It's kids and family week here at OnMilwaukee.com and, more than ever, we'll feature articles and blogs about children's health, education, travel, fun and more. Kids and family week is brought to you by Aurora Health Care.
Kids and their screens. It’s not your parents' TV these days, that’s for sure. There's streaming, Amazon Prime, AppleTV, Netflix, apps and more. Oh, sure, there’s still PBS, but really, who watches live TV anymore? Not kids.
But, if you have kids in your life, Lord knows you’ve seen your share of children’s programming. Much of it is horrible, some of it amazing. Too much of it annoying. It’s hard to do a list of the best shows for kids, so this off the top of my head list is simply some of the kids’ shows that I can tolerate. And, really, many of them are actually pretty darn good.
Many are quick to say that all kids’ TV sucks, so I’m sure you’ll have your own opinions so please chime in and share. And, don’t forget to stream "Paw Patrol" for the kids in your life. It’s a solid show, and a current favorite.
1. Paw Patrol
I’m not a dog person. Nothing against the furry creatures, but they are too much work for me. I will, though, take my pets in cartoon form and the fairly new (2013) "Paw Patrol" is a good watch. The Nickelodeon series stars puppies named Chase, Marshall, Rocky, Zuma, Rubble and Skye. They are led by a boy named Ryder and all work together on missions to protect the Adventure Bay community.
Lots of fun technology, songs and decent humor make "Paw Patrol" a dog gone good bet.
2. Fireman Sam
"Fireman Sam" is an animated series about a fireman named Sam (duh!), his fellow firefighters including a dude named Elvis and other townspeople in the fictional Welsh rural town of Pontypandy. With a late 80s date and newer spawned 2009 episodes, the series is about to relaunch on Amazon Prime.
The lead kid, Norman Price, is much better in the older 80s episodes but in all episodes generally provides the mischievous and - at times annoying - antics that usually end up with Fireman Sam coming to the rescue.
Not sure what it is exactly about "Fireman Sam" that I like so much. Maybe it’s the accents, the entertaining plots and catching theme song. This is a good show. Check it out.
3. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
"Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood" should be on this list. There’s no kid’s show that’s better. But, let’s be real, it could use some updating. Not the messages — Fred Rogers’ and his wisdom are timeless. Luckily, much of the magic and messages transfer to your preschoolers via "Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood." Nice lessons, even mechanics stuff like brushing teeth are what Daniel and this family do well. Introduce Daniel to the 2-year-olds in your life.
The most "controversial" on this list is sure to be "Caillou." The 4-year-old character and the narrator/grandmother can induce a nails on a chalk board type reaction for many adults. The family, mom, dad, Cailou and little Rosey, live in a blue house and everything is colorful, if not funny looking in this show. The lessons, relationships and imagination trump the corny design and leave behind a down home values-driven show that teaches. Plus, someday, I’m going to be a costume winning "grown up Cailou" for Halloween.
HBO’s "Crashbox" is OnDemand and on HBO Family but originally aired in 1999. It consists of about seven 2-to-5-minute educational games during each 30 minute show. Aimed at 8-15-year-olds it’s a bit more boy focussed but still fun, engaging and just odd enough to make it work.
6. Sesame Street
What more can you say about "Sesame Street" that already hasn’t been said? It’s still solid, ever changing and really its only "problem" is its one-hour time (although 30 minutes shows and segments do exist). "Sesame Street" works, teaches and cares.
7. Wild Kratts
6-8 year olds seem to love "Wild Kratts." Its themes around biology, zoology and ecology try to teach kids small ways to make big impacts. To be honest, I’ve never seen a full episode, but kids I talk to love this show and its focus on "saving the animals" works.
8. Mickey Mouse Club
Kids love Mickey, and Disney’s "Mickey Mouse Club" still shines and works. The chant "Meeska Mooska Mickey Mouse!" that’s used to summon the Clubhouse is awesome and how can’t you love "Hot Dog" from They Might be Giants?! Great numbers lessons and good Disney fun always.
9. Imagination Movers
Graduating a bit older on the Disney ladder, "Imagination Movers" is just flat out fun entertainment. Good music and lessons to boot. And, Warehouse Mouse rocks.
10. Thomas the Tank Engine
I’ll end with Thomas or "Thomas and Friends" as the show based on the books by the Reverend Wilbert Awdry and his son, Christopher Awdry, is called. Characters are good, animation solid, life lessons galore and with narration from Ringo Starr, George Carlin, Pierce Bronson and others you simply can’t go wrong with Thomas. Go, Go Thomas! And, sing it with me: "They're two they're four they're six and eight. Shunting trucks and hauling freight red and green and brown and blue, they’re the really useful crew …"
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.