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How to Get Your Kids Moving with a Podcast

Is it possible for kids to learn, grow, move, and use their creativity while listening to podcasts? A new service called Pinna believes it is. Get-Fit Guy interviews Pinna CEO Maggie McGuire to learn more about this innovative new way to get kids moving.

By
Brock Armstrong
9-minute read
Episode #535
The Quick And Dirty
  • Kids learn, think, and behave better when they have pleny of movement in their lives.
  • It is very possible for kids to learn and listen while doing other activities (not just sitting still).
  • Giving kids permission to move freely during the day can set them up for a lifetime of movement (and the health benefits that go along with staying active). 

You have likely heard me promoting a kid-friendly audio service called Pinna on this podcast for the last few weeks. Well, in today's episode, I had a chance to chat with the CEO of Pinna to get to the bottom of why an audio service would be focused on children’s education, imagination, and also their movement.

Today's Guest: Maggie McGuire

My guest on this episode is Maggie McGuire the CEO of Pinna, an media company offering the first and only ad-free, audio on-demand streaming service for kids. Pinna produces and distributes breakthrough Pinna Original podcasts and searches the world over for the very best audio programming created for kids 3-12 to bring into their expanding catalogue of exceptional audio stories, songs, and podcasts. 

A seasoned media executive, Maggie drove business strategy, content, and product development for children's media and publishing companies such as Scholastic and Nickelodeon. Before moving into children's media, she began her career as a teacher and then recruiter for Teach for America and led the team that launched the International Baccalaureate’s Middle Years Programme in North America. She holds an MA in Educational Theater from New York University and a BA in English Literature and Philosophy from Boston College.

To kick off our conversation, which you can hear in it’s entirety in the podcast version of this episode, I asked Maggie what got her interested kid’s audio programming?

Maggie:

There is a throughline. I have had a varied past, but the throughline is kids. My passion is for kids and for inspiring their imagination, their curiosity, and educating and entertaining them. I was a teacher in New York City public schools, a long time ago. And then I made a career move into the children's media and entertainment space. First, in television and then over the last 20-plus years, I have played a role in bringing luminary brands for kids to life across gaming, television, audio, interactive games, books. And so it's a natural fit to now be leading the charge at Pinna where our goal is to inspire kids to use their own imagination, to bring stories to life through podcasts, audiobooks, and songs.

Kids and Movement

Brock:

It is very interesting to me that you have specifically taken on the role of not just entertaining kids, but educating them, getting their creativity and imagination going, but also getting their bodies moving -- which is what really is the focus of what I want to talk to you about today. So why this emphasis on getting kids up and moving?

Maggie:

As a former educator and someone who's been in children's media for quite a long time who works alongside researchers, teacher consultants, and kids' media producers, we've seen the effects -- the positive effects -- of fitness and exercise and movement on kids' learning and development. And as we looked at Pinna's portfolio of audio programs, one of our objectives was to think about all the different ways in which we can activate kids. 

We've got some podcasts that get them shouting out answers to trivia questions or playing along with a game show or actually making art. And one of the items on our checklist was how do we innovate in audio and create a movement show, a podcast, that really is about getting kids up and moving. And from that seed of an idea, Hey Story Go, our podcast for preschoolers, was born.

Brock:

I would guess that as a teacher, you would have witnessed the difference between a group of kids that were stuck in a chair all day versus kids that were a little more active. Did you see a really big difference?

Movement and fitness and having an active lifestyle improves kids' concentration and attention.

Maggie:

Absolutely. A couple of the key things that we know even from science is that movement and fitness and having an active lifestyle improves kids' concentration and attention. As a classroom teacher, it was really clear that when we got up and stretched or moved in between moving from an ELA class to a math class, or once they got out into the playground and got to run around for 45 minutes or so, and had a good meal, that they came back more ready and prepared to settle into the next class or the next half of the day. We also know that physical exercise can aid physical and emotional stress -- so it's a great outlet for relieving stress in kids. And it can help not only keep your body in shape but also your mind and your well-being.

Brock:

Even back in the seventies, when I was in school, it was very, very evident that I could focus a lot more once I got up and moved my body. But then we didn't have all these very alluring devices to keep us sitting still and staring at a very exciting screen. And sure we had books and stuff that we would bury our noses in, but it's so much more alluring to use a device. So I know a lot of the Pinna content is actually on a device, but is it still possible to get those kids moving, even if they're using screens?

Maggie:

The cool thing about Pinna is while we are accessible through devices, smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers -- once you hit go, you can be riding a bike, you can be cooking, you can be getting up and moving and dancing to our Hey Story Go show. You can even be building Legos because it's audio-only.

We do talk a lot about the screen-free benefits of audio listening, right? It builds vocabulary, concentration, attention, stamina for listening over time, and great listening skills. And we do really believe that there's an opportunity, especially now with the proliferation of screen-based entertainment and even screen-based learning (the school/home hybrid), for kids to have some time during the day when they don't need a screen when they can literally hit go and move and engage, and maybe even sit back and chill and daydream a little bit while listening.

Brock:

That's wonderful. I think the combination of actually using those devices (so it still feels like they're using the technology) and having fun, but not necessarily just sitting there staring at it, is really great. And who would have thought that kids could learn while they're doing something else? They don't have to be just sitting there staring intently. As you said, they could be doing Legos or riding a bike, as long as they're listening to it, they're still getting the input.

Maggie:

You know, kinetic learning is such a real thing for kids. Kids learn in all different ways. Some have a tendency to be more visual learners or audio learners. Others are more kinesthetic learners. And so giving them choice is what we're all about. Not only choice in programming, but different ways to listen differently. 

