Thoughtful, engaging and
age-appropriate screen time.
At the same time as we started building our set and planning our content strategy, I was also prepping for planned open-heart surgery. I was born with a condition known as Tetralogy of Fallot. I had my first open-heart surgery when I was a baby and I always knew that I would eventually need a second surgery later in life.
We chose to do the surgery now rather than waiting until I was older, to increase my odds of surviving and to prevent future problems. I had no idea how mentally stressed I would be leading up to the surgery. The stress compounds when you look at your little baby and think, “Will I be here for him? What am I doing? Is this the right time? Should I wait?” Your mind starts to wander…thinking of everything that could possibly go wrong.
MAYTA The Brown Bear is a gentle,
handcrafted, free, early educational children’s show on YouTube.
As first-time parents, when our
son was ready for screen time, my wife and I had a really hard time allowing him to watch just anything. But at times, we needed to stop and take a break.
The 7 hour surgery ended up being a complete success! After two months of recovery, we started filming Season 2. My wife and I worked hard during those twelve months leading up to the surgery.
She realized I needed to do this and was there for me every step of the way. In addition to her unconditional support and her ongoing research -she is also the amazingly talented puppeteer under our set who magically brings MAYTA to life.
TO BE ALIVE!
We were shocked at how much abstract, unemotional, non-human, and in some cases, violent content was out there. The content felt non-engaging. There was no use of empathy or encouragement. Other content was just too fast, too big and too loud. There was no time for my son to take in and process what he was watching. So, I said to myself that I can try to make something better. I needed to make content that is age-appropriate and meets our kids where they are at in their development.
The original concept for the show was inspired by my son’s bedtime routine. One night, after reading a few books, we started telling our own stories about a bear that lived in the forest. My son, at the age of two, named the bear “MAYTA.” I learned how to handcraft a puppet by watching YouTube videos and then built a set in our garage. We even constructed a choo choo train we call The Idea Train. You can see how we made everything on our Instagram feed at instagram.com/maytathebrownbear or on our Facebook page at facebook.com/maytathebrownbear.
After putting our son to bed, I found myself working late nights at an accelerated pace to get the set and the puppet built. I then rushed to film and edit 13 episodes. I realized, with the help of my wife - in the thick of it all – that I was unconsciously trying to get these videos done so that if I didn’t wake up I would have something to leave behind for my then 2-year-old son. Late one night, she came out to our garage and said, “Why are you pushing yourself so hard to get these videos done?” I cried. It was never my intention to make the show for this reason – the show started out as a mindful, safe alternative for screen time - a void, I thought we as parents, needed to fill - but clearly the show had become something so much more for me. I was determined to finish Season 1 of MAYTA The Brown Bear for my son.
Every decision - from the bear to the soft colors to the way I speak - is pulled from research and various parenting techniques. Our goal, as parents, is to create content that is gentle, kind and engaging; content that encourages our son to think, imagine, and participate. We believe in being consistent. We use repetition, the power of silence, dance, and human interaction in every episode. We slow things down a bit, so that our little viewers can imagine and expand our adventures in their own minds.
The show’s feedback has been so heart-warming and extremely positive. We have received notes from moms and dads from all over the country telling us how the show has had such a positive impact on their kids’ lives - how their kids actually stop, listen, engage, dance and laugh. From the first thank you video we received from twin sisters, aged two, singing our theme song, to our first MAYTA fan art from a seven-year-old, it’s these types of things that keep us going. As a family, we feel we have created something that is making a real impact. As creators and more importantly as parents, it’s a very big deal to us.
Our goal is to try and get the show in front of as many people as possible. We have categorized our content into Baby Learning Videos and Toddler Learning Videos on our channel's main page. We’d love for you to watch the show, give us your feedback and support our free early learning educational videos by subscribing on YouTube.
You can subscribe by clicking here. We hope you and your little ones enjoy!
MAYTA The Brown Bear Channel: