Let’s take a scheduled break from Good Luck CharlieSpongeBob SquarePants and Kick Buttowski to take a look at some shows that are often over-looked. Below, I present four  shows that you should consider sharing with your kids, why they aren’t watching them yet and how you can find them.

Fetch! with Ruff RuffmanFetch! with Ruff Ruffman

Why Your Kids Should Be Watching It: Your kids are probably already familiar with the reality competition TV genre, and many of the lowbrow programs it has spawned. Why not introduce them to a science-themed one that slips educational bits between the wacky competitions?

Each season of Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman features six tween contestants going on Amazing Race-style challenges and assignments, usually in and around the Boston area. The challenges send them to traditional location such as museums and libraries but also offbeat kid-friendly settings like amusement parks and BMX tracks. Challenges are given out by a wise-cracking animated dog named Fetch that brings a harmless edge to the show. Each season brings a new grand prize winner, giving kids a contestant to cheer for while learning about topics like Astronomy, Carpentry, Food Science, Biology and more.

Why They Aren’t Watching It:  While Fetch! can still be seen on PBS during the PBS Kids Go! Block, the series was canceled in November of 2010 after funding was lost.  Though it no longer has the fresh appeal or licensing of a new series, it is still worth seeking out.

Where You Can Watch It:  Your local PBS affiliate and iTunes.

Hands on Crafts for KidsHands on Crafts for Kids

Why Your Kids Should Be Watching It: Do you have a craft-loving kid on your hands that wants to dig deeper into their interest? This show could be the hidden (stick-on) gem they were looking for. A simple, stripped-down show parents will feel safe leaving on without supervision, each episode features five themed crafts with five steps and five main “ingredients.”

Hosted by renowned crafter Candie Cooper, the most recent season explores a different country each episode with the crafts themed around the culture and traditions. The five steps and five ingredients sometimes calls for  advanced crafting tools though they also include basic supplies like scissors, markers and rulers. Thankfully, all projects on the show can be referenced on the official website.

Why They  Aren’t Watching It: Hands On can be found on public television stations across the US at scattered times.  It is still making its way across the country as the website suggests you “call or write your PBS station” to get it on air.  Not a splashy or character-centric show, its selling point is the creative project ideas and the knowledgeable hosts.

Where You Can Watch It: On PBS (with a partial list of stations here), on their website, or on DVD.

SciGirlsSciGirls

Why Your Kids Should Be Watching It:  This Emmy Award-winning show uses the docu-series format to explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers and education. Featuring a group of middle-school age girls in each episode, the show sends them on specific mission using science, technology and an older female mentor to help solve the problem.

While some educational shows may feel like “schoolwork,” this one keeps it interesting with challenges viewers will take interest in. Example missions includes designing an electronic dress for a fashion show, creating May Day Parade puppets, researching dolphin behavior and calculating  the ideal horse for an upcoming competition.  Each episode includes an animated story line throughout the show featuring the characters Izzie and Jake as they use science to solve their own problems.

Why They Aren’t Watching ItSciGirls was launched in February 2011 with 12 episodes and airs at different times on “most” PBS stations. Similar to Fetch! and Hands On, its inconsistent home on PBS has not made it easy-to-find plus it has not inspired a slew of exciting merchandise. However, it was recently renewed for a second season with ten episodes funded and a slew of “cross-platform games” that tie directly into the show.

Where You Can Watch It: For free as a “podcast” on iTunes.

CakeCake

Why Your Kids Should Be Watching It:   While this show may seem like your standard laugh-track filled tween show, it also has another side to it that makes it worth checking out. The show is centered on a bohemian, grounded teen girl named Cake, and her daily comedic interactions with wise-cracking young neighbor Amy, materialistic fashionista Miracle, and tech-happy Benjamin. The twist on Cake is they all work together to create a public access crafting TV show called “Cake TV.” Each episode of Cake has a lesson in their “real life” inspire a craft that is taught at the end of the show during the “Cake TV” program. All the projects are simple for viewers to pick up on and focus on turning regular household items into unique accessories and crafts.

Why They Aren’t Watching It: Cake aired its one 13-episode season in 2006, and could be seen on various stations in reruns until 2009. It currently appears to have no home on TV and no new seasons are planned.

Where You Can Watch It: On Netflix watch instantly.

Halloween Comes Early to Nugget Island!

