Thoughtful, engaging and
age-appropriate screen time.
At the same time as we started building our set and planning our content strategy, we were also prepping for my (B's) 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 one 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 learning show for preschoolers on YouTube.
As first-time parents, when we started screen time with our son, Amanda and I felt extremely guilty. But, let's face it, 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.
Amanda, in addition to being an executive producer on the show and head of research, is also the amazingly talented puppeteer who magically brings MAYTA to life.
TO BE ALIVE!
We initially were shocked at how much abstract, unemotional and non-human content was out there. The content felt non-engaging and there was no use of empathy or encouragement. Other content was just too fast and too loud. There was no time for our son to take in and process what he was watching. So we said, let's try and 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 our 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. Our son, at the age of two, named the bear “MAYTA.” We 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 eventually realized, with the help of Amanda 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 our then 2-year-old son. It was never my intention to make the show for this reason – the show started out as a mindful, safe alternative for screen time - but clearly the show had become something so much more for me and for us as a family. 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 B speaks - 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 kids to imagine participate and be creative. 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 world telling us how the show has had such a positive impact on their kids’ lives. 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: