It’s 6 a.m. on a Sunday. Do you know where your kids are?
If you’re a Rocky Mountain PBS household, they could quite possibly be glued to the new “Simple Gift Series.” The half-hour kids show, which debuted in September, is produced by the Colorado Springs Conservatory, which provides training in performing arts for ages 4-19.
“This series is local content, which is so unusual for our younger demographic,” says Carrie McKee, vice president of Statewide Regional Innovation Centers for Rocky Mountain PBS.
“Here’s incredible local talent putting together playful, musically inspired lessons where kids can learn about the simple gifts we experience every day.”
Hosted by CSC founder and CEO Linda Weise, the 13 episodes feature plenty of singing (Weise trained at the Juilliard School and performed around the country); music lessons from cartoon character Marty the Music Man; story time with cartoon character Betty the Bookworm; assorted guests such as Thomas Wilson, associate conductor of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic; and field trips around the Pikes Peak region, including to places such as the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and The Broadmoor, where kids learned about manners.
“It’s especially fun for people in this region to get to see the local gems, like the building of the Switchbacks stadium or a local ranch,” says McKee. “We’re excited these kids, who are diverse in their race, ethnicity and abilities, are invited to the Penrose Room (at The Broadmoor) with Miss Linda.”
Episodes also are available online at pbssocal.org/programs/simple-gift-series/full-episodes. A second season of the series will air next year.
The TV show evolved as part of CSC’s pivot in March when the pandemic forced everything online. To accommodate 1,500 students, the conservatory expanded into virtual and livestreamed classes and created a gap year program — students postponing college due to the virus are able to take classes virtually at Oberlin College and Conservatory, Weise’s alma mater. A community portal also was created this year for kids and families from Head Start, a federal program for preschool children in low-income families, to access classes.
“We’re on TV, virtual, live- streaming, on-site,” says Weise. “Our last platform is a mobile unit that will go to extremities like Harrison School District or Ellicott, where we’d park and kids would sign up and come to class.”Contact the writer: 636-0270