Over the last few years, there has been an explosion of videos and DVDs designed to capture the interest of the very
young babies and toddlers. Many are really quite creative and
fun. Some are more educational than others. In fact, one of our
current favorites is a lesser-known video called Start Smarter.
Although similar in format to many baby videos on the market, Start
Smarter: Relax and Learn features more educational content
than others. See our review of this product.
are plenty of fun baby videos available, those families with the
time and inclination (and a camcorder!) might consider taking
on a very creative and exciting project: making their very own,
homemade and personalized baby video.
when my youngest child was one year old, I was reviewing a video
called, Your Baby Can Read, and was inspired to create my own
learning video for my daughter. Although I started out tackling
this project solo, my other children soon began to excitedly join
in on the fun. We created video segments that began with a
close-up video of a word I spelled out neatly on an index card
(the blank side), and then I videotaped a demonstration of the
word. For example, one segment featured the word "duck".
The first portion of this segment was a close-up of the word and
my voice speaking "duck". The next portion was a
close-up video clip of my daughter's bath toy duck, followed by
another example of a duck -- her favorite stuffed duck. I spoke
the word "duck" each time I taped an example of a duck.
I also used "duck" in a sentence (for example,
"look at the duck" or "the duck is floating in the
bathtub"), and I completed the duck segment with another
close-up of the word for further reinforcement.
As time went
by, we added words that demonstrated concepts, such as
"on" and "off" and "up" and
"down". I videotaped my daughter playing with toys, and
had her model some of the concepts as well! My older children were
filled with ideas as well. They suggested doing a segment about
blowing bubbles and gladly demonstrated this activity. When my
daughter had a friend over for a play date, I made sure I caught
some video footage of her friend.
results were not only delightful for my daughter, they are now
very special keepsakes. The whole family still enjoys watching the
videos (we filled 3 full video tapes over the course of a few
families can customize their baby videos as they please. It is not
necessary, for example, to video tape spelled-out words. However,
I fully support the idea of exposing very young children to print.
Very few children will learn to read at such a young age, and that
is certainly not our goal. Nevertheless, there is great value to
be found in encouraging children to give meaning to print. My
daughter did learn to read at a comparatively young age, and the
reason for that remains unknown. Although we can't know for
certain whether these videos helped the process along, we can
say that it doesn't hurt to surround children with print in a
Some tips for
creating a one-of-a-kind homemade video for your baby or toddler:
your demonstrations clearly. Begin with a vocabulary word,
such as "cat" and then use the word in a sentence,
like "the cat is orange" or "the cat is
sleeping on the bed".
examples of the featured word in a variety of ways in order to
increase understanding. For example, if you are demonstrating
the vocabulary word "ball", videotape a beach ball,
then a baseball, and so forth.
whole family involved! Videotape siblings and even your baby
or toddler at play.
that stray from the basic "formula" periodically.
For example, add a video clip of a family member singing a
song or doing something goofy.
objects and things that have personal meaning to your child.
Demonstrate concepts, such as "big" and
"small", for example, using your child's favorite
baby video won't be quite as slick as commercial offerings, but it
will be one of a kind.