Rhyme – Rewind – Recollections – Ruminations – Review
My earliest memories of a nursery rhyme goes back to teacher Collins in Lower KG ferrying us into a classroom and having us listen to “How Much Is That Doggie At The Window?”
How much Is that doggie at the window?
Bow – Bow…
The one with the waggley tail…
How much is that doggie at the window?
I do hope that doggie’s for sale!
Okay I got carried away in that! I have faint fading memories of a classroom full of wooden benches and toys, a rocking horse and a very strict Teacher Collins who we grew up to fear even in high school. Back in the day Convent education started early and even as Teacher Collins magically transformed into Santa Claus every Christmas riding us toffees on a bike, her persona through the rest of the year scared me to death and back!
I must have learnt the usual bunch of Mother Goose Rhymes but then as the ‘Little Blue Song Book’ took over, most of my growing up tunes comprised of 5 Hundred Miles & Colours in the Rainbow. Rhymes receded into the unknown folds of kindergarten memories, never to be visited again until the moment when I became a mother!
Three decades later, I found myself at a loss of tunes as I tried to nurse, soothe and put my new born to sleep. Having been the voracious reader that I was, I had already started talking to the baby after the 17th week, knowing well that the Googly (the baby as we called him in the womb) was listening to his mum’s voice. But singing? What could I possibly sing? I hummed old Hindi film songs, the ones my father put me to sleep with. They worked! So the song list became a huge hit! While the bedtime songs worked, I worked on putting together another play list of songs to keep the boy awake. Having a new born doze off to sleep in the middle of a feed, or have less playful hours or cranky bath sessions meant I had to reinvent the wheel and come up with new distractions. And that is when the world of nursery rhymes came rushing back into my life once again!
However, like with everything else that came with motherhood, my sense of research and studies on rhymes and children’s songs took a diametric turn towards discovery and revelation! For example, did you know that Humpty Dumpty has several interpretations and allusions through history and literature? Popular perception attributes the anthropomorphic egg to King Richard III who had a humpback and lost a battle despite having an army. Another reference is to the city wall of the British town Colchester. The wall that was called Humpty Dumpty that crumbled under the heavy weight of its own cannon. Despite having men and armies, the wall could never be resurrected. At another point I discovered that Ringa-Ringa-Roses referred to the London Plague of 1665 that caused many deaths, particularly children. And so suddenly one day, from a young mother buried under excessive research, I decided to keep things simple.
Peppy, animated and easy to sing (with complete abandon & no regard for pitch or scale), nursery rhymes soon took over my preferred choice of music for varied activities. I would hum, sing and animate rhymes with actions and movement for my infant to watch with is eyes open wide. His tel maalish before his bath would be exactly five minutes and in all that massaging, tugging and squeezing I would sing One, Two, Buckle My Shoe. Bedtime rituals included Go to Sleep My Baby followed by the classic Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
As V grew up, we brought home our first iPad and while the father and mother customized the shared device with apps of our choice, we also looked at justifying the purchase by saying it would be so useful for the child! And that was the beginning of a terrible mistake that we made early on. V was only about a year old when we showed him his first experiential nursery rhyme on an app. Touch and tap and the stars moved, tap the cow and its moo-ed, tap the garbage can and the cat peeped out! To a little boy this was nothing less than magic. And then began the tantrums! Much to our horror, V would throw a fit if we didn’t show him the iPad and we were at a loss of ideas. All it took was a firm NO and an immediate disappearance of the gadget from all our lives. We used it only when V was asleep and removed it from his universe completely!
Did he miss out on rhymes then?
Oh no! For his humour and our play I downloaded songs from YouTube and put them on a pen drive to play on the television. With most of them being action based songs, every day we had a gala time putting our hands, feet and bodies moving.
The YouTube is an exhaustive resource of songs, rhymes and animated stories for children. I usually have a host of international channels subscriptions and downloads for the now rationed digital experiences that V has. Unfortunately, I have found very few Indian productions that meet the basic levels of quality. With poor pronunciation, music production and uninspiring animation, I have mostly stayed away from indigenous playlists and channels.
First as a parent and now as a storyteller I work very closely with children of all ages. With my own being a 3 year old bubbling toddler, I continue to work with young children. My Busy Bubs Happy Program is meant for the younglings, with toddlers as young 18 months attending my sessions with their mums. Children have a keen sense of music and it is always the one thing that perks up every session. Between a story and rhyme, songs and activities each session has a carefully knitted experience for the child. So if I read the book Goodnight Moon, we do the Twinkle Twinkle song with actions. Resources like Kids Hut then act as a complementary aid taking the experience to the next level of audio-visual stimulation where the child sees something familiar and learns to make connections. Now imagine explaining to a child why the moon shines!
V and I spent our morning going over the Kids Hut playlist in detail. We went over the rhymes that we all so love, with Wheels On The Bus inspiring us to sing it with actions.
Head and Shoulders is another ditty that inspires us to get up and flex our muscles. Try raising the tempo of the song and it will have all the adults huffing and puffing!
Old MacDonald is a favourite that has been passed down almost like a family heirloom to us, with each generation loving the song as much. So no matter how many versions we have heard, there is always a fresh one at disposal.
I am still very traditional when it comes to bedtime stories, so as a rule I always refrain from any digital experience at bedtime. My stories are audio-visual all right, but that includes reading a book and me animating it with my telling. I always advise parents that videos like these are great teaching aids to pick and learn how to tell a story. So maybe, you can take cue and show these stories anytime in the day and just restrain it to simple telling at bedtime. J
What I really like about the Kids Hut stories is that they have created the lovely brother-sister characters of Tofu & Tia where the latter being the older sister very gently weaves in stories to explain simple concepts and morals. After all, that’s what stories do?
Take the 3 Little Pigs for example. The story is a classic that almost everyone has heard of. Tia explains the concept of resourcefulness through the story of 3 Little Pigs and how finding a solution is not always tough!
If I were to weave in a lesson in the story, I would also try and teach a child about objects and weights. Making stories experiential have a better connect with children.
It was only very recently that I told V the story of Red Riding Hood. He also happened to hear a version of the story in school. In my telling I had the wolf lock up the old grandmother in a wooden cupboard. The thought of an animal wolfing down a grandmother could be a potential source of nightmare and so I changed it. In the school V heard the other version and the Kids Hut story has the same mention.
When I asked V to retell the story, his wolf ate up the grandmother too! There is just as much as we can tell our children!
Most of what we browsed in the channel is fairly good, especially the Tia & Tofu series of stories and ‘Things you want to know’. Some videos disappoint in terms of music and animation, falling into the trap of unimaginative and repetitive animation. Every Wednesday and Friday there would be new videos up on the channel. So pick and choose what you and your child like.
Kids Hut gets a satisfied 3-thumbs up from V and his Amma.
We would like to know what you thought of the Kids Hut YouTube Channel. Which are the videos that you liked and what did you think of the stories?
Thank you BlogAdda and Kids Hut bringing this opportunity to bloggers.