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TTT: The Best Laid Plans, or 5 Preschool TV Shows I Actually Kind of Miss

My original plan for this month was to write about the annoying insipidness that is Paw Patrol. Then, my daughter thankfully stopped watching it, deciding instead that she was in love with a silly and also annoying Disney short film one-off, Lucky Duck, which is duly vapid, but not nearly troubling or amazing enough to make its own post. Which I guess is ultimately good for my sanity, if not my blogging.

I also confess to a bit of trepidation, since as it happens, the two worlds that I’ve recently discussed with the caveat that she hasn’t shown any interest in (Adventure Time, which is still one of my son’s regular DVRs and Scooby Doo, which just last month I discussed with mild nostalgia), have suddenly made their way onto my 4 year old’s radar.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. When he was 4, the elder child was highly enamored of the Mystery, Inc. gang and while their tastes have certainly differed over the years, her sudden interest – spurred by exposure to the characters at pre-school – isn’t a great surprise.

More interesting is her deep fascination with what she calls “Jake and Finn”. This I can trace – my husband showed her the “Food Chain” episode, thinking – accurately – that our bird obsessed child would find the science underpinning the episode fascinating. Yet, I was still unprepared when she started asking for “[brother’s nickname] bird movie”. Finally she added, “with the yellow dog who turns pink” and I figured it out.

While it is certainly nice to actually be watching things that are at least remotely independently interesting, I actually find myself missing some of the relatively uncomplicated shows directed to the toddler/pre-school years. So, without further ado –

5 Preschool Shows I Actually Kind of Miss

1. Backyardigans
This was one of my son’s favorite shows and probably the one that I most looked forward to sharing with my daughter. So, of course, she has no interest whatsoever in this quintet of brightly colored anthropomorphic animal friends and their vividly imagined musical adventures. This doesn’t stop me from still calling “Yetiyetiyeti!” whenever mention is made of that fantastical beast.

2. Maggie and the Ferocious BeastMaggie
Sadly, I’ve seen no sign of this show anywhere on cable this time around, although DVDs and on-demand are available through Amazon and possibly other outlets. It is a very sweet little show about a girl named Maggie and her friendship with a large yellow creature named simply, Beast (spoiler: he’s not at all ferocious) and a very anxious pig named Hamilton.

3. Team Umizoomi
This was one of my daughter’s discoveries and I kind of love it, notwithstanding the somewhat overbearing gendering of Milli and Geo. Gee, pink and blue, so creative. What I love about it is that it doesn’t shy away from encouraging a love of math in even the youngest and girlyest. We definitely saw an inclination toward numbers in our daughter and Umizoomi just cemented it. So while I would love to see the show be a little more balanced in terms of showing Milli being active and not always the emotional center of the team, it’s still a program that doesn’t make me sigh inwardly whenever it is onscreen.

MSB4. The Magic School Bus
We still have time to reinject this one into our household, since it definitely skews a little older than most of these shows and I have high hopes for encouraging my daughter’s love of science with Miss Frizzle and her erstwhile students. I do think my son was a little disappointed that he never had a teacher who was quite as into science as the Frizz, but we try to offset that by being super into science activities at home.

5. Dora the Explorer/Go Diego Go
This is probably my biggest secret shame. I kind of love Dora and Diego. My son was right in the Dora sweet spot when they spun off Diego as a more boy-centric show (because heavens forfend a boy play with girl-shaped plastic figures), and simultaneously made Dora more glitter-girly. But I have a deep feeling of nostalgia for Dora and Boots and Swiper, and Diego and Alicia and the Bo Bo Brothers.

I could go on – Blue’s Clues, Yo Gabba Gabba, Little Einsteins, Between the Lions all could have a place on this list depending on my mood, but at some point life must go on. So how about you? What kids shows do you not necessarily turn off even after the kids have gone to bed?

Emily Sexton

Writer of incomplete novels, entertainment lawyer, mom of two with a wide age spread, blogger here and elsewhere, wannabe vocalist and v/o actress, atheist, weirdo. That last bit went without saying. Find Em on twitter @emandink and maybe she'll use it more.

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  1. Magic school bus is on Netflix and Dora and Diego are on Amazon Prime for free. 🙂

    When I was younger, there was a show called David the Gnome that I loved. I also used to watch Eureka’s Castle, Maya the Bee, and some Koala Bear Show. They weren’t exactly the most educational but they were fun.

  2. We loved Jack’s Big Music Show. They have one DVD available with 4 episodes, but most of the episodes seem to be unavailable, which is a shame.

  3. I genuinely enjoy watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. It’s a relatively recent spin off of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood featuring the animated, pre-school age children of Daniel Striped Tiger, King Friday, Lady Elaine, etc. It has catchy songs which are incredibly useful for everyday life situations, about getting ready for bed, trying new foods, and handling emotions. I sing them to myself sometimes to help me handle life: “It’s okay to be sad sometimes,” “When you feel so mad that you want to roar / take a deep breath and count to four” “Do something nice for your neighbor”…

    Unfortunately we’ve seen every episode dozens of times, and it’s not holding my three-year-old’s interest as much. So now we’re watching “Doc McStuffins” on Disney Junior. Which also has catch little songs, and has my kid pretending to be a doctor a lot, so still good.

  4. Shaun the Sheep, which is created by Aardman Studios (of Wallace and Gromit fame), is completely adorable. There is no dialog, but they still manage to tell fun stories in baah’s and barks, as the sheep and shepherd dog (who looks a lot like Gromit) have adventures on the farm. My younger son is utterly transfixed by it, and it has three seasons on Amazon Prime.

    When my older son had his tonsils out, he watched every episode of Wild Kratts, more or less on loop. It’s an animated nature show, that spices the formula up by giving the characters a different super power (Creature Power) each week, based on the animal they are learning about. His favorite episode is about a wolf cub called Little Howler. It’s on Amazon Prime and Hulu+.

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