What Fred Rogers Taught Me: 3 Clues to an Effective Socio-Emotional Show – Welcome to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood by Angela Santomero

BonBon Break



My newest baby (project) is a cute, little tiger named Daniel.  My passion is to create quality shows for kids which are drenched in the very best preschool curriculum.  Mister Rogers Neighborhood was a pinnacle of quality and set a standard for what children’s television needs to be.


But a new show based on his curriculum?  What would that be like?  I started with the three clues that Fred taught me and wrote the first show from there:


Clue#1:  Put Kids First

In my life as a mom and as a creator of children’s media, I stand by this sentiment.  Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood has been written from the 4 year old’s perspective.  All of the four year old angst (“I want to carry my own birthday cake!”), strong feelings (“But I want to bring sand inside the house to make an inside beach!”) and loving ways (“It’s you I like”).  Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is all about celebrating the preschooler in all of us.


Clue #2:  Sing!

Ask any preschool teacher and they will tell you, “If you sing it, they will do it with a smile on their face!”  So, it’s no surprise that we have created little musical strategies that will happily get stuck in your head (I’m telling you, you will be singing them in the shower!)


The strategies we give on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood are carefully constructed to give children the words they need to express their feelings and deal constructively with life’s little lessons.  For grownups, my hope is that we feel armed with information and words to use to get on our children’s level at these key times.


What do you say to a preschooler who is so mad he wants to bite?  When you feel so mad you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four. 


What about when your four year old gives you the puppy dog eyes as you leave her at preschool?  Grownups come back.


How about when they wanted to carry their own birthday cake all the way home only to find out that it is now smushed?  When something seems bad, turn it around, and find something good. 


We have one for the potty, for sharing, for cleaning up, for a morning routine, a nighttime routine, and my favorite: a gratitude one for “Thank You Day”.


Clue#3:  Be Empathetic

This Labor Day Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood will finally premiere.  All of my shows have premiered on Labor Day, which to me, is completely appropriate – it is a labor to birth a show.  But I’m so passionate about getting our show out there because I believe that if every child and parent had the empathetic communication curriculum that Fred Rogers has been creating for the past 40 years, the world would be a better place.  Daniel Tiger is all about love, respect, empathy and caring.  We believe that the more we model and teach empathy, the better off we will be.


About Angela: Angela has been changing the way children watch TV for over 15 years. She is a Founding Partner & Chief Creative Officer of Out of the Blue Enterprises LLC, overseeing all creative development with the vision to bring educational entertainment to a whole new level.

Angela Santomero is the Lead Creator, Executive Producer and Head Writer for Nick Jr.’s landmark preschool show Blue’s Clues. Malcolm Gladwell referred to it as “One of the stickiest TV shows EVER made” in his book, The Tipping Point. Her ability to integrate education, entertainment & active participation helped make Blue’s Clues a breakthrough program. Currently, Angela is the Creator, Executive Producer & Head Writer of the emmy-nominated and #1 ranked preschool show, Super Why!, which helps build literacy skills through fractured fairytales & interactive games. She is unveiling her latest, (the Mister Rogers’ spin off) Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood this week. She presently hosts PBS’ The Parent Show at PBSparents.org.

Angela is a Peabody Award Winner for Outstanding Children’s Programming, a Gold & Silver Parents Choice Awards recipient & has been nominated for over 35 Emmy Awards. Her blog, AngelasClues.com, approaches Parenting from her vantage point as a successful childrens’ media creator, to assist parents with the most important job of all!

For more information on parenting, kids & media, join Angela over on her blog at or viaTwitterFacebook or Pinterest.


This piece was written by Angela Santomero of Angela’s Clues exclusively for Bonbon Break Media, LLC