Any time mainstream media picks up an important issue and covers it in video form, you can't help but watch it through the cracks of your fingers over your face. You know what I mean?
Sometimes, when people talk about food allergies in the media, it's either extremely offensive or just plain factually incorrect. BUT sometimes food allergies are presented in a clear, informative, and positive way that helps spread awareness and understanding to a new and wider audience.
When I saw this All About Allergies DVD at my local library, I snatched it up right away, knowing that I needed to watch this and let you all know if it's any good. Here, you'll get a brief description for each episode along with any online resources available related to each one.
All About Allergies is a PBS DVD consisting of five episodes. All episodes are around 15 minutes long- some being a couple minutes shorter. I would say that overall the episodes are valuable, but some are better than others. Daniel Tiger is our favorite of the episodes on this DVD and seems to portray food allergies in the most positive and clear way. Arthur is a bit more dramatic and a little scary for very young viewers. The character with allergies is about 10 years old and deals with issues that small children might not need to deal with for some time. Peg + Cat is about environmental allergies (Peg is allergic to clover) and WordWorld is about being allergic to peaches (just like Daniel Tiger!).
Daniel Tiger- 2 episodes
In the first episode, Daniel eats peaches and has an allergic reaction (his tummy hurts, he itches, and he has a rash on his face). The family immediately took him to the doctor to get him checked out. The doctor gave Daniel advice on how to stay safe and educated him about food allergies. Daniel and his mother work together to bake muffins for a school event the next day. The episode ends with a real life story of a young child eating lunch safely at school.
The second episode takes off where the first one began when Daniel brings safe muffins to school to celebrate 100 days school. He tells his teacher about his allergies while his parent stands next to him. Daniel plays with his friends in the play food center at school and they talk about the difference between being allergic to a food and not liking a food. There are multiple engaging songs and another real life story- this time about a crossing guard helping kids get to school safely. Both episodes focus on how we all help each other out. There was no mention of testing for allergies and no talk about emergency medication. Daniel is only given an oral medication at the doctor's office. Of course, you can't fully cover everything in just one 15 minute episode, but you may like to follow up watching this episode with a talk about what medicines keep your child safe during an allergic reaction and how important it is to keep it near all the time.
You can watch clips from this episode HERE.
Arthur- 1 episode
This episode titled, "Binky Goes Nuts," is about one of Arthur's classmates who develops a rash and goes to the doctor for a skin test that reveals an allergy to peanuts. His mother is very fearful. The doctor explains anaphylaxis and gives them things to read to learn more. Throughout the episode, Binky (who says he is almost 10) has nightmares about his allergies and is not happy with how his mother is reacting to the news. She emails all of the other families in his class and tells Binky he shouldn't go to the candy store. He is embarrassed at first but then is encouraged by a friend who also has allergies. In the end, Binky decides to take his allergies seriously and prove to his mom that he knows how to make safe choices so that she can trust him more with managing his food allergies.
You can watch this episode for free HERE.
PBS also offers additional free resources and printables to go along with this episode.
Peg + Cat- 1 episode
This episode, "The Allergy Problem," follows Peg as she struggles with sneezing. The doctor tests her and her cat runs away. While Peg searches for the cat by plane, she worries she might be allergic to her cat. She eventually find her cat inside of a whale (talk about an adventure!) and the whale is allergic to feathers. After talking through the day and what she has been in contact with, they solve the problem by discovering that clovers were causing her to sneeze and not the cat. The cat was first wearing a clover necklace, but after taking it off, Peg felt much better.
A few Peg + Cat videos and clips are available online, but this episode is currently not included. Other videos and activities related to Peg + Cat can be found HERE.
WordWorld- 1 episode
Pig needs all the letter A's to make an apple pie. Sheep comes to help, bringing peaches for the pies. Pig sniffs the peaches and starts to sneeze. He is sneezing so much that he can't tell them he is allergic to peaches. They get an ambulance for him but pig says he does not need it. Finally, ant (who knows about pig's allergy) tells the others that he is allergic to peaches. They get together a bunch of ants to carry away all of the peaches and pig instantly feels much better.
The point of this episode is really to teach the A sound and not to teach about allergies. He wants to ask for a-a-apples but can only say a-a-choo. They continually guess what things starting with "a" he could need. This is clearly meant for a very young audience and can open up the door to talk about allergies with your children but should not be used on it's own as any type of food allergy education.
For other WordWorld fun visit PBS online HERE.
You can buy All About Allergies on Amazon HERE.
Kyle Dine & Friends DVD
I would also highly recommend you check out Kyle Dine & Friends Allergy Awareness DVD.
His video is very informative and is by far the best resource for teaching children about food allergies. It is great for home use and for schools. There are two discs included- each geared towards a different age range. My kids love the songs, puppets, and engaging messages.
If you have any suggestions for other ways to teach children about allergies, let me know in the comments below!