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TV Picks for Preschoolers

By Amalah

Photo by PixelManiatiK
hi amy,
i’m a stay at home dad, and despite my best efforts, i spend about 113% of every day in a state of general confusion as i chase around after my 2 boys (one is turning 3, one is 9 months). i’m sure you get tons of crazy and/or stupid questions as a result of your blogging, but i thought i’d add one more and see if you can help me out anyway.
can you recommend some kiddie tv shows for a 3 year old boy? we’re snooty no-tv-be-having people and i’m completely out of touch with what kids watch these days. connor (the 3 year old) is a HUGE blues clues fan, but i think it’s time to um.. expand his horizons.. a bit. (does kiddie tv expand horizons or is it really more of a zombie-robot-babysitter thing? i’m good with either…)

Attention to all parents out there who immediately get het up and judge-y whenever the topic of children and TV comes up: You probably want to leave now.
Yes, I let my three-year-old watch TV. Sometimes multiple times a day. Sometimes I totally use the TV as a babysitter — while I get work done, take a shower, prepare dinner or (GASP) just want to sit on the couch and stare blankly and blissfully at the wall for 22 minutes. We’ve probably sampled most of the popular preschooler television programs out there. Like your son, Blue’s Clues remains our longest-running favorite, the first show that Noah ever watched and still adores. He probably learned most of his preschool concepts before starting preschool thanks to that show. But like you, OH MY GOD, I have seen every episode multiple times and the thrill of “MAILTIIIIIIME!!!” really starts losing its appeal after the millionth trillionth time.
Below, I have compiled a list of some of the shows we’ve loved and hated, with both my assessment and a review from Noah, Preschooler TV Connoisseur.
Thomas & Friends
Noah: Thomas! Thomas Thomas THOMAS! Look, a windmill! Look, a train! Look at me completely lose my mind every time this show comes on OMG!
Amy: Much like the Steve vs. Joe debate, I have strong opinions about the different narrators (Ringo vs. Carlin vs. Baldwin vs. Other Guys I Don’t Know). I also cannot really stand this show in general, but it gets big points for each segment being 10 minutes long, meaning I can trick my child into thinking he’s getting to “watch a show” and still get out the door for preschool on time. (Similar to our Scholastic DVD Collection — worth every penny for these short, perfect bribe/reward-sized storybook segments.)
Summary: A strange show from another age, but teaches kids about facial expressions, manners, responsibility, OMGTRAIIIIINS.
Pinky Dinky Doo
Noah: Over it! Except for my Pinky doll, who is still kind of my lovey, but I will deny it and hide her under my bed if you walk in my room and catch me talking to her.
Amy: Noah’s obsession with this show burned fast and bright, but one day he simply did not want to watch it ever again. I deleted the pass from our TiVo but kept his favorite episode about the Cheese Monster just in case, because I know the instant I delete it he will suddenly be all about the Cheese Monster again.
Summary: A good show with a strong, smart female lead that isn’t pushed as a “girl” show, UGH. Teaches kids big vocab words, narrative elements of storytelling, using your imagination.
Noah: Also over it.
Amy: The animal parents on this show need to be reported, good God. Your baby bird has just been rescued from certain destruction when you left it in its nest ON TOP OF A VOLCANO and then you come back all, “Oh! I was so worried! I looked everywhere for you! Except…you know…OUR NEST.”
Summary: Animal negligence aside, this is a very well-animated show that is actually pretty cute. Lots of music, focus on teamwork, animals and their habitats. Noah will still watch it, but doesn’t request it or anything.

The Upside Down Show

Noah: Mommy, why are you making me watch this show?
Amy: QUIET, Mommy is watching her stories.
Summary: Well, I love this show. The hosts are hilarious physical comics and the show emphasizes a lot of modeling, imitation and pretend play. Plus, it’s silly. Adorably silly.
Dora the Explorer
Noah: (small voice) I’m scared of the Map.
Amy: (loud voice) I HATE THIS SHOW.
Summary: I’m glad the Map freaks Noah out (he doesn’t like when it flies off the screen at you), because this show bugs me. But again, strong female lead that appeals to girls AND boys, teaches kids about sequencing, Spanish vocab, unrealistic images regarding your standard backpack capacity.

