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Little Kids, Big Hearts Profile

Little Kids, Big Hearts

English, Parenting, 3 seasons, 41 episodes, 17 hours, 28 minutes
About
Little Kids, Big Hearts helps kids and their grown-ups grow social and emotional skills, a.k.a. Big Hearts, with a little help from the show's host, Todd Loyd, a longtime early childhood educator. It’s a space where kids LEAD the discussion and explore big ideas in SEL — from feelings to friendship to helping others — together. If you like using your imagination, hanging out with puppets, going on mindfulness journeys to magical worlds, and eating gummy bears that grow on trees, then you're in the right place! Recommended for big-hearted kids ages 3-8 (and their grown-ups).
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Building Resilience with Marc Grapey

In this episode three children, Donovan, Layla, and Ruby, explore the idea of resilience — being able to move through the hard things we face and bounce back or recover afterward. They share times they have had to practice resilience, and then they help a Link-a-deedle friend, LaLeek, who lives in the Land of Qook-a-lackas, learn about resilience. The guest star in this episode is Marc Grapey, an actor, director, writer and producer, with credits on stage, as well as in movies and TV. Marc has been a fixture of the Chicago Theatre community for the last 25 years, often appearing at Victory Gardens, The Goodman, Steppenwolf, and Writer’s Theatre. He made his Broadway debut in 2005 opposite Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in the hit revival of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple. His numerous films include SuperBad, Adventureland, The Day Trippers, While You Were Sleeping, At Any Price, Keeping up with the Joneses, and the upcoming Steven Spielberg produced Captive State. He has made over 60 guest appearances on television. The original song in the episode, "On With The Show," was written and performed by educator/composer Benjamin Weiner. Sound design and mixing is by Ahmed Ashour, and the ukulele music you hear is by actor and composer Bill English.Find more resources and activities to keep the learning going online at https://playsparkler.org/little-kids-big-hearts-resilience/.
7/12/202432 minutes, 20 seconds
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Bonus: Exploring "Learning Differences" with Oliver, 12, and Caesar Samayoa from "How to Dance in Ohio"

During the most recent episode of Little Kids, Big Hearts, "Celebrating Learning Differences with Q. Smith," one of our kid guests, Oliver, mentioned how meaningful it was to him to see How to Dance in Ohio on Broadway. How to Dance in Ohio is a new musical based on a true story about Dr. Emilio Amigo helping a group of autistic high school students prepare for a formal end-of-year dance.In this special bonus interview, Oliver joins Little Kids, Big Hearts host Todd Loyd to interview Caesar Samayoa, who played the role of Dr. Amigo in the Broadway production. Cesar talks about the history-making show — in which autistic actors played the roles of the autistic characters — and shares inspiration and insight that we hope will help our audience dive in deeper to some of the issues we discussed in our learning differences episode. Caesar Samayoa has been seen on Broadway, off Broadway, and in regional theaters, as well as on TV. In addition to How to Dance in Ohio, Caesar's Broadway credits include: Come From Away, Sister Act, The Pee Wee Herman Show. Select off-Broadway includes Love's Labour's Lost (Delacorte Theater) and Shakespeare's R&J, Bernstein's Mass (Carnegie Hall).Learn more online at: https://playsparkler.org/little-kids-big-hearts-learning-differences/
7/5/202422 minutes, 39 seconds
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Celebrating Learning Differences with Q. Smith

