My husband’s parents came to visit this spring. Just the anticipation of their arrival made our mouths water for homemade Serbian delicacies including Pita, Grašak, Pilaf and Musakathat my mother in-law prepares brilliantly. Her craft is flawless and the final products are picture perfect.
picture perfect. Every croissant or Kifliće is rolled with precision as are the carved chocolate layered wafers or Oblande that she makes especially for Max.
Once they were settled in, my husband headed out for bulk items and I rushed off for cooking ingredients. My usual thirty-five minute market run, which often feels like I’m competing on an episode of Supermarket Sweep, was lengthened substantially as I scoured the aisles of Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Euro Foods and finally Giant looking for fresh yeast, a key element required to produce those ultra-flaky phyllo dough favorites that my husband enjoys so much. I felt terrible about the extended hiatus when I finally returned home to find my in-laws searching frantically through Max’s toy bins like they were looking for the flag on the 1990’s game show Double Dare.
“Gde je Dino?” my father in-law asked me urgently as I placed the groceries on the kitchen counter. "Hoće Dino! Hoće Dino!" Max affirmed as he practiced hopping and yelling at the same time. As I looked at my in-laws expressions of jet lag coupled with frustration, I quickly realized that in our food frenzy, my husband and I had forgotten to properly introduce them to Dino, Max’s best good friend and the animated mascot of his Serbian Language Kit.
Designed for children ages 1 through 8 and available in 44 languages including Arabic, Mandarin and Swahili, DinoLingo is a comprehensive language set of DVDs, posters, flashcards and activity boards that employ the 150 most common vocabulary words for youth language development. An additional bonus for Mommy is that it utilizes both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. Having used a plethora of language tools including textbooks, private tutors, mobile apps and immersion software like Rosetta Stone, I would argue that DinoLingo distinguishes itself as a wizard in language instruction. Repetition, fun music themes and a mix of real life and animated images capture Max’s attention and promote memory retention and imagination.
I first played one of the five DinoLingo DVDs for Max in a desperate attempt to keep him quietly occupied as I washed my hair. At 20 months, he no longer enjoyed his Graco Pack ‘n Play and even though all of my baby guides advised against the employment of television before the age of two, I braved the storm and loaded Dino onto the laptop. To my secret joy, Max sat pleasantly engaged with the visual images and sound reproduced on the screen before him. From the bathroom, I could hear his light chuckles and scattered baby babble. Max had definitely made a new friend.
Throughout their stay, my in-laws were fascinated by the spontaneous learning that was prompted by the DinoLingo posters mounted on the walls of Max’s nursery. Vocabulary building of animals, colors, sports, vehicles, clothing, fresh produce and of course desserts created a quiz show learning environment for not only Serbian for Max and Mommy, but also English lessons for my in-laws. At a crucial time in his language development, Dino fostered confidence in Max’s relationship with Serbian, inevitably making it his comfort language that he primarily chooses to use first.
Now more interested in active group play, Max doesn’t demand Dino as much, but just as he will rediscover the magic of his stuffed teddy bear Meda or his fluffy frog Žaba from time to time, he’ll often make a special request for the prehistoric talking tutor. The sweet joy of Max’s voice as he boldly calls out the names of each image is undeniably magical, even sweeter than chocolate. Indeed, DinoLingo is a special treat for the whole family.