Go Diego, Go!

Noah: Eh.
Amy: Eh.
Summary: A Dora spin-off. Like Dora, but with a boy! And a jaguar instead of a monkey! And a Rescue Pack instead of a Backpack. And Rosie Perez instead of the Map. Yeah, that helps.

Ni Hao, Kai Lan

Noah: Seriously?
Amy: The Dora Machine must be stopped.
Summary: Another Dora clone. Only with Mandarin Chinese instead of Spanish. Animation is very Hello Kitty Hearts Sparkle Rainbow Power. Could very well be adorable and well-done, but Noah wandered out of the room during the opening credits the first time it was on and we’ve never tried again.
Noah: Wait, what’s this show…
Amy: Noah! Quick! Look over there! It’s a train or something (frantically turns TV off)
Summary: MAN, does that kid whine. Like a salad fork in the brain, this show.
Noah: Big fan. Really big fan.
Amy: The animation ain’t Pixar, but I am SERIOUSLY impressed by all the effort that goes into these episodes. It’s like a Broadway musical every day!
Summary: The music is the best part of this show, hands down. I guess there’s lessons to be learned about imagination and playing nicely, but really, it’s about the music.
Jack’s Big Music Show
Noah: Puppets are awesome.
Summary: A super-fun music/variety show, featuring music and bands for kids that you actually won’t mind. Brought to you by some of the writers/puppeteers of Sesame Street. And also one time Jon Stewart guest-starred. The end.

Sesame Street

Noah: Eh.
Summary: Oh, Sesame Street. So many memories, so many overhauls and reformatting decisions and attempts to compete with the newer shows have honestly left it as a shell of what we remember. Noah is completely bored by it, but he LOVES watching the old-school clips of my favorite songs and animated shorts on YouTube.

Yo Gabba Gabba!

Noah: Best. Show. Ever. Besides Blue’s Clues, I mean.
Amy: I may have bought some music from this show on iTunes. I may listen to it in the car when I don’t actually have any children in the car.
Summary: This show originally seemed kind of off-putting and frenetic to me, but it is currently our reigning champion show of shows, with a devotion that is eclipsing Blue’s Clues. Lots of hipster icons, celebrity guests, 80s video game animation, indie rock bands…and at the heart, a really earnest show that teaches social skills and self-help concepts. As a parent of a kid who admittedly struggles in these areas, it’s been a HUGE help as we try to get him to interact with other kids, talk to them, take turns, try new foods, brush his teeth, etc. Thank you, Gabbaland.
Okay, I could probably list a dozen more, but I think it’s time to stop and hand this column in, so I shall leave it up to the commenters to mention all the many good, bad, middling shows that I’ve left out. But I will say this: whatever you do, if you ever see something called “Lazytown” in your TV guide or on sale at the store or on the library’s DVD shelf — RUN, do not walk, RUN AWAY FROM THAT SHOW. It will haunt your nightmares, it will haunt your dreams, it will have you singing that stupid freaking cake song for days and days and days. You have been warned.


About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • hydrogeek

    July 31, 2009 at 11:47 am

    I cannot believe you didn’t mention Imagination Movers! My 2.5 year old LOVES that show. It’s mostly about the music too, and it’s not animated, but for some reason, it’s captivating. And maybe I go around singing some of their songs a lot. Also, one of the ‘shorts’ on the Disney channel called Sean the Sheep is a claymation thing my daughter loves. Maybe because her daddy’s a farmer? I don’t know, but the whole family enjoys that one.

