I’ve made a great discovery!
Spectacular visuals; charming, fun-to-sing lyrics; and toe-tapping music all packed into a children’s video. Is this for real? Yes! And you and your grands will watch them over and over and over again.
This is a departure for me.
Not something I usually promote, when writing about school readiness. My experience has been that most children’s videos are nothing more than passive activity. When I saw the Sea Tunes for Kids video playing at a store recently, I was intrigued. Enough to come home, order it and watch it with one of my 3½ year old grandsons. Then, sent one to my other 3½ year old grandson and his 7 year old sister. Well, we’re all hooked! (Pun intended.) According to my son, his children were captivated by the video, loved the music and quickly learned the lyrics.
Let me tell you why this is such a different children’s video; it’s just one of the Fun Tunes for Kids series. The up-close photography is amazing! The underwater footage is incredible. Unusual sea creatures right in front of you on the screen, as if you could reach out and touch them. Yes, there are fabulous videos of octopus, whales, dolphins, tortoise, puffer fish and all the others you probably know. But ever heard of a lion fish, leafy seahorse or nautilus?
That’s not all. Enchanting lyrics are quickly learned and great fun to sing; the rhythm is easy to follow. Everyone will have their favorites. We love ‘Billy the Squid’ and ‘When You Find a Manatee in Your Bathtub’ (Sea Tunes), while ‘There Ain’t No Bugs on Me’ (Bear Tunes), ‘Backpack Tree’ (Moose Tunes) and ‘When A Horse Walks into Your Birthday Party’ (Horse Tunes) are more of our favorite segments.
The stunning pictures captured our attention immediately and both of us kept saying, “Wow, look at that!”… all the while tapping our feet to the accompanying music. After viewing and listening to Seriously Silly Songs, a compilation of DVDs, I asked my grandson what he liked best. His reply? “I liked them all!”
Singer/songwriter Brent Holmes has great fun dressing in costumes throughout his series entitled ‘Island Tunes for Kids’ and ‘Cow Tunes for Kids’ with appropriate backdrops and songs about the islands of Hawaii, the Caribbean and the Bahamas. I chuckled, when he appeared on screen in his island outfits and saw the humorous props. The silliness of ‘A cow in striped pajamas dancing in the Bahamas’ and ‘Welcome to Bermooda’ kept me smiling throughout the DVD.
What about school readiness?
School readiness is encouraged by exposing children to a range of experiences and skills. This series offers many ways to extend children’s learning opportunities.
Intriguing story lines, colorful song characters and silly, vivid language throughout the series will engage children from toddlers to elementary school. Manatees in the bathtub? Horses at a birthday party? What a delightful introduction to storytelling, play acting and imaginative play. As I wrote in my January/February GRAND digital magazine column, imagination is the engine of ideas , quoting Einstein, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Pre-Reading and Language Development
Ever heard of ‘phonological awareness’? It’s when children develop an ear for the way words sound; can identify different sounds; and can identify groups of sounds in words. These auditory skills in addition to developing listening skills are key pre-reading skills.
Poems and rhyming song verses use words to paint “word pictures”; the lyrics in these videos activate that awareness. The rhythm of songs, poems and rhymes help children remember words and develop an appreciation for rhyme and rhythm…both of which build memory and auditory skills necessary for language development and reading.
While you sing, play and act out these silly songs (as well as standard nursery rhymes) together, you convey to your grands that sounds make words and words are fun! Making learning fun is what sparks children’s continued interest in discovering new knowledge and skills.
Try these extended learning activities.
Children are inherently curious about animals and sea creatures and get such enjoyment out of singing silly songs! Multiple layers to these videos provide extended learning opportunities with your grands. Activity suggestions based on the wildlife videos, music and lyrics will help expand their vocabulary, too!
Art (Pre-Reading and Pre-Writing): Draw or paint different animals, their homes in nature and what they eat. Using crayons, pencils, markers and paint brushes helps develop fine motor skills and strengthens hands for printing and writing. Art is about shapes and letters are shapes. Telling about what he/she has drawn or painted associates pictures with words.
Dramatic Play (Self-Expression, Self-Confidence, Problem Solving, Exploring Concepts): Act out how different animals/sea creatures move and eat and the sounds they make. Engage in pretend/imaginative play as those animals. Follow up on silly song lyrics, such as “What would you do, if you found a moose in our car, a manatee in the bathtub or a horse walked into your birthday party?”
Reading Books (Pre-Reading, Language Development): Learn more about each of the animals featured in the videos and the songs. If your grand is a horse nut, help her find five new facts about horses. Discover what are manatees, leafy sea horses and the many other unusual sea creatures featured in the Sea Tunes DVD. Find out how moose live in the wild and what baby moose are called. Where and how do horses, bears and moose sleep? Did you know whales love to sing?
Music and Movement (Small and Large Muscle Development): Children take to music naturally. Moving to music is great physical activity, developing small and large muscles and coordination. Music helps develop memory and listening skills. Get up and move to fast/slow music like one of the animals or sea creatures would walk, run, crawl, swim. Sing like a whale or as soft as a kitten. Move all parts of your body as you take bear or moose steps. Crawl slowly like a lobster or crab. Gallop like a foal on a Spring day. Move through the water like a jellyfish or octopus.
I have had a great time discovering many new and interesting living things watching these videos with my grandson . And, we’ve had lots of laughs singing the silly lyrics together. That’s a great lesson to share with your grands. Point out the new things you learn from whatever source – delving into a new hobby, researching a special interest, searching the internet with a question or taking a class. Let them know that even at your age, there still are lots of fun and interesting things to learn. If a child is encouraged to be curious, he/she continues to explore and discover. And that is the essence of school readiness.
For more information about these exciting children’s DVDs and CDs, go to the Fun Tune for Kids website here.
For all kinds of fun and crazy facts about animals and sea creatures, go to the Science Kids website here and the Nat Geo website here.