Joe Hennes is not just a blogger. He is a Muppet Blogger. Along with Ryan Roe, he is the co-owner and editor of toughpigs.com, the preeminent location on the web for all things Muppet and Jim Henson. I can’t believe it took me 42 episodes of a show about children’s media to talk in-depth to someone about the Muppets. Muppets, y’all. Muppets.
Kevin Aniskovitch is the CEO of Jumo Health. Jumo Health creates comic books and other media that uses a team of superheroes called the Medikidz to teach children about different medical procedures and conditions. From jumohealth.com:
“It all started when two compassionate medical professionals wanted to alleviate the anxiety that often accompanies a diagnosis.”
Meredith Halpern-Ranzer is the Chief Executive Tinkerer at Tinkercast, the company that produces last year’s immensely popular new podcast “Wow in The World” featuring NPR’s Guy Raz and former Kid Stuff Podcast guest and Kids Place Live host Mindy Thomas.
Before joining Tinkercast, Meredith was there at the beginning of Sprout, and spent 10 years bringing the kids' channel to the world and defining its brand.
C.J. Pizarro is a fan of Vanilla Ice. He tells us why, and also explains the beautiful construction into which all of his music as Mista Cookie Jar fits, The Love Bubble.
Natalie Woociker is a photographer, an artist, and the founder of Wooly Mammoth Stories, where you can have a custom story written and performed by Natalie for your child (or for any child of your choosing).
Thanks for listening!
"I'm still willing to show the flaws and the edges because those things connect us all."
Heather B. Armstrong has made a name for herself writing autobiographically in an authentic and transparent way on her website dooce.com for over seventeen years.
Annabeth Bondor-Stone and Connor White met in the theater department at Northwestern University. Annabeth was writing and directing plays, and Connor discovered the group Griffin’s Tale, which took storytelling into elementary schools with high-energy performances.
When Annabeth’s young cousin Harrison sent them an email asking for a funny story to read, they did not know it would change their lives and careers. But it did, and Shivers, the Pirate Who’s Afraid of Everything, was born.
You should go find Annabeth and Connor on the web at annabethandconnor.com.
Rachel Giannini spent years as a pre-school teacher in the Chicago area. She was so good at it that she has since become one of the subjects of an upcoming documentary about early childhood education called No Small Matter. She was so good at that, that the producers of the movie asked her to take on some of the outreach for the movie via their blog.
She now works at the Chicago Children’s Museum on Navy pier as their Brand Ambassador.
You can find all things Rachel at www.rachelgiannini.com.
You can find the Chicago Children’s Museum on Navy Pier in Chicago or at chicagochildrensmuseum.org.
You can find the movie No Small Matter at nosmallmatter.com.
Susan and Refe Tuma are the creators, authors, and photographers/ art designers of the “What the Dinosaurs Did” book series. The books came out of a project they originally made just for their own kids, but blew up as a blog. Several years later, they find themselves with three books in the series. These books are so charming, and witty, and painstakingly created, they just have to be seen to be understood and appreciated. So listen to our conversation, then run to your nearest local bookseller and buy them.
Angela Ferrari is a painter, writer, and the creator and host of the new Story Spectacular podcast, featuring a new story for kids every Monday and a new mini-nighttime story every Friday. We talked about how she learned the business side of an art career, about finding a project that combined all of her talents and interests, and about the importance of play.
Jack Forman used to be a classroom teacher. When his first child was born, his band Recess Monkey was doing well enough that he became a stay-at-home dad and the manager of the band. Around the sa me time, he started hosting “Live From The Monkey House,” talking to kids and playing tunes on the Sirius XM Kids Place Live channel.
Now, he has his first solo album out, “Songs From The Monkey House.” It’s available exclusively on Amazon Music, and you can find a link and all the info you would ever want about all things Jack by going to jackformanmusic.com.
Stephanie Sharis is the CEO of Cricket Media. Cricket has been publishing magazines for kids for over 40 years, and they still have eleven titles that they publish, on actual paper, for kids of all ages and on a wide range of topics.
They’ve recently launched a new website and initiative called “Keeping Tech in Check.” They’re motto is “a balance, not a ban.” Keeping Tech in Check acknowledges and embraces the idea that technology and screens are part of our and our kids’ lives now. It acts as a hub for resources on how to manage the time we spend on that technology, how to use it wisely and safely, and how to share those skills with kids.
Thanks to Stephanie Sharis for that conversation, to Beth Blenz-Clucas for introducing us, and to Caroline Zekan at Cricket for setting it up. You can find cricket at http://www.cricketmedia.com/, and you can find Keeping Tech in Check at https://keepingtechincheck.com/
Also, don’t forget, thanks to our friends at BizKids, we are giving away a handful of free copies of their book “Turn $100 into $1 Million." Just write into us on our contact page at kidstuffpodcast.com and tell us a story about your business, a business you’d like to start, an idea of a business that you think kids should try, anything at all. Include your address, and boom, free awesome book.