  • Jean

    July 31, 2009 at 11:48 am

    I have two others that my son loved when he was 3.5/4….Word World and SuperWhy. Both of these shows are about learning to read. In Word WOrld, all the animals bodies are their names spelled out, as well as everything else (ie, the Dog’s body is made out of the letters DOG). SuperWhy is about 4 storybook kids who turn into superheroes and help solve the “problem” using words. So helpful when they get to the reading stage 🙂

  • Amy

    July 31, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I am so with you on the Lazy town comment. I watched it (several dozens of times) when babysitting my nephews and couldn’t get it out of my head for weeks! I will admit it was a cute show though, and well, Sporticus is kind of cute! 😉

  • Ellen

    July 31, 2009 at 11:58 am

    My 3 year old boy loves Caillou (his fave), Wow Wow Wubbzy, Ni Hao Kai Lan, Roary the Racing Car, Bigfoot and Meteor (on TLC I think), and Ice Road Truckers 🙂

  • Jenny

    July 31, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Disappointing to hear about Sesame Street. It wasn’t that many years ago that it was a really funny show. My mom always loved watching it because of the paradies that it did. Kids didn’t get them, but the parents certainly did.
    My feeling is that things started getting bad when Elmo suddenly took off.

  • Ashley

    July 31, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    I don’t think you give enough credit to PBS
    (as not everyone has cable). Clifford and Martha Speaks are two of my current favorites.

  • Dawn

    July 31, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    My 2.5 yr old daughter loves, loves, LOVES Dora and the Backyardigans. Right now she is mostly on a Dora kick and OMFG is that show annoying. I think that the characters yell all the time but she loves it. And recites the episodes. And sings the songs. But she is learning Spanish so, eh.
    Mommy and Daddy prefer the Backyardigans for the reasons Amy mentioned above. The music so rocks and we have all the stuffed characters. We also have the giant stuffed Dora (who is currently occupying the car seat) but that is a different story altogether.
    We cheat though and just get the DVDs to pop in for her. 1) I’m cheap and don’t want to pay for TiVO/DVR and 2) we are slaves to the tv schedule.

  • Dawn

    July 31, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    My 2.5 yr old daughter loves, loves, LOVES Dora and the Backyardigans. Right now she is mostly on a Dora kick and OMFG is that show annoying. I think that the characters yell all the time but she loves it. And recites the episodes. And sings the songs. But she is learning Spanish so, eh.
    Mommy and Daddy prefer the Backyardigans for the reasons Amy mentioned above. The music so rocks and we have all the stuffed characters. We also have the giant stuffed Dora (who is currently occupying the car seat) but that is a different story altogether.
    We cheat though and just get the DVDs to pop in for her. 1) I’m cheap and don’t want to pay for TiVO/DVR and 2) we aren’t slaves to the tv schedule.

  • Molly Chase

    July 31, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Thing 1 is four and he likes Syd the Science Kid. I don’t pay close enough attention to know what channel it’s on.
    Thing 2 is six weeks old. If it doesn’t have boobs she doesn’t give a crap.

  • Anonymous

    July 31, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    My boys LOVE calliou- yes he is whiny, but so are they- I like that the parents act like real parents. Also-LOVE LOVE LOVE aaahhh when is Curious George on???? Did I mention they LOOOOOOVE it. Um, also 4 year old obsesses with Man vs Wild- he pretends he IS Bear Grylls.

  • Brooke

    July 31, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Second whomever said Bigfoot and the Monster Truck show on Discovery Kids. My son was OBSESSED with that show for a good year – and then we got rid of cable.
    Bob the Builder (PBS) is a win in my house.. as well as Handy Manny if we go somewhere that has cable for the Disney channel. Also, my son is OBSESSED with the Berenstain Bears (also on PBS). Yo Gabba Gabba gives me seizures a little, but my son loves it as well. Diego is still a win here, though he’s kind of over Dora, which is fantastic because WHY DOES EVERYONE ON THAT SHOW HAVE TO SCREAM ALL THE TIME.

  • Mrs. CPA

    July 31, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    World World is one of my favorites. Hudson really got interested in letters because of it. Love it!

