Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Team Umizoomi

Team Umizoomi

Spring 2015 Television
Ages: 2 - 5 yrs.
Producer: Nickelodeon
Rating: TV Y

Fasten your seat belts because the "tiny team" known as Team Umizoomi will take you on a lively half-hour adventure where problems are solved using special abilities called Mighty Math Powers. Stories blend music, fanciful storylines, bright CGI animation and live-action elements as characters Milli and Geo, and their robot friend Bot, teach math skills to preschool viewers.

Kudos to the producers for making math their mission and then sticking to it. Each episode has a fanciful storyline but the educational component never gets buried. In fact, it's front-and-center here as Team Umizoomi engages viewers in games that require a range of math and logic-based skills. They speak directly to the viewer and allow time for the child to consider an answer.

In the episode "UmiKnights," the Team teaches concepts of pattern recognition as they battle a dragon and help a Medieval princess in distress. In "UmiCops," 12 stinkbugs are on the loose in Umi City and the team helps the chief of police using logic, counting and visual clues to find them all. And in the episode "UmiNinjas," it takes ninja skills and observation skills and subtraction skills to locate a stolen trophy and return it to its rightful owner. The show also does a great job at building basic comparison concepts into each storyline, such as "more or less," "high and low," etc. And, there's plenty of repetition of the concepts, making them all much more likely to stick with little viewers after the show's over. Once Team UmiZoomi successfully completes a task, they break into a song and dance number called the Umi Shake.

Ultimately, Team Umizoomi feels more like a fun way to do math drill-and-skill than a narrative TV program. And that's OK. Young viewers will simply smile and play along with Milli, Geo and Bot, building Mighty Math Powers of their own.

Gina Catanzarite   ©2015 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.

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