PBS KIDS is growing its slate of digital offerings for inquisitive youngsters with the announcement of a new, interactive series: Team Hamster! Hailing from GBH Kids (formerly WGBH), the production is led by creator Melissa Carlson, Senior Producer, Digital Series for the studio; and Marcy Gunther, Senior Producer, Video.
Team Hamster! helps kids think creatively and use engineering skills to solve problems with everyday tools. This interactive digital series allows viewers to build, test, and redesign to save the day with hamsters Sadie, Mateo and Tasha – classroom pets by day, secret engineers by night. Users step into the hamsters’ world through animated stories integrated with games. The stories set up problems that kids help solve by playing games using simple machines, tools, and creative thinking. The pint-sized hamsters show kids that “big or small, they can solve it all!”
This digital series explores a “game-first” production model, with characters inspired by a game in The Ruff Ruffman Show, story ideas originating from game concepts, and a design and animation pipeline tailored for gaming. Team Hamster! integrates video and gameplay, with video acting as a narrative driver for the games, setting up compelling, character-driven problems that kids can solve.
The storyworld includes three interactive games (via the PBS KIDS Games app) and five videos (PBS KIDS Video app) designed to teach players engineering and design skills in a way that is relatable to kids. Solutions to the problems presented throughout the digital series involve everyday materials, tools and simple machines kids can see in the world around them. Printable activities support the development of kids’ art skills while helping players connect with the digital series’ characters for continued “off screen” learning. Families will also be able to access printable activities through pbskids.org.
- Power Painters: Players help the hamsters fix paintings that Janitor Ruff accidentally messed up. This STEAM-focused game teaches players about simple machines, using gears, ramps, springs, and pulleys to create different shapes. Players can help complete the existing artwork or create their own art in Free Play mode.
- Roll to the Rescue: Players help the hamsters roll their way through a dozen mazes to find their favorite things before Janitor Ruff throws them away. Players use simple machines to help them reach high up places and get to the end of each maze. They can navigate through the hamsters’ mazes or create their own.
- Splash Dash: Janitor Ruff left a bunch of leaky pipes all over the school, and players help the hamsters redirect the water, so the school doesn’t flood. Players use tools such as a funnel, stapler, and even a clock, to move the water in the library, cafeteria and hallway in creative ways.
- Bubble Trouble: When Janitor Ruff turns on the dishwasher in the teacher’s lounge, he accidentally uses too much soap and the hamsters have to find a way to clean up the giant mess.
- Solve it All: Tasha, Sadie, and Mateo sing about the design process while testing out different ways to retrieve a special art project Janitor Ruff accidentally knocked out of place.
PBS KIDS also announced a second season of GBH Kids’ Scribbles and Ink, the character-driven, original digital interactive series that allows kids to discover the utter joy of using art tools to propel their way through an adventure, based on the popular books and characters created by author-illustrator Ethan Long. The friendly duo’s artistic adventures have garnered 8.4 million plays since launch and made it into the top three most-played PBS KIDS games of the year.
In Season 2, kids draw, paint and collage their way through new fantastical animated adventures – in the clouds, into museum paintings, on a desert island, into the fun-house world of Snoogleandia – where art is made in unexpected ways, using new mediums including sand, bubbles, polka dots, scratchboards and more. New episodes not only provide new digital art tools that allow users to expand their artistic and creative horizons, but also new ways to interact and collaborate with Scribbles and Ink in the studio, including allowing users to draw during the story, even while the animation is playing.
- Draw – The home screen is a “blank page” where players begin the Scribbles and Ink experience. In this space, players meet Scribbles and Ink, and then choose what to do next: (1) Draw and interact with Scribbles and Ink. (2) See the art that they have saved in the gallery. (3) Launch into one of the stories that blend interactive art-making and animated storytelling.
- Video – Standalone videos feature Scribbles and Ink (1) finding out how many ways they can spin a giant ball of yarn into art,(2) figuring out how to patch things up after a disagreement (which rips their studio in half!) ,(3) going on a madcap dash through the magical realm of Snoogelandia.
- Printable activities to promote offline art-marking with specific drawing prompts from Scribbles and Ink; now available in Spanish (pbskids.org).
Available through the PBS KIDS Games app, Scribbles and Ink is produced by Emmy and Peabody Award winner Marisa Wolsky, Executive Producer for Children’s Media at GBH, and Emmy winner Dave Peth.