  • AJU5's Mom

    July 31, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    We don’t have cable, so we are stuck with PBS mostly. I let AJU5 watch the following shows (she is only 19 months so doesn’t have a favorite):
    Word World
    Martha Speaks
    Curious George
    Dragon Tales
    It basically depends on when she gets up and requests TV what she watches. I limit her to 1.5 shows a day, especially since she doesn’t just sit and watch at this age most of the time.

  • MaryBeth

    July 31, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Charlie and Lola hands down. I like to hear my midwestern children use Brit slang at random intervals.

  • Carmen

    July 31, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    I like Peep & the Big Wide World. Narrated by Joan Cusack and jokes that are funny to parents as well, it’s the adventures of a chick (Peep), a bird (Chirp) and a duck (Duck). It’s adorable. Each episode is only 12 minutes long, so they can also be used as rewards/bribes to get out of the house on time.

  • Anyabeth

    July 31, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    If you are disappointed in Sesame Street try Play With Me Sesame. Mainly the musical clips from the older shows and it features Bert and Ernie, Grover, Cookie Monster and well Prairie Dawn who my daughter loves and I do not get. It’s mainly just the music and play components.

  • Melissa

    July 31, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Yo Gabba Gabba is a fav, TC (26 months) looses his ever-lovin’ mind everytime DJ Lance peeks his head over the boombox at the beginning. And LOVES Dancey Dance time (so does his dad).
    Word World is also neat but I think I like it more because the animation is so bizarre…like how do they make the word into the character, so beyond my stick figure skills.
    Handy Manny and Sesame Street are good but not as loved.

  • Amalah

    July 31, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    (Just want to clarify that the Noggin/Nickelodeon bias really comes from Noah, not me. I’ve shown him a slew of PBS shows [and Playhouse Disney too, while we’re at it] and for some reason they simply never appeal to him, other than a brief stint with Little Einsteins on Disney and of course, Thomas. He’s the only little boy in my whole family who doesn’t like Bob the Builder, and even that one stumps me, because he’s SO into diggers and construction equipment in real life.)

  • Bitts

    July 31, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    We don’t do regular broadcast TV but we do DVDs and Sesame Street is a HUGE HIT around here (2.5 y/o) because we watch only the vintage ones. The contemporary ones are waaaaay to slick for me, but the early-70’s ones are exactly what I remember as a child. AWESOME.
    We also watch the Scholastic DVD Collection — bought the whole thing (12? 15? discs) at TJ Maxx and it was worth EVERY CENT. We’re even starting to “read along” with it. Yeah!!
    FWIW, Blue’s Clues is one of the most heavily-researched, developmentally-appropriate preschool shows out there. Also — get a haircut, Steve.
    For the straight dope on what TV does to a little kid’s mind (not all bad, but very eye-opening) read Lise Eliot’s “What’s Going on in There?” Priceless. Totally changed the way I see media. For older kids, Susan Linn’s “Consuming Kids” is invaluable.

  • Marnie

    July 31, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    “Lazytown” makes me want to stick forks in my eyes (those rubbery / plasticy people give me the heebie-jeebies) and ice picks in my ears.

  • Amy

    July 31, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    My daughter (4 yrs) loves Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends on Noggin. It’s pretty cute and all the bug “kids” are adopted by two spider “parents”. She’s also a big fan of Mickey Mouse Playhouse and Imagination Movers.
    My son (almost 2) likes anything with music. That includes most movies me and my husband like to watch, as long as it has music in it somewhere. But his favorite is Dora, but mostly Boots.

  • Mouse

    July 31, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    One of the things the Noggin and PBS shows have over airings on Nickelodeon and various Disney channels is NO COMMERCIALS. My son has pretty much aged out of Noggin shows, and now he’s soaking up all the STUFF that’s out there to be bought.

  • tonya

    July 31, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Umm, Caillou can suck it. I HATE this show and any attempts to get my child to stop watching it only last so long before she asks to watch that a$$ clown again.
    I am a fan of Little Einsteins and Super Why, but it’s mostly Dora and the Disney Princess machine in my world (which I put up with so we don’t have to watch Caillou).

