The online, inquiry-based program is located on JPI's official Website, www.jpinstitute.com, and provides children, parents, and teachers with the ultimate resource for dinosaur learning and fun. Educators also have access to Dinopedia, a Web-based reference guide to hundreds of dinosaurs and billions of years of the Earth's history.
"We have the chance to do a fully integrated program across many business units that would create a long-term business and strengthen our brand," Thompson says. "It also allows us to create new products we wouldn't have necessarily done and gives new life to the brand beyond the movies."
Also key to the program is the JPI Rangers Club, which offers members access to educational online games and exclusive access to a kid-safe chat room where children can speak among themselves or with real paleontologists. The $12.95 membership fee also enables members to receive online monthly publications but requires parental consent.
Hands-on experience is the cornerstone of "Hot Off The Press," a program launched last year by Sesame Place in collaboration with New York-based Sesame Workshop. The interactive adventure starts at Sesame Place, where children in grades K to 2 become "roving reporters," taking notes and snapping pictures that later are documented in their own class newspaper. Each group receives a teacher workbook prior to the visit that includes activities to do before the visit, detailed information about the park, reproducible trip sheets, and activities that help extend the learning experience once children return home. A student template with graphics and guidelines for putting together the class newspaper also is included.
"Teachers have responded very favorably to the program," says Audrey Shapiro, director of consumer marketing at Langhorne, PA-based Sesame Place. "By focusing on specific curriculum goals, the program allows teachers to make a group visit to Sesame Place not only fun, but educational, as well." Going forward, the program possibly will be enhanced with a multicultural or science element.
Scholastic Entertainment continues to embrace the educational marketplace, creating specially designed outreach programs for many of its properties such as The Magic School Bus, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Dear America. For nearly a decade, the company has collaborated with museums across the country on a traveling exhibit for The Magic School Bus. Last month, kids ages 5 to 10 were able to take a field trip to learn about the weather in a 2,500-square-foot traveling exhibit, "The Magic School Bus Kicks Up a Storm." They also can witness a slice of history as "Dear America" tours 15 states and 22 cities this fall with the play, "A Light in the Storm."
Educators are as passionate about Clifford the Big Red Dog as their students, and Scholastic has created several early literacy initiatives for both inside and outside the classroom. Besides educational support materials and classroom activity kits, the company just launched a classroom magazine, Scholastic News Presents Clifford, filled with social and literacy ideas teachers can read in school and then send home with kids.
Says Cheryl Gotthelf, vice president of brand marketing and TV/broadcast relations at New York-based Scholastic Entertainment, "All of our programs help tap into the passion kids have for the characters and what entertains them. We use that as a way to convey important educational ideas."
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