A Few Old Friends – Reviews of Programs for the Littles

A few of you have asked about some of my favorite resources and I thought I’d try to do a few posts to let you know about those things that I find to be tried and true consistent tools in our home.  You know about some of our music favorites for littles, today lets talk about television programs for littles.

Please don’t write and tell me how awful television is for small children. 🙂  Every family has arrived at different completely acceptable prudential decisions about the use of the television in the home.  Thanks for respecting ours!  Our family enjoys movies and some history and nature programs and considers the television an appliance in the home.  An appliance is something we make use of occasionally, but isn’t on all the time.  We use a blender when we need it.  We use a toaster when we’d like to toast something.  We occasionally enjoy a program or movie on the television in much the same way.

I’d like to tell you about three different DVD series that my youngest crew really enjoys!   Most of these DVD’s have been enjoyed in our home since my oldest (now almost 14) was younger.


Little Bear

This is perhaps one of our favorite programs; it is a wonderful adaptation of a character created by author Else Holmelund Minarik in the book series, Little Bear.  The program is gentle and sweet; you’ll find no disrespectful discourses, no veiled wording, no irritated, whiny parents – just kind, sweet, simple Little Bear.  Little Bear has a loving family of Mother and Father Bear.  Occasionally programs include Grandmother Bear and Grandfather Bear, conveying a love and respect for grandparents as well as a sincere seeking out of the stories and adventures a grandparent can share.  Little Bear’s friends cat, duck, hen, and owl enjoy games and adventures with Little Bear.  I enjoyed the Little Bear series originally because of his gentle, loving, imaginative nature, and I still love him for all the same reasons.

Because so much children’s television is pure twaddle, I purchased the DVD set of Little Bear several years ago (2 children ago) and have never once regretted it.  I can avoid the television entirely now, and go straight to the DVD player and allow the younger set a sweet show that I know they’ll enjoy and that won’t undercut the virtues and good habits I’m trying to convey in our home.  The programs are also available as individual themed shows.


The Beatrix Potter Collection

Another favorite adaptation is the Beatrix Potter DVD Collection produced for the BBC.  I know what you’re thinking – sacrilege!  I can’t believe that I’m even recommending it, but it is just that good!  The animation is true to Miss Potter’s original style, and though they by no means take the place of her books, they are a delightful representation of her stories for children.  The musical score for the collection is lovely.  Very well done; we enjoy them very much!

Leap Frog

Changing speeds significantly, my final recommendation is for a set of phonics DVD’s that quite simply convinced me of their value over time and earned a place on my shelf!  Leap Frog, the Letter Factory was our first foray into this series.  I admit it.  It annoyed me initially (for purely aesthetic, personal preference reasons), but my son, 4 at the time, really enjoyed the program.  I didn’t think it was harmful so I let him watch it a couple of times.  The next thing I knew he was sounding out words.  We hadn’t been working on any phonics at the time!  This was my first son and I wasn’t going to rush him into reading!  No sir!  We were going to move at his pace, slowly if needed…but after watching the program a couple of times he was reading.  GASP!  I wasn’t ready to start teaching reading.  I scrambled to get my collective, home educating act together, and in the meantime I let him watch the program a couple more times.  His reading improved!  Now, I’m not promising you that if you buy this DVD that your child will walk away from the DVD player reading simple words, but I am saying that the series is an effective phonics program and I wouldn’t be surprised if a child walked away from the DVD with some phonics ability!  My son and I moved on with a phonics program immediately – turns out his pace was a little quicker than mine.  We also purchased Talking Words Factory, Code Word Caper, and shortly afterward the Math Circus.  All of my children enjoy the entire Leap Frog learning DVD’s.

Hope you enjoyed my little review of entertainment and educational programs for children!

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  1. Once again, I must say THANK YOU! I love to get your suggestions.

    We love Little Bear, but didn't know about the Beatrix Potter series. Woo hoo! 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for this post. We are one of those stuffy no-TV families, but I've recently been ready to allow my 4 1/2 year old to watch a few things. A friend actually recommended that Beatrix Potter series and lent it to us–my daughter LOVES it, particularly the Jemima Puddleduck one pictured in your image.

    I'm so happy you reminded me of Little Bear. I remember showing that to the children I babysat for in college many moons ago, and I think my daughter would love it. I'm putting it on our Christmas list.

    And one last thing–I think this might be the first time I've commented, but I love your blog! I've been missing your posts ;).

  3. Familiar with your first 2 recs:) We have borrowed from the Video Store, have you seen the Little Foot Dvds? They are sweet too, (well I think so;)

  4. We have the Beatrix Potter Collection and all of my children are just absolutely in awe of it.

    There is definitely an acceptable amount to each family and yours sounds similar to ours. No condemnation or criticism here!

  5. We love Little Bear. I've never heard of the Beatrix Potter DVD's, something new for me! For history, we enjoyed the “Liberty's Kids” DVDs.

  6. Okay I'm really trying not to covet your Little Bear collection. Hmmm…I wonder how I swing finding this without paying a ton??? A challenge!

    And I second what commenter Alishia said, Kipper is wonderful! My kids love the accents!

    And a more silly one…Rolie Polie Olie!

  7. We LOVE Little Bear also!! Another “series” recommendation for kids that are in the middle elementary grades is Popular Mechanics for Kids. They have some really neat DVD's out with all kinds of cool science information and mine love them – they scour the library shelves for them and watch them over and over.

  8. I found your blog very recently because it was linked through “lhe little list” about homeschooling spaces. I love coming here now, and especially appreciate your posts on resources, toys, organization, etc. My children are 3 and 5 (both just barely) and I am tentatively planning to homeschool . Your blog is an inspiration. Thanks so much also for mentioning the Beatrix Potter! My children love Little Bear, but finding something as gentle and nurturing is difficult. Blessings to you for this wonderful, inspiring, encouraging space!

  9. We are not huge TV watchers but we love our Netflix! I bet most of you could find what you are looking for on their site. Just a thought! We love them because we can get good quality movies that we can all enjoy. Netflix has helped my history curricula so much as well. Drive Through History series is great for this!

  10. Thank you for the recs! We'll have to check the library for all of these.

    Like you, we really, really dislike the twaddle on TV and put limits on even the good stuff. One of the best purchases we ever made was a DVR, which allowed us to tape loads of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. That's our main staple, along with some nature shows (Planet Earth has evolved into my daughter's most recent favorite, and her interest draws in her brothers *g*).


  11. I love Little Bear & The Letter Factory! Can't wait to add Beatrix Potter to the kids' (okay, I mean my) Christmas list. We love Curious George, too.

  12. Just checking back in to say thank you again for these. Our library did have several Little Bear titles and the kids have loved them. I have to say that the overall winner, though, has been the Beatrix Potter collection! WOW. It really is so well done that I went on Amazon and got a three-DVD set almost right away.


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