Kids learn in all different ways. Some have a tendency to be more visual learners or audio learners. Others are more kinesthetic. And so giving them a choice is what we're all about.

For the kids that want to be fidgeting with something or working with their hands, they can still be listening. If you want to be cooking, you can still be listening. And if you want to get up and dance, you want to do a little exercise. You can still be listening. I actually listened to podcasts all the time while I'm exercising or going for a long walk. 

And I should share, we do kid testing for every single podcast we create before we even greenlight the production. We do a kid test of a pilot episode, and we watched kids absolutely engaged 100% in Hey Story Go. They were up, they were trying to push the door, open to the castle to let the Prince through. They were pushing, pulling the ropes to make the sale go up on the pirate ship on our pirate party episode. They really, really believed they were part of that story. So it was a lot of fun to see that it does come to life for kids.

Brock:

We've talked a lot about the learning aspect of things, but just having fun is a really big part of being a kid. I listened to Hey Story Go, and I don't have kids, so I just put it on in the background while I was eating lunch and it is really fun and really high energy. I can definitely see how the kids were getting excited to be involved in the story. The show really places a lot of importance on the kids getting involved. In fact, the narrators say that the story is not going to move forward unless the kids do the movement with them. And I can see how that can be really exciting.

Maggie:

We're trying to innovate by marrying how do you propel a story forward and really rely on and actively engage the audience in two ways: active listening, but also a call to action. "Help me pull the ropes to make the sail come up. Now our pirate ship can set off on the sea." Or "Help me climb the ladder to get there, climb down the ladder to get off the boat" or "Dig the ditch to find the buried birthday present for our Barnacle Bill birthday party." 

So, in kid testing, kids are waiting for that sound cue. We teach them at the top of the story that you're going to hear this little cue, and every time you hear it, we're going to need your help. So get up and move! And you know, we're playing on the word "move" there. You're physically moving, but you're also helping to move the story forward. And then there's this great dance party at the end of every episode where you put all those moves together into one big finale dance.

Is it Movement or Exercise?

Brock:

Personally, I love the use of the words "move" and "movement" instead of "exercise" because "exercise" does have a certain stigma to it in our society. And we really do have a bit of a reluctance to do exercise other than in a very specific place (like a gym). But movement you can do anywhere. And that's just a wonderful message to be getting into kids at such an early age.

Oftentimes kids are in settings where they have to be learning while they're motionless. And we believe that there are a lot of benefits to getting kids up and moving.

Maggie:

Thank you so much for saying that. And for recognizing that. One of the things that we talked a lot about when we use that word "movement" is giving kids permission to move. Oftentimes they're in settings where they have to be still, or they have to be learning while they're motionless. And we believe that there are a lot of benefits to getting kids up and moving, as we talked about earlier, sort of harnessing their movement for learning’s sake is really what we're aiming to do in our podcast Hey Story Go. Exercise feels for some kids like work and we want this to be, well, fun!

Brock:

And it is really fun!

Okay, on that topic then, whenever I have a guest on the podcast, I like to get three actionable tips from them. And in this case, I'd love to hear your three top things that parents or alloparents can start doing with their kids to not only get their kids moving but perhaps get themselves moving as well.

Maggie:

Oh, I love that. Yes, I'm a big believer that we are role models for our kids. So if we're emulating movement and exercise and the joy and fun of it, our kids will ultimately come along. 

  1. Get out and go for walks with your kids
  2. Invite the kids for a bike ride over the weekend
  3. Have a dance party after dinner 

Again, take any opportunities, big or small, to get your bodies moving. Instead of talking about exercise, just focus on enjoying little moments throughout the day where you can get up and do something like stretching in between your homework or instead of getting in the car to go those few blocks to school, take a walk to school on a beautiful day. 

So just getting out and really modelling all the different ways in which being fit and feeling really healthy by moving is good for you.

Brock:

I love the "giving permission to do movement" aspect of that. It's sad but true that we actually need to give kids permission to move because so many places they go have rules like don't run here, stop jumping up and down, be quiet. We really have so many restrictions -- on ourselves as adults as well, not just on our kids. It's almost counter-culture to actually move during your day.

Check out the episode How to Raise a Child Who Loves to Move for more reasons and tips on getting your kids out of sitting and into moving!

Maggie:

I couldn't agree more, especially now that many of us are in remote work and living environments. I've encouraged my team at Pinna to get out each day, take breaks, go for a walk, get up from your desk. Because if you're moving from your kitchen to your home office and back again, you have to make sure that you're mindful that there's other parts of your day when you were once walking to work or getting on a subway or leaving the building for some errand or a coffee.  We need to continue doing that, even in our remote circumstances.

Brock:

Very well said. Now we've both mentioned Pinna along the way, but where is the best place that people can find you and all these wonderful audio resources.

Maggie:

Yes, folks can find out more about Pinna at pinna.fm, or they can download our app at the Apple store, Google store, or Amazon app store.

Brock:

That is great! And I can’t wait to see a generation of kids who grow up using devices but also loving to move their bodies.

Maggie:

Thank you so much, Brock. It was so fun to be with you today.

About the Author

Brock Armstrong

Brock Armstrong is a certified AFLCA Group Fitness Leader with a designation in Portable Equipment, NCCP and CAC Triathlon Coach, and a TnT certified run coach. He is also on the board of advisors for the Primal Health Coach Institute and a guest faculty member of the Human Potential Institute. Do you have a fitness question? Leave a message on the Get-Fit Guy listener line. Your question could be featured on the show.