In the United States, about 15% of students receive special education or related services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Learning differences aren’t all alike, but they can all affect how people process, store, and retrieve information — and they can have an impact on many parts of life, from learning to memory to how people express themselves and how people develop relationships with one another.In this episode, Todd talks with four children — Reese, Willa-Kate, Oliver, and Alessio — all of whom have diagnosed learning differences. They share their experiences and feelings related to their learning differences and go on a journey to the Land of Qook-a-lackas to help a Qook-a-lacka friend, Professor Kimpton, reconsider how to support a Qook-a-leekie student. This episode is for ALL children and families. It can help them to understand — and rethink — their own differences and their friends’ and classmates’ differences. It can also help children and families think of strategies they can use to persevere through challenges. The guest star in this episode is Q. Smith, a Broadway actor and a passionate educator.  Q. created the role of Hannah and others in the Tony Award winning musical Come From Away. She is also in the film version on AppleTV+. Q. has toured with the North American Broadway show A Night With Janis Joplin, playing the roles of Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone. Before Come From Away, Q. closed the Broadway production of Mary Poppins. She was the first African American to have a leading role in the history of Mary Poppins. (Read Q.'s full bio on our website.)The original song in the episode, "Super Superpower," was written by educator/composer Benjamin Weiner and performed by Q. Smith. Sound design and mixing is by Ahmed Ashour, and the ukulele music you hear is by actor and composer Bill English.Find more resources and activities to keep the learning going online at https://playsparkler.org/little-kids-big-hearts-learning-differences/.
6/14/202440 minutes, 26 seconds
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Let's Take Responsibility

Taking responsibility is an important part of social and emotional learning. When children take responsibility for their words and actions, acknowledge their mistakes, and help others in their community, they are building empathy, independence, and other important skills. In this episode, three children (Leo, Edie, and Aiden) talk about responsibility and then help Quazzilyn (a Qook-a-lacka friend) to rally the Qook-a-lackas to take responsibility and save their gummy bear crops!The guest star in this episode is Natalie Gold, an actress who has appeared in film, television, and stage productions. She's currently playing Rachael in APPROPRIATE on Broadway. The original song in the episode, "Put Up My Hand," was written and performed by educator/composer Benjamin Weiner. Sound design and mixing is by Ahmed Ashour, and the ukulele music you hear is by actor and composer Bill English.Find more resources and activities to keep the learning going online at https://playsparkler.org/responsibility.
5/10/202431 minutes, 35 seconds
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Special Reimagined Episode: What Can You Do With Big Feelings?

What do you do when you're feeling angry or sad, or when you're facing something new and scary? In this special episode — which is reimagined and reworked from a Season 1 episode of Little Kids, Big Hearts — Todd and his puppet friend Rainbow join four kids (Anaya, Eleanor, Raffaele, and Wilder) to explore big feelings, where they come from, and what to do with them. At the end of the episode, dance along to "Dance Your Feelings," an original song written and performed by educator/composer/performer extraordinaire Benjamin Weiner. The new sound design and mixing is by Ahmed Ashour. Thank you also to Ryan Allais for his original sound design of the episode in Season 1! The ukulele music you hear in the background is by Royer Bockus. Wow! It's been a LONG time! Find more resources and activities to keep the learning going online at https://playsparkler.org/what-can-you-do-with-big-feelings.
5/3/202424 minutes, 8 seconds
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Grandparent Relationships

Grandparents, or older friends and family members, can play pivotal roles in children's lives, acting as caregivers, mentors, and friends. Whether grandparents live in a child’s neighborhood or far away, the love and emotional support they provide can significantly contribute to the healthy social and emotional growth of their grandchildren.In this episode, Todd interviews his own 96-year-old grandmother, as well as his sister and niece about their family memories and relationships. He then chats with two other grandparent-grandkid duos: Brenda and her granddaughter Kailah, followed by Marvin and his granddaughter Melanie. Sound design and mixing is by Ahmed Ashour, and the ukulele music you hear is by actor and composer Bill English.Find more resources and activities to keep the learning going online at https://playsparkler.org/grandparentrelationships.
3/1/202438 minutes, 1 second
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Bonus: Boundaries Interview with Ana Cruz Kayne and Michael Cruz Kayne