We have a very different episode for you today. My family and I spent this past Saturday at The SoCal Mom’s Great Big Family Play Day in Los Angeles.
I had my intrepid field reporter Sophie at my side, and she and I had some conversations with some of the companies that had booths at the event.
I got to talk to Tracy Fredkin, the CEO of SoCal Moms and CityMoms and the organizer of the event.
And to close out the episode, I sat down for about 15 minutes with Lisa Loeb, who was performing that day.
Many thanks to Beth Blenz-Clucas for connecting me with Tracy Fredkin of CityMoms, to Tracy for making arrangements for my family to attend that day and for chatting with me, to Lisa Loeb for taking time out of her busy day to talk, and of course to Kid Stuff Sophie, who had all the best questions and made me look good just by being in her proximity.
For a little over a year while he was in college, Garrett Sander worked at FAO Schwartz. Other than that, he has spent his entire professional career, about 13 years, at Mattel.
His background and training are mostly in graphic design, and after he presented his portfolio to them at the end of his junior year, Mattel spent the next year waiting for him to graduate so they could hire him.
He started by designed packaging. He now works in entertainment, making the animated Barbie movies, and from 2007 to 2010 he was the person who birthed the global phenomenon known as Monster High and brought it forth to the world.
Thanks for listening!
Jeannine Glista is the executive producer of the PBS show “Biz Kids.”
It uses sketch comedy and profiles of young entrepreneurs to teach kids (mostly in the middle school range) how to start their own business, grow that business, run that business, and how to manage their money.
You know, all those incredibly useful skills that no one has taught me yet in my 40s.
The process of getting the show produced and on the air was quite a feat of entrepreneurship itself.
Thanks to Shelby Burford with Biz Kids for introducing me to Jeannine.
Thanks again to Jeannine Glista for her time and her stories, and thanks for this very exciting bonus:
Jeannine has offered me a few copies of the book from the creators of Biz Kids, “How to turn $100 into $1,000,000.”
It’s a road map for young people to take to learn how to achieve financial freedom, and you can get your very own free copy.
Tell any kid you know who has started their own business (or at least tried to) to go here.
Send us an email with the story of your business, whether it took off and became a huge success, or whether it crashed and burned or just fizzled out, we’d love to hear about it. Include your address, and the first few stories will get a copy of the book.
Thanks for listening!
I was introduced to Dan Bern’s music almost 20 years ago when a friend played the song “Jerusalem” for me, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. I got ridiculously excited to learn that Judd Apatow had tapped him to write the songs for “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,” and the songs he contributed to that movie are hilarious and wonderful.
He has a 7 year old daughter now, and has recently started writing more kids’ songs. He has 2 kids’ albums, "Two feet Tall" and "Three Feet Tall." Plus, he writes the songs for the amazon kids’ show “Stinky & Dirty.”
He’s also a poet, a novelist under the pseudonym Cunliffe Merriwether, and a painter.
Aaron Goldblatt runs Metcalfe Architecture and Design in Philadelphia with his partner Alan Metcalfe. They design a lot of public spaces, and spaces for kids, including health care spaces and informal education spaces like museums and botanic gardens.
Alan’s background is in architecture, but Aaron’s is in museum design and art (he was a sculptor, ceramicist, and welder for years before getting into museums).
As an actor, it’s funny to hear their philosophies about their work. Alan Metcalfe talks a lot on their website about empathy, and creating empathetic spaces. Alan, on the other hand, is obsessed with the idea of play, and he incorporates it into his working process wherever he can. For him, that seems to mean approaching work with a sense of fearlessness, and also trying to find a place of flow, of letting the play take over and your getting your brain out of the way.
Of course, those are two of the most important elements of acting; putting yourself in the shoes of your character (empathy), and playing. I mean, when we get on stage, that’s what we call the thing. A “play.” We’re playing make-believe.
It was nice to hear that, even in fields as disparate as architecture & design and acting may seem, the goals are still to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and to have a little fun.
You can check out their incredible body of work on their website. Take a look at some of their work, some of it may even be close enough to where you live for you to check out in person. They have worked on projects all over the country and the world.
One of the first people I talked to for this show was Shane Portman, the script supervisor for the Amazon preschool show Tumble Leaf. Shane has been a huge supporter of the show, and has connected me with several of the people I’ve talked to since then.
At one point, looking at a long list of people who had worked for Tumble Leaf, I thought “Maybe I should stop going through this list, it’s starting to become a podcast of people who have worked on Tumble Leaf."
Then I decided not to worry about that, because I firmly believe in the idea that “every head is a story.” Every person you see on the street has a story and a history and an inner life and is worthy of your curiosity.