  • Della

    July 31, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    May I please give a HUZZAH for Noggin, which has no commercials. THANK YOU, NOGGIN! Even Sprout, which is the PBS preschool channel, has commercials – most of which are not aimed at kids. Ugh.
    My 1.5 year old loves, loves, loves, and ONLY cares about the Backyardigans. Sometimes we can get him to watch Oswald the octopus, but basically he only watches Backyardigans.
    Also, we have one Little Einstein DVD and I personally am Not Impressed.
    I think Wonder Pets has cute stories but it’s so hard for ME to understand Ming Ming [the duck with the speech impediment] (which I understand is the point, but um, it is still a problem), I don’t think my tiny kid is “getting” much out of watching it.
    Finally… Yo Gabba Gabba – I just can’t… it’s too… OMG STIMULATION OVERLOAD. It overstimulates ME, I can’t imagine what it would do to the toddler…. and although I’m not anti-TV, I don’t want the TV to make my kid into one of this generation’s “more stimulation wind me up it’s not going fast enough to make me have ADD yet!” kids. So, I think we’ll continue to pass on it.

  • Tracy H

    August 1, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Max & Ruby on Nick Jr./Noggin (also on DVD) is one I haven’t seen mentioned yet. It’s still a favorite in our house even though my kids have mostly moved on from the pre-school type shows. I love how Max always ends up being right instead of his bossy big sister! We haven’t watched Imagination Movers, but I know it’s a BIG hit with my friends boys.

  • Stacy

    August 1, 2009 at 9:16 am

    I’d like to make a modest pitch for 2 old school Nik classics that can be found on DVD and (sometimes) Noggin: Little Bill and Little Bear.
    Little Bill may appeal more to the 4ish/5ish crowd; it’s a series produced by Bill Cosby. Gentle family stories, great scenes of city life. Little Bear is based on the books (and those I Can Read Little Bears ROCK), the series is also gentle with very sweet stories (sweet, but never saccharine) stories of Little Bear’s adventures with fellow forest animals. Little Bear’s Mama is terrifically patient and always to be found when things get sticky. All around terrific.
    Ummm, my son also liked them as well when he was 3,4, and 5.

  • Robin

    August 1, 2009 at 11:20 am

    I HATE Wonder Pets and new Sesame Street because they have characters (I think it’s the duck on Wonder Pets and Elmo on SS) that speak with a lisp on purpose. If you have a kid who has any kid of speech problems like I do, stay away from things like these that will teach her to speak incorrectly.
    I love Backyardigans – definitely like a broadway musical. But if you start watching, the songs will haunt your every waking and sleeping moment for 2-3 weeks til you just get resigned to them.

  • cagey

    August 1, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    My kids prefer Noggin, too – Diego, Kai-lan, Max & Ruby and Little Bil. They also love, LOVE Curious George, but we do the DVDs which have paid for themselves in spades.
    The reader did not say what his son is interested in, but if his son is half as obsessed with animals as my kids are, then Bindi the Jungle Girl on Discovery Kids might be a hit, too.
    I was very sad that neither of my kids cared a whit for Sesame Street. WTF, children?

  • Tiffany

    August 1, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    WordGirl is another PBS fave. If you haven’t watched it, DO IT! My son is 3, and it’s one of his favorites. Also, Super Why is good. I especially like the part when they yell: To the Book Club! Because it sounds like they are yelling: To the Butt Plug!

  • Calee

    August 1, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Little Einsteins is still boss around our house. My 2.5 daughter loves it and sings the little songs all around the house. Max and Ruby and Wonderpets are a hit too, but she never dug the Backyardigans. I can’t stand any of the Imagination Movers type shows, it hurts too much to watch people embarrass themselves in that way.
    Also, never under estimate the power of a Disney movie featuring animals.

  • kirida

    August 1, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    My son really loves the Sesame Street video podcast “Word on the Street.” I do love the PBS lineup, too. I credit SuperWhy with teaching my son to love the alphabet. It really transformed his speech, too.
    I wish my son would love the shows I grew up watching like Garfield and Friends and Classic Nickelodeon.

