Make It Big, Make It Small is one of two Canadian kids shows that make their debut on HBO Max this weekend, and from the first seconds of this adventure-crafting hybrid series, we knew it would be a winner. Why? Because the kids who host the show, Jenny Stevens and Lucas Dufor — imagine this — act like real kids. Read on to see if this is something you’ll want to watch with your little ones.
Opening Shot: We’re introduced to Jenny Stevens and Lucas Dufor, our kid hosts. They meet one of their adult crafting friends, Lisa Carnwith, at Niagra Falls.
The Gist: In each episode of Make It Big, Make It Small, Jenny and Lucas go one one sort of adventure or another, usually on a pretty large scale. Then they work with crafters like Carnwith and Jackie Farquhar to create cool craft projects based on their adventures.
The first episode takes the kids to Niagra Falls, where Carnwith gives them a lot of facts about the falls. They both seem to be amazed at how much water goes over the falls per minute (millions of showers worth), but Jenny is especially interested in the fact that people have gone over the falls in a barrel. Then the trio go on Maid of the Mist, where they experience how much wind and current the falls kick up as they get a close-up, very wet view. They also go in a tunnel behind the falls.
Then they work with Jackie to make a fountain made from clay flower pots. A pump with a long stem, four pots and some decorative rocks and plants are added, and the kids paint a couple of the pots. “It’s like a mini, mini, mini, mini, mini, mini Niagra Falls,” says Jenny, though she may have thrown in a few more minis.
Jenny and Lucas then visit the Niagra butterfly conservatory, where they learn the names of a few species, like the Postman, whose red stripes on each wing look like a epaulets on a postman’s uniform. They also find out that butterflies like the saltiness in people’s sweat, but also like sweet things, like nectar and fruit.
In the craft room, the kids work with Jackie to make a mosaic butterfly feeder. They cut a butterfly pattern to trace onto a clay plate, then put down tile pieces, glue them in place, then add grout.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of?Make It Big, Make It Small is a fun hybrid of a kids travel show and a kids crafting show. Not sure if there are any comparisons that can be made.
Our Take: It’s not a stretch to say a show like Make It Big, Make It Small really depends on the kids who star in it. Jenny and Lucas are our favorite things about the show, mainly because they’re funny and friendly, but act like kids. They both have their interests, and they both are a tiny bit awkward – we love Jenny’s nerdiness and glasses collection — but they’re very curious and love to learn. And when kids see kids who love to learn, that rubs off on them.
The adventure aspect will hopefully encourage kids to want to explore their world when this lockdown is over. Jenny and Lucas get to ride roller coasters, visit museums, do indoor sky diving, learn to blow glass, learn 3D printing and more. We’re all in favor of taking kids as many places as possible where they can learn and explore, and we think seeing kids themselves do the exploring, as opposed to adult children like Blippi [shudder], reinforces that desire in kids’ minds.
The crafts are a mite too complicated to show in these five-minute segments; it seems like a lot of the more involved steps are already done before Jenny and Lucas even enter the craft room. But it’s a fun way to illustrate how a kid can take their experiences in the outside world and translate them to something crafty and interesting.
What Age Group Is This For?: The show is rated TV-Y7, and that feels about right; kids under 7 may be interested, but 7 seems to be a good age for kids to really get engaged with this material.
Parting Shot: Jenny, Lucas and Jackie put oranges and oregano leaves in the already-completed butterfly feeder to go and, well, feed some butterflies.
Sleeper Star: This is where we mention that Jackie went way up on our cool meter when we saw that she had a tattoo of the Atari logo on her shoulder.
Most Pilot-y Line: Some of the banter between the kids and adults on location sounds a bit scripted, but that’s to be expected on a show like this. Kids won’t even notice that kind of stuff.
Our Call: STREAM IT. Make It Big, Make It Small will inspire your kids to explore their worlds, as well as maybe do some crafts that are very cool.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.