‘Sesame Street’ is so good for kids, scientists say it could probably replace preschool

Nearly five decades since “Sesame Street” went on the air in 1969, the show has amassed more than 1,000 scientific studies, all making the case that television could improve how kids thought and behaved.

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Now we have one more, and it makes a compelling argument that preschool teachers have some competition with the likes of Big Bird.

In the new study, economists Phillip Levine and Melissa Kearney argue kids who watched “Sesame Street” as toddlers went on to do better in elementary school.

The benefits were especially strong for boys and non-Hispanic black students. After being exposed to Sesame Street, they were more likely to have peers closer to their age — a sign they weren’t getting held back.

Kearney and Levine used a clever strategy to collect their data: TV signals.

By looking at which households received very high frequency waves, the only kind “Sesame Street” broadcasted in, Kearney and Levine could compare how kids in those parts of the country did in school to kids who were in the dark. Though they couldn’t measure kids’ progress directly, they found strong connections between Sesame Street viewership and how well kids did.

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The new study adds to a body of research about how “Sesame Street” helps kids.

Past studies have shown children who watch the show enjoy:

up to 67% higher literacy scores by age 4
40% better social skills than non-viewers
127% increased interest in eating certain vegetables
Basically, if you grew up in a part of the country where “Sesame Street” aired, you had a better shot at making it through school healthy and happy, regardless of factors like race or class.

But part of the reason “Sesame Street” hasn’t gotten the love it deserves, at least as a point of empirical study, is that other public policies have simply overshadowed it.

Programs like Head Start and universal pre-kindergarten have tried to level the playing field with on-ramps to traditional schooling.

On the one hand, they seem to be working, says Levine, an economist at Wellesley College.

“For instance, Head Start places far greater emphasis on socio-emotional development and even child health in a way that TV shows could never do,” Levine tells Business Insider.

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But few can trump the low cost and staying power of “Sesame Street.”

In fact, “Sesame Street” is so cheap and so widely distributed that it anticipated one of today’s major education trends: the so-called MOOCs, or massive open online courses, such as Khan Academy, MIT OpenCourseware, and other smaller outfits.

Many leaders in education suspect MOOCs are poised to transform higher learning from a luxury enjoyed by the privileged into an low-cost, come-all online experience.

But Kearney and Levine argue “Sesame Street” has been offering that service to 3-year-olds ever since we landed on the moon.

“In essence,” they wrote, “Sesame Street was the first MOOC.”

Parents, Prepare Your Wallets: Yokai Watch Is The New Pokémon

In Japan, a little show called Yokai Watch is now a kiddie craze on a scale not seen since Pokémon.

The Americanized version of a little boy protected by a colorful (and collectible) cadre of “spirits” is set to premiere in 2016, Disney XD announced on Tuesday.

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Companies are betting big on Yokai Watch becoming the West’s next big Japanese animation boom. Along with Disney, both Hasbro and Nintendo have finalized deals with the shows’ three co-producers—Dentsu Entertainment USA, TV Tokyo, and Level-5—to bring Yokai Watch entertainment and toys to the United States. Nintendo’s deal with Level-5 will bring a Yokai Watch 3DS game to North America in 2016, with versions in Europe, Latin America, Australia, and New Zealand to come later. Hasbro’s toy line will premiere at the same time.

Make no mistake: Yokai Watch means to capture the hearts and minds of American children (and the wallets of their parents) with an aggressive cross-platform strategy. Toys, games, TV, and likely other channels including music and graphic novels will mirror the approach these companies used with a previous, highly successful Japanese franchise, Pokémon.

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In 1998, Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back was a box office hit in the U.S. with estimated ticket sales around $85 million. It continues to be the highest grossing anime film inNorth America to date. Like all fads, Pokémon sales eventually waned, and companies again turned to the East for a replacement.

Companies could use another Pokémon, and Yokai Watch seems readily primed to be that. In Japan, the Yokai Watch franchise is booming. Toys and merchandise sales alone have already totaled $1 billion, and the franchise has only been around since 2013.

For parents who didn’t pay attention, Pokémon was about a boy and his friends who caught, trained, and battled “pocket monsters” like Pikachu, which they found around their world. Yokai Watch is based on a similar premise, starring a young boy named Keita who obtains a timepiece that allows him to interact with mischievous and mysterious spirits (known as yokai in Japanese). Keita is able to summon friendly yokai to battle those who would do him harm.

