Don't bite your friends part 2

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October 27, 2011

Right, so I'm continuing to talk about kids shows I'd recommend.   Honestly, there are so many good ones I can't mention them all in this  space.  Some of them may no longer be on TV, but they're worth buying as  DVDs.  

Blue's Clues
One of the classics of children's television.  Comes on a lot less  now, but it is essential viewing for young children.  It teaches the  concepts we want them to grasp at the preschool age.  The adventure  based show takes kids throughout Blue's world, piecing clues together to  figure out what it is that Blue wants to communicate.  After all, she's  a puppy and can't really talk that well.  The hosts do most of the  talking, right at your kids, encouraging them with prompts, etc.  And  let's be honest, Joe and Steve just want to talk to your kids more than  you do sometimes.
Team Umi Zoomi
The colors here are so vibrant.  And I think one of the most  interesting things about the show is that you can hear the voice of Joe  who did Blues Clues for all those years.  It teaches math concepts for  young children.  These characters go out into the "city" and teach math  concepts in real places like subways and stores.  They teach patterns,  addition, subtraction, all the basics, and as usual, the characters are  cute.  My boys love it.
Fresh Beat Band
Hate this show - totally can't stand it.  They're like "The Doodle  Bops" only without the face paint.  And I'm sorry, I won't watch if  there's no face paint.  These characters smile way too much to be  "people."  Yup, face paint.  Anyway, they are Nick's version of the  Mickey Mouse Club, which produced the likes of Timberlake, Aguilera and  Brittney.  (If you don't know who they are, you don't have kids).  Let  me say for the record, that while I am sure that this show is designed  to teach something, like the love of playing a musical instrument, there  is a very good chance that all it turns out to be is a launching pad  for the new Nick Jr. CD featuring the Fresh Beat Band.  Record deals are  on the horizon.
Peppa Pig
I watched my 4-year-old and 2-year-old laugh and roll all over the  floor watching an episode of this show - still trying to figure out  why.  The animation is distinctive; yes, the characters are drawn sort  of as a child would draw them.  And this family of pigs actually makes  pig noises every time they talk (unlike "Olivia").  You know what I  think it is: The family laughs and laughs, all the time at themselves,  at the situations they get themselves in.  And that's infectious.
The Upside Down Show
Love these dudes.  They are such great physical actors/comedians.  So  imaginative.  So clever.  It is perhaps the most mentally stimulating  show on the air right now.  The pity is it comes on so late.  I'm gonna  buy the DVD for my kids, that's what. Problem: It's from Australia and  the DVD format is going to be different.  Arrgh!
Sponge Bob
My wife hates Sponge Bob.  Absolutely hates it.  She doesn't want my  sons watching it.  Neither did I at one point.  The dark humor, the  slapstick, the occasional violence.  But now that my oldest is 6, he's  tired of Dora, Diego and the like.  He wants something interesting to  watch.  Something with a narrative, with conflict since that's what good  stories thrive on.  But he's still too young for the majority of stuff  they have on Cartoon Network.  And there's just not much on TV that  matches where he's at right now.  So I let him watch Sponge Bob.  It's  actually one of the few things I can watch with him and enjoy.  Yes,  it's gross.  People melt, their eyes pop out of their heads, there's  lots of screaming, lots of strangeness.   But I also think there's a lot  there to learn from.  Mr. Crabs' greed is constantly being satirized.   And the shows are about stuff.

They do teach, like when Sponge Bob thought he was being too much of a  push over and wanted stand up for himself more.  There are actually  lesson plans online that incorporate Sponge Bob episodes.  Are we using  these in our schools?  We might as well, kids are watching it after all.
Tinga Tinga Tales
This is perhaps the only show that I have ever watched that is  focused entirely on African folk tales.  It's no longer showing on the  kids channels you get through Cable Bahamas, but the DVDs are worth  hunting down in my opinion.  (And there will be a hunt.)  The premise of  every show is to explain how a particular fact of nature came to be,  for example, "why elephant has a trunk", or "why hen pecks at the  ground".  These mythological tales represent an oral tradition that is  familiar to us here in the Caribbean; and so despite the fact that this  show came on virtually at the crack of dawn, it was worth watching.   Very well animated and very well performed.  (There are also books  available.)
Jack's Big Music Show
What I like about "Jack's Big Music" show is the way they celebrate  music, instruments and making noise.  I mean, it's like these folks  understand that kids are generally loud and out of control - at least at  my house they are.  And they have dedicated this show to helping kids  channel all that energy into a love for music and dancing.  It's an Emmy  nominated show that features acts by Yolanda Adams, Sweet Honey in the  Rock, and Laurie Berkner who has become a favorite of my whole family.   We bought a CD to play in the car and my wife knows all the songs by  heart.  And I have to admit, it's just good music.
I'm out of room and I haven't even mentioned "Max and Ruby" or "The  Really Silly Willy Nilly Dilly Show"--OK, made that last one up.
o IAN STRACHAN is Associate Professor of English at The College of The Bahamas. You can write him at

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News date : 10/27/2011    Category : Entertainment, Opinion, Nassau Guardian Stories

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