Disney // 2007 // 31 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Mike Pinsky (Retired) // August 8th, 2007
Circles, squares, and more!
My son is a year-and-a-half, and he has been learning his shapes and colors. He has the words in his vocabulary, mostly learned from his gregarious sister. But he has some trouble applying them to the correct objects. He will wave a purple ball at you and shout "Pink!" One of his favorite books is Baby Einstein: See and Spy Shapes, which he inherited from his older sister when she learned to read more advanced books. Each page focuses on a different shape and a different animal. He knows all the animals by name -- and the sounds they make -- but he is still figuring out how to abstract the shapes (circles, triangles) from the objects (ball, boat, cow).
The book has a 2001 copyright, so it is a bit surprising that the Baby Einstein series waited until 2007 to produce an installment of the video series on shape recognition. Still, Baby Einstein: Discovering Shapes follows all the basic tropes of Julie Clark's popular toddler franchise: puppet sketches, playful kids, real-world examples (toys and such), and lots of repetition -- all briskly edited and scored to twinkling classical music (Mozart, Haydn, and other dead white Europeans). No surprises, although one nice touch this time out is extensive use of location footage. For example, the section on triangles shows off several pyramids and pointed rooftops of Asian buildings. The program focuses on only five shapes -- circle, oval, triangle, square, and rectangle -- even though you get more from the See and Spy book.
As always, the test is whether your kids actually learn something, especially when you help out by naming new things. My son quickly picked out plenty of recognizable objects ("Choo choo!" "Owl!") and was repeating the names of a few new objects by the end of his first viewing. For some reason, the first abstract shape he picked up on was the oval. Go figure.
Extras are pretty standard as well: on-screen flash cards, extra puppet footage, a live reading of the same See and Spy Shapes book I mentioned above (so it is kind of redundant for our family), and a "locate the shape" game. Unfortunately, the feature program is also bookended by a commercial for a new Disney product for toddlers, "Einstein Pals," presumably meant to bridge the age gap between this series and their Little Einsteins television show. But did this commercial have to be compulsory?
Again, there are no surprises here, so if you are trying to limit how many of these videos you have around the house, you might want to buy one with more unique location footage, maybe one which doesn't duplicate content you can get from a book you probably already have. There is plenty of material out there for teaching shapes, and Baby Einstein is really just playing catch-up here. It is a good disc, as usual, but is it really necessary for your family?
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 31 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Story Time
* Discovery Cards
* Locate the Shape
* Puppet Shows
* Toy Chest
* Official Site