  • harrytimes

    August 1, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    OMG– I started humming the cooking by the book song involuntarily when I glimpsed the title and the top of Stephanie’s hat while reading your last paragraph. So thanks for that.

  • CD

    August 1, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Its seems like most of all the shows here mentioned are on Noggin. What about some shows if you don’t have cable?

  • Blythe

    August 1, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Bob the Builder is our go-to show (Thank You, On-Demand Cable). If your son is into trucks/construction/etc, it will be a hit. And, as a bonus, it teaches the kids to call ATVs “scramblers” which makes me laugh.
    We’re also Zaboomafoo fans. Because who doesn’t love a talking lemur?

  • Emily

    August 2, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    For the younger toddler tv-watcher, we love Maisy – I don’t know if it’s on anywhere right now (we don’t have cable, only do DVDs and internet for “tv”) but it can be Netflixed. Maisy is completely unproblematic – you can be doing something else and not worry that there is some plot tension or image that a sensitive toddler is going to end up screaming about later. (Like, we found Thomas the Train problematic for this reason.)
    Also, for a non-verbal mouse, Maisy somehow manages to project an awesome older-sisterly vibe that got our 2-year-old very interested in brushing his teeth and wearing his mittens, scarf and hat outside in the winter “just like Maisy”.

  • Sheryl

    August 2, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Yep, I’m with the PBS commenters… We don’t get more than basic cable, but luckily we’re in a spot where we get feeds from three local PBS cities.
    My son is three and a half. Maybe some of these will work for you?
    Morning Favs include Curious George (for math and science concepts), Super Why (learned all his letters, as well as some stories I didn’t read him), and Sesame Street (no clue how Noah doesn’t like it– the short segments move it along, and it is still THE BEST SHOW EVER)
    I agree with you, Amy, on the Caillou. The kid WHINES! Do you notice this on Arthur, too? All the female characters are witches…
    Afternoon shows on PBS are less frequently viewed, as we nap for lots of it. But Barney, Between the Lions (another good one for reading), and Thomas. Don’t underestimate the importance of problem solving and social skills that are covered by these shows.
    I use TV to get the baby fed in the AM (older kid is occupied) and to get a shower. I use tapes and DVDs in the afternoon. Try your local library— you can rent a bunch for free, usually. Nice to keep the stash fresh, you know?

  • wendy

    August 2, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    My three year old twin boys love music. It is the only they love more than tv so the combo of the two always wins.
    Although imagination movers, jacks big music show, barney and yo gabba gabba have all been of high interest to them their favorite is Hi-5 which is on discovery kids.
    Hip Hop Harry follows it and is also very good!
    When they don’t want to sing and dance and just want to laugh they like Back to the Barnyard. They have no idea what they are laughing at but a lot of it is adult humor!!

  • Patty

    August 2, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Hey my son who is a man now, 10, was so into Sesame Street. I was thrilled because I grew up on that show and I had outlawed Barney. He is so smart and was obsessed with Elmo but I swear he learned so much from SS. He was also a big Bob the Builder fan.My daughter now 6, of course became obsessed with Barney and anything princess. Then at preschool someone told her Dora and princess were for babies. Well she was only 4 so as I was thrilled to be rid of Dora I was sad to lose the Princesses and every toy we owned had to go because they were princess I mean baby toys. I won’t tell you what we watch now because you’ll want to send the cops. Big kid nick, Icarly, Drake and Josh, Hannah Montanna. Be ready it’s scarier than animation.

  • Monica

    August 2, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    LOVE Jack. Bought the DVD since they never show the Jon Stewart episode (probably because they want suckers like me to buy the DVD).
    I also highly recommend Signing Time. It’s not on PBS anymore though, so you have to buy the DVDs.

  • baby hair bows

    August 3, 2009 at 4:20 am

    My daughter loves Dora the explorer. She always has her map every time she watches Dora and dances while the song plays. 🙂

  • Cheryl S.

