“Azure!” my preschooler exclaimed the other day. “Azure means blue in Spanish,” she quickly added.
“That’s right,” I told her.
“Dora taught me that,” she pointed out.
My oldest was born with a brilliant mind for argument (she takes after her Daddy) and is always trying to make the case for one more story at bedtime, why I should play with her dollhouse with her (again) and, of course, why TV doesn’t cause brain rot.
The poor child, through no fault of her own (it’s just the luck of the draw, kiddo), has a TV-hating mother. I’ve never liked the boob tube. In college, I had to be the only co-ed who had never seen an episode of Friends. Ironic that I ended up as a intern at NBC Entertainment in Burbank, California and was actually partially responsible for promoting shows I cared very little about. It’s not that I think all television is bad (my husband and I did become addicted to 24, and I tune into Fox News and the Food Network every now and then). It’s just that there are a lot of things I’d rather be doing than watching television. Like reading, sleeping, running, walking, baking, journaling, blogging, and even cleaning. I’m an odd bird.
I just can’t figure out why my 4-year-old doesn’t feel the same way. Oh, she loves to play. She loves looking at books and stretching her legs in the sun, but the girl also can’t get enough television. It’s her drug of choice and she gets all antsy when she hasn’t had a fix for awhile.
It’s not all that surprising that some of my fellow moms gently suggested that maybe, just maybe if I wasn’t so militant about her not watching TV, she’d lose interest in vegging out in front of the screen.
Everything in moderation, right?
So I started allowing a little bit of screen time (educational programs only) every day and even designated Saturday morning as family movie time, and I admit that since our third baby was born I’ve relied on television in the afternoons when I’ve desperately needed just a moment to zone out. But I still don’t like it. I don’t like watching my kids watching furry monsters sing or count. And I really can’t stand Dora. I just don’t like her. I hate it when she tries to engage my children by saying, “Louder,” so that they’re screaming, “Backpack!” I know, I know. It’s interactive television. This is good for their burgeoning minds, the marketers claim. I’m not buying it. Listening to Bach might stimulate a few brain cells, but that obnoxious “Da-Da-Da Dora” theme song can only lead to cerebral atrophy (or a mother’s insanity).
Ah, but enough negativity for one post. On a positive note, I’ll tell you what kind of programming I would like: A show that really does engage my children beyond shrieking Spanish vocabulary. Luckily for my TV addict, that’s exactly what I discovered in the Granny Bee’s Art Angel DVD, which I recently had the opportunity review.
Dawn Harris, a former homeschooling mom and artist, created the DVD in an effort to provide Catholic families with quality, wholesome programming that not only teaches children basic art techniques such as shading effects but also enriches their faith lives.
Granny Bee, a puppet voiced by Dawn herself, leads children in prayer, story time, and art activities. Other characters like Coach Charlie get your kids up and moving (no couch potatoes allowed!).
The DVD sounded good, but would it appeal to my preschooler as well?
The short answer: Yup. Just call it Kid Tested and Mother Approved.
Not only was Madeline immediately transfixed, but she also jumped up and exercised with Coach Charlie, said the prayers she already knew along with the DVD, and being our resident artist, she was thrilled to draw with Granny Bee. We did have to pause the DVD several times during the art portion of the program because Granny Bee went a little quickly for my wee one’s hands, but she was so proud of the finished product (the owl pictured above is still proudly displayed on our refrigerator).
Granny Bee was a welcome change to our typical programming (I’m not a complete TV fascist. I like curious monkeys and big, red dogs and all, but it was nice to see something a little different). Granny Bee’s Art Angels isn’t your run-of-the-mill educational DVD where the child sits passively and “learns” her letters or numbers. My preschooler seemed really happy with it. “This is so cool,” she remarked at one point.
Plus, I always like to support “momtrepreneurs” like Dawn.
Although the DVD isn’t for every child (I’d say it’s geared more toward older children than toddlers; my 2-year-old doesn’t have the dexterity yet to complete the art portion of the program, but she did giggle when the puppies who answer to Sissi and Gazoo came onto the screen), it would make a wonderful addition to any pint-sized Picasso’s DVD library.
You can purchase the DVDs here for $15.99. (We reviewed the owl DVD, but there’s one that features a bee as well.)
Dawn also generously donated a copy of the owl DVD to my blog readers. To be entered in the giveaway, please just leave a comment below. The giveaway drawing ends this Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern time (a winner will be announced on Monday, June 22nd).