Well it’s almost over folks; the school year is coming to a close.
And I have expectations for the summer. Expectations that the kids will play outside nicely, spending the lazy hazy days of summer playing tag, running through the sprinkler, having a round of neighborhood hide & seek and just generally using their imaginations.
The reality is that they’ll do these things for about an hour then say “I’M BORED!”
The reality is that (with respect to Longfellow) into every summer a little rain must fall, literally, and I will have to come up with ways to entertain them indoors.
The reality is they will ask for TV and electronics.
The reality is I will give in.
But just because I am surrendering to the siren call of the best babysitter/silence generator ever, doesn’t mean I will let them watch plain old brain candy. No, no, no. I will trick them into learning something. How you ask? By bringing out the educational videos. Although truthfully it’s not tricking them when they love it. We make a point of going to the Library once a week during the summer where they each get to choose one book and one DVD. Here are some of our faves:
The Magic School Bus
The first time I saw this I was a bit skeptical. But the more I watched with the kids the more I liked it. The Magic School Bus, driven by the quirky Ms Frizzle turns into a spaceship, a submarine, a blimp, and more as the class learns about bugs, sea creatures, the solar system, bacteria, the human body and more!
Bill Nye the Science Guy
Bill Nye is the MAN. I love his videos despite how cheesy they seem 15-20 years later. I adore that he has experiments in each video and we frequently try them at home. A particular favorite is making a cyclone in a bottle of water and the baking soda with vinegar volcano. The shows are quick paced and packed with information to keep the kids engaged and wanting more.
National Geographic Kids
Two of our favorites are Totally Tropical Rainforest & Creepy Creatures. These are two videos that the children themselves chose one afternoon at the library. Because of this I am frequently told that a daddy long legs is not actually a spider.
Based on the Dr. Seuss book, the adventures of Nick & Sally usually begin when they ask a question at the beginning of each episode. Thus the Cat appears in his Thingamajigger to take them around the world on a science discovery mission. This series is aimed towards preschoolers but is so well done that it still engages my 6 & 8 year olds.
Another show aimed more towards the preschool set, this is a really well done show about a team of reading superheros. It really encourages the kids to read along and participate with the adventures. Whyatt, aka Super Why and his friends Pig, Red Riding Hood, and Princess Pea, start with a problem, which they solve by saying “When we have a question, we look… in a book!”
The classic. Very educational and in unique ways: watching Sesame Street is how I learned to speak English. True Story. My family spoke only Greek at home so that was all I understood at first until I was a preschooler and my mom would plop me in front to the TV when it came on. See, TV is a time honored tradition for busy moms!
My kids are dinosaur fanatics. Even though they are not as hard core as they used to be, they still love both these videos and could say all the long winded and complicated dino names properly by the time they were 2. Walking with Dinosaurs is a documentary of the evolution of dinosaurs using ‘real’ CGI dinos. It follows the classic animal documentary format of giving the dinosaurs personalities and following them along their journey. The Essential Dinosaur Pack is a compilation of several Discovery Channel Dinosaur shows and documentaries. For younger dino fans, Dinosaur Train is surprisingly educational too.
What are your favorite educational DVD’s for children?