If you are looking for something to entertain the children at home this Easter, Carbon Theatre are releasing their new digital, choose-your-own-adventure experience just in time for the school holidays. Inspired by the extraordinary achievements of Laura Dekker, the youngest person to sail solo across the world, Sea Girl will take families on their own nautical adventure from the comfort of their own home. Mummy and Quaver had a sneak peak at the experience ahead of its launch on 31 March.
Aimed at ages 5-8, Sea Girl sees sisters Ellen and Naomi diving into their imaginations and exploring the sights, sounds and smells of the sea, with a little help from feline friend Tarzoon. It combines a mixture of live action and animation, with the audience playing their part as they make choices to decide where to go and what to do. Running at around 15 minutes if you watch just once, there is the option to go back to the start and make different choices, resulting in a different experience.
There is lots to like about the production, which aims to inspire and educate, but we’re not sure that we made the most of it, so we would recommend looking at everything on the the site properly before you start the video. Unusually, Quaver (who is normally a big fan of choose your own adventure) was happy with just going through it once and didn’t want to explore the different options. She found it bit too passive, with fewer opportunities to make choices than she was expecting. There is also not much chance to get in on the action, beyond watching the videos and occasionally selecting what to do next.
This is a shame because the experience actually comes with a ton of resources designed by sensory engagement practitioner Natalya Martin, including telescope-making, water play and porridge play dough. They’re all fantastic activities and are exactly the sort of thing which would have made it a really engaging experience, had we known to set them up in advance. They aren’t referenced in the video so you have to actively choose to set them up yourself and decide when to do them. You can, of course, do them after the video but we think the whole experience would be massively enhanced if you do them as you watch.
Having done lots of interactive online experiences before, we know that the munchkins buy into them if the activities are fully integrated rather than an add-on. Some of their favourite digital experiences have involved stopping the video and hurtling round the house, hunting for bits and pieces to turn into props. With such fantastic resources available, Sea Girl misses a trick by not signposting them during the experience. Quaver, who is very sensory seeking, would definitely have wanted to go back round and explore all the different options if they had been more interactive.
With so many resources available to make this experience accessible to children with disabilities and special educational needs (including captioning), we would recommend giving Sea Girl a go, but would strongly suggest that adults check out the resources beforehand. They all require a little bit of preparation, but to get the full effect of the integrated, sensory experience it will be well worth putting in the effort in advance. Make sure that your crew are ship shape before you start, to avoid getting lost at sea like us!
Sea Girl will be available from 31 March to 30 April 2022. Tickets are free but donations are encouraged. To book, head to: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/carbontheatre/669198