Planting Earthseeds Via The Magic School Bus: Eco-Media for Kids

magicschoolbus200.jpgAwhile back we wrote about Shaping Youth Correspondent and children’s media consultant Ashley, who specializes in kids’ TV with an experienced eye toward all things green…

Ashley wrote a great post deconstructing the potential ‘greenwashing’ of Dora’s adventures with an octopus trashing the sea, and though I love splashing kids with an eco-message early on, I too fear it might end up with further consumption beyond Dora’s dvd to mermaid-wear, and such, so we’ll see how that pans out. Who knows, maybe they’ll partner with ocean conservation or marine mammal nonprofits; one can hope, eh?

We’ll run ‘Dora the Explorer Goes Green’ tomorrow since I’m speaking at the Girls For A Change summit all day, which has broken new records with over 1500 teens registered, which should put us over 2000 attendees with adults and mentors.

Shaping Youth is awarding ‘mini-starter scholarships’ in cash to a couple of girls teams that are ready to roll. Truth be told, I tried to print “shape up media messaging” onto eco-emery boards to add to GFC’s goodie bags and we had a glitch, so I’m giving out cash in lieu of same, which is less promo, more pragmatic, and actually fits our solution-driven goals to give these champions of change a jumpstart! Sometimes things happen for a reason…

Meanwhile, here’s our guest editorial, offering a mini-round-up showing there IS a positive shift in content toward environmental issues… Heeeeere’s Ashley:

What an eco-friendly week for children’s media!

Just when I thought “why isn’t kid’s TV more eco-friendly?,” other types of content delivery have stepped up to the plate to teach kids about environmental issues and green living choices.

Scholastic and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined forces to release “The Magic School Bus Gets Cleaned Up,” a new book from the “Magic School Bus” series that explores the ways people can protect themselves (including their lungs) from air pollution.

Scholastic’s traveling Magic School Bus, a traveling interactive science experience for kids, has also added a new, more sustainable filter which has already reduced its diesel particulate by up to 90 percent.

In the online front,, the social networking site for kids ages 8- to 14-years old, announced a partnership with National Geographic Digital Media to create an online community group for Earth-loving kids and tweens.

“There’s something powerful about giving kids the tools to express themselves and to share common interests such as a love of animals and the environment that National Geographic represents,” says Betsy Scolnik, president of National Geographic Digital Media.

Members of can join the group of world-conscious young citizens to read and comment on Earth-focused – and parent approved – blog entries, view videos, listen to world music, and test their geography skills (sounds a bit like Panwapa, but for a slightly older audience, no?).

Editorial comment from Amy: Indeed, imbee is the 8-12 tween ‘MySpace on training wheels’ to teach social media skills in a safe chat/e-contact and blog format completely moderated with pingbacks to parents and permissions/verifications from the get-go. It’s full tilt ‘helicopter hovering’ of all online actions; which makes sense at that tender age. Commercial alert though, seems imbee’s growing SEVERAL new partnerships including the Build-A-Bear brood and Discovery Girls too…which could negate some of that eco-friendly messaging with more consumption…

For grownups, The George Lucas Educational Foundation recently launched the “Go Green Database.” Although not particularly media oriented, the database features green projects, lesson plans, service-learning opportunities and other resources for educators.

Each item is searchable by topic, grade level, cost and location, allowing for users with particular needs to find exactly what will work for their own programs.

Have you found any new green kid’s media you’d like to share?

Is the online space the best medium to unite “Earth-loving” kids and tweens?

For more reviews and commentary on children’s television and other media, visit Children’s Media Consultant Online.

Thanks, Ashley…Personally, I believe the sooner we plant the ‘green’ seed and nourish kids with ‘trashless lunch’ programs, and ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ programs early on, the more kids will grow up with the habit as second nature.

We did this with our peer to peer mentoring program pilot at the K-5 school with, where I serve on the advisory board, and it has sustained itself with the students long after we moved on to middle school environs…so it works.

Thrilled to hear of more positive picks in green media for kids, and will continue to keep an eye out for more…there’s a ‘virtual world’ that I have high hopes for, in beta/pre-launch, so stay tuned…

Here are a few of my own round-ups from prior Shaping Youth postings:

The Great Turtle Race: Digital Media Cartoon Critter Fun (with conservation int’l)

Inspire Kids With Green Media: Kid-Vid & Games Galore

New Media Worldometers Help Data Click With Kids

Media Savvy Kids and Nature Deficit Disorder

The Nature of Tweens: Wired Worlds & Outdoor Ed

Shaping Youth Through Nature, Media Unplugged

Eco-Friendly Electronics, Go Green With Your Wired World

The 11th Hour: Leonardo DiCaprio’s New Documentary

5th International Symposium/Youth Collaboratory: Digital Earth

Green Media & Electric Cars: New Energy Shaping Youth

Care2 Make A Difference? Social Media/Kids

Digital Activism: Kids Stump for Change (World Wildlife Fund)

Youth Atwitter On LiveEarth Concert 7-07-07

Can Somethin’ Be Done About All This Consumption?

Inconvenient Truth Meets Digital Earth, Marketing Hope



  1. Amy – Here is another activity that will turn kids on to plants and nature!

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    You have my permission to use any of our photos, graphics, videos, pricing and text from our web site or below in your writings ( we can email you high resolution photos). TickleMe Plants are now being featured by the National Gardening Association which have similar goals to ours! Below are directions for growing your own TickleMe Plant and other information I hope you will find useful!
    Please write or call if I can provide you with any high resolution images. I look forward to your reply.
    Thank you for giving this matter your attention,
    Mark Chipkin
    Ever Grow The Plant That MOVES When You Tickle It?
    Now you and your family can grow your own TickleMe Plants™! I have been growing TickleMe Plants™ with my sixth grade students and family for over 30 years. Imagine the amazement of your friends, family or students when your living TickleMe Plant™ closes its leaves and lowers its branches as you tickle it.

    · TickleMe Plant™ Seeds
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    Native to Brazil, TickleMe Plants can be found growing wild there and in other tropical areas. The scientific name for the TickleMe Plant™ is Mimosa pudica. It also has been called shy grass, sensitive plant and other names throughout the world.
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    Don’t be surprised if you find yourself and your children developing a greater sensitivity to plants. When my students first tickle their plants, they often scream “It’s ALIVE!”
    Even students that are sometimes hard to motivate, can’t wait to take home their pet TickleMe Plant™ to show off to their friends and family. As I mentioned, I grew my first TickleMe Plant™ when I was 9 years old and I never looked at plants in the same way again, nor have I ever forgotten the experience. Neither will you!
    To learn more about growing TickleMe Plants™ or to order seeds go to Seed packets start at $4.95, Growing Kits and TickleMe Plant Greenhouses with mini flower pots are available.
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    Mark Chipkin is a middle school Science Teacher and an Educational Project Director for the TickleMe Plant™ Company. He has sent hundreds of students home with their own Pet TickleMe Plants™.
    Thank you for your time to consider this matter,
    Mark Chipkin
    Educational Project Advisor and Co-Owner
    TickleMe Plant Company

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