Tag Archives: empathy

How to Make an Arthur Episode

Have you ever wondered what it takes to create an Arthur episode like “So Funny I Forgot To Laugh”—or YOUR favorite episode?

Read on to find out just how we create an Arthur episode, from start to finish!

ARTHUR episode: "So Funny I Forgot To Laugh"

ARTHUR episode: “So Funny I Forgot To Laugh”

Brainstorm Sessions
The Arthur team has lots of ideas. So we start off by meeting with our writers to brainstorm topics and storylines we’d like to address in the upcoming season. For example, in the episode “So Funny I Forgot to Laugh,” we knew we wanted cover the topic of bullying, so we brainstormed the best way to approach portraying this difficult topic for our young audience.

A writer is then assigned to that script, and works on various drafts with feedback from the head writer, director, animation studio, content advisers, and the production team.

Rough Designs

When the final script is approved, it goes off to the design team at the animation studio—a company that produces animated media. At the studio, they begin to turn our words into images. First, they create black and white and color designs of the important characters, props, and backgrounds in the episode.

Black and white character designs show the episodes characters, props, and backgrounds.

Character designs in black and white

These designs go through a review process, and then on to the next revision. Sometimes it takes a number of rounds of notes before all the reviewers are satisfied with all the details, like the puffiness of Sue Ellen’s sweater or the length of her sleeves. But once the revisions are agreed upon, the changes are made and the designs are finalized.

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Character designs in color

Voice Records

No Arthur episode would be complete without the voices that bring the characters to life! The actors are recorded reading their lines, and then the best recordings are selected and integrated into a dialogue track—the audio of all the characters speaking in the episode without any music or sound effects.

The next step is to review black and white storyboards called animatics. Animatics combine the dialogue track with the backgrounds and some simple, basic character movements. At this point, we fine-tune the camera angles, facial expressions, and pacing of the episode.

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Black and white animatic storyboard

Finally, the animators use color designs that were approved earlier in the process and the animatic as a guide to create the actual animated episode. Finally, they add music and sound effects, and soon you’re watching Arthur and his friends grapple with one of the challenges of childhood on your TV!

Stay tuned for more from Arthur in our August post.

Reinforce the AIM Learning Throughout the Day

Developing social, emotional, and character competencies and attitudes doesn’t just happen. Like learning skills in math, science, art, or any academic area—children need to practice prosocial skills over and over again in order to be able to put them into practice when situations occur in real life.

Listen to one elementary school counselor describe how children grasp these skills.

The AIM Buddy Project sessions were developed to help young children foster knowledge and connections that allow them to get along with others, understand differences, and be kind to one another. Ongoing reinforcement beyond the AIM sessions is critical to ensuring students really grasp the foundational learning that happens in these sessions.

Integrating the language, skills, and attitudes learned in the AIM sessions can happen organically throughout the school day. Opportunities to use the vocabulary, explore the topics in other disciplines, and acknowledge the skills and attitudes as they occur can be found in the classroom, at the playground, at lunch–or during any part of the day.

Watch the video to see how two elementary teachers have found opportunities to reinforce the learning in their classrooms:

Here are a few activities that can help you get started reinforcing the AIM learning throughout the school day:

  • Morning meeting: Start the day by asking students how they feel today. [To help students create an emotion vocabulary of their own so they can recognize emotions in themselves and in others.]
  • Art: Create a “Feelings” class book. Have children illustrate and write about feelings of characters in a story recently read to the class.
  • Writing: Have kids self-reflect and write about a time they experienced or witnessed the emotion illustrated in the “Feelings” book.
  • Math: Give pairs a bowl of buttons (or any small item). Have them work together to share equal amounts. Ask: What would you do if another friend joined you? How would you decide to share the buttons?
  • Social studies: Create a “Learning From Others” quilt. Before exploring different religious, community, and family customs, ask questions and record responses on index cards. Assemble and display the “quilt”. Have children add to it throughout the month. Sample questions:
    What is an assumption? Why do people make assumptions about other people and cultures? Why is it sometimes hard to admit you don’t know something? What can you do if you don’t know something about a person or a culture? What can you do when you make a mistake about someone or something?
Science learning, problem solving, and getting along with others go hand-in hand!

Science learning, problem solving, and getting along with others go hand-in hand!

For even more ideas, go to “Reinforce the Learning” on page 15 in the AIM Buddy Project Teacher’s Guide.