The original series sought to illustrate themes of common virtues through well-known international heroes and stories, based on the Book of Virtues collected and edited by conservative commentator and former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett. The core audience were families with children who were between the ages of 2 and 9 years old.
Zach and Annie learn various life lessons from their friends Plato the bison, Aurora the red-tailed hawk, Aristotle the prairie dog, and Socrates the bobcat. These lessons are told in the form of animated segments based on stories from a varitey of sources including The Bible, fairy tales, fables, mythology, and folk stories from different cultures.
A thunderstorm strikes the forest, knocking a tree into the Rainbowl river. Zach and Annie volunteer to clean it out, along with Plato, Ari, and Aurora, but Sock isn't interested in helping. Plato tells him the story "How the Camel Got His Hump", where another beast's how not working gave him trouble, and "Tom Sawyer Gives Up the Brush", where it was learned that working is more enjoyable than laziness.
Episode 2: Honesty
Zach is sorely tempted to touch his father's beautiful antique camera, despite promising not to - and when he does, he breaks it and lies that it fell off its display table naturally. Plato tries to convince Zach to tell the truth by telling him the stories of "The Frog Prince", where the title character received a punishment for lying and "George Washington and the Cherry Tree", whose protagonist too broke something he promised to guard but learned his lesson in a different way. Annie even tells a family tale of "The Indian Cinderella", where a Native American warrior only wished for an honest companion. Even the poem "Truth" shows how good it is to be seen and how much joy it can give through life.
Episode 3: Responsibility
Annie agrees to put her brand-new bike to good use by delivering cakes from her mother's bakery, but can't resist Zach's offer to race - and is angry with him when her bike crashes and the food is ruined. Plato and Aurora try to convince her that responsibility is always handy to keep around as shown in "Icarus and Dedalus" where a boy had too little responsibility to obey his father and paid for it, or "King Alfred and the Cakes" where even a renowned English ruler was forced to admit he neglected his simple duty. Ari tells "The Chest of Broken Glass", where a mother reminds her family what rewards responsibility versus irresponsibility bring and how much can be owed to those in a family. Even the poem "If You Were" sums up what responsibility everyone has to humanity for making the world better.
Episode 4: Compassion
Emile Zigrodny, a classmate Zach barely knows, loses his house in a fire, and Zach is hesitant to show him support since their first meeting would be his giving charity. Plato and the others try to push him in the right direction by pointing out that anyone can be kind since even the least-likely are capable of it as shown in the Biblical story "The Good Samaritan". They encourage him that anyone can make a difference no matter how young by reading "The Legend of the Dipper", or how it proved to have lasting effects for the giver and the receiver in "Androcles and the Lion". Even the poem "The New Colossus" shows what many hope America and all people should be to the needy.
Episode 5: Courage
Annie is defeated badly by a formidable opponent in a hurdles race, and her confidence leaves her after that. Plato tries to help her get her it back by telling the story of "Theseus and The Minotaur", where an opportunity was taken to protect people in spite of the danger, and of William Tell, who put plenty at risk for his own sake and others'. When Zach acts confident, Ari points out to them both that different levels of courage are needed in different situations, as shown in "The Brave Mice". Even the poem "If" is read as a reminder about how much courage life demands all in all.
Episode 6: Self-Discipline
Zach offers Annie and all the others favors for money since he wants to buy a new game and can't get an allowance-raise at home. Plato urges him to remember that waiting pays off, as shown in "The Magic Thread" where a boy learned that experiencing only the good moments in life didn't turn out as he expected, and Aurora points out how wanting something too badly leads to pain, as shown in "The Golden Touch". When Zach later reveals that he got into a fight with his mom about not giving him more money and said something hurtful, she also mentions how painful a short temper is for the one with the temper by reciting "The King and His Hawk" where even Genghis Kahn didn't control his enough to not regret his actions later. Even a set of Bible verses from Ecclesiates points out that "To Everything There is a Season".
Episode 7: Friendship
Annie is disheartened when her recently-made friend Julie decides to choose a partner other than her on their school field trip canoing, even though she agreed to pair up with her. Plato points out that friendship can take a lot of strength to build but it takes more to get through life without it by telling "Why Frog=child and Snake-child Never Play Together", where two creatures regret the lack of friendship in their lives. "Waukewa's Egale" shows how compassion is occasionally found in real friendships by a Native American's relationship with a bird, and he reminds her of just how much true friendship is worth, as proved in "Damon and Pythias", where two best friends put ultimate trust in one another. Even the poem "New Friends and Old Friends" sets a good example of how long friendship should last.
Episode 8: Loyalty
Zach enjoys birdwatching with a man from town, but in climbing on a plaque to get up to a tree he breaks it and doesn't get why Mr. Cleveland is so worked up over it. Plato explains the meaning of one of the words on it, "loyalty", by telling the stories of "Yudisthira at Heaven's Gate", where a king is challenged to choose between a companion and his dreams, and "The Cap That Mother Made", where a boy is tempted with great things for something he values. When Plato remembers that the plaque was a war memorial and Zach remembers that Mr. Cleveland knew someone who died there, he also brings up the story of the Jewess Persian queen Esther, who had to make the choice of risking life itself if she wished to save her own people. Even the poem "The Thousandth Man", shows how strong and great true loyalty is.
