I decided to do a tip/review on the videos that my kids watch, because we get a lot of questions like, “Wow, you don’t watch paid TV! (gasp, horror…!) So what do your kids do and watch? Aren’t they missing out?”
We do not watch pay TV because I just got so tired of trying to censor the adult adverts in between the children’s programmes when my first son was young, and then having to monitor every programme that he watched in case it contained inappropriate content. So my husband and I decided to get rid of TV watching and find another solution.
We do not watch a lot of videos, but do find it relaxing and educational for the kids to have a certain time of the day when they can view videos (not TV), and we can either sit and chat to them about what they are watching (which is very important), or get down to business while they watch on their own (e.g. catch up on household chores or do something that requires uninterrupted concentration).
This is what we found works for us and here is how we do it:
- We go onto YouTube,
- Download videos that we (the parents) then watch and make sure they are safe, educational, non-violent, peaceful and along the lines of our belief system. Videos that we want our children to safely think about and learn from, as well as to be able to relax during watching and not stress them out unnecessarily.
- We put all these downloaded videos onto a computer and at a certain time of the day, the kids can watch whatever they choose to watch, and we then know that they are viewing decent things.
- At the end of viewing, our kids have then learnt valuable lessons, are informed appropriately, are more knowledgeable, and feel happy, at peace and relaxed about the world around them.
Here are some of the videos that we have downloaded and that I recommend. Some are for very small children and others are for older ones; some are for pure pleasure, and others are more educational. We self-educate our children (some people call it homeschooling) i.e. they do not go to school. We believe that there is not a single learning period in a child’s day, but rather that children love to learn all day and are able to absorb loads more than we give to them. Therefore we try to include learning opportunities at every stage of the day. Videos should be no exception and our kids watch light-hearted Winnie the Pooh in the same fashion as they watch Hoopla Kidz educational material.
The list is in alphabetical order and I have colour coded each type of video, in the hopes that this will help you to easily find the type of viewing that you are looking for:
- Green: educational, focusing on animals, nature / wildlife
- Orange: focusing on art, creativity
- Plum: language videos e.g. Spanish, French
- Pink: videos for babies and toddlers
- Blue: entertainment videos with life lessons
- Purple: music, singing, dance
- Red: educational focusing on science, mathematics, the alphabet
- Andy’s Wild Adventures: CBeebies TV series which helps children develop an understanding of animals and their habitats. I find the series on dinosaurs a bit scary for little ones but the episodes on animals are very educational and fun to watch for all ages (e.g. elephants, meerkats, ottos, hippos etc).
- Art for Kids Hub: A dad and his three kids give Art Lessons for children. Just check them out first because some of them are not relevant for little ones, i.e. I don’t believe that Pokemon, ghosts and monsters are the right thing for anyone to have floating around in their heads, but they do have excellent lessons on how to draw animals, food, musical instruments, plants, sports, toys etc. They also teach children how to fold Origami designs.
- Baby Abuelita: Spanish lessons set in a lovely animated story with a granddad and grandma teaching their grandchildren about various things in their lives. Great life lessons, very good explanations of Spanish words and fun stories.
- Baby Einstein: The videos are for babies from birth to three years showing them simple patterns, puppet shows, and familiar objects, such as everyday items, animals, and toys accompanied by classical music (written by composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), for an easy, relaxing way meant for a baby’s ear. My older kids also like to watch though, as it calms them and is fascinating to watch.
- Berenstain Bears: An animated video about a family of bears that teach children life lessons in a fun, entertaining way.
- Blaze and the Monster Machines: These videos are about AJ, an 8-year-old techie boy who drives monster-truck Blaze, the top racer in Axle City. The two go on adventures with other monster-trucks that have them taking on problems involving science and math. A brilliant way to help kids understand things like force, velocity etc. Not only for boys, as my girls enjoy it too.
- Blippi: An energetic and lovable charismatic educational chap that jumps off the screen with his goofy mannerisms but friendly demeanor. Children from the ages of 2 to 9 years old can learn from his innovative teaching lessons about subjects such as maths, colours, vehicles, science etc.
- Bob the Builder: Bob the Builder and his pals dig, haul and build together to solve problems and get things done with a positive attitude!
- Bounce Patrol: Bounce Patrol is a children’s entertainment group from Melbourne, Australia. They make family-friendly music and songs for kids that are a lot of fun to sing and dance along to.
- BrussPup: Amazing illusion and science videos.
