Educational Television for Children, Part 3 of 3

Part 3 of Will Too Much T.V. Hurt My Children?

This is what happens when we get busy and forget about our afternoon T.V. time! —–>

I thought I’d follow-up my series about watching television with a list of the shows that my kid’s love to watch.  There are, of course, more great shows out there, but this is what we’ve been able to watch via Apple TV/Netflix.  Most of these you can access on Netflix, but there’ s a few we purchased on iTunes that you can’t get on Netflix – I put a star next to those.

If you aren’t already aware of either Apple TV, the Roku Box, or similar gadget, I highly recommend it.  The gadget isn’t too expensive, and if you can get Netflix on it, it’s only $8 a month to have access to some great programming.  All the nature shows listed below were found on Netflix. If you have questions, feel free to e-mail me!

What isn’t listed here:  the movies my kids watch, the sitcoms we occasionally watch together, or shows that they’ve only watched once or twice.  What is listed below makes up 95% of what they watch, and they have watched the kid’s programs over and over.  They usually pick a show and watch through all the episodes we have access to.  Right now my eldest is in a Curious George marathon.

To find out how often my boys watch T.V. and how I regulate it, go to my last post.

Shows they watch on their own:

  • Disney’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse* ~ Very first show for both my boys at the age of 2. The five-year-old still likes it.
  • My Friends Tigger and Pooh* ~ Very prosocial, I believe.
  • Curious George
  • Dinosaur Train
  • Kipper
  • Word World*
  • Disney’s little einstein’s*
  • Super Why! ~ Probably one of the best with helping to learn how to read.
  • Caillou
  • Backyardigans
  • Dora the Explorer
  • Go Diego Go
  • Thomas and Friends
  • Bob the Builder
  • Walking with the Dinosaurs ~ This is probably not for everyone or for very young children.  My oldest son didn’t watch these until he was little older, and it’s only been recently that the 2-year-old started liking them. (No, make that loving them.)  It’s a documentary-like program with computer generated dinosaurs recreating what life might have been for the dinosaurs.  It can be rather gruesome at times too. (We let them watch Walking with the Dinosaurs on their own because we’ve watched with them enough to explain what’s happening.)

A note about nature shows:  Programs depicting how animals live (or how prehistoric animals might have lived) can be violent and sad, but frankly I think super heroes or other adult shows are just as bad, if not worse.

As a typical boy, my five-year-old picked out the animal-eating-other-animal after watching just one or two nature shows, and that is what most of his make-believe is about.  Neither of us introduced it or encouraged it (except for letting him watch nature shows).  It just happened.  I think no matter what he watched or what we hide from him, he’s going to find some way to let this natural, boy aggressive behavior out.

Frankly, I would rather he pretend about animals rather than pretend-play with guns.  My boys don’t watch super-hero cartoons or anything else like that.  For the record, I think stories with super heroes can have some very good, moral lessons in them, but I’m glad we happened to navigate to the world of animals in our house.  Though life in the wild can be cruel, my son understands that animals have to do these things to survive.  He’s learning about the natural world through a scientist’s eyes, and he’s developing a keen appreciation for nature while learning that life is not easy either.

Here are some wonderful documentaries we’ve been able to watch on Netflix.  I think I’ll add to this list as we watch more because it makes for good record-keeping for my son’s portfolio.  (Opps. I haven’t kept this promise – see below.) They are in no particular order, but I put my favorites on top.  Actually, I loved them all!

  • National Geographic: Climbing Redwood Giants
  • National Geographic: Gabon: The Last Eden
  • National Geographic: American Serengeti
  • Nature: Wolverine
  • All of David Attenborough’s wildlife specials (BBC)
  • Turtle: The Incredible Journey
  • The Last Continent
  • Colossal Squid
  • National Geographic: Antarctica Wildlife Adventure
  • National Geographic: Incredible Human Machine
  • Discover Planet Ocean
  • Discover: Prehistoric Planet
  • Journey Into Amazing Caves: IMAX
  • Animal Planet: Safari
  • Beavers: IMAX
  • National Geographic: Creepy Creatures ~ good for Halloween
  • Lizard Kings: On the Trail of the Monitor Lizards: NOVA (PBS)
  • National Geographic: Secret Yosemite
  • National Geographic: Bear Island
  • Wolves in Pardise
  • National Geographic: Thunderbeast
  • At Close Range with National Geographic
  • Antarctic Mission
  • National Geographic: Eden at the End of the World
  • National Geographic: Big Sur: Wild California

Please tell me about any shows I should watch that isn’t listed here!

UPDATE March 2013:  I’m sorry I haven’t kept my promise to update this list, but recently I have begun a Pinterest board of our favorite Netflix shows which I’m adding to (with commentary) as we watch them. Check it out here.

12 thoughts on “Educational Television for Children, Part 3 of 3

    1. Erica – Thank you for the comment. How could I forget Blues Clues?!! It’s been quite a while since the 5-year-old watched it, but we went through that series at one point, and he loved it. I would put it right up there with one of the best educational, shows! Thanks for reminding me!!

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  1. My 4-year-old absolutely LOVES Wild Kratts (the two brothers who teach kids about animals) and she watches it on Hulu all the time. I don’t think Netflix has it yet. My girls also love the Wonder Pets, Martha Speaks and Cat in the Hat on PBS. I think Cat in the Hat is one of the best shows on PBS these days… though… really, ALL of them are good.

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  2. Apparently, there are three snails hiding in each episode. My husband has become a bit obsessed with finding them all. One day, I made 3 or 4 pink snails like the ones in the show and hid them around the house — then moved them as the kids found them. It was very fun — and something my older one *still* talks about.

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  3. The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That is another fun preschool show that teaches about natural sciences. It’s relatively new ( 1 or 2 years I think). My 4 year old loves it and brings up stuff she learnes from it a lot. It’s a pretty pro-social show too, in my opinion.

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  4. LOVE the Roku box!.. We dumped cable 2 years ago and haven’t missed it. My boys don’t really even know what commercials are. They cry when one comes on at someone else’s house! Haha

    A few more popular ones at our house right now are Baby Class, a few Leap Frog movies, Mighty Machines, and the All About Trucks series (which includes Monster, Airplanes, Construction Trucks, Farm, Fire Engines….). Netflix used to have Word World and Sid the Science Kid. Sometimes we catch them on PBS with our antenna, but I just miss the whole series being on Roku.

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    1. Jackie – Thank you for your comment and these suggestions! I’ll have to look them up. I would love for Netflix to get Word World and Sid the Science Kid! Love those shows!

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