Episode 9: Respect
Zach and Annie are building a go-cart out of scraps from a friend's junkyard, but don't strike gold with every piece they find right away, and are ready to blame Jake Jeeters when he kicks them out after they yell at him. Plato hears their complaints and points out that manners leave a lasting impression, just as they did in the story "Please", and that the results for using and not using them are different by reading "Diamonds and Toads".
Annie is saddened when her faith-devoted neighbor and friend Ruth passes away, and wonders whether faith is really wroth it because of that. Plato tries to convince her that it is very much worth it by telling the stories of the Hebrew Daniel in the lions' den, who looked to faith always and saw how times of trouble caused it to prove strong, and Harriet Tubman's determination to use faith to continue taking risks throughout her life. Even the 23rd Psalm is a good example of why there's enough reason for faith to live throughout life.
Episode 2: Humility
Annie is delighted to win the class presidency, but upon receiving it becomes proud of her position, creating conflicts with other students and teachers. Plato reminds her that a ruler's not swallowing pride often brings a painful fall to humiliation as proved in "The Emperor's New Clothes". On the other hand, "King Canute at the Seashore" is noted as a reminder of how humility is a good thing for anybody but especially those trusted with power, but the mistakes made by a noble-blooded youth who thought only of what he could do with his brought suffering to many in "Phaeton". Even the Serenity Prayer is read as a reminder of how much peace humility can bring.
Episode 3: Generosity
Plato learns that Annie and Zach are collecting canned goods for a homeless shelter, but their first priority is the rewards they'll get instead of helping the hungry. He tries to explain how true giving requires selflessness, as shown in the story of "Rocking-Horse Land" where it's done between friends, and how it can be more satisfactory than receiving by telling "Old Man Rabbit's Thanksgiving Dinner". "The Gift of the Magi" is read as a reminder that even the thought of attempting to give something helps since it's the thought that counts. Even the poem "Count That Day Lost" is read as a reminder of exactly what giving, in any form, is worth in life.
Episode 4: Perseverance
Zach and Annie have been taking lessons in karate and guitar, respectively, but now decide they don't want to stay in them anymore. Plato tries to remind them of how rewarding persistence can be by telling the stories of "Scarface", about a Native American warrior who was rewarded based on how hard he tried for something he wanted, and "The Stars in the Sky", where a girl learned how pleasing staying with a goal was afterward. A Greek hero's story in "Ulysses and Cyclops" proved how important tenacity is in times of trouble. Even the poem "You Mustn't Quit" shows how important perseverance is through life.
Episode 5: Trustworthiness
Zach is excited that a college football player he has as his role model will attend his school pep rally, so volunteers to help out in order to meet him. But he doesn't think cleaning up for the assembly is worth it, and is prepared to go back on his word. Meanwhile, Sock is reluctant to help Ari find his misplaced glasses as promised because of his fear of tunnels. Plato explains that character is shown by letting actions compare to words as shown in "The Bear and the Travellers", where a badger learned of his companion's nature in a bad time, and in "The Knights of the Silver Shield" where one was rewarded based on his choices on how to see his job completed.
Episode 6: Determination
Episode 7: Integrity
Annie gets more orders for her craft weathervanes than she can deliver right away, so rushes through them to sell them on time - then gets complaints about how they're dysfunctional. Plato encourages her to consider what the results show by telling "For Want of a Horseshoe Nail", where one incomplete task led to a remarkably high amount of trouble, and "Charlemagne and the Robber Knight", where an English king's thoughtfulness in how to deal with people proved life-saving.
Episode 8: Gratitude
Episode 9: Selflessness
Annie's enthusiasm about her family's upcoming spring vacation doesn't last when she learns her mother wants her to be a part-time sitter for her little cousins. Plato tries to explain how helping out can bring rewards, as shown in "The Line of Golden Light", or should at least bring joy, as it did to a knight in "St. George and the Dragon".
Annie volunteers to tutor a younger student in math, but grows openly frustrated with him when it doesn't turn out as easy as she hoped, then regrets her offer to help to begin with. Plato tries to convince her that patience can make a difference, just like it did with another teacher, Anne Sullivan, who was forced to test every bit of hers to help her pupil, Helen Kellar. He also shows how swallowing impatience in front of others brings satisfaction in "How the Brazilian Beetles Got Their Coats".
Episode 2: Charity
Annie and Zach are saddened to see some families in town don't have any heat or warm clothes for the cold winter, and wish someone could help. Plato explains how anyone can make a difference and even tells them the story of how a monk's giving to those in need was enough reward for him throughout his life in "The Emerald Lizard". The two are eager to donate many clothes to the families who need them, and Annie is even willing to offer her favorite coat - but soon wishes she never had done that. Hoping to bring out the satisfaction for her that everyone should feel after giving, Plato tells the story "Mr. Straw", where a poor man felt wealth through generosity to others.