The question now is whether localization can smooth over the nuances of the Japanese mythology that inspired the show into a way North American kids can understand. Just like Satoshi became Ash Ketchum before him, Keita will become Nate in the U.S. Level-5 president Akihiro Hino has already confirmed that many of the shows’ yokai names will be changed, but that Keita’s Pikachu analog, the ghost cat Jibanyan, will retain his Japanese name in North America.

Already, Jibanyan outranks Pikachu in Japan. When a Japanese mall booked meet-and-greets with both cuddly creatures at the same time on the same day, a Twitter user observed: “You can just go up and touch Pikachu, but Jibanyan [is so popular he] needs his own queueing and ticketing system.”

Will American kids love Jibanyan the way they loved Pikachu? The argument can be made that the idea of a ghost cat—or any of its fellow spirits—is a purely Japanese one. Writing for Games Beat, Dale North notes that the localization teams have their work cut out:

“These beings… won’t mean anything to Western children, but Japanese kids are familiar with these mythical creatures and are able fully appreciate the silly, pun-based naming scheme that series’ creators went with. And it’s not just the lore that is Japan-specific: The locations, relationships, and nonplayer characters are all just as unabashedly Japanese.”

Then again, Pokémon’s pocket monsters were directly inspired by Japanese ghosts and ghouls. American Kids may not know the mythology, but that didn’t them from begging for Pokémon toys.

Perhaps Hasbro and co. envision the yokai spirits of Yokai Watch as the ghosts of Pokémon-past. They’re hoping they’ll at least make their bottom lines rise again.

Minions movie review: What’s it about? Is it as good as Despicable Me?

Minions movie is out on Friday June, 26, but is it worth a watch? And is it as good as Despicable Me?

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The Minions are back and this time, it’s all all about them.

Our favourite little helpers have finally got their own movie after winning over the nation in Disney’s hugely successful Despicable Me 1 and 2.

But will their spin-off film live up to expectations? Here’s everything you need to know about the new Minions movie which is out on Friday June, 26.

What’s it about?
For years, the Minions have served a variety of masters – the dinosaurs, the Ancient Egyptians, Dracula. Unfortunately, they have a habit of getting their masters killed.

Fast-forward to the 1960s and Kevin, Stuart and Bob are looking for a new master to serve. Their quest brings them to New York, where they discover the world’s first female super villain, Scarlet Overkill, and hope to be recruited by her.

It seems they’ve finally found who they are looking for, but after discovering how evil she can be, is Scarlet Overkill a step too far for the little helpers?

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Who’s in it?
It stars Pierre Coffin who is the voice of the Minions, Gravity star Sandra Bullock who is the voice of villain Scarlet Overkill and Mad Men’s Jon Hamm who plays her inventor husband Herb Overkill.

Other stars lending their voices are Batman’s Michael Keaton, Juno’s Allison Janney, The Lorax star Michael Beattie, Eastbound & Down’s Katy Mixon, Absolutely Fabulous star Jennifer Saunders and Alan Partridge’s Steve Coogan.

Is it worth a watch?
The Despicable Me minions prequel has been hugely anticipated, and whilst the lovable little helpers offer plenty of belly laughs, some critics say they work better as the supporting characters rather than the main attraction.

Others have said that whilst the movie was enjoyable with the Minions‘ usual babbling and other charming traits, the producers missed out on some golden opportunities.

But generally there has been a fond approach to the film, with reviewers recognising it is an innocent, colourful, silly and funny movie, perfect for the family.

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2′: Will We See Bumblebee The Transformer?

Filming for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Half Shell is underway and videos have surfaced featuring a Halloween parade in full swing with Michelangelo and Bumblebee from the Transformers.

The scene was shot several days ago and shows a person dressed up as a yellow vehicle (hey, it’s a Halloween parade) rolling up to Michelangelo before transforming into Bumblebee and giving him a high five. Considering that Michael Bay is a producer, it makes sense for him to place this Easter egg in his highly lucrative franchise.

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It was just a quick peek, but will this be the only glimpse of Bumblebee in the movie or will the Autobot see more screen time with the Turtles? We can’t help but wonder if Paramount has reached the point of starting to crossing over its universes.

The first movie had a massive opening and a more-than-decent performance at the box office. That put it in the league of movies like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Transformers: Age of Extinction, prompting the development of a sequel. Critics were however hard on the film, putting pressure on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 to redeem the franchise.

But while a full-on crossover between the Turtles and Transformers may be a bit of an overkill, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 promises a lot of action, what with the assortment of characters to be introduced.

