Coronavirus: Thousands of toddlers from across Europe join live-streamed music session for self-isolating families

Sessions designed to entertain children following school and nursery closures 

Sarah Young
Thursday 19 March 2020 12:46 GMT
Coronavirus: All you need to know about self-isolation

A music and rhyme group for toddlers was joined by thousands of children from across Europe during its first live-streaming session for self-isolating families.

On Wednesday, Ragdolly Annas, based in Milton Keynes, announced on its Facebook page that it had made the decision to cancel all future sessions for the foreseeable following government advice amid the coronavirus outbreak.

However, to ensure that its loyal customers did not miss out, Ragdolly Annas also revealed that it was planning to start live-streaming sessions every day.

For its first event the group's co-founder Anna Varone-Johnson broadcast a 30-minute live video for families from the comfort of her own living room, during which she danced, sang and blew bubbles to help entertain her audience of toddlers.

The group, which normally entertains between 25 and 35 children through daily drop-in activities, received an overwhelming response and was joined by more than 2,000 viewers from Denmark, Italy and across the UK.

Many Facebook users shared photos of their children joining in on the session, with one parent writing: “So good of you to do this for us.”

Another agreed, adding: “This is fabulous! Eden will be joining you next week if it’s on again as our school is closed”, while a third person wrote: “Hi! Joining you all the way from Denmark.”

Following the positive response, Ragdolly Annas has committed to broadcasting live every day at 10:30 GMT on the group’s Facebook page, where families can participate in music and rhyme sing-a-long and use daily house items like wooden spoons and tea towels as props.

On Thursday, Varone-Johnson shared another post on the group’s Facebook page in which she said she had been “blown away” by the response.

(Ragdolly Annas - Milton Keynes/Facebook)

“People have been joining us from far and wide, and we want to assure you that we will continue to post daily at 10:30 Monday - Friday, to hopefully break up your long days with the little ones!” the post read.

Varone-Johnson also assured her followers that the sessions would remain free of charge.

“Many of you have asked us as well about payment for the sessions: Anna E and I are very aware that all of us are in exactly the same position, we don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said.

“As it stands today we are more than happy to continue posting at no cost to you at all. We have had such a loyal customer base for nearly 10 years and are going to miss our daily face to face contact with you all so much! Keep interacting and sending us your photos!

“We just hope you enjoy the sessions and they bring some entertainment, joy and laughter to your living rooms! Stay safe everyone. Thank you all so much for tuning in.”

(Ragdolly Annas - Milton Keynes/Facebook)

The live stream follows the news that schools, colleges and nurseries across England will shut down from Friday until further notice.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that some schools will remain open for the children of key workers, such as NHS staff, and those that are vulnerable.

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