- Charlie and Lola: Charlie is always teaching his 4-year-old sister, Lola, all sorts of things. Whether it’s trying new foods, getting a haircut or losing a tooth, Charlie’s been there and is happy to share his wisdom with his little sis. The series incorporates family values, humor and the power of the imagination.
- Coilbook: This is an educational multimedia company, who make learning easy and fun for all children. Their playlist includes cartoons about numbers, shapes, colours, traffic signs… learning with their friendly robot and shape roller coaster. Exceptionally well animated videos!
- Come Outside: This brilliant British series encourages children to learn about the world around them. The starting point for each programme is something with which children may already be familiar, such as wood, paper, boots, spiders, buses, soap and street lamps. The two main characters are Auntie Mabel (played by Lynda Baron), and her dog Pippin. A feature is Auntie Mabel’s unusual mode of transport: a small aeroplane.
- Cubeez: A British animated TV show aimed at pre-school children aged 2–5, but older children enjoy watching it as well. The four box-like characters, Bozz, Doody, Dink and Tizzy are accompanied on their adventures by a talking paintbrush and a variety of creative characters. Each episode has a strong educational element and features live-action footage of children.
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: This is about 4-year-old Daniel Tiger, who invites a new generation of preschoolers into the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Daniel and his friends have fun and learn practical skills necessary for growing and developing.
- Debbie Doo: A fun loving, caring and bubbly character who really loves to sing and dance. With her bright pink hair and infectious smile, using positivity, Debbie Doo sings while teaching lessons to inspire, delight and encourage adult and child interaction through her uplifting movement based songs and videos.
- Doodlebops: A colourful Canadian pop band that encourage kids to dance and sing along to their music. The characters Rooney, Moe, and Deedee Doodle teach age-appropriate lessons, such as to never give up, why reading is fun, sharing, trying new things etc in a very unique way.
- Ed and Eppa in the Wild: An informative fun educational video series about a brother and sister who are visiting earth from another planet and who learn new things about the animals on earth, e.g. penguins, sharks, crocodiles, tigers etc.
- Gigglebellies: Gorgeously animated musical videos with very catchy beautifully written songs.
- Guess How Much I Love You: The story of two Nutbrown Hares, Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare. Little Nutbrown Hare asks Big Nutbrown Hare the question, “Guess how much I love you?”, and the stories continue as the two use larger and larger measures to quantify how much they love each other in answer to the question. The story is simple, but effectively shows the love the two share for each other, while discussing other life issues like sharing, how nests are built, noticing the things around you etc.
- Guess with Jess: Jess the Cat from “Postman Pat” stars in his own show. At the beginning of each episode, Jess comes across a big question that he investigates with help from viewers and his friends, Willow, a pony that acts as a wise motherly figure to the cat, and Billie, a mouse that carries a magnifying glass and binoculars to further investigate the question. Throughout their adventures, Jess and friends learn about the world around them.
- Handy Manny: In the town of Sheetrock Hills everyone gets help from handyman Manny Garcia and his talking tools. The series teaches basic Spanish words and phrases, and exposes kids to Latin culture. Other lessons focus on working together and problem solving as a team.
- Hoopla Kidz: An educational series that revolves around nursery rhymes, pre-k content, basic numbers and language learning, kids’ recipes, art and craft, and children’s entertainment.
- Imagination Movers: The series focuses on the Imagination Movers: Dave, Rich, Smitty, and Scott, who live in the “Idea Warehouse,” which has a wide variety of rooms with differing climates and sizes, such as a “Jungle Room”, a “Wind Room”, etc. In every episode, they aid clients in problems (“Idea Emergencies”), and think up creative ways to solve said problems. They are often helped by Warehouse Mouse, and Nina, their spirited and ever-cheerful neighbor and friend. The Movers have special equipment to help them in their tasks. Fun videos worth watching to help with problem solving skills.
- KidsHealth: Educational series that teaches children in a humorous way about the various parts of their bodies and how they function.
- LazyTown: An Icelandic children’s educational musical comedy program based upon a children’s book created by Magnús Scheving, a gymnastics champion who also plays the character Sportacus. It is brilliantly produced to encourage children to follow a healthy lifestyle with the food that they eat and with exercise.
- Little Einsteins: Leo, Annie, Quincy and June are the Little Einsteins. This series is full of adventures that introduce kids to nature, world cultures and the arts in a brilliant way. Each episode has a mission and journey of discovery that incorporates a celebrated piece of classical music and a renowned work of art or world culture. The Little Einsteins use their passion and talents to work together and solve challenges very creatively.
