Technology has revolutionized communication in the world and has become a ubiquitous part of the social and physical world. It also plays a vital role in education, particularly for young children. Teachers can use various technological tools to promote active, fun, and impactful learning for their students. According to Shadaan (2014), animations, videos, and pictures displayed on a screen are effective strategies to stimulate positive development and learning among young children. These innovative approaches trigger a more comprehensive understanding and memory, especially in the minds of the little ones. In addition, they improve fine and gross motor skills in this population and make learning enjoyable.
Malaysia is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Consequently, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is widely prevalent and accessible, even for young children. This tool provides an array of opportunities in early childhood education, including opportunities to employ imaginative thinking (Kerckaert et al., 2015). This paper describes an animated fable titled ‘The Lion and the Mouse’ to demonstrate the use of ICT in early childhood education. In this work, the author discusses the values lessons of the story, evaluates its presentation, and proposes ideas to make it more meaningful for children.
PinkFong’s (2015) animation narrates the story of how a little mouse saved a big lion. The story begins with the lion sleeping after having a meal on a sunny day. The mouse was running around the forest and accidentally awoke the sleeping animal. Annoyed, the lion threatened to eat the little rodent but then decided to spare him after he cried and pleaded for mercy and promised to help him in the future. The big carnivore fell into the trap of a hunter’s net shortly after this incident, which immobilized him. The mouse he had spared heard his cry of distress and gnawed on the net until it fell and freed the lion. In the end, the big animal apologized and thanked the little one for saving his life, and they became good friends.
In the video, a female narrator explains the main parts of the story. The creators animated the characters and gave them the extraordinary ability to talk like humans. The lion is big and has sharp teeth that make him look fierce, scary, and dangerous. In the beginning, he grows and speaks in a loud, angry, and threatening voice. The mouse is small and speaks in a meek, shrill, and frightened voice. However, both animals become friendly and comfortable around each other in the end. The animation shows actions in the story in a series from when the mouse woke up the sleeping lion to when he gnawed on the net to save him. It uses pictures and sounds to create different scenarios that make up the story. The narrator describes the events and poses to let the animals have a dialogue. In addition, subtitles are available in English and other languages for those with hearing problems to follow.
Values Learned From This Animated Show
Respect Everyone Regardless of Appearance
In all folklores, the lion is the king of the jungle. He is big, powerful, and feared by every animal in the forest because of his extraordinarily strong jaws and paws (Creany, 2013). The mouse, on the other hand, is a tiny creature with limited abilities and spends most of its days hiding in holes. The lion in this story belittles the mouse because of his small size. He laughed mockingly, saying a little creature like the mouse could not do anything to help a big animal like himself. However, the small rodent kept addressing the big cat with respect by calling him ‘Mr. Lion’ and ‘Great Lion.’ This part teaches children to respect those in authorities regardless of how they treat you. The tables turned in the end when the little mouse saved the big lion, who had disrespected him, from a hunter’s trap. Children learn that it is wrong to judge and dismiss people’s abilities based on their outward appearances, such as size, age, race, or physical features. The show teaches that it is wrong to underestimate someone because you think you are better than him or her. For instance, teachers can use this animation to teach students to avoid ridiculing people who appear physically or academically challenged than them.
An Act of Kindness, However Small, Pays
This animation teaches children that it is helpful to be kind to everyone since no such action goes to waste. In the story, both animals saved each other lives through small acts of kindness. The lion gave a chance a second chance in life by deciding not to eat him. He got his reward later when a hunter’s net trapped him, and the same mouse he that spared rescued him. From this experience, children learn that they should always be kind in all situations since it brings benefits later in life. They should not underestimate their acts of kindness, however small, because the reward could be more significant in the future. For instance, a child can return a lost wallet to a man who may turn out to be a potential employer later in life. The show teaches one to appreciate small causes since they may bring higher results.
This animation is about showing mercy to people in distress. It teaches children that it is crucial to be merciful since it can produce rewards when they least expect. In the story, the angry lion could have easily crushed the mouse to death with his strong paws, but he did not do it. He decided to be merciful and spare the scared little creature that had disturbed his peaceful sleep. The rodent could also have chosen to walk away to punish the lion for wanting to eat him the previous day. However, he decides to be merciful and kind enough to rescue the animal in distress from the hunter’s trap. If neither creature had shown mercy on the other and decided to retaliate, none would have remained alive. The lion would have killed the mouse, meaning that he would have stayed trapped in the hunter’s net and probably died. These actions teach children that it is better to forgive rather than revenging offenders. One should never leave anyone in trouble; instead, you should help them.
