I feel like the majority of mamas make all kinds of plans while pregnant with their first child that just end up falling through. From how you plan on disciplining your child, to the types of food and drink you’ll let them have, to which aspects of pop culture you’ll expose them to, to how much screen time you’ll let them have, etc. That last one is a place that I have definitely fallen short, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic. I have allowed far more screen time (TV, phone, tablet, Nintendo) than I ever thought I would.
And I think it’s about to get worse.
As fall turns to winter and there are fewer and fewer indoor options during the cold and/or inclement weather, I am reluctantly facing the reality that the TV will probably be on more than I would really like it to be. And with that in mind, I’m here to offer you my suggestions of shows that are both appropriate and entertaining for your 5 to 6-year-old (and probably your kids that are a bit older), and that you will likely enjoy as well.
- The Addams Family – I promise, I am totally serious with this option. If you’re like me, you grew up in an era when Nick at Nite (is that even a thing anymore?) consisted of shows like I Love Lucy, The Munsters, The Dick Van Dyke Show and my personal favorite, The Addams Family. Our family really enjoyed the animated Addams Family movie that came out last year, and we were pleased to find out that there is an entire channel devoted to the classic 60s show on Pluto TV. If you aren’t familiar with it, Pluto TV is a free app that broadcasts both series and movies.
- The Amazing World of Gumball – This animated series follows Gumball and his adopted goldfish/brother (I know how silly that sounds) Darwin, and the massive amount of mischief they get into, usually caused by their own deliberate misunderstandings. There are several animation styles used in the show, so in addition to it being really funny (I think I laugh as much, if not more, than my son), it’s quite visually interesting. Gumball originally aired on Cartoon Network and is now streaming on Hulu.
- Clarence – My husband and I started watching Clarence while our son was an infant, with the excuse that we enjoyed this children’s cartoon as a family (the intended audience being too young to even understand what was going on). Nowadays, we openly admit how much we love this series, which is about an optimistic and caring 10-year-old boy, who always finds the best in every person and situation. The supporting cast of characters are well-written and given great backstories, from Clarence’s teacher Ms. Baker (who often considers leaving town and moving to California) to his best friend Jeff (who is anxious, fastidious and conceited). Clarence originally aired on Cartoon Network and is now streaming on Hulu.
- Gravity Falls – This very clever animated show explores the adventures of preteen twins Dipper and Mabel, who are spending their summer vacation with their Great Uncle (Gruncle) Stan in the truly strange town of Gravity Falls, OR. Mabel is imaginative and has an incredibly positive attitude, Dipper is inquisitive and brave, and the supporting characters are funny, endearing, bizarre, or a combination of all three. Another plus (no spoilers) is that after two seasons of exploring the town’s mysteries, there is a very satisfying conclusion. Gravity Falls ran several years ago but is streaming on both Disney+ and Hulu.
- Lego Masters – This competitive reality show has only aired one season, and our family cannot wait for a second one! It is absolutely amazing to watch the teams create themed elaborate Lego builds in a matter of hours. I’ll admit, we (meaning me) occasionally got irritated with the judges for being too picky, because the amount of skill and creativity displayed is immense. As a bonus, Will Arnett (the voice of Lego Batman) is a very entertaining host. Lego Masters originally aired on Fox and is streaming on Hulu.
- Odd Squad – Odd Squad is about an agency run by kids to “investigate anything strange, weird and especially odd.” All of the agents’ names start with O, and they use math to solve the odd situations they come across. There is a lot of utter silliness in the show, and they use a lot of quite good call-backs. Odd Squad airs live and has several on-demand episodes on PBS Kids, and all episodes are available for purchase on Amazon Prime (the first season is also free to watch there).
- Pixar and Classic Disney Shorts – Not technically a series, but highly recommended nonetheless. Pixar is famous for their shorts, and rightfully so. My son’s current favorite is the “Forky Asks a Question” set from Toy Story 4, but if Forky isn’t exactly your favorite (I know he’s not mine), there are so many others to choose from. There is also a collection of older shorts, some of which you may remember from your own childhood, like Silly Symphony and Lambert, the Sheepish Lion. All of these are available on Disney+.
- Wild Kratts – You may be familiar with the Kratt Brothers from their animal-themed shows Zoboomafoo or Kratt’s Creatures, which both aired 20+ years ago. Wild Kratts is an animated show in the same vein. The characters travel the world, learning about unfamiliar animals, where they live, their diets and their “creature powers,” i.e. what makes them unique. The show also discusses conservation, and why it’s important to protect both the animals and their habitats. Wild Kratts airs live and has several on-demand episodes on PBS Kids, and all episodes are available for purchase on Amazon Prime (a few seasons are also free to watch there).
Are any of the shows on this list favorites in your household as well? What shows are you able to watch with your child that don’t make you want to yank out your hair due to sheer annoyance?