Great Learning TV, Movies & Music

While books are certainly my favorite teaching tool, there are times when television and movies can help, too.  We really only watch PBS Kids shows, because there are so many great ones and we don't spend a lot of time in front of the TV.

Sesame Street
Greysen and Camden, ages 5 and 3, do not like to sit through the whole hour program of Sesame Street.  They are not fond of Elmo's World.  But the stories usually have some very good lessons, so we typically only watch the first 30 minutes.  We also love Sesame Street videos, which are available on their website, but I've found all of the best ones on YouTube and I have saved them as Favorites (see below).

Word World
This is my favorite show - yes, MY favorite.  It is brilliantly designed and appeals to a wide range of ages.  We started watching when Greysen was quite young.  It's fun, colorful, has music and is a great learning tool.  The show helps Camden now with her alphabet and Greysen loves it to further his reading skills.  They cover a lot of different word-building and reading topics.

Super Why!
This is about "the power to read," so what parent wouldn't love it!  Greysen is just reading early readers, so this show is perfect for him, but it is actually Camden's top pick.  I love things that entertain and educate - it means they're learning without realizing it!

Wild Kratts
All kids love animals.  This is a great adventure education show.  The Kratt brothers focus on a specific animal or group each show and there is usually some crazy storyline about them using a creature power suit to transform into an animal.  But along the way we learn a lot about the animals.  

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
And our new favorite addition to the already fantastic PBS line-up.  This show brings Mr. Rogers of my youth and all the wonderful lessons he bestowed.  My kids now sing a little song about anger if they (or Mommy or Daddy) get angry: "If you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four, 1, 2, 3, 4"  and they actually calm down.  And it makes me so proud that I forget my anger.  There are lots of other cute little songs that relate to the lessons - such as "grown-ups come back" (when being left with a babysitter).  I thought it pandered to the youngest of children, but my kindergartner loves it, too!

Stella and Sam
This is a wonderful show for empowering the imagination.  Stella and Sam are fabulously creative and most of their time is spent outdoors.  We find this show on Sprout, but it may be available in other locations.

Lilly's Driftwood Bay
Another terribly creative show to enhance kids storytelling activities.  Lilly uses rocks, sticks and other things from nature to create her characters and stories.  It truly is delightful even for parents.

Leap Frog DVD's
These are fantastic!  We have seen most of them via the library, but the two we are most familiar with are Letter Factory and Talking Words Factory (we own them).  By 2.5 Greysen knew the basic phonetics of every letter of the alphabet, and Camden is almost there, too.  Not just the ABC's, but phonics!  The videos run around 30 minutes and include very catchy music.  We are often singing "every letter makes a sound" or "punc-punc-punc-punctuation"!

I don't really like to advertise for YouTube, as it can be a dangerous place for children.  There are far too many homemade videos (even of Elmo) that are not appropriate for a young audience.  But I have found that I can save a Favorites list.  Then we can go on YouTube (on the computer or iPad) and have a video dance party to a lot of great music.  Some of our favorite videos are:
- sings What I Am
- Bruno Mars: Don't Give Up
- OK Go Three Primary Colors
- ABC Hip Hop with Miles
- The Alphabet with Elmo and India Arie
- Outdoors with Jason Mraz
- Try, Try Again song
- Feist sings 1 2 3 4
- LL Cool J goes on an Addition Expedition
- Guess the Seasons
- anything SteveSongs
- among many others.

We adore SteveSongs from PBSKids.  His sound is a bit like James Taylor - a man with a pure voice and his guitar.  The songs are just fantastic.  Some are very educational, some are just silly, but it is a great combination of both.

Online Storytime
Barnes & Noble has a great online storytime (I just wish it was available on the iPad).  Typically the author or a celebrity narrates the book.  It is a great way to find and listen to unfamiliar and familiar books.  They add a new book every month.  Find it here:

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