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First off, Bebop and Rocksteady – played by Gary Anthony Williams and WWE’s Sheamus – will finally make an appearance. Casey Jones will also be swinging by, with Stephen Amell under his characteristic hockey mask. Tyler Perry will portray Baxter Stockman and Brittany Ishibashi will bring life to Karai, Shredder’s daughter. And if rumors are to be believed, General Krang should also show up.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Half Shell is set to open June 3, 2016. Andrew Form and Bradley Fuller are on-board as producers while Dave Green will direct from a script written by André Nemec and Josh Appelbaum.

‘DJPON3 Presents My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Remixed’ Album Preview & Tracklist

The world of Equestria in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has always been filled with music. From the inescapable theme song to bops like “Winter Wrap Up” and “Love Is in Bloom,” Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash and friends have always been all about breaking out in song.

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It didn’t take long for My Little Pony to break out of its targeted 9- to 13-year-old girl demo to the world of Bronies. For the uninitiated, bronies are adult (largely) male My Little Pony fans who latched onto the world of Equestria thanks to the show’s keen storytelling, sharp writing, stylized animation and ever-present winks at pop culture. With the brony culture, unofficial fan-created EDM remixes of Daniel Ingram’s already catchy songs have been bumping from convention halls to earbuds all across the world. Finally, Hasbro Studios is getting in on the action with the release of DJPON3 Presents My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Remixed.

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Though the album may be presented by Ponyville’s favorite musician, DJ Pon-3, the real man behind the album is producer Justin Lassen, who spoke with Music Times exclusively about the two-year long process of curating and producing this album.

“This record was extremely challenging to produce. It was like a two year process for me in working with the different artists,” Lassen said, before diving into the perculiars of making cartoon music ready for the club. “It’s like musical theater so a lot of the songs changed tempos a lot, a lot of the songs didn’t quite line up with editing software so there was a lot of mixing and tweaking and changing and even different auto tuning and things like that.

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“I wanted them to be like would little girls like it and would grown-ups like it? I found a really good compromise between those two and when you hear these tracks, you’ll know like oh my god a real DJ at a club would actually play that song even though it’s a silly song.”

The album itself ends up bringing together the world of childhood and adult music, bringing in everything from trance remixes to dubstep to wonky house music. “I wanted to make sure that I had a mix of tracks that were not just one dubstep track after another, that’s just like oh great another dubstep album. But like no, what are the different angles that we can hit EDM in a really cool fun way. I hit everything from drums bass to breakbeat to dubstep, ambient, chill I mean all kinds of stuff,” Lassen said.

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The blend of styles comes across, offering up a little something for fans of My Little Pony of every age group.

And now Music Times has a little something for fans of the show and EDM: a look at the music to come. Ahead of DJPON3 Presents My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Remixed’s June 23 release date, we have an album preview featuring snippets of all 13 tracks and the complete tracklist.

‘Frozen 2’ Movie Update: Director Chris Buck Reveals Movie’s Terrific Ending, Who Will Elsa’s Love Interest Be?

Frozen” by Disney surpassed the highest grossing animated film “The Lion King” when it was released in 2013 and it might be the case again for the sequel of the film, which is “Frozen 2.” The director of the animated film, Chris Buck, shared that the ending for the sequel has already been set and dubbed it as terrific.frozen-2

Frozen 2” will still feature the main characters of the film such as Queen Elsa, her sister Princess Anna, the snowman Olaf, Kristoff and Sven. The plot of the second movie is said to be quite the same as “Ozma of Oz” but fans are also interested on the love interest of Queen Elsa.

Many fans are pushing Olaf to be the love interest of Queen Elsa since he embodied true love and selflessness in the first film. However, there should be a plot twist or at least a twist in Olaf‘s character if he indeed becomes Queen Elsa‘s love interest for the sequel. Another leading man for the queen with the cold heart is said to be Prince Hans since he is rumored to return for the sequel in order to redeem himself from the evil plan he took part of during the first part of the animated film.

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As for the progress of the film, director Chris Buck shared that the ending has been nailed but they are still figuring out how to start the sequel. The Oscar-winning animator and director admitted in an interview that they are still figuring a lot of things for the sequel in order to live up to the expectations of the fans.

Also, the plot of the upcoming “Frozen 2” will see Queen Elsa and Princess Anna battle an evil king alongside with their friends. The identity of the new villain in the upcoming sequel is yet to be revealed and Disney has not made any official confirmation with regard to the plot.

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Frozen 2” will be hitting the theatres sometime in 2018. Who do you think should Queen Elsa‘s love interest be? Hit the comments and let us know what you think!