- Monkey Monkey Music: Music, singing and dancing by singer Meredith LeVande, that kids love to join in with.
- My Animal Friends: This series is about wildlife seen through the eyes of a child. Really well done!
- My Friends Tigger and Pooh: a 6-year-old girl named Darby and her puppy Buster, join Winnie the Pooh and Tigger on adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood. To help solve mysteries, Pooh and Tigger wear homemade superhero costumes and become Super Sleuths. With their new friend Darby they tackle some of the Hundred Acre Wood’s wonders. Episodes feature singalong music and encourage young viewers to take a thoughtful look at the world they live in.
- Nina and the Neurons: A programme shown on the CBeebies channel to help kids understand basic science. Nina is a Neuroscientist who enlists the help of five Neurons (animated characters representing the senses) in her brain to answer a scientific question.
- Numbertime: A BBC educational children’s TV series that teaches about numbers, telling the time, money, shapes and mathematics. Cleverly put together and a lot of fun.
- Octonauts: An underwater exploring crew made up of anthropomorphic animals (having human characteristics). A team of eight adventurers who live in an undersea base, the Octopod, from where they go on undersea adventures with the help of a fleet of aquatic vehicles. It teaches about life under and on top of the sea, in a wonderful educational fun way.
- Oh Noah: An animation based on a curious, twelve year-old boy who learns new Spanish words each day while visiting his grandmother in Mexico.
- Patty Shukla: An American singer, songwriter and musician, and an internationally recognized expert in educational-interactive music for children.
- Peep and the Big Wide World: From the Peep website: “The animated series Peep and the Big Wide World gives wings to the innovative idea of teaching science and math to preschoolers. Wry and distinctive visual humor, charming plotlines, and lovable characters combine with a comprehensive science program to attract and engage kids three to five years old. Set in and around a pond, a bush, and a tin can, the show follows a newly hatched chicken named Peep, and his friends Chirp and Quack (a robin and a duck), on their daily adventures. Surrounding them is a large urban park — a place of great wonder and mystery, a place they are forever eager to explore, “the big wide world.” Each half-hour episode contains two stories which highlight specific science concepts, plus two live-action shorts presenting real kids playing and experimenting with these concepts in their own big wide worlds. Peep and the Big Wide World is a funny, engaging series that celebrates being curious, adventurous, and, for at least one character, being a duck.” My older kids (and husband) just love this series! It is definitely not only for younger viewers.
- Playschool: Play School aims to encourage a child to wonder, to think, to feel and to imagine. The program shows two wonderfully talented people taking the time to be with one child. They address the child directly and personally. Play School aims to extend the child’s interest and it encourages participation. Each program contains a story, some songs (both traditional and new) and a variety of play ideas with things to make and do.
- Pocoyo: Pocoyo, the curious toddler dressed all in blue, joins Pato the yellow duck, Elly the pink elephant, Loula the dog, Sleepy Bird and many others in learning new things and having fun.
- Postman Pat: This classic children’s series follows the adventures of everyone’s favourite postman as he carries out his mail rounds in the village of Greendale.
- Raa Raa: Raa Raa and his friends go on a journey through the Jingly Jangly Jungle learning and developing their communication skills through the use of Raa Raa’s 4Rs. All the stories are strong, simple and linear with lots of wordplay. The stories are easy to follow and easy to retell. Rhythm, rhyme, and repetition play an important role in all episodes linking vocabulary to real life experiences and actions. The stories always feature explicit pro social messages: co-operation, joint problem-solving and appropriate behaviour, but above all, there’s lots of jingly jangly jungle fun!
- Razzle Dazzle: A BBC television programme for children that airs on CBeebies. It is an educational show that features Razzledazzle, a male orange creature with floppy ears and big brown eyes. The programme is designed to get the viewer to focus on sound, and, by sliding down magical slides, Razzledazzle visits four fictional areas, “Rhyme Time”, “Chit Chat”, “Bish! Bash! Bosh!” and “Once Upon A Tale”.
- Ready Jet Go: Earth science and astronomy take center stage in this animated series from PBS Kids. Two neighborhood kids — Sean and Sydney — befriend the new kid on the block, Jet Propulsion, who just happens to be an alien from planet Bortron 7. Together they explore the solar system and how it affects the planet, while also learning about friendship and teamwork. The series features live-action interstitials with astronomer Dr. Amy Mainzer.