Last week, we released an episode about BOUNDARIES — the limits and rules we set for ourselves within relationships. Today, we're excited to release a bonus interview with the guest stars of the episode, Ana Cruz Kayne and Michael Cruz Kayne. Ana and Michael are siblings in real life ... so they know A LOT about the topic of boundaries. Ana is an actress and writer, known for her performances in Barbie (2023), Little Women (2019), Jerry & Marge Go Large (2022), Painkiller (TV 2023), and Another Earth (2011). Michael is a Peabody and WGA Award winner, and a four-time Emmy nominee. He is currently a writer for the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. As a stand-up and actor, he has been seen on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Severance, High Maintenance, and more.  His one-man show, Sorry For Your Loss, was recorded by Audible and named among the Best of Audible 2023. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and kids. This season, in addition to our regular episodes with and for kids, we are including bonus interviews with luminaries like Michael and Ana to dive into the social and emotional topics we explore on the Little Kids, Big Hearts podcast. We hope parents and caregivers love ❤️ these conversations as much as we do. Find more resources and activities to keep the learning going online at playsparkler.org/podcast.
2/9/202412 minutes, 49 seconds
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Boundaries with Michael Cruz Kayne and Ana Cruz Kayne

Helping children establish boundaries is important for developing friendships and maintaining positive social interactions. Boundaries help people set limits for themselves and honor limits set by others.In "Boundaries," three eight- and nine-year-old kids (Olivia, Izzy, and Wynter) define and discuss boundaries and help Qook-a-leekie and Link-a-deedle friends learn the importance of boundaries. They discover that understanding someone else’s boundaries requires empathy, the ability to recognize others’ feelings...and that takes practice. The role of  Qwee-vee the Qook-a-leekie is played by Ana Cruz Kayne and the role of Lexton the Link-a-deedle is played by Michael Cruz Kayne. Ana and Michael are siblings in real life, so they know a thing or two about boundaries.  Ana is an actress and writer, known for her performances in Barbie (2023), Little Women (2019), Jerry & Marge Go Large (2022), Painkiller (TV 2023), and Another Earth (2011). Michael is a Peabody and WGA Award winner, and a four-time Emmy nominee. He is currently a writer for the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. As a stand-up and actor, he has been seen on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Severance, High Maintenance, and more.  His one-man show, Sorry For Your Loss, was recorded by Audible and named among the Best of Audible 2023. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and kids. Read more about Ana and Michael on our website.The original song, "I've Got Boundaries" is written by educator/composer Benjamin Weiner and performed by Michael Cruz Kayne.Sound design and mixing is by Ahmed Ashour, and the ukulele music you hear is by actor and composer Bill English.Find more resources and activities to keep the learning going online at https://playsparkler.org/boundaries.
2/2/202437 minutes, 6 seconds
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Hopes & Dreams

In "Hopes & Dreams," three kids (Levi, Christine, and Ariel) reflect on the new things we have learned, the friendships we have formed, and the challenges we have faced in the past year — and what we are excited to learn and do in the year ahead. The children also discuss the concept of "letting go" of the feelings and experiences that we don't wish to carry with us into the new year.The kids and host Todd Loyd travel on giant snowflakes to the Land of Qook-a-lackas where they meet Todd's Qook-a-lacka friend Qweston, played by Jolly Abraham, and participate in the Qook-a-lacka tradition of Moon Day, where they help to "send off" the old moon and "welcome" the new moon.The original song, "Under the New Moon" that Qweston sings in the Land is written by educator/composer Benjamin Weiner (based on the children's words during the episode) and performed by Jolly Abraham.Sound design and mixing is by Ahmed Ashour, and the ukulele music you hear is by actor and composer Bill English.Find more resources and activities to keep the learning going online at https://playsparkler.org/hopesdreams
1/5/202432 minutes, 20 seconds
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Bonus: Belonging Interview with Hip-Hop Pioneer Darryl "DMC" McDaniels

