Creating Educational Content for Kids with Sergei Urban of TheDadLab
Sergei Urban is not your everyday dad but a father to two boys and the creator behind TheDadLab, an educational brand showcasing learning experiments and activities for kids. He shares his journey of building his brand, his most viral content, and his content process with us today.
About Sergei Urban of TheDadLab
Sergei Urban is the cross-platform creator behind TheDadLab and father to two boys, Alex and Max.
Sergei shares, “The only thing that led me to the point was the fact that I became a Dad, and I was curious about exploring [and] finding cool things to do with the kids.”
He explains that it was essential for him to share these fun and educational experiences with his sons. At one point, his wife suggested that he post these activities on Instagram, so he began sharing these experiences online.
He adds, “The other problem that I wanted to help parents solve was to share some cool educational toys. The kind of toys that adults would be interested in playing too, the kind of toys when a child would play and learn something at the same time. I realize that there are a lot of toys like that, but they’re not always available at the regular store.”
Initially, TheDadLab content was all photos on Instagram. After Instagram introduced 15-second videos, Sergei began posting videos he filmed on his iPhone 6. One of his videos went viral on Facebook, and his account received a hundred thousand fans on Facebook. After this, Sergei began giving more attention to Facebook and, eventually, YouTube and TikTok.
Sergei explains that much of TheDadLab content is inspired by his desire to teach his sons different things, such as the alphabet.
He shares, “People think all I do is science experiments, and I do them, but it’s not the only thing that I do. I do a lot of cool kid stuff. Parents want their kids to play games, go to cool places and explore, do crafts, do logical games, and read books. Everything parents would want their kids to do.”
TheDadLab’s audience is broad, including current parents, parents-to-be, grandparents, and teachers. Sergei loves sharing exciting, fresh ideas with his audience to ensure kids and classrooms are having a blast while learning.
“Keeping that in mind, sometimes I’m trying to find activities that are good for different ages. Sometimes I post [dedicated] activities for preschoolers and so on. Sometimes it’s complicated experiments.”
His experiments are divided into different age categories. For example, a baby may watch a parent do an experiment and think it’s like magic. However, a toddler can be more involved in the experiment alongside a parent and may be able to pour things into different containers. Older children may enjoy experiments where the parent explains what is happening and why an experiment’s results are what they are.
Sergei explains, “Some experiments are quite strictly age-related, but if you create a safe enough environment, it’s easy to do and to try with different age kids. Generally, what I’m saying, is you can do science experiments and learn completely different things every time… One of the most important lessons that I’m trying to give is you can’t fail doing science experiments because there is no way to fail, even if you’ve done everything right and the experiment didn’t go the way you expected. That’s a learning experience.”
TheDadLab’s most viral content is a YouTube video with 645,000 views showcasing a baking soda and vinegar balloon experiment.
Another hugely successful video on their YouTube channel features dinosaur eggs, where Sergei places dinosaurs inside balloons and fills them with water. After, he puts the balloons in the freezer. Once the water froze, he gave the balloons to the boys with hammers, and they enjoyed smashing the “ice eggs” open and discovering the dinosaurs.
Sergei explains, “The dinosaur was already in the balloon with some water, and I would put in the egg on a table, and somehow the balloon is transparent enough so you can see a bit of the dinosaur, almost like a real thing. I was lucky because it [the video] wasn’t calculated. I was lucky to get good frames, and I planned to use colorful balloons, which looked great.”
His son’s beaming smiles made the video especially compelling and cute.
When he first went full-time creating content, Sergei shared that he didn’t plan ahead at all, which made his job much more difficult. He would just wake up, decide what to film that day, film it with his sons, then edit it.
“It wasn’t an easy thing to do when you don’t plan. Every day you feel, and every day you post, and you don’t know what’s going to happen. Basically, one day, I prepared a few activities for them to do, then I kind of looked at the video, and it [the footage] didn’t look good enough.”
However, he ended up editing and posting the video anyway, which became a viral hit on the channel, demonstrating that sometimes a video’s footage quality doesn’t have to be perfect to be compelling to viewers. Today, he uses a professional video camera, lights, and more, allowing him to create much higher-quality content.
“To make a viral video, the only way to make that happen is to upload lots of content, even the content you’re thinking isn’t that good, or maybe it’s too experimental, people might not like it. Just post everything, and the volume gives you the opportunity for something to explode. This is what we see now on TikTok.”
After launching TheDadLab brand, Sergei contacted an agent who helped him work with brands. Many of his brand collaborations are with toy brands that either pay him or, when he was starting, send him free products for his videos.
“When I got an agent…. They were already working with brands who wanted to work with content creators across different platforms, so that straight away gave me the opportunity to turn that [content creation] into my full-time job. At this moment, I can say that I am lucky enough to work with all the biggest, best brands out there.”
Some brands TheDadLab channels have collaborated with include Lego, Google, Apple, and many more. To this day, he is most proud of the campaign with Lego. At the time of the Lego campaign, he was a full-time creator and received a comment from Lego on one of his videos. This comment led to communication between him and the brand, leading to the campaign and Sergei becoming a brand ambassador.
In closing, Sergei shares that he is excited to continue making helpful content for parents interested in teaching their children through kinetic activities.
“I’m working on this guide, so that’s kind of exciting… I’m lucky enough to [have that] translated in different languages, like Korean, Polish, German, Italian, traditional Chinese… That was a big step for me to reach my audience and new audiences offline.”