“A Bing Thing”

bing bunny dvdBing, the toddling, pre-schooler bunny on CBeebies is the star of a new DVD hitting the shelves on March 30th. We were invited along for a screening in Central London last weekend.

It’s a CBeebies show for toddler and pre-school aged children and their families. Episodes are narrated and seen from the point of view of Bing, the bunny who seems between three and four years old and Flop, an orange sock body who seems to be Bing’s grown up. He’s smaller than Bing, which reinforces the idea that the show is really about and for the child. The point of view in the animation often pans to “Bing height.” I wonder if the kids really notice these things. . .

But since we grown ups will be watching also, the writers have given us lovely moments to keep us entertained. Bing’s grown-up, Flop, is very, very patient. Something we grown ups can certainly learn from. And, I have to admit, he uses some good parenting methods.

red Balloon

Photo from the “Balloony” entry of Disney Wikia.

  I was happy to see a thoughtful nod to established childrens’ stories: “Bye-Bye” reminded me of the red balloon in the film versions of A.A. Milne’s Classic Winnie the Pooh stories. Bing plays joyfully with a balloon in his living room until it pops and he has to then, with the guidance of the loving Flop, deal with the end of the fun. While I won’t be setting up a bye-bye box in our home for broken toys, I’ll admit it might not be a bad idea if a child has trouble coping with broken toys or giving something up.

For the children, Bing is a mirror of their lives, replete with the fun and frustrations of the toddler years. He’s got a few friends and two bunny cousins, one a little older (“Coco,” my girls’ favourite character) and Charlie, a younger crawling baby. He’s also got friends the same age–an elephant (your child’s sensible and calm friend) and a panda (your child’s friend who marches to his own beat and doesn’t like trousers). This cast helps to illustrate an array of scenes of sibling or playmate interaction within an early years group. A lesson is learned and retold by Bing in each episode. It’s good social and emotional learning fun. And the Banana song is awesome.

My three year old daughter loved the episode with Brenda the blender and has been singing the banana song since yesterday. This morning, she reminded me that the banana went poo into the Brenda and chuckled. It was one of those moments when you realise that they really were paying attention and making sense of what they’re seeing. My four year old daughter’s favourite was, predictably, the one with Bing and his cousins playing blocks. . . Obsessed, she is with rainbows and putting blocks in orderly lines and towers, usually right where I need to walk.


Singing and bubbles: A date with my baby

Spitalfields Music brought their Musical Rumpus show on tour to libraries in our neighbouring borough, Barking and Dagenham, this month. It’s a show made just for babies and toddlers (0-2 years of age).

Comprised of six actors and a few more cast members to keep stirring up the action, the Musical Rumpus took place on a colourful floor-level stage, the audience seated on comfy cushions and sheepskins (there’s a reason why. . .) all around. Handel’s Acis & Galatea was played live on cello, violin, and flute and enacted for the sheep (. . .played by the children in the audience).

If that sounds a little confusing, it’s not meant to be. This art really is for the children. You really just have to believe that and let these folks take you on the journey.

spitalfields music

charming, natural, amazing: ‘a multi-sensory, interactive opera for babies’

The actors were amazing at interacting with the children, getting them engaged and involved with beautiful sounds–mellow chimes, soft voices, a little sing-along. Not a push as with most children’s entertainment, just the gentlest of invitations to listen, smile, and be a part of something magical.

As Liesl sat in my lap, hardly venturing past the sheepskin at her feet, the gentle grasp of her hand told me all: it was wonderful for her. And for me. Time well spent this morning.

From the Spitalfields Music website:

Our opera series for 0-2 year-olds hit the road again in March 2014 as we head on tour to libraries and community venues in the London Boroughs of Barking & Dagenham and Newham with a brand new adventure set in a world of mountains and lush green fields.

A sleepy giant strides through the fields, in search of a space to rest; meanwhile a young water nymph tries to make rain, although things don’t quite go according to plan. Join these characters on a journey through a mysterious world of giants and mountains, sound and colours that will leave you and your baby enchanted. Handel’s rustic and much-loved opera Acis and Galatea is transformed into a multi-sensory, interactive opera adventure for babies and toddlers to listen, touch and explore.

Musical Rumpus creates early experiences of opera and adventure for babies and toddlers. Taking celebrated baroque operas and re-imagining their stories and music specifically for the youngest of ears, we give children the opportunity to explore sounds, instruments and objects throughout the performance including a specially-designed free-play session.