This week brought the release of Episode 2 of Gorilla in the Greenhouse, an animated educational series from SustainLane. Like the Earth Day debut episode, Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Turn It Up Day is a great piece of work, managing to be both genuinely entertaining and informative. Green gorilla KJ is an enigmatic environmental savant, telling the future through riddles that the kids who share his greenhouse must solve in order to ward off threats to the planet. (And in their spare time, they have a rock band. Of course.)
Gorilla in the Greenhouse fires on all cylinders: It teaches complex issues in a digestible way; it shows the characters taking practical action; and it even goes a little deeper, teaching kids to not buy into the hype about something just because it calls itself green, but to really learn about what’s going on behind the scenes. More episodes are due for 2009, but there’s plenty on the site for kids to run with in the way of extra info and projects in the meantime.
Green themes for kids are cropping up all over online. National Geographic Kids has created a web home for the Canadian series Iggy Arbuckle, about a pig forest ranger protecting the ecosystem of his park with the help of his beaver friend, Jiggers. There’s also Meet the Greens, a series about an eco-conscious family made by WGBH, the people behind PBS favorites like Masterpiece Theatre and ZOOM. Each, like the best of kid’s television, provides fun for children while bringing wisdom and wit that adults can enjoy, too.
There are also tons of sites with adorable eco-educational animated games. Waterbusters! actually taught me several things about how to stem the tap at home; GreenCity lets teachers hook into what remains of the Sim craze while actually, you know, teaching stuff; and Charlie and Lola: Look After Your Planet features the cutest, most polite, most precious recycling animated British children you’ve ever seen. (And their dog Sizzles, too.)
Even the most cynical Al Gore pooh-pooh-er wouldn’t argue in favor of a giant swirling eddy of plastic bags in the Pacific Ocean. Yet these sites and series aren’t political. Rather they’re a fun way to get kids thinking about the part they play in the environment. And adults may learn a thing or two along the way, too.
Hey, we could all stand to be greener gorillas, couldn’t we?
This review, along with more details about the show, can be found at NewTeeVee Station.