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Top 10 Shows for Preschoolers

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Shows for preschoolers are one of my favorite topics, because I love that it is so "in" for preschoolers' shows to be both educational and fun. With the competition to be the most educational and beloved show, the choices for positive preschool fare are almost too many to process. Generally, both parents and preschoolers have their favorites, and there are definitely many shows that are beneficial and fun for kids ages 2-5. Here are 10 that are top rate as far as the entertainment and educational value they provide.

Also, if you are looking for a fun way to support a specific area of learning for your child, check out this list of Preschoolers' Shows by Curricular Subject.

1. The Backyardigans (Nickelodeon)

Backyardigans
Photo credit Nick Jr.

The Backyardigans are five adorable friends who put their imaginations together to turn their backyards into fantastical settings as they sing and dance their way through epic adventures. Each CGI animated show features original music, and the dance steps are performed by real dancers whose movements are recreated in animation. The show is incredibly entertaining -- so much so that there are numerous parent blogs devoted to it -- and it exposes kids to all kinds of music from South African Township Jive to rock opera. The show presents clever and unique music, plots and settings in each episode. Fans can watch the show on Nick Jr. or find Backyardigans episodes and movies on DVD.

2. Super Why (PBS KIDS)

Super Why
Photo © PBS KIDS

Super Why follows four friends -- Alpha Pig with Alphabet Power, Wonder Red with Word Power, Princess Presto with Spelling Power, Super Why with the Power to Read -- who use fairy tales to solve problems in their every day lives. The Super Readers invite Super YOU to come into the pages of a magical storybook world and help them. Kids follow along as the Readers read a story, talk with the characters, play word games, and relate the story's lesson to the problem they are trying to solve. The brightly colored characters make letters, spelling, and reading fun for preschoolers. Kids adore them, and fans of Super Why can be found searching for "super letters" in grocery stores, on signs, or wherever the now familiar symbols might pop out.

3. Bubble Guppies (Nickelodeon)

Bubble Guppies and Mr. Grouper
Photo courtesy Nickelodeon

Mixing learning, music, dancing, and fun in a variety show format, Bubble Guppies takes kids on under water adventures with adorable fish-tailed characters. Each episode finds the Bubble Guppies on their way to school. They always find some subject of interest on the way, and they explore the subject from many angles throughout the show. With the help of their teacher Mr. Grouper, the Bubble Guppies put their thinking and exploring skills into action as they have fun and learn. But, the best part of the show is the humor. Your kids will laugh out loud at the little jokes and silly situations that will tickle their funny bones as they watch and learn.

4. Team Umizoomi (Nickelodeon)

Team Umizoomi
Photo © Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

A 2D and 3D animated show from Nick Jr., Team Umizoomi educates and entertains kids as mini characters Milli, Geo, and their pal Bot use their mighty math powers to help children solve problems. In each episode, a real life child calls Team Umizoomi through Bot's belly TV for help with a problem or situation. Team Umizoomi gets right to work, using their mad mathematical skills to help them along the way. Kids have fallen in love with Milli and Geo, and math has taken on a whole new meaning.

5. Dora the Explorer (Nickelodeon)

Dora the Explorer New Season
Photo credit: Nickelodeon

A pioneer show in the realm of interactive cartoons for preschoolers, Dora the Explorer characters enlist the help of viewing kids, as Dora and her friends complete educational adventures. Kids learn about colors, numbers, shapes and more as they help Dora solve riddles and puzzles along her way. Dora, a seven-year-old Latina heroine, also throws in Spanish words, and kids are asked to repeat them or sing along with songs incorporating the words. The show has been a hit for over 8 years, and in 2008 Dora was updated with a new voice and some new curriculum points were added. This landmark children's series will continue to be in the top most loved learning shows for preschoolers for who knows how many years to come.

6. Between the Lions (PBS KIDS)

Between the Lions
Copyright © Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). All Rights Reserved

Between the Lions features a family of lions - Mom and Dad, named Cleo and Theo, and their children, Lionel and Leona - who run a library that is filled with the magic of books. The series combines puppetry, animation, live action and music to develop a literacy curriculum geared to beginning readers aged four to seven; however, younger preschoolers still enjoy the show and can get a lot out of it. Characters from books come alive, letters sing and dance, and words play in the world between the lions. Also, every episode addresses the five key areas of reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and text comprehension. As far as TV shows go, educational content does not get any better than Between the Lions

.

7. Sesame Street (PBS KIDS)

Sesame Street
Photo © 2008 Sesame Workshop. All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit: Theo Wargo

Any list of top shows for preschoolers is obviously going to feature the main staple of kids' TV -- Sesame Street. The show has been on the air for decades (since 1969), and the characters are known by almost every kid alive. Still, there are things about the show that I didn't realize when I watched as a kid. For example, each new season of Sesame Street brings a new area of educational focus along with funny parodies (note the photo of "Pre-School Musical" -- Ha Ha!) and exciting characters. Sesame is continually assessing and refining the show to meet the educational needs of preschoolers, and there is also a wealth of online Sesame Street resources to help kids continue learning.

8. Imagination Movers (Disney)

Imagination Movers
Photo © 2008 Disney. All rights reserved.

Scott, Rich, Dave, and "Smitty" are in a rockin' band from New Orleans called the Imagination Movers. In this live-action series, the Movers hang out in their "idea warehouse," where they make music and solve "idea emergencies." If a problem needs solving, the Movers are up to the job. After a little brain-storming, they come up with some possible solutions and test them out. Imagination Movers uses upbeat music, comedy, and behavior modeling to entertain kids and teach them to think things through. The show also appeals to kids' sense of wonder and imagination through whimsical storylines and settings. The focus on thinking empowers kids to solve their own problems and tackle challenges with a positive attitude.

9. The Little Einsteins (Disney)

Little Einsteins
Photo © Disney

The Little Einsteins series was created for preschoolers and incorporates classical music, art, and real world images to entertain and educate. Combining animation with the real life images, the Little Einsteins take kids on adventures that teach them about actual places and things. Sometimes, the setting of the adventure is actually an animated version of a famous work of art. Also essential to each themed show is the musical score, and the Little Einsteins incorporate musical terminology and concepts into each adventure. The show provides a great introduction to music and art, and kids may also learn about real things and places through the different adventures.

10. Sid the Science Kid (PBS KIDS)

Sid the Science Kid
Photo © PBS KIDS

Always wondering "why?" or "how?," Sid's inquisitive nature and zeal for learning are contagious to kids. Each episode finds Sid with a scientific conundrum. His mom helps him explore the topic online, and at school his friends and teacher give him additional insight into the question. By the time he gets back home, Sid has a good handle on his new found knowledge, and he is ready to share it with his family and put it into practice. The animation is not the prettiest, in my opinion, but kids relate very well to the show and to Sid, and it teaches them to be excited about science and problem solving. Parents can also glean some good ideas from the show about ways they can incorporate science into kids' every day life.

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