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Mickey is our best friend
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Member Name: scooch12
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Advantages: Fantastic educational programme, lots of colours and sounds, suitable for a wide age range
Disadvantages: It's a TV programme, so try not to let my baby watch for too long
I remember a friend mentioning that their baby loved Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and I desperately needed to find time to dust round the living room. Flicking through the tv channels one day - there it was about to start on the Disney Junior channel. I thought it was worth a go, to see if she would notice it on and if she would pay attention to it, bearing in mind she was around 8 weeks old at the time. The episodes last about 20 minutes and thought this would give me perfect time to dust and tidy the room while she was next to me being entertained by Mickey. I wasn't too hopeful that it would keep her attention, but I gave it a whirl.
The first episode we watched was called 'Mickey and the colour machine' and I immediately noticed the very bright colours that the whole show was themed in. Everything is so big and round and cleverly designed to catch your attention. She had taken notice of the TV in general before, but not to the extent that she did when I put this on. She immediately looked at the TV and just stared at the array of colours and shapes that were on show.
All episodes start with Mickey Mouse introducing himself, saying hello to his audience and inviting them to play in the clubhouse, a building that appears when the magic words of 'meeska, mooska, mickey mouse' are chanted by him and his captive audience. There are many times of interaction with the young audience throughout episodes, on at least three or four occasions per episode, one or a couple of the six main characters will speak to the children watching at home to ask them to join in their activities and answer questions that they need to answer. Obviously, at 8 weeks, my daughter was far too young to join in with this part of the show, but to me this just shows how versatile the show is and how it relates and engages a wide age of audience, both boys and girls.
Mickey is joined by his friends Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto. There are also additional smaller characters seen in some of the episodes such as Pete (who I think is a dog) and his dog Butch, Clarabelle a cow and a giant, who is big but very friendly. There's Professor Von Drake too. Pete sometimes treats the gang as friends but at other times can be a little mean to them. This is fantastic, as it is a playful way of having a 'baddie' in the show but not to the extent that it would upset or worry the young audience. I remember when I was little, being petrified of Tex in Superted! He scared me something rotten! But this is designed with the very young viewers in mind, he still comes across as being quite friendly and so not make them shy away from the TV.
The activities that they use throughout the shows can vary, they teach their audience a range of skills such as counting numbers, shapes and sizes, the bright colours and the fact that it's Mickey Mouse keeping the audience interested in the whole story, even though their is an educational spin on it. For example, Pete will sometimes charge them for entering somewhere, such as a garden, and ask for say, 8 coins from Mickey and 5 from Donald. It will then show the characters count these out on screen along with the help of the audience. They will also ask questions to the audience, such as 'How many coins are in Mickey's hand' as he holds his palm out, then give a pause for the audience to count the coins and shout the answer out to him. Then giving the answer to the audience to see if they were correct. The interaction between Mickey and his friends with the audience to me is brilliant, it must really capture their attention and makes them think about what is going on, rather than just watching a story unfold on screen. For shapes, they do the same and for example, ask the audience 'what shape is on the box' and often they aren't one of the easier shapes like circles or squares, I saw one the other day that was showing diamonds, hearts and stars for the children to recognise and say out loud. I feel that the whole show is based on education, rather than it being based on a story with a little bit of education just added in for good measure and that I'm really impressed with. The best thing is that Mickey and the gang, always treat the audience as their friends, as though they're part of the gang too.
The gang is also joined by Tootles, who holds four 'mouskatools' throughout each show that Mickey and his friends pick from him to help them out in their activities. One is a 'mystery mouskatool' but is always useful at some stage in the episode. When they want a mouskatool to help them, they shout 'Oh Tootles' to get his attention and he floats around to them to help. He then sends over whichever mouskatool they choose and Mickey will respond by saying 'we got ears, say cheers', a cute way of saying 'thankyou'. It's amazing to think that even things like this are ultimately showing children to use manners at an early age. When children are a little older, I can see as well how influential this could be - feeling that if Mickey does it then they should.
When the story in the episode has finished and they've returned to the clubhouse if they've been outside or away, the six members of the gang do the 'hot dog dance'. This is a tune that is guaranteed to stick in your mind! The characters dance and ask the audience to join in, again showing that the show must also be suitable for older, steady on their feet viewers too. They then leave the clubhouse as the song finishes and Mickey says 'thanks for stopping by' or 'see ya real soon' to the audience while waving bye bye. I think my daughter has now associated this with the end of the programme because she now stops looking at the TV when the song comes on and starts to look at other toys to entertain herself. This in itself is impressive as it's taught her to associate the song with the end.
My daughter is now 9 months old and it is still her favourite programme by a country mile. It's on the sky series link and will be for a long time. Like I say, at the moment, she doesn't really follow the storyline, it's the bright colours and noise that attracts her attention to the show, but I have every confidence that when she's a bit older, it will prove to be very educational for her and we'll still be watching it every day. We have tried other tv shows for her, Garfield, Tom and Jerry, the hive to name some, but she soon loses interest in them. Even though I think Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is very educational, I do try to limit her to watching 2 episodes per day, just because I don't think watching too much telly is good for her and like her to play with her many toys to learn other skills such as textures and sounds that she makes herself, but it's an absolute godsend to put Mickey on for her when it's needed - I can guarantee she'll remain happy for 20 minutes, making no noises apart from the sound of little giggles.
Mickey Mouse clubhouse is available on DVD (we have one at Nan and Grandad's house!) and available on the Disney Junior channel (channel 611) at 10am and 7pm most days, there is also a 'plus 1' channel too. There have been three series made of the show, with a fourth in the pipeline.
Summary: A cleverly designed programme, perfect to catch babies attention