TV does not have to be a bad thing for children; it just depends on what they watch, how much, and what happens to them when they are done watching. Parents decide. I could always count on PBS for shows that engaged my children–but my boys are choosy and not every show is for them. Shows may air many times during the day but we also like to rent older episodes from the library or Netflix so we can watch favorites when they fit into our schedule.
Here’s our top picks (by age):
For ages 2 to 4.
Sesame Street, the recipient of 85 Emmys, engages children with its unique blend of excitement, humor, and compassion. Sesame Street helps children learn and grow in a constantly changing, continually challenging environment. Funded in part by a Ready To Learn cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Education through PBS.
For ages 2 to 6.
Brothers Chris and Martin Kratt and the irresistibly playful lemur Zoboo explore the wondrous lives of creatures and the world in which we all live. A lively mix of formats – from live-action to claymation – create a fun and energetic learning environment where young viewers get their first introduction to animals.
For ages 3 to 6.
This animated adventure series, produced by the creators of Blue’s Clues, is based on the adventures of four fairytale friends who live in Storybrook Village: Whyatt Beanstalk, Jack’s younger brother; Red, from Little Red Riding Hood; Pig, from the Three Little Pigs; and Princess, from The Princess and the Pea. In each episode, they transform into their superhero alter egos, the Super Readers, and literally fly inside books using the power of literacy to solve problems. All the while they engage a fifth superhero, Super You, who is actually the viewer.
For ages 3 to 6.
Dinosaur Train embraces and celebrates the fascination that preschoolers have with both dinosaurs and trains while encouraging basic scientific thinking and skills as the audience learns about life science, natural history, and paleontology with Buddy, an adorable preschool-age Tyrannosaurus Rex and show host renowned paleontologist Dr. Scott Sampson.
Sid the Science Kid
For ages 3 to 6.
Kids learn answers to questions such as: What’s hair for? How do birds fly? Sid the Science Kid, like most preschoolers, loves to observe and investigate objects and events that are part of daily life. In doing so, he learns that science is all around us. Sid uses humor to show young children that they can “do” their own science and make new discoveries every day.
Sid the Science Kid, co-produced by The Jim Henson Company, is created by a revolutionary process known as “digital puppetry.” Performers puppeteer and voice digital characters in real time using 3-D computer-generated images. This ground-breaking technology results in a unique and captivating style of animation.
Between the Lions
For ages 4 to 7.
Theo, Cleo, Lionel, and Leona – a family of lions – run a magical library where characters pop out of books, vowels sing, and words take on a life of their own. The series combines puppetry, animation, and live action to help young children learn to read. Funded in part by a Ready To Learn cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Education through PBS.
The Electric Company
For ages 6 to 9.
A revival of the classic 1970s children’s show that encourages literacy through stories and interstitial segments. More than 30 years later, the show has been re-energized to relate to today’s kids with a hip, young cast and a dose of pop culture. It strives to power up children’s fundamental reading skills with music, humor, technology, and celebrities.
The Electric Company is a group of friends who share a love of language and are sworn to do the right thing. They solve problems and prevail against their neighborhood’s pranksters by using their literacy superpowers.
Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman
For ages 6 to 10.
Part game show, part reality TV, and part spoof, FETCH! features real kids, real challenges, real science, and an unreal, animated dog host named Ruff Ruffman.
For ages 8 to 12.
A world where the dastardly villain Hacker is on a mad mission to take over Cyberspace with the help of his blundering henchbots, Buzz and Delete. But heroes Inez, Jackie, and Matt are three curious kids determined to stop him with the help of their cyberpal, Digit. Their weapon: brain power.
Each episode takes the heroes on a thrilling adventure driven by a different math concept, and kids learn that math is everywhere and fun to use! In For Real, the live-action segment following each animated episode, Harry and Bianca show kids how math can help solve life’s wacky problems in the real world.