‘Frozen Fever’: Meet The Snowgies, The Frosty Little Characters On March 13

The plot of the short film centers on Anna‘s birthday, in which Elsa and Kristoff both prepare to give her the best birthday. In the middle of things, Elsa gets a cold, which caused her icy powers to do something unexpected.

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The members of the voice cast include Kristen Bell, who will reprise her role as Anna, Idina Menzel as elsa, Jonathan Groff as Kristoff, and Josh Gad as Olaf.

The film is set to be piloted by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, along with Peter Del Vecho and Aimee Scribner as producers. It will be produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and will be distributed by Walt Disney Studios and Motion Pictures.

New lovable characters, which will be called “snowgies“, will be introduced in “Frozen Fever“. They are created as “mini-Olafs” through Elsa’s sneeze. Are they going to replace the “Olaf” the fans have known?

Producer Peter Del Vecho shared his thoughts about these tiny snowmen in Yahoo! Movies.
“We realized we wanted Olaf to remain pure, so quickly it evolved into these fun little snowballs we call ‘snowgies‘ that bring a lot of mischief and fun to the short,” he said.

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Could the snowgies be the ice version of the minions?
As per Inquisitor, the snowgies may resemble the minions since these tiny snowmen have similar appearance and possess high-pitched tiny voices.

“Frozen” was released last November 22, 2013 and it got an estimated domestic gross of $400 million and an estimated foreign gross of $873 million, for an estimated worldwide gross of $1 billion. The film also got two Academy Awards – Best Animated Feature Film of the Year and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song “Let It Go”.
Frozen Fever” is slated to premiere in theaters and cinemas along with Walt Disney Pictures’ Cinderella on March 13, 2015.

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The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water review – hard-to-beat craziness

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“Come and play with us… ” Bonkers doesn’t even begin to describe the Magic Roundabout levels of strangeness in this freaky slice of surreal slapstick which ventures from the depths of the ocean to the edges of the universe, with nods to Douglas Adams, Sergio Leone, Pirandello, Mad Max and Stanley Kubrick along the way. Having lost the Krusty Krab’s secret recipe following a raid by rival restaurateur Plankton, SpongeBob must travel back and forth in time and space, communing with the Dolphin Guardians of the Galaxy, exploring the psychotronic candyfloss dreamscapes of his mind, and even offering himself as a Wicker Man-style pagan sacrifice to the gods of the “post apocalypse”. The live-action sequences, in which Antonio Banderas chews the pirate scenery, may not live up to the Looney Tunes madness of the cartoons, but for sheer head-scrambling craziness this is hard to beat.

SpongeBob Mascot Costume is available in Mascotshows

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The Disney Night Costumes On ‘Dancing With The Stars’ Were Flawless

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In one of the most-anticipated nights of the season, Dancing With the Stars tackled Disney costumes songs — and they went all out. ABC is an affiliate of the Disney brand, which allowed the show to use licensed material not usually available for this kind of competition-style show. So DWTS took full advantage of what they were offered and it was an amazing production. They brought out live characters like Pluto and Donald Duck, added animated aspects to the live dancing, and created fantastic costumes. The judges’ score paddles even had Mickey Mouse ears!

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With so many amazing characters to choose from, DWTS had quite a Disney display. Hercules, Alice in Wonderland, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and more were utilized by various couples as they competed for the Mirrorball trophy. But if there was an award to be given out tonight, it would go to the costume designers and the makeup team. They transformed the everyday stars into incredibly accurate versions of your favorite Disney princesses and villains.

Tonight was about dancing well, of course. But it was also about the showmanship and wow factor, and these couples nailed it from beginning to end.

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How Anna and Elsa from ‘Frozen’ would look if they were real humans

For almost two years now, little girls, grown women and dads have wondered if they are the real-life incarnate of Disney’s icy princesses from Frozen.

SEE ALSO: Never let it go: A cappella ‘Frozen’ medley can cure your Disney withdrawal

The Australia-based digital artist recently created real-life portraits of Queen Elsa and Princess Anna as a part of his “Real Life Disney” series.

Queen Elsa:

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Princess Anna:

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Anna looks a bit like a more demure Pippi Longstocking, while Elsa bears a striking resemblance to an Olsen twin sans oversized sunglasses. According to The Daily Dot, “The artist’s technique involves a combination of digital painting and photo composition,” so he may actually have taken inspiration from images of famous actresses.

Väätäinen’s series includes real-life portraits of other iconic animated characters, including Tinkerbell, Esmeralda, Belle and Jasmine.

So there you have it, folks — you’re not Elsa or Anna. Let it go now, please.

"FROZEN" Elsa visual development art. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.