Scout & The Gumboot Kids
Whether you call them gumboots, galoshes, wellies, or rubber boots, Scout & The Gumboot Kids is all about encouraging preschoolers to go outside and explore the world. This series of short episodes (under 5 minutes) blends live action video, traditional animation, and stop-motion photography to encourage “nature detectives” to observe their surroundings and make connections about both scientific principles and our own connection to nature.
Scout, a stop-motion animated mouse, sets up a “nature mystery” and presents field notes with clues, and then a group of kids called the Gumboot Kids (guess what they’re wearing on their feet) heads outside to figure out the answer to Scout’s challenge. In an episode titled “The Case of the Crying Tree,” the Gumboot kids study the characteristics of weeping willow trees. After observing the tree, Scout speaks directly to kids in the audience and asks them to engage in a mindfulness moment. “Bring your awareness to how you feel,” he says, and then, backed by video of sad kids comforting each other, Scout explains that it’s okay to feel sad and to cry. “Simply notice how you feel and accept it!” The segment then transitions into a music-video like number showing kids, and Scout, experiencing a range of emotions while a lilting vocalist sings, “Let your feelings flow, like a weeping willow.” Another episode, titled “The Case of the Four-Legged Kid,” challenges little viewers to use Scout’s clues to identify the “kid,” which turns out to be a baby goat. The mindfulness moment is a reminder to handle baby animals gently, and to pay attention to their mannerisms and how they feel, e.g. soft, feathery, etc.
The Gumboot kids are diverse, sweet, and comfortable on camera but the Scout character is the real star of this series, handling the heavy-lifting of conveying the clues about the “nature mystery.” He also handles the segue from observing nature to engaging in a related mindfulness moment.
It’s an unusual premise for a program, even a short series, but Scout & The Gumboot Kids sticks to its mission with delightful visuals and easy-to-follow messages. Preschoolers will grasp the nature messages and play along with the mystery and clues, but parents should expect to repeat and reinforce the mindfulness message to build that habit in kids and make those connections as they play?outdoors and in.
Gina Catanzarite ©2018 Parents’ Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster’s Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.