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Yesterday our child turned 23
months old, and as I reflect back on 22 months, I think it will go down
in our daughter's life story as the month she started singing. A lot.
And asked us to sing for her. A lot. "Mommy sing more songs!" and "Natty
sing by self" were two of the most common sentences our daughter
uttered this month.
I've caught myself turning
teary-eyed on many occasions this month as my daughter sings to me or
sings to herself when she thinks I can't hear her. She has many songs
now, but she has some all-time greatest hits. She references "Class on
the Farm" (aka her pre-preschool class) where they sing "Old McDonald"
while holding animal puppets, and then she proceeds to belt out a rushed
"OldMcDonaldhadfarm E-I-E-I-OOOOOOOOOOO" (that last O gets really drawn
out, and Old McDonald's most popular animal appears to be a duck...it's
always a duck). She also runs around like an airplane while singing
"The Wheels on the Bus" and manages to get through the lines about the
wheels and the wipers before just looping on "All through the
toooowwwwnnnnn" (again, her signature singing move appears to be drawing
out that final note). And, after months of me singing "Hush-A-Bye Baby"
to her while rubbing her back as she lays heavy-eyed inside her crib,
Natalie has been singing all the lyrics of this song to herself, to me,
and this week, to the Cabbage Patch doll of my childhood that I regifted
to her as she prepares to become a big sister.
added new songs to her repertoire this month thanks to earning a new
privilege of screen time. Up until hitting 22 months, Natalie had
practically zero interest in TV. I had DVRed her an episode of Sesame
Street months back, but it was way over her head and she watched for
about 30 seconds before going back to coloring. Of course, her lack of
interest in the screen has not bothered me, but I have thought about
ways to slowly introduce her to videos without making it too much a part
of our lives. Though I am not a believer in parking kids in front of
the tube, I figure there might be times in the coming months when having
her spend 15 minutes watching part of a show will be useful.
Creating a YouTube channel
made Natalie a YouTube channel, and it's been the perfect way to
introduce her to media while at the same time completely controlling
what she watches and for how long. So far her channel is exclusively
composed of Sesame Street clips, almost all of them from the official
Sesame Street channel.
Making a YouTube channel is
super easy. If you're signed in to your YouTube account, each time you
watch a video you'll see an "Add to" option in the menu underneath the
video. Simply click "Add to" and you'll get several options of ways to
save your video, including "Favorite videos," "Watch later," and any
personalized channel name you've created.
Sing the Alphabet Song!
is by far my favorite video. It's catchy and fun without being
annoying. Memorizing the lyrics takes no time, and it's fun to hear
Natalie repeat back all the words as we run through the alphabet
Usher's ABC Song
is one of Matt's favorites, and watching this enough times has caused
it to literally become embedded in my dreams (plus, Usher started
dancing with me at my friend's party [in my dream] and he is, not
surprisingly, an incredible dance partner). How could you not find this
man and this song charming and addictive?
Feist sings 1, 2, 3, 4
took me a couple days to translate Natalie's toddler speak in reference
to this song, but now it's impossible not to chuckle when she walks
around singing "counting a 4" and "chickens from the shore" and
"penguins at the door."
Norah Jones sings Don't Know Y
know I love a good pun, and I fully hope to indoctrinate my child with a
pun-loving philosophy. This is such a clever twist on Norah Jones'
famous song. Natalie goes crazy every time the letter Y shows up in the
video after being late to his playdate with Norah. "Natalie sees Y!" she
shouts. Yes, we are trying to break our child of the habit of referring
to herself in the third person, and no, Elmo, you're not helping, but
you are cute.
Jimmy Fallon, Sesame Street and The Roots Sing "Sesame Street" theme
one is purely for fun, but I finally figured out why my daughter runs
around saying "A-OK": "Sunny day, everything's A-OK." And Jimmy Fallon
is just adorable and a recently minted dad!
ABC-DEF-GHI Song (by Bird Bird)
so the visual quality of this one leaves something to be desired, but
that's because it's authentic vintage Sesame Street that dates back to
at least the early 80s when I remember watching this frequently. Bonus
points for how Big Bird teaches kids to spell "car" and "cat" at the
this one is admittedly ridiculous, but it has also prompted my child to
ask to go sit on the potty because Elmo sits on the potty. Adults,
please notice how many ridiculous puns and other jokes the Sesame
Street geniuses embedded in this one. Oh, potty humor.
I Love Trash
another throwback to my childhood (and yours too, no doubt). I just
liked this song as a kid, and as an adult I can appreciate how a song
like this teaches some great vocabulary by getting kids to make
connections. "Anything ragged or rotten or rusty"? It's impossible for
me not to laugh as Natalie runs around singing "I love
traasssssshhhhhhh!" and I always have to resist saying, "Actually,
remember how you hate trash and hate to get dirty?" Again, she's my
Kermit and Elmo Discuss Happy and Sad
is one of the few non-musical clips in our queue, but Natalie loves to
ask for this one, saying, "Elmo and Kermit the froggie play tag."
Watching this video with her has taught me that I don't talk to her very
often about emotions, so I should probably get on that. This video also
helped prompt me to buy art featuring Kermit for her new room because
Kermit appears to be perhaps her favorite Sesame Street character, and I
fully endorse this choice.
Benefits of the YouTube channel
am not surprised by how well the clips keep her attention, because it's
no secret that toddlers and children can be mesmerized by the screen. I
am surprised, though, by how much the clips have taught her. Her little
brain really is a sponge, soaking up everything in front of her. The
videos we've selected for her channel have helped her further memorize
the alphabet, identify specific letters by site, begin to understand the
sounds different letters make, identify numbers, learn opposites, spell
a couple simple words, and even learn about emotions such as happy and
sad. Sure, she gets reinforcement of all these concepts through books,
toys and daily activities, but that's why I think the personalized
YouTube channel has been a great supplement to her routine and education
-- it gives her another way to make connections and learn.
of routine, Natalie wakes up each morning knowing that she'll change
her diaper, go downstairs, have some milk, and watch a couple videos
while I do her hair. This past month she has asked for this routine
without fail. Creature of habit? Clearly my daughter.
I love about the YouTube channel routine is that we only watch these
clips from our desktop computer, so she still does not watch any TV on
our actual TV. In a way, it feels like this option allows us to save
some of the mystique of the television for when she's a bit older and
better suited for slightly longer stretches of screen time. Right now,
thanks to these 2-3 minute videos, our daughter only gets in about 10-15
minutes of screen time per day, and it seems like the perfect amount.
you made your child a YouTube channel? What are the best videos out
there for toddlers? We'll eventually look to expand outside Sesame
Street, so I'd love some suggestions!