Saturday, October 20, 2012

ThingOne's World

On 30th August this year we drove to Knebworth Park to spend the bank holiday with my mum, and on the way there I played ThingOne 'Yakko's World', a song from the TV show Animaniacs, where a cartoon character sings the nations of the world to the tune of the Mexican Hat Dance. Here's a link to the video.

I thought she'd enjoy it, and sure enough ThingOne was very taken with the song. Having recently learned that I could list the states of the US in alphabetical order (a party trick I learned at Uni - wild times) she asked if we could learn the words to 'Yakko's World'. I agreed we could do it together, and we started that evening. At the start I wondered how far we'd get into it. It did seem like quite a challenge.

Nearly two months later, and we've done it. We learned a line at a time, and continually tested each other and recited it. ThingOne's enthusiasm rarely flagged, and she worked at it a lot. I'd go through it in my head as I swam lengths, I'd sing it in the shower, and I'd hear ThingOne going through it in her bed at night.

The song is from 1993, so isn't up to date, and even given its age favours scansion and neatness over accuracy and completeness. I found a good discussion of its inadequacies online (link here). I love the internet. Nevertheless it's an impressive bit of writing.

So now I present, Yakko's World, or The Nations of The World (as at the time the movie Jurassic Park was released) sung by ThingOne (aged 6):

Is there any benefit to doing this? I certainly didn't have anything other than a fun project in mind when we started. I wondered if I was helping ThingOne by filling her brain with nonsense or distracting her from learning something more important. After the fact, I've justified it to myself thusly:
- it shows her she can learn anything difficult if she puts her mind to it, and that something that seems hard just needs time and effort;
- it shows her that a good memory can to masquerade as intelligence;
- it shows her that it's easier to remember a song that just a list of words;
- she'll have now heard of many of the countries of the world;
- given the way the countries are grouped in the four sections will have some idea what's close to what (this has helped me - my South American knowledge was woeful);
- she'll have a party trick for ever more.

I've also learned this song, but I'll spare you that video on here.

A side effect of this project we hadn't really noticed until we'd finished is that ThingTwo (4) has learned much of the song too. The night ThingOne and I learned the last bit ThingTwo did an impromptu rendition of the first two sections (half the song!) The poor girl has had to listen to ThingOne and me singing it for nearly two months, so perhaps it's not surprising it sunk in. Here's her effort. Given her age I didn't make her apologise for the prompting she occasionally needed.

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