Last week I introduced one of my classes to a fairly new concept to most kids – and a lot of adults – the podcast.
Podcasts for kids seem, more often than not, to be geared at education. Science is a heavy hitter with podcasts such as Tumble Science and Brains On!, or radio show-like tidbits of songs and vignettes sewn together, such as Kids Corner, or Ear Snacks. The kind of podcast I wanted to share with the young writers is that of storytelling.
A fairly new and very fun listen is The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel. A serial podcast, meaning new episodes can be downloaded each week, tells the fictional mystery of a middle grade boy, Mars Patel, and his group of friends investigating the systematic disappearance of their friends.
I started by introducing the concept of the podcast, and then played the first episode in class (about 15 minutes). There was no whispering, no passing of notes, no bathroom requests – they simply listened.
Part of the reason why this podcast stands apart is because the producers hired middle schoolers to voice the scripted narrative, as well as added in high-quality sound effects. Thus, it was akin to watching a tv show with your eyes closed, or harking back to another generation; that of gathering to listen to a radio program (in fact, there’s a possible nod with the name of the middle school: HG Wells). The kids had to “shut off” the visual stimulation that comes inherently with watching tv, movies or playing video games, and instead triggered their imagination to create their own visuals.
After the first episode I quizzed them on the elements of the story: what was the setting, who were the main characters and the biggie – what conflict was established right off the bat. They nailed it, all was clear, and I encouraged them to ask their parents to enable them to continue listening to the mystery. As for me, I’m waiting for Season 2.
Want to download? Iphones come with a podcast app, but you can also go to the Mars Patel website, click on About the Show, and you’ll see 5 different ways to download.