A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this program is expressly designed for children as young as six months. Both Common Sense Media and the American Academy of Pediatrics advise against allowing children younger than 2 to watch television and other screen media. Studies have raised concerns that early exposure to television could be detrimental to attention span and cognitive development.
That issue aside, Make Music Together is a high quality production teaching positive skills to parents of young children while presenting engaging images and characters that young children will enjoy watching. As you'd expect from Sesame Street, the DVD portrays a variety of family situations and makes an effort to be culturally diverse.
What's the story?
This Sesame Street DVD features baby versions of Elmo, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, and Prairie Dawn, accompanied by caregivers. Much of the action is oriented toward teaching parents how to integrate learning into daily activities and also how to turn common parenting challenges into successful exchanges between caregiver and child. For example, Prairie Dawn wants to help her mother put away groceries. So her mother gives her a box of macaroni to play with, which turns into a musical instrument and mom and daughter begin to sing an improvised song, "Shake, Baby, Shake." This carries into scenes with other characters and then shows real-life caregivers singing the song to their children. Each DVD features "Together Time Tips," which reiterate or add to the lessons carried out in the show. For example, the tip "Encourage your child to make music" features children using an array of musical instruments and tells parents that children do not need to be taught how to make music, but that simply experimenting will encourage a love of music and rhythm.
Is it any good?
Overall, the material is up to the standards one would expect from Sesame Street -- great characters, educational lessons, fun music, and the occasional celebrity appearance. Make Music Together is the second DVD in a series called "Sesame Beginnings" produced by Sesame Workshop in partnership with Zero to Three, an educational organization founded by famed pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton.
The DVD is designed for babies 6 months and older. With this series, Sesame Workshop and Zero to Three flout the American Academy of Pediatrics' (and Common Sense Media's) recommendation that children under 2 avoid all screen media (TV, computers, DVDs, videos). This decision has prompted outcry from some child development experts, including Brazelton himself. If you decide to hold off on this series until your child is 2, she will probably still find the material engaging, despite the emphasis on younger children and their routines. But since much of the material is designed for the caregiver of a baby, viewers with kids past 2 will find the lessons less useful.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how they can integrate music into regular routines, like household chore-time and naptime. And caregivers can use the technique of adding songs to their normal interaction with their children to encourage communication and ease transitions from one activity to another.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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