By Michelle Mady
I am a preschool teacher and a mom of five. I love the chaos of childhood and the ability to learn (and teach) something new every day. I can’t get enough of kids music and really enjoy playing preschool aged games. But TV shows? Can’t do it.
Sure, Daniel Tiger highlights social skills, and Bluey has parents that enjoy playing with their children. The Octonauts practice counting, and Paw Patrol is always here to save the day. These shows (and many others) have great lessons and tend not to be overbearing in how those lessons are prevented. But honestly? They hurt my head.
These shows (and many others) have great lessons and tend not to be overbearing in how those lessons are prevented. But honestly? They hurt my head.
I will be frank, there is something about children’s cartoons that just doesn’t resonate with me. They already have so much sensory stimulation through music, toys and other activities, does a primary color splattered Catboy really need to be the one presenting a lesson? There are some children’s shows that I ADORE, and they all just happen to be live action, rather than cartoons.
So if you’re like me and animated kids’ shows aren’t even in the ballpark of possible tv-time viewing, here are a few fantastic option B’s to check out.
I might be reaching far back with this one, it came out in 1999, but it is the perfect show for any animal-loving kid. It is a live action show featuring the Kratt Brothers - yes, THOSE Wild Kratt brothers. Chris and Martin Kratt bring you to their forest home and introduce you to some amazing animals. Many of which you rarely get to see, even at the zoo! They do use a bit of claymation to show off some animal adaptations, but it is largely a show with real animals doing real things.
Check out "Zaboomafoo" on Prime Video or Youtube.
My boys loved watching Imaginations Movers on Disney Junior when they were younger (the show came out in 2008). Think The Wiggles, but for a “cooler” audience. There is a problem that needs a solution in every episode, and although their solutions don’t always work out, they work together and get a big idea to save the day. There are silly characters, fun adventures, and there’s always a new song to tap your foot to! If you’re on the fence, check out some of their songs. I still play those songs in my classroom that my 17-year-old grew up with.
Check out "Imagination Movers" on Disney Plus.
Peep and the Big Wide World
This is the one animated show on my list. But check out an episode and you will find out why quickly. An unlikely trio of friends includes a duck, a newly hatched robin and a baby chicken. They explore everything from colors to changes in weather and meet new friends along the way. The friends don’t know a lot about a lot, but learn along the way, making it a great compliment to preschool learning.
Check out "Peep and the Big Wide World" on PBS Kids.
Television shows can be a nice reprieve from a day in the life of a preschooler, but it can also be a nice break for parents. Mr. Rogers is someone I see as a sort of mentor, and his thoughts on the value of children’s television were revolutionary. When I read his testimony, it reminds me to use screen time as not only a break from reality, but a tool to enhance children’s learning and provide them opportunities for experiences typically out of their reach.
About the author: Michelle is a mom of 5 children ranging in age from 5 to 15. As a toddler and preschool teacher, she shares experiences, activities and guidance to other parents, as both a parent and as a professional early childhood educator, at any stage of their parenting journey.