Twirlywoos first broadcast Monday February 23 2015 on CBeebies. The Twirlywoos are four small, bird-like characters who are inquisitive, enthusiastic and always looking to learn something new about the world.
Ever curious, they seek adventure and fun wherever they go. Whether in the real world or on their Big Red Boat, they love to hide, imitate and be surprised as they discover new things. The show has been developed with a commitment to watching how children interact and develop, and each episode creates spaces for pre-schoolers to make their own connections, which aids their learning.
The Educational Underpinnings of Twirlywoos
Twirlywoos is a child-centric programme – from the opening words in the song ‘me, me, ME!’ – young viewers know more than the characters they see which means they can predict what might happen. Prediction is an important part of beginning reading behaviour. By being able to predict, young viewers can enjoy what they see because they are the ‘experts’. The programme offers space for children to talk with the adults and/or other children they are watching alongside.
Twirlywoos is based on well recognised research into how young children learn. Beginning with children’s own persistent interests (or schemas) – each programme explores a single idea in depth with what happens outside also reflected when the Twirlywoos return to their boat. They play with the new idea they have encountered in the world. This educational underpinning ensures good programme content which matches children’s interests and therefore maximizes the likelihood that children will enjoy and from that enjoyment comes further learning.
Twirlywoos recognises children’s rich capacity to learn and to know at a young age and so the content builds on what we know about how children approach learning in (and about) the world. Key characteristics include: curiosity, persistent patterns of thought and the importance of movement. (The Twirlywoos are constantly on the move – or moving objects – as are young children.)
We know that children learn through humour and that when children find things funny they are in a position of understanding, so the fun in Twirlywoos is important.
Children’s own – ordinary/everyday experiences (the park, baking, watching a dog run) – are to the fore – which again grounds the programme into the child’s world using ideas that the children relate to.
Twirlywoos sometimes do things that parents have sometimes seen their own children doing (wrapping up, sliding, twirling) and this gives the children confidence in their own knowledge.
The programmes are packed with content that matches young children’s learning needs (schemas).
Key terms are precisely matched to the focus of the episode – space to talk provides opportunity for the child to fill in the spaces left by the narrator.
Professor Cathy Nutbrown Education Advisor
For Twirlywoos we invited Professor Cathy Nutbrown to consult with us about the patterns of thinking from which children’s early learning develops. The concepts which she approved have become the foundations for the programme and all development from it.
For further information please read Professor Cathy Nutbrown’s article or watch our video.
Twirlywoos love to dance
An Introduction to Twirlywoos