Why the Can Do Kids are an inspiration every classroom needs
Five talented musicians and curious learners, hundreds of international adventures, one amazing educational resource for the classroom. This is the Can Do Kids.
From a teacher’s perspective, a true intercultural experience is a difficult thing to achieve.
Often resources may be scarce or the available materials are one dimensional and lack that crucial element of personal engagement with younger kids.
The Can Do Kids series was created by Dr Charles Margerison to help break down these barriers.
“Teachers tell me they would like to have a proactive approach to intercultural learning. Following the music of each country is the innovative way in which we can do this,” says Dr Margerison.
“People can read things on Wikipedia and may even read a book, however in the classroom teachers need something which they can show the children and engage them in active learning.”
The Can Do Kids series is a collection of resources and multimedia elements that share the adventures of five intrepid travelling musicians as they “follow the music and learn”.
In the series there are currently 25 different countries the Can Do Kids visit together.
Every episode includes a wealth of information on important locations, customs, historical points and the joy of discovering the new music styles that are unique to each place.
The characters themselves, Ace, Amy, Lin, Oz and Ravi, each represent different cultural backgrounds.
“Initially the idea was to share with my own children and grandchildren the concept of joining a group band, being able to have the excitement of playing to various people," says Dr Margerison.
“Then the idea emerged that this new group would have the magic ability to play music of any country and any culture, as soon as they arrived in a new land.”
Underpinning each episode is a vast amount of research and testing in the classroom.
There is also a heavy focus on multimedia which includes the video, activity, musical and reading resources that accompany each episode.
“We put a lot of work into the creation of the characters and creating a video format so that students and kids around the world can not only hear the music but see places,” says Dr Margerison.
“We are first of all making sure we have a worldwide range of information. Secondly, we are working with people from those areas to ensure we are testing it out and making sure it is appropriate in those areas as well as distribution worldwide.”
Kids in the classroom are encouraged to completely immerse themselves in the international journey.
When the Can Do Kids visit India, children are encouraged to ‘see’ the Taj Mahal, hear the sounds from the vibrant streets and recreate the tastes from the market.
They are invited to discover the riches of St Petersburg in Russia. They experience aspects of Brazil, from the colourful cities to a glimpse of life in the favelas where the disadvantaged people live, understanding their music as they go.
“My aim has been to bring to life and provide a vision of the ways in which people live, rather than just playing the music,” says Dr Margerison.
“The series gives students around the world the opportunity to travel in a virtual way with the Can Do Kids band and learn about the culture of the countries they visit.”
For students who are musically inclined, the Can Do Kids are a unique source of inspiration.
Most students these days are learning an instrument. Whether it’s the flute, the guitar, the violin or the piano, many students are striving to perfect one or more creative pursuits.
“Understanding stories of the Can Do Kids, these children can raise their aspirations,” explains Dr Margerison.
“The Can Do Kids to me is more than just a set of stories about a group going to different countries and playing music. It’s about giving the students who have seen what we have produced the inspiration that they can do the same.”