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Article:   Family Project ~ Make Your Own Baby Video 

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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.

While there 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. 

Years ago, 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. 

The final 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 months). 

Of course, 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 pressure-free environment. 

Some tips for creating a one-of-a-kind homemade video for your baby or toddler:

  • Narrate 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". 

  • Show 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.

  • Get the whole family involved! Videotape siblings and even your baby or toddler at play. 

  • Add clips that stray from the basic "formula" periodically. For example, add a video clip of a family member singing a song or doing something goofy. 

  • Videotape objects and things that have personal meaning to your child. Demonstrate concepts, such as "big" and "small", for example, using your child's favorite toys. 

Your homemade baby video won't be quite as slick as commercial offerings, but it will be one of a kind. 






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