Guide: The Best Little Kid Shows

Guide: The Best Little Kid Shows

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As your little kids start school, they’ll be exposed to more screen time throughout the day in their classrooms. This means that at home, playing, reading, homework and family activities should come before TV.

During the week, University of Michigan’s Michigan Medicine suggests limiting your little kids’ TV time to about an hour. The weekend, when there’s less computer and tablet time, is perfect for an extra episode of your kids’ favorite TV shows or a movie. It’s important to keep TVs in common areas, so you can keep track of both which TV shows your little kids are watching and how much time they’re spending in front of the TV.

When your younger family members do watch their favorite little kid shows, take time to discuss what just happened after the programs are over. Lots of TV shows for little kids contain moral lessons, conflict resolution and educational messages. Make sure your family is getting the most out of its screen time with these follow up conversations!

This guide to favorite little kid TV shows was created using Parents’ Choice Award winners, along with parent bloggers’ and educators’ suggestions. Each of these programs is rated as age appropriate by Common Sense Media and other industry organizations. However, keep in mind that what is okay for one kid isn’t always right for every kid. Little kids learn, grow and mature at different speeds, so use your personal judgement to decide what is right for your kids.

Amazing Planet

“…Amazing Planet is a spectacular nature series and educational programming at its best. It’s a great choice for families interested in exploring the world’s wonders together.” – Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Available on: Amazon Prime, iTunes

The Andy Griffith Show

“Unlike many family situation comedies we see on television these days where the mother and/or father are portrayed as bumbling fools, Andy Griffith was a strong, compassionate and loving father, not above making a mistake and saying he was sorry, but always cognizant of his role as the parent and all that entailed.” – Vivian Kirkfield, Writer for Children
Available on: Amazon Prime, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix

The Backyardigans

“The stories are amusing — especially for the preschool set — but the hook for both kids and parents is the music.” – Families.com
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Nick Jr., VUDU

Beat Bugs

“Cute little bugs + Beatles songs = TV-watching genius.” – Melissa Heckscher, Red Tricycle
Available on: Netflix

Between the Lions

“More precocious four-year-olds will enjoy this wonderful show’s focus on early reading skills, including phonics. But if your child is still learning her ABC’s, the program may be a little too advanced.” – Parenting.com Editors
Available on: DVD

Bottersnikes & Gumbles

“If your kids are looking for something new and fun to watch, this is your show. The animation is pretty breathtaking, definitely not your typical cartoon. One of the best things about the show is that I feel okay letting my kids watch it because it isn’t horribly violent and the characters aren’t super mean and rotten to each other.” – Candace, My Serendipity Life
Available on: Netflix

Charlie and Lola

“Based on Lauren Child’s books, which she began writing in 2000, imagination and sibling love/frustration are the key themes of this great brother and sister show.” – Glen Chapman and James Stansfield, Den of Geek
Available on: iTunes

Doozers

“The Pod Squad finds a problem around Doozer Creek and they have to solve it. What makes Doozers unique and really wonderful is that they solve those problems with engineering.” – Glen Tickle, The Mary Sue
Available on: Google Play, Hulu, iTunes

The Electric Company

“Refitted for the age of hip-hop and informed by decades of further educational research on reading, the 2009 version of ‘The Electric Company’ is a weekly, more danceable version of its former daily self.” – Michael Davis, New York Times
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, PBS Kids

Harold and the Purple Crayon

“Entering a world of simple illustrations (all outlined in purple of course), the bald baby sets off to discover the mysteries of life… In his travels he meets with moments of mild peril, such as a rushing river or a scary monster. But thanks to his quick draw with that magic purple crayon, Harold’s imagination finds clever and creative solutions.” – Donna Gustafson, Parent Previews
Available on: HBO GO/HBO NOW

Lost in Oz

“This is a wildly imaginative and brilliantly updated take on L. Frank Baum’s classic story wherein Dorothy accidentally ends up in Oz after finding a magical book hidden beneath the floorboards of her house.” – Angela Arsenault, Deceider
Available on: Amazon Prime

Maya & Miguel

“Maya & Miguel is infused with such heart and good humor that even its youngest fans won’t ever feel like they’re missing anything.” – Ginny Pelley, Common Sense Media
Available on: Google Play, Hulu, iTunes

Mighty Machines

“This show is brilliant for children who are interested in vehicles, as it shows many activities that most parents would struggle to take their child along to see in the real world, such as a building being demolished or a jet airliner being cleaned.” – Sophie Brown, GeekDad
Available on: Amazon Prime, iTunes, Netflix

