One of the best–and potentially worst–things about Netflix is the staggering array of children’s television available for streaming. The kids have found some fantastic programs from all around the world, such as Lunar Jim and Postman Pat; rediscovered shows Efrit and I watched as children, such as old-time Sesame Street (Mr. Hooper!) and The Magic School Bus; and fallen for some stinkers that make us want to cringe (Hello, Special Agent Oso!). As they’ve prowled the digital halls of Netflix’s library, I’ve discovered blind characters to share with Peanut and now, through Sprout’s favorite show, a show that may convince him to use his ears as tools to listen to the world around him a bit more.
Bonnie Bear is a program designed for young children–I believe it’s part of the Baby First collection–that features an animated girl bear and a talking gramophone (that’s an old-fashioned record-player for those who are wondering). They play a listening game where Mr. Gramophone plays a sound, then Bonnie guesses what it is and paints a picture with her magic paintbrush. After they’ve matched three sounds with the objects/creatures that made them, they then figure out what those three sounds have in common.
In the clip below, the three sounds are a seagull, the waves hitting the shore, and a tugboat. Bonnie’s then able to guess that she would hear all of those sounds together at the beach.
What I like about this show as a tool for children who are blind and visually impaired is that it’s inclusive and it teaches a useful skill. The game Bonnie and Mr. Gramophone play requires you to use your ears and think about sounds; even if you can’t see the characters and you don’t have an audio-described copy, you can still play along. Better yet, it’s teaching the idea that groups of sounds can help tell you where you are. By itself, the sound of a seagull could mean you’re at a landfill (they do hang out there), by the shore, or on a cruise ship in the middle of an ocean. Paired with the sounds of a tugboat and the waves hitting the shore, however, it’s much more likely you’re at a dock or the beach.