KRATTS’ CREATURES was a great collaboration among PBS, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Maryland Public Television, Paragon Entertainment Corporation, and The Earth Creatures Company. This ground-breaking children ’ s adventure series, with 50 entertaining half-hour episodes, presented the fascinating and funny aspects of creatures – to arouse in young viewers a curiosity and enthusiasm for wildlife. Chris and Martin Kratt transported viewers to exotic locales; Allison (15-year-old media whiz) made science discoveries in backyard and barnyard adventures, and the animated and jungle smart Ttark offered historic wisdom and the viewpoint of creatures. Combining curiosity, humor, and scientific knowledge to help kids learn in an entertaining way, the series premiered on PBS in summer 1996.
Outreach Extensions, a national outreach consulting service, custom designed a dynamic campaign to enhance the national broadcast of KRATTS ’ CREATURES. Activities built viewership, created community engagement opportunities, and involved kids in interdisciplinary science activities in after-school and community settings. Through targeting 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders in diverse settings, the outreach activities complemented their in-school curriculum in venues that led to exploration and self-discovery. The science of animals ’ lives (ecosystems, characteristics, adaptations, biodiversity) as well as the fascinating and funny aspects to their amazing “ creaturmalities ” aroused in children a curiosity and enthusiasm for wildlife.
KRATTS’ CREATURES involved three national outreach partners, all of which had an interest in youth and in hands-on experiential learning in community settings.
- American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) – With 170 members, the AZA is a professional membership association dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums through conservation, education, scientific studies, and recreation. Members represent zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks, and oceanariums.
- Cooperative Extension System / 4-H – 4-H is the youth organization of the Cooperative Extension System. Delivering programs through community clubs, school enrichment, and special projects, 4-H is the world leader in developing youth to become productive citizens and catalysts for positive change to meet the needs of a diverse and changing society. Project enrollments in 1994 reached almost six million in more than 3,150 counties (from major metropolitan areas to small towns) across America as well as overseas.
- Association of Youth Museums – AYM is a professional service organization serving more than 320 members around the world. It endeavors to enhance the quality, expand the capacity, and further the vision of youth museums. AYM provides the children’s museum field with a forum for interaction, a source for information and professional development, and a focus for collaboration.
Outreach content in the Toolkit provided a road map and hands-on activities to support station participation. This included project rationale and goals; descriptions of and directories for the national outreach partners; menu of opportunities for public television stations to conduct outreach activities in after-school and out-of-school settings in association with local affiliates or members of the national outreach partners; strategies to forge local community partnerships; local outreach fundraising strategies; and ideas for stationwide collaborations.
Station Projects: Stations were encouraged to conduct activities such as the following. How-to procedures were described along with a checklist to support successful implementation.
- Project One: High profile kick-off event at a children’s museum associated with the AYM
- Project Two: Zoo and aquarium mural project with the AZA
- Project Three: Field trips and community engagement campaign with 4-H
Hands-on Activities for Kids: Sixteen after-school science discovery activities were designed to engage youth in discovering how animals live in, respond, and adapt to their environments. Developed by a team of specialists including an elementary science curriculum consultant, after-school specialists, teachers, and other educators (primarily associated with 4-H), the activities could be accomplished by children working independently or in groups. Focus tests were conducted with the target age group to make sure the materials were appealing to a wide range of kids. Step-by-step activities (reproducible slicks) included:
- Let’s Make Tracks
- Thinking About Thumbs
- Puzzling Platypus
- Savanna Diorama
- Rainforest Apartment House
- An Eye Opening Adventure
- Arribada! Arribada!
- Radical Rainbow Colored Creepy Caterpillar
The Dangers of Being Endangered Game – a cool creature game of survival – engaged kids in finding out how it feels to fight to survive. Using fun graphics, the game plays up the series’ characters: the Kratt brothers, Allison, and Ttark. Featured animals are Eddie, the bald eagle; Pao panda; Sonia, the scarlet macaw, and Kylie koala. In the game, players not only learn how some animals are threatened, but also discover ways to help.
Web Site Activities
In addition to the activities in the KRATTS’ CREATURES Toolkit, fun games were provided for kids on the Web site: The Search for the Big Five, Little Five; The Critter Cityscape Board Game; Kickboxing Kangaroos; Hanging Around; Blending In on the Great Barrier Reef; and Creatures Cup-of-Africa: It’ll Make You Feel Good.
Zoo Tour by the Kratts Brothers
Outreach Extensions planned an extensive Zoo Tour (10 zoos) featuring Martin and Chris Kratt whose antics along with their exciting presentation of live animals provided an unforgettable experience that entranced, entertained, and educated young audiences. Managed by Outreach Extensions, the show was supported by a carefully crafted script, media elements, and planning/production. More than 2.5 million children and families visit zoos on an annual basis.
Coral Reef Initiative
Chris and Martin Kratt assisted the American Zoo and Aquarium Association in raising awareness about and celebrating the International Year of the Reef. This included a public service announcement in association with the AZA Coral Reef Initiative.