1. Olivia- I love, adore, worship this show. I have watched it by myself multiple times. Olivia is a little girl pig who is creative, articulate, smart and a dreamer. The storylines are original, sweet, funny and often involve Olivia imagining elaborate schemes and scenarios. From the ridiculously catchy theme song, to the sweet and smart silent intros to each episode, to her very true relationship with her family (especially her little brother Ian), the show is absolutely delightful. I particularly like Olivia’s Rules for Life:
#4: If you really want to hide your baby brother, change his diaper first.
#52: If your mom is having a baby and she asks you whether you want a brother or a sister, that does not mean you're really gonna get the kind you ask for.
#24: Just because it's called a veggie loaf, it doesn't mean it can't be something more exciting, like a veggie castle.
#31: Most people think animals don't talk, but they do. They just talk very quietly.
#100: Red is the very best color for absolutely, positively everything.
#110: It's important to use fancy French words when you're talking about ballet
Also, it is made in Ireland, which is just icing on the cake.
I love her. And Maeve loves when I sing and dance along with the opening music. Well, maybe not right now but she’ll learn to appreciate the joys of interpretive dance as she gets older.
2. Backyardigans: The catchiest songs on all of television. I dare you to watch this song and NOT find yourself singing “Racing day, its racing day! It’s not puppy chasing day, today’s the day we race!”. The stories revolve around 5 neighbors- a penguin named Pablo, a Kangaroo named Austin, a hippo named Tasha, a moose named Austin and, well, something named Uniqua. I don’t think we’re supposed to know what she is. Each episode is about the friends playing together and venturing off into imaginary scenarios. These can be anything from pirate adventures to spy games, to delivering pizza to Mayan temples. The music is wonderful, the stories are sweet and educational, and the characters have very well-developed personalities. Each episode also ends with the Backyardigans having a healthy snack. Mmmm, healthy snack. And there’s a family of worms called the Wormans that we occasionally see, with Herman Worman and Sherman Worman being the patriarchs. What’s not to love about that?
3. Dora: This is going to be a divisive choice, I know, but I really like Dora. The repetition can be annoying, but it is rooted in educational theory and my daughter loves it. The show also sends good messages about solving problems, helping friends, and the use of maps. Oh, and how to handle a grumpy old troll that controls a bridge. Useful life lessons all.
4. Dino Dan: Canadian kid has cop mom, mildly annoying little brother, dad who is away at the Royal Museum of Canadian Stuff, and sees dinosaurs. What’s not to love? I can’t tell you how much my daughter has learned from this show, but the fact that can both say Quetzalcoatlus and knows what that means is a pretty good example. Also, I have a thing for gender equality (which is at the root of my hatred for Max and Ruby) and this show does a great job of portraying strong female characters (cop mom and Dan’s school female friend who is as awesome at dino stuff as he is and has a mind of her own).
5. Team Umizoomi: This show is a fun intro to mathematical concepts. As a math-deficient adult, I appreciate any exposure my kids have to numbers, patterns and the use of math in everyday settings. In fact, I have been watching it as part of my GMAT prep. Not really, but maybe I should…