The Muppet Show

“The sketches [are] still funny, the timing often brilliant; great guest stars and across The Muppet… there have been some great music jokes.” – Simon Sweetman, Off The Tracks
Available on: DVD

Nutri Ventures

“Through entertainment, the Nutri Ventures’ project aims to create a positive environment around the subject of childhood obesity in promoting healthy eating habits so that children can associate good feelings with healthy food choices, while parents are provided with a unique opportunity to influence their children’s eating habits.” – Alrou, Best in Portugal
Available on: Hulu

Octonauts

“What I like most about The Octonauts is it lights up my children’s imagination. It’s like I can see the creative sparks flying; quite remarkable really.” – Kelly, Be a Fun Mum
Available on: Amazon Prime, Disney Jr., Google Play, iTunes, Netflix

Planet Earth

“Simply put, ‘Planet Earth’ is the most important program of our generation… one that combines our expanding technologies and cinematic skills with the remote wildness of habitats without humans. It makes for a program that offers a vision of humanity’s relationship with our environment at its absolute and most idealistic best: One where we work mightily to contemplate, understand, and admire the mysterious natural world around us.” – Sonia Saraiya, Variety
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, VUDU

Postcards from Buster

“We are validating children who are seldom validated. We believe that ‘Postcards From Buster’ does this in a very natural way — and, as always, from the point of view of children.” – Marc Brown, Postcards from Buster creator
Available on: Amazon Prime

Rastamouse

“Cbeebies animated children’s TV series containing positive messages about male characters co-operating. Rastamouse, the patois-speaking musician, wants to make ‘bad things good’ and is interested in people working together and getting along.” – Zero Tolerance’s Guide for Childcare Professionals
Available on: Amazon Prime, Cbeebies, Google Play, iTunes

Ready Jet Go!

“Although the vocabulary and science explanations may be beyond the scope of the youngest viewers, the premise, characters, interesting art direction and upbeat action should hold their attention. Older kids are more likely to grasp the facts and even if they don’t remember them all, Ready Jet Go! will at the very least inspire curiosity, and plenty of questions…” – Gina Catanzarite, Parents’ Choice
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, PBS Kids, VUDU

Rugrats

“Created to appeal across the board to young and old children as well as families, it is a quirkily drawn show that describes the world from a child’s-eye-view, a vantage that is often uncomprehending but always slyly observant. Along the way, the show makes good-natured but biting fun of career-obsessed working moms, daydreaming dads, cranky grandparents and our media-driven consumer culture.” – Eric Schmuckler, NY Times
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, Nickelodeon

Sid the Science Kid

“I love that Sid the Science Kid includes a full, supportive family, including a mom, dad, and grandmother. Too many kids shows either eliminate or minimize the importance of adult family members, but here, everyone is important and contributes.” – Stacey Nerdin, The Scenic Life
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes Store, Netflix, PBS Kids

Tumble Leaf

“It is a charming show, featuring Fig the Fox and his friends exploring their world and figuring out how stuff works: shadows, reflections, springs, spheres, and more. Tumble Leaf features vivid stop-motion animation, beautiful music and quirky characters.” – Todd Bishop, GeekWire
Available on: Amazon Prime

Unlikely Animal Friends

“Unlikely Animal Friends is a National Geographic program that is sure to be an entertaining choice for families who love animals… In each episode, animal experts share interesting tidbits about topics like habitat conservation or typical animal behavior, all without sacrificing a second of adorable animal footage!” – Caroline Duda, SheKnows
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, Nat Geo Wild

VeggieTales in the City

“Larry, Bob and their Veggie pals expand their horizons, presenting colorful, inspiring tales from the city as well as their own backyards.” – Kim Shiffman, Today’s Parent
Available on: Netflix

Wild Kratts

“It is all very educational and fascinating, but my favorite part about this show is the relationship expressed between the brothers. So much I see on TV, especially with kid shows, is sarcasm and put-downs as humor. These brothers find a way to add humor and entertainment without any of that negativism. They encourage and support each other. I could just hug the makers of Wild Kratts. All my kids enjoy watching this together and I feel great turning it on for them.” – Cami, Tidbits
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, PBS Kids

WordGirl

“The mid-stream definitions and vocabulary development make sense within the framework of the arc of each story and work seamlessly inside the natural flow of the dialogue… Word Girl is a witty, fast-paced riot that’s got a nifty little educational component presented in a ridiculously clever way.” – Jeff, Out With The Kids
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, PBS Kids

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