PBS has teamed up with its member station WGBH Boston to launch an interactive kids series called “Scribbles and Ink” on PBS Kids digital platform. Based on the book series by the same name from author and illustrator Ethan Long, the show lets children participate in the action with their own drawings.
“Scribbles and Ink” launched this week on the PBS Kids website, as well as within the PBS Kids app. Its two protagonists, Scribbles and Ink, have a number of adventures together, ranging from rainy day play time to a party to space travel. In each instance, they encourage the viewer to draw key elements, like party guests and a spaceship, which are then being animated and incorporated into the action.
The series a bit of a departure for PBS Kids, which usually taps into characters from its own TV shows for online content. “Scribbles and Ink” is an online original, but that didn’t stop children from embracing it during early tests, said PBS Kids Digital senior director of content Abby Jenkins during a recent interview with Variety.
“Kids really love the characters,” she said. The same goes for the animations based on their own drawings. “They were really surprised and excited,” said Jenkins.
In addition to adding to the story with their drawings, kids can also draw freely, download activity sheets to print out, or just watch some videos. “Scribbles and Ink” always saves up to 10 drawings, so kids can always revisit their prior creations. “We wanted to make sure that this is something kids can come back to and play again,” said PBS Kids Digital vice president Sara DeWitt.
To make the show accessible, “Scribbles and Ink” comes with optional closed captioning. And by default, its volume is not cranked up tot he max, something that Jenkins attributed to a desire to cater to children with sensory issues.
DeWitt said that PBS Kids was hoping to add more content to “Scribbles and Ink” over time, but that her team would take a close look at the numbers to learn from the way the young audience interacts with the series first. The public broadcaster also has plans to roll out additional interactive experiences on the web in the coming months. “We have several more things lined up,” she said.