Sunday, August 7, 2011

Little Einsteins

Little Einsteins is a unique concept for a children's show, but one that I think many parents will appreciate more than others. You might be familiar with the Baby Einstein DVD series, which exposes your infant to classical music and art. Little Einsteins takes that concept a little further into childhood. Each episode focuses on one famous piece of music and one famous artist/art style/painting. Then they integrate the music and the art into the episode's story line.

There are five main characters in this program: Leo (red-headed boy), June (brunette girl), Quincy (African-American boy), Annie (blonde girl), and Rocket, their sentient rocket ship. Each child has a special skill they bring to the team. Leo likes to conduct music, and therefore he's also mostly in charge of the group. June likes to dance, and as such she wears a tutu and ballet slippers. Quincy likes to play instruments. Annie likes to sing. According to the Wikipedia Page, each of the characters is named after someone famous in a similar field: Leo after the famous composer Leopold Stokowski, June after famous choreographer June Taylor, Quincy after famous musician and composer Quincy Jones, and Annie after famous Jazz singer Anni Rossi.

The plot of the show is usually the same in that they are given some sort of mission to complete at the beginning (winning a race, saving an animal, helping a friend, etc.). The music piece is integrated in a number of ways, while the art piece(s) generally show up in the background. Children are encouraged to participate by clapping, dancing, patting their laps, singing, and answering questions. They are also introduced to music terms such as piano, pianissimo, allegro, and so on.

This program, while no longer being made new, plays on the Disney Junior block of the Disney Channel. Disney is a subscription channel, so cable or satellite will be required, please check your local listings for times and channels. There are also lots of Little Einstein DVDs and toys on the market to extend your child's experience.

As for age appeal, the characters on the show range in age from 5-8, but I would guess the appeal wouldn't last much past second or third grade for most kids. Since there is nice classical music, younger children would probably like it, especially since they are encouraged to dance and sing along with the characters. Normally, with something with so much music, I would recommend it for even infant exposure, but the characters do tend to shout a bit in this program, so it might startle a baby who is getting into the groove of the calm classical music.

What your child learns:
  • Music: Instruments, classical music, famous composers, music terms, singing, tempo and time, rhythm, reading music notes.
  • Art: Famous artists, famous artwork, colors, shapes.
  • Mathematics: Counting, fractions (counting time and tempo in music), simple addition and subtraction.
As a parent watching, you might get bored with the pauses the characters take to allow your child to answer their questions. The plots are simplistic, for obvious reasons, but it won't give you much to enjoy other than watching your child participate.

Overall, it's a neat concept for a kids show. However, it's simplicity and niche subject were what caused it to be cancelled. Your child may or may not mesh with the program, but it's worth a try to expose them to some culture that they otherwise won't see from children's television.

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