Making the Grades
For a technically challenged individual like myself, the idea of interacting with my DVD player sounds terrifying. Hurdle number one is just finding the remote control. Then I have to figure out the backward/forward/enter buttons and navigate the menus. This is supposed to be child's play?
Fortunately, once the Monsters Inc. Read-Along was up and running, the hardest part was over. Most of the on-screen choices come with easy to understand icons (like flags to indicate your preference of English, German, French, Italian or Spanish), as well as verbal directions (after you've made your language selection), so even I could to get the hang of it.
Releasing shortly before Monsters Inc. makes its video debut, this version offers a sneak peak (or refresher course) of the story by reading it aloud as still pictures from the movie are shown. The inclusion of the written text provides young audiences a chance to read-a-along, or they can improve their language arts skills by turning off the audio and reading it themselves.
For those with musically inclined little ones, three of the film's musical numbers are featured with the lyrics handily appearing at the bottom of the picture. A short making-of documentary introduces fans to "The Riders", the cowboy band behind the sound track. While this vignette is not very informative, the friendly musicians, snippets of songs, and tons of licensed merchandise used as props are sure to please your preschooler. (The market-minded Disney also adds several upcoming movie, music, and game trailers for your child's viewing pleasure.)
Perhaps the strongest educational features are a game that teaches story sequence and tests memorization by offering the player three pictures from the film that must be put in order, and a vocabulary option that displays a picture of an object, then lets you explore how to say and spell it in five different languages.
Although not all tots will take advantage of the learning available here, there is a good chance this disc (and others like it), will help them to grow up unafraid of technology (unlike some adults I could mention).
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Monsters, Inc. Read-Along DVD.
How do you feel about companies including advertisements in entertainment and educational products? In what other places have you seen this kind of marketing approach?