- Ruff-Ruff Tweet and Dave: A show, set up in a game-show format, that follows the three title characters — a dog, a bird and a bear — as they go on adventures, during which they must make choices. The questions the animated characters face help them decide what to do and how to better understand the world around them. Viewers are able to join in the fun by answering the multiple-choice questions.
- Show Me Show Me: Chris, Pui and the toys teach about a specific theme (such as polar bears) in their magical playroom. They have a lot of fun playing games, singing songs and practicing groovy moves…
- Special Agent Oso: This Special Agent bear has to complete various tasks or exercises for his training. By watching him, children are confronted with a simple task that he or she could have trouble completing. Oso’s Paw Pilot helps Oso with a simplified step-by-step guide to completing the task.
- Spot Bots: This Cbeebies show aims to help develop the observation and attention skills of the young viewers watching. The show features a series of live-action sketches. Each sketch contains fun games, and viewers are encouraged to join in with the puzzles at home. Featuring in every episode are the Spot Bots, adorable animated robots who love to play games and puzzles.
- Steve Irwin: Videos by Steve Irwin, the legendary crocodile hunter and wildlife warrior; an environmentalist and conservationist.
- Super Simple Songs: Original and classic songs made simple for young learners, focusing on creating songs that are appropriately paced, lyrically simple, full of space for movement, easily taught through gesture, and fun!
- Super Why: Four fairytale friends go on magical adventures and become reading-powered superheroes. The characters live in Storybook Village, which is accessible through a panel that is represented by an invisible question mark. Preschool children follow the Super Readers as they jump into books that come to life and learn how to spell and pronounce words.
- Tickety Toc: Tickety Toc Clock is a special clock located in the middle of a wall of clocks inside an old clock shop. The clock chimes the time every hour, but behind the clock’s face is an extraordinary world where things don’t always run smoothly. The show’s heroes are 8-year-old twins Tommy and Tallulah, who race against time to keep Tickety Toc Clock ticking and chiming the time. The siblings do everything with enthusiasm, commitment and positivity — even if it gets them further into trouble. Among the characters who live in the clock’s fantastical world are Pufferty, a dog-shaped train that helps the citizens of Tickety Town get around, maintenance man McCoggins and accident-prone rabbit Hopparoo, who is McCoggins’ apprentice and eventually hopes to become a full-fledged maintenance worker.
- Tikkabilla: A British Daily magazine program for preschool children, with songs, rhymes and surprise guests.
- The Learning Station: An educational children’s musical group, comprising the husband-and-wife team Don and Laurie Monopoli, and their friend Jan Hrkach. Brilliant songs that teach loads and are lots of fun.
- Treetop Family: Treetop Family is an animated show for kids from the creators of Super Simple Songs. It’s full of adorable characters, catchy original nursery rhymes, and lots of learning and fun.
- Veritasium: A fantastic educational science channel on YouTube created by Derek Muller, a physicist. The videos range in style from interviews with experts, such as 2011 Physics Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt, to fascinating science experiments, dramatisations, songs, and interviews with the public to uncover misconceptions about science.
- Woolly and Tig: A British series of 5-minute live action dramas about a three-year-old girl (Tig) and her toy spider (Woolly). The episodes focus on the feelings that children may have when faced with new experiences. Woolly talks Tig through how she is feeling and possible solutions.
- ZingZillas: A music show aimed at children. It is set on a monkey-shaped tropical island where everyone joins in to create music magic. They use musical influences from all over the globe from rock to soul, jazz to samba, big band to orchestra.
- Zoboomafoo: Martin and Chris Kratt star in this incredible series that teaches children how to respect and care for animals. Zoboomafoo, a playful little lemur, hangs around Animal Junction with Matt and Chris. The watering hole is an animal pit stop where a steady stream of animal visitors wander in from around the globe. The series uses music and sounds from around the world, puppetry, animation and Claymation (Claymation is the generalized term for clay animation, a form of stop animation using clay) to entertain kids.
- Zou: About the day-to-day life and adventures of a young animated zebra, Zou (Bizou), and his family and friends. Zou lives with his mother, father, grandparents, and great-grandmother. Each episode features some simple problem or issue that Zou must deal with, usually with the assistance of his family and friends. Available in English, French and Spanish.
We are discovering new videos all the time and I will update this list as I find ones that I feel are worth sharing about.
Let me know in the comments box, if you have any favourites that are not on my list (or rather your kids do…). I would love to check them out.