    August 3, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    My daughter (4 y/o) is obsessed with Caillou right now. He’s a whiner, but so is she. She’s grown out of the Dora phase (Thank GOD. Why does that child feel it necessary to YELL everything!) She likes SuperWhy, MickeyMouse clubhouse, some weird show called Pingu, and Curious George. She also likes Phineas and Ferb which is a bit “old” for her, but mommy likes it! 🙂

  • Laurellee

    August 3, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Angelina Ballerina is another good one. It’s on Comcast on demand, but PBS does carry it in some areas. Big Big World is also really great. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is another favorite at our house.

  • paranoid

    August 3, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Your take on the Upside Down Show cracked me up, because out family is the same way about it. I love it, M (3.5yo) doesn’t. She feels the same way about Imagination Movers (which I love).
    I cannot stand the Wonderpets — I’m pretty much hating any show that deliberately shows characters speaking incorrectly.
    A few weeks ago, we stumbled across Magic School Bus on Discovery Kids, and M has been obsessed ever since. I don’t like that channel because I have to be in the room to pause and FF through commercials, but the show is ok if you can ignore the teacher’s sadistic streak.

  • Emma B

    August 3, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    My girls, who are almost three, LOVE Wow Wow Wubbzy. Other favorites are Jack’s Big Music Show, Oswald, Wonder Pets, and the Backyardigans. They also will watch “older” cartoons like Spongebob and Phineas and Ferb for the visuals, though they don’t get the stories.
    My husband and I like Wubbzy, Jack, and the Backyardigans, are neutral on Oswald, and HATE THAT DAMN DUCK on Wonder Pets. Lazytown has been summarily exorcised from our Tivo.
    I also totally recommend the Laurie Berkner DVD. Her music is pretty non-annoying, and the girls like to dance around and sing along. My 10-month-old is equally fascinated, so your younger boy might like it too.

  • Kelly

    August 4, 2009 at 10:26 am

    The ONLY reason I have a youtube account is so Mama can make playlists of clips! We have a Caillou list and a Curious George one and you line up say 10 clips and click “play entire list” and BOOM! kids TV with no commercials.
    Also we find that “previewing” DVDs from our local library has saved us from buying DVDs that did not stand the test of time.

  • Wendy

    August 4, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I know I am probably going to get persecuted for this, but… I really think there is some corelation between Sesame Street and gifted children. My daughter LOVES Sesame Street. It is the only show that she is aware exists, though, outside of Mommy and Daddy tv shows. As a result, she now, at just 18 months, can count to 20. She also recognizes most of her letters. Other than provide her with educational toys (like the Leap Frog refrigerator magnets) we do very little “teaching” so it has to be SS that is teaching her these concepts. I have a degree in Early Childhood Ed – while I am not anti TV for kids, I do strongly believe that most of what is out there is crap. Stick to PBS – if your kid doesn’t get exposure to Dora, he won’t prefer her.

  • Emily

    August 4, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Ooh, also for the non-cablers (but with Netflix accounts) — Kipper, a sweet British animated series, can be played straight off of Netflix.

  • Kari weber

    August 5, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    OH MY GOODNESS! Lazy Town! What the heck?! It IS produced in Iceland, so make of that what you will…
    I have two boys, 4 and 3 months. The 4 year old, Zachary has lots of favorites. We too are huge Yo Gabba Gabba fans, love the episode with Jack Black! My son loves the Dancy Dance sequences, and gets up and tries to do the dances too. We are also Thomas Fans, and have gotten a ton of mileage out of renting the DVD’s from the local library instead of buying them. Mostly because there are like a Bajillion of them! Another favorite in our house is the Food Network. He will watch that for hours. LOVES to cook, often cooks things with Grammy, wants to help me, etc. Then I get a teachable moment in the kitchen and we can talk about measurement, counting, etc.
    We also second (third? fourth?):
    Miss Spider’s Sunnypatch
    Toot and Puddle (my favorite, from the books!)
    Phineus and Ferb (a bit older, but the kids are good role models, always thinking of others, and are not being naughty… plus it has a platypus!)
    Sesame Street
    FRAGGLE ROCK! (Rented the season’s from the Library, and he loved them, as well as the season’s of the old school Sesame Street…)
    We still get a ton of mileage out of our Baby Einstein DVD set. He likes the music, the calm images, and we have ones that explore counting, colors, shapes, etc. Added Bonus, we have a 3 month old who will soon be growing INTO those…
    We dislike:
    Caliou (although the computer games are good, lots of printable learning pages…)
    Dora and Diego (WHY ALL THE YELLING ALL THE TIME?!?!?)
    Wonder Pets- way to ruin a perfectly good Guinea Pig.
    Basically, there are lots of things that you can put on, and watch with your children. But, there are also a lot of good programs that are perfectly acceptable to be watched by the child alone. Just let them watch what YOU are OK with, and it will all be good.

