When Amanda and I first started screen time with our son, we were a little nervous. But it was a must, we needed to stop and take a break - even if it was just for five minutes to drink a cup of coffee. We initially were shocked at how much abstract and non-human content was out there. The content felt non-engaging and there was little 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 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.
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.
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 thirteen episodes. I eventually realized, with the help of Amanda that I was unconsciously trying to get these videos done so that if the surgery did not go as planned, I would have something to leave behind for our then two-year-old son. The seven hour surgery ended up being a complete success! After three months of recovery, we started filming season two.
THE MAYTA TEAM
Amanda and I co-produce and co-write. I direct, film, edit and appear on camera alongside Mayta as "B." Amanda in addition to playing "Ms.Y" is the lead puppeteer who magically brings Mayta to life. When she is on-camera we switch roles.
Our friend George Khouri graciously creates all the graphics and animations for the show. We are forever indebted to him. And of course our son has a lot to say on how we do things. He definitely has his opinions!
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 create. 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 people all over the world, telling us how much the show has positively impacted 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.
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 videos by subscribing on YouTube.
You can subscribe by clicking here. Our goal is to get the show in front of as many people as possible, so if you are a fan please share Mayta with your friends and family and subscribe on YouTube today. We hope you and your little ones enjoy!