My four-year-old was recently introduced to The Pink Panther by his grandfather. One of his favorite things to do is snuggle up with Papa and watch an episode of the wordless cartoon and laugh at the various antics of the clever panther. While he was watching one day it occurred to me that watching these wordless (or nearly wordless in the 1990’s version) cartoons was teaching my son about visual literacy.
Visual Literacy as defined by Merriam-Webster is “the ability to recognize and understand ideas conveyed through visible actions or images (such as pictures).” And that’s exactly what these are cartoons are having my son do. Everything must be interpreted through the actions on the screen, the emotions portrayed by the characters, how they interact with each other and the overall plot of the show. It’s also showing him how to interpret facial expressions, body language, and other visual cues.
As we’ve ventured into more viewings of The Pink Panther, I’ve noticed that there is a rise of wordless or gibberish cartoons available for kids. Maybe this is related to the want to teach kids about visual literacy, maybe it’s because they’re easy to make, or maybe it’s a combination of both. But whatever the reason, these cartoons can be a great way to enhance kids awareness of visual literacy and work of those storytelling pre-reading skills. I love watching these with my son because it’s fun to talk about what’s happening to the characters and the story. They’re also a bit less annoying and stuck in my head like other cartoons. Here are some of the favorites we’ve come across
Molang-This French import features a bunny and a chick. Together they have lots of adventures from finding a lost dog to visiting the beach. The characters speak gibberish, but it’s easy to interpret what is happening and being said. Another plus is that each episode is around three minutes long, so it’s great for a short burst of story.
Sunny Bunnies–Another series featuring animates bunnies that speak only in sounds and laughs this started as a very successful YouTube series and has now made it’s way to Disney. The five colorful bunnies have various adventures in a new location each episode and the end includes “bloopers” from the bunnies.
Pixar Animation Shorts-Many of the Pixar Animation Shorts are wordless and are quick introductions to the beauty of dialogue-free storytelling.
Do you have any other suggestions of favorite wordless shows?