Episode 3: Leadership
Zach doesn't think much of his football captain, until he's elected to the job himself and sees how hard it is to lead. Plato tries to encourage him how to make the job work by telling "The Tower to the Moon", where selflessness was needed to guide people through a task, and "The Gourdian Knot", where the ability to think clearly was needed before any glory.
Episode 4: Citizenship
Annie is disappointed that her family's vacation is postponed since her father has jury duty, and wonders why he simply doesn't skip it. Plato explains citizenship can reward good character, as shown in "The Stone in the Road" where those with and without it are repaid accordingly, and even if it doesn't, can make differences for the better, as a Roman demonstrates in "Cincinnatus" by leading when and how he believes he must during war.
Season 3, Episode 5: Diligence
Episode 6: Moderation
Annie wants to play baseball so works hard at it, but starts to spend too little time on schoolwork. Plato points out that involving too much in something doesn't mean it brings reward, as a creature learns in "The Spider's Two Feasts" where determination to take much forced him to make a decision he didn't handle well, and a farmer learns in "The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg", where working too hard for something and not thinking of anything else proved disappointing.
Episode 7: Wisdom
Episode 8: Courage
Zach is asked to deliver his father's film to the film laboratory, but is distracted on the way and chooses to go hiking first - then is trapped by a steep wall. Ari and Sock arrive with a rope after they find him, and while helping him, tell him the story of "Jack and the Beantalk" to help him face his obstacle - and his problem of admitting he missed the opportunity to do his work.
Episode 9: Honesty
Annie agrees to give Zach $15 if he'll paint her fence for her, but later is reluctant to pay up. Plato tells the story of "The Pied Piper" as a reminder of how those who don't keep their word usually end up paying a higher price for dishonor than they would otherwise.
Episode 10: Work
Annie chooses to build an electric motor for her science project but has a tough time with it so is ready to quit. Plato reminds her of a pair who wanted to build a machine but had to put a lot of effort into making the first airplane in "The Wright Brothers".
Racing with Zach in the woods, Annie is quickly outrun and is unhappy enough about it to want to quit when she runs into Plato and the others. They remind her of another racer whose odds were against him but managed to win something even greater than a race when he persisted in "The Tortoise and the Hare".
Episode 2: Friendship
Zach's new track-teammate is so skilled, Zach thinks he has to compete with him rather than try to befriend him. Plato points out that friends are interesting people since they can come from anywhere, and proves it by telling the story of another pair of rivals who ended up friends in "Robin Hood and Little John".
Episode 3: Self-Discipline
Zach spends too much time playing a video-game when he should be reading his scout manual, so isn't ready for their campout. Plato reminds him too much of a good thing can hurt, as shown in "The Dancing Horses of Sybaris", where a whole community ended up suffering because they put pleasure before work.
Episode 4: Responsibility
Annie is left to tend her uncle and aunt's garden, but is distracted by an invitation to play ball with some friends, so neglects it badly. Plato recites the poem "The Pupil in Magic" as a reminder that not taking care of duties quickly leads to trouble, as learned by a magician's apprentice whose trick of transforming a broom to carry water for him caused chaos.
Annie is glum when she gets a postcard from a New York friend and wishes she lived somewhere more interesting like New York. Plato points out that Spring Valley has its fair share of advantages and tells the story of "The Country Mouse and the City Mouse", where a creature becomes grateful for the plain and routine home he has for its safety.
Episode 6: Moderation
When a new TV channel showing all the most popular movies airs, Zach promises his family he'll keep doing well in his work at school and at home if he watches it, but is unable to keep his promise. Plato reminds him that moderation is a good way to live, proved in "The Cat and The Parrot", where a greedy animal gained nothing but trouble from his indulgence.
Season 4, Episode 7: Humility
After boasting about how good she is at snowboarding, Annie feels bold enough to take a dare to ride down Dedfall Bluff, without thinking of the dangers it might bring. Nobody can convince her to change her mind, until Plato tells the story of "Pecos Bill and Slue-Foot Sue", where a foolhardy risk led to a bad situation.
Episode 8: Integrity
Zach's dad brings a model replica of an artifact from Egypt for him to use on his history project, but Zach is embarrassed that it's fake and claims it's a real artifact - then trouble occurs when his teacher wonders if he can put it on display at a museum. Plato reminds him that exaggerating tall tales never pay off, as another found out in "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" when he wasn't believed even when he was truthful since he had a habit of lying.
Episode 9: Compassion: Part 1
Annie is elected to be president of the drama club just in time for the Christmas pageant, but soon becomes obsessed with how much money will be made so forgets about the point of the message the play is trying to send. She has several confusing dreams that she's taken on the role of Scrooge from "A Christmas Carol".
Episode 10: Compassion: Part 2
Annie mentions her dreams to Plato, who reads "A Christmas Carol" to explain what they tell her - and remind that throughout the year, but especially at Christmas, giving to others is the greatest gift to give and the greatest reward.