If your kids have been bopping around the house singing the definitions of words like ‘bashful’ and ‘dynamic,’ blame Lady Vocab.
She’s TVOKids’ new literacy-focused character who’s been burning up the daytime airwaves and TVOKids website with her irresistibly-catchy songs based on the definitions of words.
“I wanted to create a character that loved new words and got excited about learning, because enthusiasm is contagious,” says TVOKids host and producer Kara Harun who co-created the Lady Gaga-inspired character and The Lady Vocab Show.
In each episode, a character named Professor P, played by TVOKids host and producer Dalmar Abuzeid, introduces Lady Vocab before revealing the Word of the Day and its definition.
Lady Vocab gives the professor an example of how that word once applied to her, then bursts into song, making it difficult for viewers to not come away with memory of the word’s meaning.
“My hope is that they start integrating the words from the show into their regular vocabulary,” says Harun, who co-produces the segments with TVOKids producer Drew Mullin while writing all the lyrics and melodies. “These are not insanely difficult words but good synonyms to expand kids’ vocabulary.”
The show and character were created to appeal to six to nine-year-olds and are built upon Ontario’s Grade 3 language curriculum.
Creating a character that had modern appeal was important, says Pat Ellingson, head of TVOKids content.
“I just think it’s a matter of trying to make the content relevant to kids,” she says. “So if they can recognize something in that character it’s a way to draw them in. If they are having fun during an educational moment they learn so much more.”
Harun says creating Lady Vocab was a real group effect for The Space (after-school timeslot) team.
“It was a great learning process because we really workshopped the characters and script in the studio while we were creating it,” she says.
“I think the idea (behind) using a pop-star type character is that everyone is seriously ‘cooler’ with a bigger vocabulary and making learning cool is key,” she says. “Why wouldn’t you rather watch an exciting music video with special effects? Perhaps they will also enjoy a music video with an educational message. When you combine the two and it works it can be a very powerful educational tool in my opinion. Learning can be fun.”
Hopefully kids will be learning and not even notice, Harun says.
Meanwhile, the show and character are just the latest addition to TVOKids’ literacy-based offerings, says Ellingson.
“We always want to be adding different elements to increase that inventory.”