Through the Woods

Ages: 3 - 5Producer: The Fred Rogers Company

Through the Woods features a young boy named Rider and his loyal husky dog Wolfie. Together, they explore “nearby nature,” Rider’s way of referring to small wonders such as spider webs, rabbit hutches, butterflies, and fireflies that live in the small wooded area behind his home.

Designed as a short-form series specifically for mobile devices, each episode runs about 3 minutes long and, according to program information on the production company’s website, the series “is designed to nurture respect for nature and models essential lesson for kids and families that support a child’s blooming confidence and sense of self.”

Natural curiosity drives Rider’s adventures as he travels through the woods and observes an animal or plant. Later, he shares his discoveries and observations as he plays with his Grammie. In “Fairies and Fireflies,” Rider and his dad take a nighttime stroll and the dad explains fireflies as fairies. When Rider takes a closer look, he discovers the light comes from a bug, not a fairy. They visit Grammie and she explains the lights are a way for fireflies to attract other fireflies. In “A Snowy Morning,” Rider and Wolfie study prints in the snow and imagine the type of creatures that left them. They witness a herd of deer and run to Grammie’s nearby house to share their excitement.

The well-designed style is uncluttered, a smart move for something designed for a mobile device’s smaller screen. Also, while music can be an exciting production element in any program, kudos to Through the Woods for foregoing music and focusing on natural sounds in the environment instead. It contributes to the gentle and inviting pace. The creative use of mobile technology, likable characters, age-appropriate educational content, subtle nod to diversity, portrayal of a loving extended family, and ability to capture the “wonder” children feel when they discover the exquisite details of nature, make Through the Woods a thoroughly charming and educational viewing experience.

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.