WordWorld, a new animated show aiming to teach pre-literacy skills to preschoolers, is premiering on PBS September 3. I was sent a review copy, and watched it with my kids. I'll tell you what I thought of it, and also how it went over with my 5-year-old and my 2-year-old.
(Disclaimer: I just found out a couple of days ago that a friend of mine has started doing some freelance work for WordWorld, but she wasn't there when I watched it or when I wrote the review initially. It hasn't changed my opinion of the show at all.)
WordWorld was created to get preschoolers used to the idea that letters form words. I think it definitely does a good job of that. All the objects in the world they've created are built out of letters. So the body of the sheep is made of the letters SHEEP, the bridge is formed out of the letters BRIDGE, etc. Each episode I watched was 11 minutes long, with a cute storyline that had some repetition, some surprise and a lot of talking about letters and showing letters jumping apart and back together again to form words.
The CGI is nice quality, the colors are bright, and the voices are expressive.
My 2-year-old loved it. He was entranced, and sat through the 11 minute episodes happily. He's asked for WordWorld several times (the episode about the escaped letter O is his favorite of the two), and I know he'll want to watch it when it's on PBS. He had a pretty good grasp of the concept that letters make words before he saw the show, because we read a ton, and he sees his brother writing, and we watch Wheel of Fortune some nights. But I think this is a nice supplement for him that reinforces the prereading skills he's developing right now.
My 5-year-old thought it was cool, but got bored with each episode at about minute 5 or so. It's really geared to younger kids in terms of storyline and character, so while he thought the objects-built-out-of-letters concept was cool, and liked the animation, it lost him at a certain point. Bear in mind, though, that he's been reading fluently for several months, so a kid who was working on letters and sounds might be more into it even at the age of 5. He was totally willing to let his brother watch it when the little one requested it, though, and took the DVD remote and clicked to the "runaway O" episode for him.
I thought the concept was great and the production was excellent, but I didn't want to sit there and watch it. Maybe it's because it's my second child, but I just don't have the patience with the baby shows anymore. I'll watch Curious George and Jakers, but I think I'd use WordWorld as a way to keep the 2-year-old occupied while I was doing something else. If I'm going to spend time on the couch with letters that involve the TV instead of actual books, I'd rather spend it with the Learning About Letters DVD (Elmo-free) or with Wheel! of! Fortune!
So my quick and dirty on WordWorld:
Definitely yes for 2-4-year olds, no for older kids or kids who are already reading, and bring your knitting if you're going to watch with your toddler.