Musical Tricks

Last Halloween, we got into the spirit early with the Nugget Island Family Halloween Hootenanny playlist for Spotify. Filled with classic family-safe scare-tracks and classic kindie treats, this playlist is a must for Halloween lovers. Add it to your Spotify playlists now to hear classic Halloween-loving musicians like John Zacherle, The Moon-Rays, Shiny Toy Guns, Spike Jones and Voltaire. Of course, no family Halloween  is complete without some kindie superstars, so we’ve invited artists like Doctor Noize, The Hipwaders, Justin Roberts, Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck, Recess Monkey, Roger Day, Trout Fishing in America and more to this All Hallow’s Eve shindig.

A Free Treat

Meanwhile, for those who want to celebrate the season of Fall – with or without Halloween – I wanted to call out a free download.  Kindie music superstar Joanie Leeds has written a new song called “Falling” – in celebration of the season – and she is giving it away as a free download here.

 

I’ve seen the look of horror on people’s faces when they see my 20-month-old swiping and poking away on our iPad. I know they are thinking “Isn’t she too young?”  Frankly, my dears, I don’t give a damn.  At 20-months, I have already seen the payoff in the dozens of apps I have purchased for her. Whether it is her advanced vocabulary, growing knowledge of her ABCS and 123s or basic memory skills, I attribute a good portion of it to the wonderful iPad apps being built by smart and talented developers.

So what are some of these apps turning my little girl into a pint-sized prodigy and burgeoning tech wiz? Below is Part 1 of an introduction to our favorite apps for the under-2 set.  (Please note: when apps have multiple levels for different age ranges, I will just be reviewing the portions of the app relevant to my little one.)

Peekaboo FridgePeekaboo Barn, Peekaboo Forest, and Peekaboo Fridge

Night & Day Studios are the developers of these three apps, created to build your child’s vocabulary and learn about cause & effect. Each app encourages the child to tap either a barn, refrigerator door or animal habitat, so a different animal or food item pops out and surprises your kids. The art for each app is beautifully done, and the surprise appearances are randomized.  The Forest and Barn apps also educate children on the sounds their favorite animals make.

Counting with the Very Hungry Caterpillar and Eric Carle’s My Very First App

Eric Carle's My Very First AppSome more love for Night & Day Studios! Both of these apps incorporate the beautiful artwork of Eric Carle, with the famous Hungry Caterpillar showing up. The math-themed Counting with the Very Hungry Caterpillar has multiple levels to appeal to children all the way up to 5. For my youngest, we usually stick with Level 1, which, according to the developer, introduces the concept of counting. Players have to eat each fruit as instructed by the narrator, with the names and symbols for numbers one through twelve appearing on screen as you munch away on fproduce. Level 2 starts to introduce vocabulary as players are asked to eat only specific fruits.

Eric Carle’s My Very First App takes the illustrations from My Very First Books and  also put them into different levels of game play: Easy (ages 1-3), Medium (ages 2 and up) and Hard (ages 3 and up). Easy has players matching the top portion of the screen with the bottom.  For example, match the color white to a snowman or bees to a honeycomb. The Medium mode – which may actually be easier for some children – is based on the standard game of Memory, flipping cards over to make matches. There are different themed card sets (Colors, Animal Homes) and additional ones are available for purchase.

Goosed Up Rhymes HD

This app, from Brain Freeze Entertainment, is surely one of the reasons the iPad was created.  Mixing a storybook/TV show format, humorous animation, simple gameplay and elements of surprise throughout, this is a one-of-Goosed Up Rhymesa-kind app. My daughter has had an interest in Mother Goose stories since she got a Humpty Dumpty doll from NH-theme park Storyland. When looking for Mother Goose apps, I found some decent options, but this leads the gaggle. With humorous animated interludes that will appeal to adults as well as kids and four casual games, your child will soon be  reciting poems about tuffets and blind mice. .

Pat the Bunny

One of your favorite childhood books makes it way to the iPad. And while you won’t be able to feel dad’s rough beard or smell the flowers, Random House Digital has a bunch of other tricks up their sleeve.  Fourteen interactive scenes have made this app one of our little girl’s favorites. Whether watering flowers in the garden, velcroing Judy’s shoes, catching butterflies, hunting for Bunny or using the front-facing camera as a mirror, it will take a while before your child tires of this app.

In the Night Garden™ HDIn the Night Garden

Although this television property never quite found its footing in the United States, this app is not one to ignore.  From BBC Worldwide, this app lets your toddler interact with the characters from this popular global TV property. Visit the gentle ‘Night Garden’ where users  can play simple games with characters like Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka. This app is probably one of the most simple for young users with basic touch activities like washing faces, touching flashing hidden objects, and making characters dance. It is also a great introduction to a unique television property worth finding on home video.

 

Check out some of these apps for your tech-happy toddler, and look for another roundup soon!