Friendship is Valuable
The animation teaches children to appreciate the value of friendship. The lion and the mouse were not friends in the beginning, as each lived their lives separately. However, both landed in fatal situations that highlighted the need for them to become friends to keep helping each other in the future. The lion, with all his strength and power, could not save himself from a deadly trap. This story teaches children that no one is an island, and people need each other regardless of one’s abilities, strengths, or social status. At the same time, the show demonstrates that friends do not have to be compatible in size or appearance. Teachers can use this lesson to teach young students to socialize and have friends instead of leading secluded, lonely lives. In the end, the lion, the mightiest and powerful animal, strikes a friendship with a mouse, one of the smallest creatures in the jungle. The animated show ends with the two skipping away happily together, with the mouse riding on the lion’s head. This activity teaches children that they can be friends even with people they think are out of their leagues. It emphasizes on the need to appreciate oneself and void feeling too small or insignificant like the little mouse. With kindness and mercy, a friendship between different categories of people is possible.
Evaluation and Ideas to Make the Animated Show Better and Meaningful
The animation in the show is excellent with pictures, motions, and sounds depicting the story accurately. PinkFong (2014) did a good job matching all these elements to produce a relatable video. The sounds coincide with the action making the animating high quality as provided by Shiu et al. (2019). At the same time, the presence of a narrator who explains the series of activities makes it easy to follow and understand. The characters have all the features they have in real life, including colors and size. The lion has a mane, sharp teeth, and claws while the mouse has two prominent front teeth. In the show, the narrator varies her intonation, raises, and lowers her voice throughout to show different occurrences. The sounds the characters make also vary, with the lion being loud and the mouse squeaky. In addition, the creators gave the animals a variety of expressions to demonstrate the ongoing action. The lion snores while sleeping to show is full, and the mouse shivers and sheds tears when the former threatens to eat him. With these tools, the viewer can follow and understand the story even without hearing the narration.
The animated show could have been more meaningful to children if the narrator included lessons and values learned. It is not easy for children to analyze the story and deduce the meaning on their own (Vaahtoranta et al., 2019). With the current animation, it is possible to misinterpret the intended message if they do not have the proper guidance of a teacher. The show demonstrates how being kind and merciful can be beneficial in the future. The mouse saves the life of a lion who forgave his nuisance and spared his life. In the story, the lion would not have spared the little rodent if it had not pleaded and promised to help him in the future. Children might interpret this case to mean that they should expect payback for their acts of kindness and only help those who support them. Therefore, there is a need for the narrator to list the intended lessons to avoid misinterpretation. The creators should have used the show to highlight the intended values and encourage children to adopt them. The narrator should have asked ‘what else have you learned from the show?’ to prompt viewers to think more. That way, it would be more meaningful and educational.
In addition, the animated could have been more interactive. The narrator should have used questions and poses to encourage children to participate in narration. Vaahtoranta et al. (2019) showed that involving listeners in the process of telling a story improves understanding and retention of knowledge. It is also an effective way of stimulating creative thinking and teaching valuable facts. One example of interactive animation shows that are effective in early childhood education is ‘Dora the Explorer.’ Carter (2008) demonstrates how this program teaches preschoolers a wide range of topics, including geographical locations, by including them in the story. In the current narration, the narrator gives all the information leaving no room for children to think and learn. It would have been better if she used strategies that prompted children to think. One way would have been describing the appearance and character of the animals and waiting for about 10 seconds for listeners to figure out the identity. Before showing the lion, the narrator could have said a ‘furry, ferocious, big animal that and roars.’ For the mouse, the description would be ‘a shy, furry, little rodent that squeaks. This approach would have made it easier for children to follow the story and learn basic facts about the animals.
The animated show would have been more meaningful if the narrator used pronounced tonal variation and exclamation to show emotions. Though she raised and lowered her voice throughout the story, it was not adequate to demonstrate the mood of each situation. She could have used exclamation phrases or changed her tone to reinforce the meaning of various occurrences. For instance, when the mouse accidentally bumps into the sleeping lion, the narrator could have said ‘oh no!’ to express shock and fear.
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