Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Educational Programming

With MrsDarwin on bedrest much of the time, the small fry have been getting away with more than their usual quota of screen time. Some of this is spent doing schoolwork on the computer (Kahn academy for math, etc.) but some is also spent watching stuff on Netflix.

For the few weeks until the baby is born and MrsD is back on her feet, this is something we're okay with, but since school is getting somewhat shorter shrift as well, we'd like to mix in a bit more of the educational programming type stuff. Our oldest could watch animal special until the crack of doom, but we've gone through much of what's available at the library and a fair number of Netflix and the other kids (who are less interested in animals) are starting to revolt. So...

What educational programs would you recommend? Since we've gone so heavy on animal specials already, I'm leaning towards other topics: history, art, science not involving animals mating and killing each other

The age range is 11 through 3 and the youngest couple are willing to sit through almost anything the oldest three are willing to watch, so we're mostly shooting for the 11-7 demographic. I can't stand the super cute and bouncy, fast-cutting, low brow kind of kids programming, but aside from that we're pretty open. I never get the chance to see anything these days so I'm low on ideas.


mandamum said...

Look up old Square One TV shows on YouTube - if you can find a M-F group, you'll get a complete "Mathnet" story. They're maybe a little bouncy, silly, definitely 80s-early90s dated, but math-heavy, and my 11-5yo contingent really enjoys them (and sometimes learns new stuff too)

bearing said...

Horrible Histories is appealing if a little crude. It is on Amazon Instant Video, but not free.
I like Signing Time for the younger set.
NOVA has a good long documentary, aimed at younger viewers, called Hunting the Elements. Strongly recommend.
If you are interested in software, and you have a machine that runs Windows, "Learn to Play Chess with Fritz and Chester" is the best educational game for kids I have ever used. (Even if the box says it will run on Mac, don't believe it).
You can try BBC documentaries -- there is a list on Wikipedia and many can be found on YouTube. My 13yo likes them.
There are Vi Hart's videos at
There are some things at but it is a mishmash of videos for learners and videos for teachers. The foreign language might be fun for older kids
For the littles I like iPad apps by Toca Boca.

John Beegle said...

I recommend Carl Sagan's Cosmos series, but you'll have to correct some of the Galileo versus the Church misconceptions.

Maria said...

My kids are ages 3-10 and they all love Magic Schoolbus, Bill Nye, Liberty Kids, Mythbusters, Schoolhouse Rock, and survival shows like Man, Woman, Wild. They also like to watch the National Geographic shows on Netflix, but it sounds like you have had your fill of that. :)

I am currently 30 weeks with #6 and have been seeing my bp edge up my last couple of appointments, so I have been following Mrs. Darwin's bedrest stories with interest and a bit of dread, hoping I don't end up in the same boat. I am sure we will be having lots of screen time for the first month or so postpartum, so I look forward to checking out suggestions listed by everyone.

BenK said...

In the fun category, anything in a foreign language has that going for it... like Chinese with Mike, ChinesePod... or on the cartoon side, Masha and the Bear, Bolek y Lolek.

Of course, EdX, Coursera, Udacity, all offer courses that have different degrees of rigor and interactivity.

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

I remember that my kids enjoyed the old "Connections" program.

I recall that "Reading Rainbow" was nice for the smaller fry.

There were some TV versions of some of David McCauley's books, such as "Cathedral" and "Castle."

Oh, I just checked and a lot of them are available on Youtube.

Go here:

Meredith said...

I don't know the availability of all these, but these are all favorites in our house:

Magic Schoolbus series - the underlying science is rock solid, so even if they are below the level of the oldest, they are still reinforcing the concepts. My 11 year old still enjoys!

Popular Science for Kids - an older Canadian series which is really fun to watch.

Scholastic Storybook Treasures/Weston Woods - classic children's books set to film, for the younger set.

Dear America series

Time Blazers - a little fast talking cartoonish, but interesting historical show

Liberty's Kids

Between the Folds - interesting documentary about art and science of origami

Jenny said...

My kids love Mythbusters and cooking shows.

Emily J. said...

We just got some Science of Disney videos at the library on energy and simple machines - looking at theme park physics. They have an interactive quiz at the end - makes physics phun! (sorry couldn't resist copying my old teacher.) On the fast-cutting low-brow side, but upper elementary/lower middle school concepts. Sister Wendy art videos? We made our kids watch the Catholicism series by Fr. Barron last Lent and they didn't rebel and actually started to ask to watch them maybe because they were desperate to watch something. Our church loaned religious videos for free. Davey Crockett? The old Alamo movie?

Julia said...

My kids (12 and 9) recommend:
NOVA Science Now
The Design Squad series on PBS
How It's Made

Crude said...

I have no children, and really, no long series recommendations. But...

They are short - they were commercials after all - but I think they convey something important to a child's mind. (And many adults' really.)