A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this CD is chock full of upbeat, if rather synthetic, renditions of classic nursery rhymes such as "Itsy-Bitsy Spider" and "Baa Baa Black Sheep," accompanied by suggested activities to go along with most of the songs. Though there's fun to be had sharing childhood favorites (remember "B-I-N-G-O"?) with your own kids, some of the lyrics on this CD might be unfamiliar or different from the versions you remember from your nursery days, making it necessary to improvise as you sing along (plus there is no lyric guide included). Even though our ratings system recommends media titles for kids older than 2 years old, this series is best for little ones under two.
What's the story?
PLAYDATE FUN contains 21 short up-tempo tunes, mostly versions of childhood favorites such as "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain" and "This Old Man." Like other Baby Einstein products, this CD aims to stimulate development through music and movement, and the accompanying booklet suggests simple activities -- broken down into age groups -- for each song. Too bad the booklet doesn't include lyrics (some lyrics vary from more traditional versions). "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider" gets the fun started with silly hand gestures and spidery body movements,followed by "Where Is Thumbkin?" a perfect song for learning the difference between the fingers. After lots of dancing to "Wheels on the Bus" and "Here We Go Loopty-Loo," the merriment winds down with "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."
Is it any good?
The CD's production value tends to be on the thin side (heavy on the keyboards and percussion), resulting in a computerized sameness that begins to wear on adult (if not kids') ears pretty quickly. The addition of a kazoo and the melodica -- a keyboard-harmonica blend of an instrument -- does add some zing, but it's not quite enough to compensate for the uninspired sing-song of the kids' chorus. All in all, though, Playdate Fun is a good way to introduce some childhood favorites to the next generation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about which songs are best for singing along to and which ones are better for dancing. The CD can also serve as a soundtrack for playtime or car rides -- it's entertaining enough, especially when everyone sings along. Parents may also want to get out the pots, pans, and wooden spoons for a jam session.