Created and developed by children’s media company Dog Ears, brand new original empathy-themed animated TV series and game is directed by John McDaid and Robin Davey.
LONDON -- BAFTA-nominated preschool learning and entertainment platform Hopster has debuted Saturday Club, a new original animation series launching on April 1, 2019.
Created and developed by children’s media company Dog Ears with funding from Northern Ireland Screen, the preschool show is designed to nurture empathy in young children. Saturday Club follows the adventures of four friends -- Tian, Jo, Suzy and Jamie -- who meet in a play den each Saturday to discuss their week and play make believe.
Each of the six three-minute episodes introduces a situation where preschoolers have to put themselves in others’ shoes in order to better understand them. Children can learn to recognize and imagine various emotions and are invited to think about how others feel. The series is directed by John McDaid (Puffin Rock) and Robin Davey (Hey Duggee) with Ellen Solberg (Two Minute Tales) and Fionnuala Deane serving as executive producers.
“We’ve always written empathy into our stories, but we thought, ‘Let’s make an entire show about empathy!’ said McDaid, who serves as creative director at Dog Ears. “A show about stepping into someone else’s shoes and how that can change your view of the world for the better. The power of empathy, particularly in the development of young children, is something I’ve been fascinated with for a long time. Watching my own children and how they respond and empathize with others was the catalyst for Saturday Club.”
- Grumpy Neighbours: Jamie can’t understand why his neighbor, old Mr. Johnston, is so grumpy and why he took his football. Can the gang help him to see things from Mr. Johnston’s point of view?
- One Small Step for Jo: It takes six months for an Astronaut to get to Mars! Jamie, Suzy and Tian would love to have an adventure in space but Jo’s not so sure…
- The Princess Rulebook: Suzy does not like Jo’s princess rulebook at all, there are far too many rules and stereotypes. Suzy decides to throw out the rulebook and do things her way...
- Tian’s Pencils: Tian likes to work by himself in art class, but Granda helps him see the brilliant things you can make when you work as a team…
- Little Birdie Caw Caw: Tian has a new pet beetle, Ringo, but Ringo doesn’t seem too happy. Granda tells them the heartwarming story of his first pet, Little Birdie Caw Caw, who flew away to be with her friends.
- Noisy Babies: Jo loves her baby doll, but babies are so noisy and keep the gang awake at night! When you think about it, maybe being a baby isn’t so easy after all…
“At Hopster we believe that good entertainment should always teach kids something new,” said Hopster chief content and creative executive Miki Chojnacka. “While academic skills are important, we think that children’s socio-emotional growth is often overlooked. So we decided to partner with Dog Ears to create a preschool show and accompanying game that nurture kids’ emotional intelligence and encourages them to consider the feelings of others.”
Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen, said, “Northern Ireland Screen was delighted to provide development funding to Dog Ears for the creation of Saturday Club. Dog Ears is a prominent member of our thriving animation sector and its team has a great reputation for working alongside major global names in children’s programming. Saturday Club is an exciting and unique concept and we are really looking forward to seeing the end result.”
Accompanying the new animated series, Hopster has created a game that helps children further explore feelings and emotions with the help of the Saturday Club characters. Developed with the support of Empathy Day founder EmpathyLab, a U.K. not-for-profit organization that inspires children to put empathy into action, the game draws on experiences from EmpathyLab’s primary schools program, which is designed to build real-life empathy skills in the classroom.
Initially exclusively available from the App Store, the “Hopster Saturday Club: Empathy” game lets kids match emotions to expressions, create fun expressions and track their feelings with an emotions calendar.
Saturday Club, the animation, is now available worldwide. It can be found on the Hopster mobile app and on the Hopster channel available on selected smart TVs such as Amazon Fire TV, EE TV and Roku in the UK, Comcast Xfinity, DISH and Sling TV in the US and on many other platforms around the world.