  • Lori

    August 5, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Can I just say I am crying that I’m laughing so hard? We have watched almost every one of these you listed and I have had almost the exact same thoughts about each.
    I think your Wonder Pets review solicited the most tears from me however. I never quite made all those realizations you did. 🙂
    Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is in top contention w/Elmo’s World @ our house. Though my 2.5 yo son really only likes the magic words @ the start of Mickey. Once he makes the clubhouse appear he’s kinda over it.
    He’s fickle with Elmo’s World and sometimes loves the intro song and sometimes hates it. Sometimes he wants to watch Mr Noodle (who drives me insane) and sometimes he doesn’t.
    Recently my FIL gave him a DVD of old Tom & Jerry cartoons. He loves to watch them blow each other up and thinks it’s funny. That scares me. A lot.

  • Kimberly

    August 6, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    This is freaking hilarious. Please to be repeating the Noah vs. Amy commentary very shortly.

  • Alyssa

    August 10, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Most all our PBS faves have been covered (I fear starting a Disney/Nickelodeon dependency. We have cable now, but as they get older, I do not want an attachment to shows like Hannah Montana formed so we might be getting rid of it as kids get older) except Sid the Science Kid. I think this is a really great show for teaching young kids more advanced concepts than they get anywhere else. There is an episode all about incline planes, for heaven’s sake. I also love that they have some weird characters in there– the other kids in Sid’s class are all different but they get along and that’s something they have to deal with when they start school. It’s not directly addressed but you can just tell… that May is a little off, but all the kids treat her just the same. And the animation is exciting enough for my 16 month old.
    And I have to fourth/fifth/tenth/whatever the hatred for “Caillou”. I didn’t know there were so many others like me out there… I want to punch that whiny brat in his giant head.
    Also, I have to put in a plug for one Nickelodeon show. “Penguins of Madagascar”. It’s geared toward slightly older kids, but my little guy just thinks they are funny when they fall down or when King Julian dances around and I actually enjoy the humor. I pick that show over just about an other if I get a choice.

  • Lisa

    August 11, 2009 at 1:02 am

    Whatever happened to Mama Mirabelle? So cute, on PBS, no yelling or whining! It disappeared last fall.
    J’s current fave is MISTER ROGERS. I am not kidding. It showed up on Tivo ‘suggestions’ and I have to say that it is kind of perfect for him. He’ll be 3 in October. Mr. R is kind of crazy slow in comparison to everything that is produced nowadays, but that is helpful to my world weary brain at the end of the day.
    And it’s an improvement over Dragon Tales which was the previous obsession.

  • Liss

    August 12, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Abby (3.5) puts Backyardigans near the top of her list, and still has a soft spot in her heart for the Wiggles – but only the old episodes, not the heinous newfangled green-screen episodes. She enjoys Word World and Miss Spider, is ‘meh’ about Imagination Movers and the Upside Down Show, and will watch almost anything with Mickey Mouse.
    But her number one, hands-down favorite shows on television are “cake man”, also known as Ace of Cakes, and “mean cake man”, a/k/a Cake Boss. She is also a big, big fan of “crazy cooking people”, which you may know better as Iron Chef (any incarnation).