On last week's episode, we explored "Belonging" — being who you are and being accepted and embraced for who you are.In this special bonus interview, we continue to explore this idea. Little Kids, Big Hearts host Todd Loyd interviews hip-hop pioneer Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, an American rapper and founding member of Run DMC. In addition to winning many awards and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2009), Darryl recently wrote a children's book, "Darryl's Dream" (2022) about his experience as a third grader, embracing his creativity and confidence and finding his voice. It's all about the topic of belonging!This season, in addition to our regular episodes with and for kids, we are including bonus interviews with luminaries like Darryl to dive into the social and emotional topics we explore on the Little Kids, Big Hearts podcast. We hope parents and caregivers love ❤️ these conversations as much as we do. Find more resources and activities to keep the learning going online at playsparkler.org/podcast.
12/8/202333 minutes, 20 seconds
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We Belong — With Alexis Michelle

Belonging — being who you are and being accepted and embraced for who you are — is important for children and for all people.In this episode four kids (Providence, River, Valencia, and Yonatan) discuss what it means to belong — and how to grow feelings of belonging. The kids and Todd then go on an imaginary journey to the Land of Qook-a-lackas, where they meet with a Qook-a-lacka named Quinnie, who needs help figuring out how to help the Link-a-doos, who are coming to the Land as refugees after a superstorm hit their Island. On this episode, the role of Quinnie the Qook-a-lacka is played by Alexis Michelle. Alexis Michelle is a performer from New York City, most recently seen on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 8 (Paramount), finishing in the top 4! The original song in the episode, "Just as You Are!" is written and performed by composer and educator Benjamin Weiner. Sound design and mixing is by Ahmed Ashour, and the ukulele music you hear is by actor and composer Bill English. Find more resources and activities to keep the learning going online at playsparkler.org/podcast.
12/1/202335 minutes, 17 seconds
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Bonus: Imagination Interview with "Not a Box" Author/Illustrator, Antoinette Portis

On last week's episode, "Imagination Time!," we flexed our imagination muscles with three kids — Shaelan, Sameia and Hunter. After recording, our host — Todd Loyd — was lucky to explore the power of imagination with Antoinette Portis, the award winning author/illustrator of "Not a Box" and many other modern classics in children's picture books. This conversation with Antoinette will help parents and caregivers learn more about where imagination and inspiration come from. It will help them think about how to learn FROM kids about using their imaginations to change the world. This season, in addition to our regular episodes with and for kids, we are including bonus interviews with luminaries like Antoinette to dive into the social and emotional topics we explore on Little Kids, Big Hearts. We hope parents and caregivers love ❤️ these conversations as much as we do.  Antoinette made her picture-book debut with the New York Times best-selling "Not A Box," an American Library Association Seuss Geisel Honor book, and one of the New York Times Ten Best Illustrated Books of the Year. She was a recipient of the 2010 Sendak Fellowship. Antoinette got a BFA at the UCLA School of Fine Arts and then spent years in the world of design and advertising. She was a creative director, then a VP, at Disney before she took a flying leap to pursue her sixth-grade dream of writing and illustrating picture books.Find more resources and activities to keep the learning going online at playsparkler.org/podcast.
11/10/202325 minutes, 27 seconds
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Imagination Time!

Using our imaginations might seem like a basic part of childhood, but imagination plays an important role in childhood and in life: it builds creativity and independence, social and problem-solving skills, teamwork and empathy. In this episode — the first in Season 3! — three kids (Shaelan, Sameia and Hunter) discuss the power of imagination with host Todd Loyd. Then they journey together to the Land of Qook-a-lackas at the invitation of the Qook-a-lacka Mayor, who needs help imagining a new playground for the Qook-a-leekies. On this episode, the role of the Mayor is played by Nadiyah Dorsey. a veteran of stage and screen. The original song, "You Can Use Your Imagination!" is written and mixed by composer and educator Benjamin Weiner. Sound design and mixing is by Ahmed Ashour, and the ukulele music you hear is by actor and composer Bill English. Find more resources and activities to keep the learning going online at playsparkler.org/podcast.
11/3/202332 minutes, 17 seconds