Yes, I let my 2-year-old twins watch TV. No, I don’t park them in front of the television all day long. However, when I need a little time to take a shower in the morning or to prepare dinner in the evening, I do turn the TV on—and it’s almost always tuned to Disney Jr. My boys love the animated shows on Disney Jr. because they have great characters, catchy tunes, and fun story lines. I love them too because the boys learn so much from them. All of the shows teach such unique lessons, from life skills to math to the arts. And hey, if my boys are going to indulge in a little TV time, they may as well be learning, right? The shows also get my boys moving: Whenever the songs come on, they get up and start dancing!
Here are my family’s five favorite Disney Jr. shows (in alphabetical order). Check your local TV listings for show times!
Doc McStuffins: Doc is a 6-year-old girl who cares for dolls, stuffed animals, and toys in her playhouse clinic. Her adorable assistants are Stuffy the dragon, Lambie the lamb, Hallie the hippo, Squeakers the fish, and Chilly the Snowman. Doc helps her patients with everything from low batteries to loose stitching, making diagnoses after she and her helpers assess the situation. The show teaches kids about proper hygiene, highlights the importance of eating healthy foods and taking care of oneself, and helps ease kids’ fear of doctor visits. There are also lots of fun songs, including “The Check-Up Song,” sung in every episode.
Little Einsteins: This show is about four friends—Leo, Annie, Quincy, and June—who go on adventures around the world in their shuttle, Rocket. In each episode, the foursome need to complete a mission while learning about nature, world cultures, classical music (Beethoven, Bach, etc.), and famous artists (da Vinci, van Gogh, and more). The friends travel to different places and landmarks in each episode, such as the Sahara Desert, the Arctic, and the Great Wall of China. Viewers are encouraged to sing or hum a certain symphony or study a work of art to help with the mission.
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: In this show, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Pluto, and Daisy recruit viewers to help solve challenges and overcome obstacles. Mickey speaks directly to viewers, asking them questions and encouraging them to play games, say special phrases or cheers, and solve puzzles to reach a goal. Kids need to use problem-solving techniques and early math skills including counting, sorting, addition, subtraction, and more to help Mickey and friends. At the end of each episode, Mickey and the gang return to the Clubhouse, and Mickey recaps the days’ activities and lessons learned through the “Hot Dog!” song. Each character has his or her own unique Hot Dog dance—and so do my boys!
Octonauts: This show, based on children’s books of the same name, introduces kids to the wide variety of species living in the sea. An eight-member team of sea creatures—led by Captain Barnacles and his sidekicks, Kwazii and Peso—watch over their neighbors from their headquarters, the Octopod. They then help their fellow creatures with a variety of problems, whether it’s helping a lobster family find shelter from a storm or a lost baby dolphin find its mother. The show includes fun facts about sea life in its stories and songs, including the “Creature Report” song that completes every mission.
Special Agent Oso: This Emmy Award-nominated show follows Oso, a stuffed panda who works for U.N.I.Q.U.E. (United Network for Investigating Quite Usual Events). U.N.I.Q.U.E is an international organization of stuffed animals charged with helping kids accomplish everyday tasks such as cleaning their room, brushing their teeth, and mailing a letter. Oso receives a special assignment in each episode. Paw Pilot (the face and voice of a girl) then sings him the “Three Special Steps” song (Warning—it’s super catchy!) to teach him how to complete the task. Oso gets help from a variety of gadgets to complete the mission before the ticking clock runs out of time. Once the mission is complete, Oso receives a Digi-Medal. He then rewards one to viewers to thank them for their help!