I don't know what it is - but Jonas can't handle any substantial plot developments. He says Dora is too suspenseful. That sneaky Swiper man, you never know when he might pop up. Yeah, he's almost 7. There aren't many shows that pass his high standards of being interesting, but not too crazy. Unfortunately, I have a low tolerance for annoying kid shows - so between the two of us it's tough to find something to watch in the afternoons when everyone needs a little break. Here's a list of not too scary yet cool shows that work for everybody:
Bill Nye the Science Guy. Russell and I are amazed at how awesome this still is. These shows teach so much and in such a funny and engaging way. Hooray for Summer learning!
Mr Rogers is the man. He's my hero. If my kids are going to be learning from somebody on tv - I want it to be him. They love him too. Parenting goal accomplished.
Kipper the Dog is my favorite little kid show. It's so mellow and subtle. It's funny and appeals to everyone. This is my favorite one to turn on when the kids are too wound up for one reason or another. 20 minutes of this helps everyone to calm down.
Shaun the Sheep is great. No dialogue, but hilarious in a way that even the smallest kids can understand. There are a few of these episodes that can be a little scary, so just skip when your kid start squealing. But for the most part they're just funny and silly.
Avatar the Last Airbender is the greatest show ever. Really, if you haven't seen this you should. If I didn't have kids I would still watch this. There are a few scenes that are a little intense - but it's easy to be there to help Jonas through it because the show is so good we're all there watching with him. It's funny and smart and engaging. Extremely well done. Don't let the anime stigma scare you off. This holds up against any genre.
The Magic School Bus gets full marks for education, imagination, and unrealistic expectations of field trips.This classic from my childhood is still unbeatable.
Zoboomafoo is one that my kids are really into lately. They love animals and this older version of the newer Wild Kratts has no bad guys and more real animals. Jonas will sing the theme song at the top of his lungs at the beginning of the episode, and then tell us jokes from here at the dinner table. Yeah, the lemur is still annoying, but I can deal with it for the educational trade off.
Dragon Tales. Teenage me would be chagrined to find that I'd ever be recommending this show. The voice acting on this one just rubbed me the wrong way. But here's something I didn't realize back then - this show is all about learning how to deal with your emotions. Yes for developmentally considerate television! My kids need this! I can't help but think that's the reason why an emotionally confused and stunted 14 year old me hated it. Oh how things change.
Pingu is a fun and silly claymation show out of Switzerland. Similar to Shaun the Sheep, there's no dialogue which makes it great for all ages. This one is good for some laughs and is a sure-fire winner when friends are over. No education to be had here. Whatever - gotta let loose sometimes. I can't handle too much of this one, but it's fun for a little bit.
Reading Rainbow is a sneaky way to get your kids to read books during their screen time. This show is getting older every year but is still relevant and awesome. Sigh, I love books.
Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood definitely skews to the preschool age kids in our house. Jonas will put up some mild resistance when it comes on, and then sits and watches the whole thing with Tess and Gwen. This show is a great parenting tool. The songs they have reinforce the principal being taught and make it easy to bring that learning into everyday life.
School House Rock was old even when I was little, but we loved it then, and my kids love it now. It's a great way to introduce the new and more challenging educational concepts for these little kids. Not scary at all and definitely catchy.
The Great British Baking Show. This one might seem like a suggestion a little out of left field - but it is honestly one of my kids favorites! Competing in a tent in a beautiful English field full of wildflowers, this low-key baking competition is a breath of fresh air. A reality cooking show where the contestants root each other on and don't act like their life is dependent on these muffins. Hallelujah! Good example for the kids and we have a lot of fun baking together as a family as a result.
Wallace and Gromit was a staple for me growing up. Back then clay-mation was pretty amazing and novel. It's still a great show that's fun for all ages. The later installments are a little more scary than the first. Ease into it and see how it goes.
Pixar Short Films have all the charm of the pixar movies without the two hour commitment and scary plot twists. Kids love these as much as adults. I don't need to sell you on these, really, cause Disney is pretty good at their advertising so you probably already own them. :)
Buster Keaton is one of the first big stars in Comedy and his silent films still hold true. The silly antics that he does are amazing and hilarious. The General is one of his best. Don't let the b&w silent format scare you away. It's totally interesting and engaging and kids don't know that they aren't supposed to like old movies unless you tell them so. See also Charlie Chaplin.
My Neighbor Totoro was a huge surprise to me when we watched it for the first time. I kept waiting for something bad to happen, and nothing ever did. Close to the end of the movie the little girl gets lost, but is quickly found (spoiler) and the mom is sick, but she gets better (spoiler again). It's subtle and totally imaginative. One of our family favorites.
The Iron Giant could be a little too scary for some kids - but for some reason Jonas is okay with it. The robot is just the coolest. It's a funny and exciting show that is extremely well done. One of the best and most underrated movies ever.
Milo and Otis. Now that picture just tells you everything that you need to know about this movie.This is a classic in Russell's family and now in ours. It's the grandfather to homeward bound and an ancient ancestor to the crass air bud movies. This was originally made in Japan and has a narrator telling a story over real footage of animals. No fake animal talking and CGI. It almost watches like a nature show which, granted, is not my favorite. But my kids love it, and since it's not mind-bogglingly stupid like some other animal shows out there (air bud) I allow it. (If Tess had been a boy we would have named her Milo, just fyi)
See more ideas for Summer Boredom Busters here!