This adorable program airs on Treehouse for children aged 3 to 5 and follows the adventures of a little girl named Peg and her pet cat. Peg + Cat succeeds in making math fun and relevant by showing kids how math is present in their lives and can be used to solve a variety of problems, from giving her mom the proper number of birthday presents to saving baby chicks. Peg + Cat follows the Ontario Grade 1 math curriculum, making it a great tool to prepare kids who are going into Grade 1, or to reinforce their current learning.
Ontario’s Grade 1 math curriculum is designed to help children develop necessary skills such as: problem solving, reasoning, reflective thinking, connecting concepts to the world around them, representing mathematical ideas visually, and communicating their thinking clearly (The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Mathematics, page 32 of 135). Peg + Cat helps to develop these types of thinking and behaviour very well. The content in each episode is repetitive as the creators take the time to teach it’s viewers in multiple ways. Whenever there is a problem to be solved, Peg verbally explains the problem while writing it down for viewers to see and then explains each step of the solution in the same manner. While Peg, Cat, and friends carry out her plans their, they all sing about what they are doing and why or what they learned. These problems are anchored in the real world to further emphasize that math is everywhere. As we see in “The Slop Problem”, Peg, Cat, and the teenagers need to catch and place the chickens back into their coup. Each person can carry up to five chickens, thanks to a smartphone app, and they learn about counting in fives.
Peg + Cat teaches more than critical thinking and communication, however, as the types of math taught can be linked directly to more specific goals in Ontario’s Grade 1 math curriculum.
Number Sense and Numeration
Two of the three overall expectations in Ontario’s curriculum for students are to “demonstrate an understanding of magnitude by counting forward to 100 and backwards from 20;” and “solve problems involving the addition and subtraction of single-digit whole numbers, using a variety of strategies.” (The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Mathematics, page 33).
In the episodes “The Arch Villain Problem” and “The Birthday Present Problem” Peg and Cat practice counting forwards and backwards. In “The Arch Villain Problem”, Cat can only do nine clumsy things before he scrapes his knee. Peg keeps track of his blunders by counting backwards from nine in order to help keep him safe. Meanwhile in “The Birthday Present Problem”, Peg and Cat must collect five rocks of from six different places in order to give her mom 30 rocks for her 30th birthday.
This section’s goals are to “estimate, measure, and describe length, area, mass, capacity, time, and temperature, using non-standard units of the same size;” and “compare, describe, and order objects, using attributes measured in non-standard units.” (The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Mathematics, page 35).
In “The Slop Problem”, Peg, Cat, and the teenagers have to clean up the farm animals before the farmer comes to check on them, but they have trouble figuring out which animal should go in which tub and how much water to use. Peg must help them understand how to estimate and relate size with mass and capacity.
Geometry and Spatial Sense
Peg + Cat fits into two of the this area’s learning expectations of “identify common two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional figures and sort and classify them by their attributes;* compose and decompose common two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional figures.” (The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Mathematics, page 37).
“The Straight and Narrow Problem” deals with a mysterious villain who starts turning other shapes in town into triangles, and it is up to Peg and Cat to save the day! Together, they teach viewers how to identify various shapes and how to combine them to make new ones in order to restore the city.
Data Management and Probability
“collect and organize categorical primary data and display the data using concrete graphs and pictographs, without regard to the order of labels on the horizontal axis; read and describe primary data presented in concrete graphs and pictographs; describe the likelihood that everyday events will happen.” (The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Mathematics, page 40).
In “The Mega Mall Problem” Peg and Cat must search the mall for the teenagers who wandered away right before their dance competition started. By learning how to read the mall’s map and creating a graph to represent what each teenager wanted before disappearing, Peg and Cat were able to find all of the teenagers and get back to the dance competition right on time.
This is Just the Tip of the Iceberg
After watching five 11-minute episodes, I was able to find all of this information. Just think of what the whole season can teach kids. I may not be a teacher but I’m giving Peg + Cat an A+.
- The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Mathematics
- Links to Peg + Cat episodes on YouTube:
Media offers a world of entertainment and learning possibilities for children and youth. The kidsmediacentre explores kids' media futures and is committed to supporting cross-platform content producers in Canada to ensure the kids' media industry is vibrant, indigenous and committed to the healthy growth of children.