes, patterns, length, and how things work.
As I said in the beginning, I was a little skeptical about it at first. Seeing how engaged my little ones went a long way in convincing me that it wasn’t that bad (there are lots of very happy songs that have a tendency to run through my mind throughout the day, much to my dismay), but the real change for me came when I started seeing my three year old use these concepts in our everyday life. She already knew her shapes, but had never really paid attention to patterns before. Now she sees them everywhere, and is able to complete a pattern if I start one for her.
She is also able to spot shapes in context- meaning, not just on paper, but in real life- the rectangle of a window, the circle on a car wheel. The best part is that she spots and names them without being prompted to do so, which means that she’s making connections on her own- she is learning how to apply what she’s learned to other situations, which is an extremely important skill in learning. She really is learning a lot watching this show, and it gives me a great springboard from which to teach or reinforce different concepts at home.