Today’s guest, Sarah Serrata, is a perfect example of why I made that decision. Not only did she work for Tumble Leaf as a producer for a while, but I didn’t know that much about her going into our conversation. All I had were a couple job descriptions on LinkedIn and a couple credits on IMDb.
It ended up being a really interesting conversation with a really interesting person who has lived, by my count, about 18 lives so far. Her current life sees her as a producer for Mattel, making the animated Barbie movies. If you respond to the idea of animated Barbie movies the way I did before talking to Sarah, which is with at least a little skepticism (which is also the way Sarah responded to them before taking the job), than I think you’ll be just as surprised and delighted as I was by what you learn about her and about what Barbie has been up to lately.
Beth Blenz-Clucas is a PR rep and Publicist working mostly with family-friendly musicians. She lives in Portland, but her clients and the work of her firm Sugar Mountain PR extend across the US and Canada. She represents many of the biggest names in the kindie scene, from The Lucky Diaz Family Jam Band, to Justin Roberts, to Raffi, to Lisa Loeb, to The Pop Ups, to Alphabet Rockers… it’s a very long list of really great people.
I talked to Beth via Skype about how she went from getting a Masters in English Lit to a 20 year career in children’s music We talked about the importance of knowing who you are as an artist, and about the importance of setting realistic, reachable goals for yourself.
Cheryl Capezzuti is a puppet maker living and working in Pittsburgh. She is also a sculptor and a painter and a teacher. She told me about how she was introduced to making giant puppets.
She also told me how, if you live in or around Pittsburgh, you can check her giant puppets out of the library. Seriously. How cool is that?
And she told me about all the things Pittsburgh is doing that make it such an incredible place for artists and families and everybody else.
Adam Berger loves storytelling.
It started with books when he was a young kid, and it continued with movies like 2001 and Star Wars. Then, when he was 12, his family took a trip to DisneyWorld. It was then that he realized, if only subconsciously, the power that an immersive experience like a theme park could have when it uses the power of mythic storytelling to make the guest the hero of their own story.
He’s been an attraction show writer for most of his adult life, and has had his own consulting business with his wife Julia, Berger Creative Associates, since 2007.
Adam has a book about the use of mythic storytelling in Disney Theme Parks called “Every Guest is a Hero.” You can find hard copies or digital downloads of it anywhere online that you usually buy or download books. Here it is on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
You can also find Adam on his blog, at TheMythingLink.tumblr.com
This episode comes out on March 7th, 2017, which also marks the 20 year anniversary of Laurie Berkner’s career writing, recording, and performing kindie music for 0-7 year olds.
If you have kids or an interest in kids’ music, you already know her and her songs and videos.
March is a big month for Laurie, with fun stuff going on at the Laurie Berkner Band Facebook page everyday, leading up to the release of her book “We Are The Dinosaurs” on March 21st. You can also find info on her official website, LauireBerkner.com.
What do you do if you've just fallen in love, but you never see each other because your new partner works days as a session guitar player on American Idol, and you work evenings as a stand-up comedian?
If you are Alisha Gaddis and Lucky Diaz, you form The Lucky Diaz Family Jam Band. Then, you get to work together making albums, playing shows, teaching workshops, and doing all kinds of family-friendly art. And, if that band is really good (which it is), you win a Grammy. Then you turn the band into a TV show, and you also win an Emmy.
During all this, in case you still have some down time, you also get married and have a new baby girl together.
If you have kids, you have probably heard Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band. It is pop-based bilingual kindie music at its very best. Alisha and Lucky were generous enough to have me to their home one recent Saturday while they were still passing around the colds and flus that everyone has been getting lately. I talked to both of them about the band and elementary school fundraisers and Trader Joe’s for the first half of the show, then Alisha and I got into a little more of her background in acting, writing, and comedy for the second half.
Enjoy my conversation with Alisha and Lucky! You can find them on the web in all the usual places, including their website at luckydiazmusic.com.
Directing theater and movies and tv involves three very different skill sets, and Joel Zwick has not only done all three, he has flourished at all of them.
He started with the famous La Mama theater company, bringing their shows from the Village to Broadway and the West End.
He spent the 80s and 90s with Miller Boyett television, directing literally hundreds of episodes of some of the most popular TV comedies from that era.
In features, Tom Hanks convinced him to direct this little independent comedy, called "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"
And since 2010, he’s been directing episodes of every show that you like on the Disney Channel.
All that aside, this is a guy who should have been on Hollywood Squares. He pulls no punches, he’s willing to talk about anything and everything, and he’s as naturally hilarious as the things he’s been directing for the last 40 years.
Many thanks to Marc Warren for the introduction.that lead to this conversation.
You can catch Mr. Zwick's upcoming episodes of "K.C. Undercover" on Disney Channel, and if you’re in southern California, keep an eye out this April for the play he’s putting up in Thousand Oaks, written by previous guest Marc Warren, called “Furniture.”