9 of the Best (Mostly) Educational Movies and Shows for Preschoolers

This post is proudly sponsored by Pop Secret. Pop Secret has a new (and FREE!) app that allows your phone to “listen” to your popcorn and microwave so that it’s popped to perfection. Perfectly popped popcorn thanks to your phone? That’s crazy! Click on over to check it out HERE. Take your time–I’ll wait until you come back. (Did I mention it’s free? You have nothing to lose by checking it out!)

Okay, so now that you have your perfect popcorn popping app, you’re ready for movie night. Our girls are young (almost two and almost four), so “movie night” is actually just twenty minutes of screen time for big sister while I put the toddler to bed.

I’m ridiculously strict fairly cautious when it comes to screen time, so for now we only let our preschooler watch shows that have been 1) recommended by someone we trust and 2) available through an online streaming service so that we can avoid commercials.

Based on our experience with what our daughter affectionately calls “scream time,” here are the (somewhat) educational shows we’ve determined are best for preschoolers. As you may have gathered, I use the terms “best” and “educational” loosely. As are a lot of preferential lists, this one’s subjective!

Nine of the best educational shows for preschoolers. Perfect for screen time or movie night!

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. If I had to choose just one show for our preschooler to watch, it would be Daniel Tiger. It’s loosely based on the “Neighborhood of Make-Believe” that I remember from when I watched Mister Rogers back in the day. Each episode deals with a social or emotional situation that a preschooler might face on any given day. The repeated song in each episode drives home the motif and can be repeated the next time your child is in a tough situation in real life. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sung, “When you get real mad and you wanna ROAR, take a deep breath and count to four!” to my child! If nothing else, it’s good for distraction.) I may or may not change it to “really mad” when I sing.

Super Why. This show is definitely educational. In each episode, the fairy tale characters invite the “Super Readers” in the audience to help the characters use a book to solve a problem. Not too surprisingly, research suggests that Super Why helps children to learn basic literacy skills like letter sounds and reading comprehension. The English major in me adores this show.

The original Mickey Mouse cartoons. Okay, so these might not really be “educational,” but these short cartoon clips can be charming. Mickey Mouse is a classic for a reason, right? There’s a heavy reliance on physical comedy and a lack of glossy special effects which makes them a nice change from the more modern shows. Many of these classics are available on YouTube, so you can watch them without a premium subscription service. I found several by searching for “classic Disney cartoons.”

Dumbo, Fox and The Hound, and Winnie the Pooh. Netflix recently added some of the older full-length Disney movies to its streaming service. I know that Frozen is all anyone can talk about these days, but I much prefer the older shows for my girls. Winnie the Pooh is our daughter’s absolute favorite show. And even though I’ve watched it a dozen times, I can’t find anything in it to complain about (other than the dream scene may be a little scary for some little ones.) Similarly, Dumbo is a recent favorite for us. How sweet and sad is the song “Baby Mine”?

The best educational shows and movies for preschoolers!

Sesame Street. How could I make a list of educational shows for preschoolers and NOT include Sesame Street? It’s the original preschool learning show! Some research suggests that children who watch Sesame Street regularly have a 16% higher grade point average in high school than children who didn’t watch it!

Sid the Science Kid. Fair warning: the “Looking for Friends” song will get stuck in your head for days and days and days. We’ve watched a few free episodes on YouTube, and I like the science themes and lessons. I should mention that I felt like the one episode about the flu shot and vaccinations got a little political and preachy. However, I bet I’m just being overly sensitive!

The Magic School Bus. We haven’t watched The Magic School Bus with our daughter(s) yet, but I remember it from my childhood! This show encourages curiosity and project-led learning in kids ages three to ten. Some themes that are covered include the five senses, the water cycle, outer space, and ancient Egypt. As the show says, “Let’s take a closer look.” A new version of the show called The Magic School Bus 360 plays on Netflix.

Documentaries--nonfiction can be fun! Okay, so maybe your preschooler won’t make it through a full feature-length documentary, but it’s perfectly acceptable to break them up into smaller chunks. There are several Discovery channel shows available on Netflix.

Leap Frog–This is another series on our to-watch list. Episode topics include phonics, math, numbers, and the alphabet. Sounds educationally promising, right?

What’s your child’s favorite show? What’s YOUR favorite show for kids? Or, at the very least, what shows do you find least painful to watch over and over and over again? :)

Ironically, as I was writing this story for Pop Secret, I tried making popcorn without the app, And guess what happened? I burned the popcorn! Feel free to learn from my mistake and make good use of this free app. :)

9 of the BEST

Disney on a Dime–Clothes for Disney That Won’t Break the Bank

When my parents surprised us with the news that they were taking us to Disney (What a great surprise!), I immediately started making mental lists. What rides would we hit first? Which characters would be least likely to freak out our one-year-old? How would we handle our three-year-old’s mid-park meltdowns? What kind of clothes could I find for the girls that were cool (for a July trip), adorable (a trip to Disney is special), and budget-friendly (’cause who wants to break the bank on kids’ clothes?).

For the sake of this post, let’s focus on the last of my listing–the outfit portion of my planning.  Here are the five options I found for adorable, cool, and budget-friendly Disney duds.

As always, amazon affiliate links included for your convenience.

Start with Etsy.

For unique outfit ideas, I always start with Etsy. The shop owners on Etsy are bursting with creativity and excited to work with you.  Iron-on appliques are an extremely affordable way ($3!) to dress your kids for Disney. I purchased white cotton dresses for my girls from Hobby Lobby (from the clearance rack), and Grace from CharmantLittles was sweet enough to provide me with appliques (you can find them HERE)–Tinkerbell, Mickey and Minnie, and a Minnie Mouse design with my toddler’s first initial.

Adorable outfit ideas for your Disney trip that won't break the bank!

Grace also offered to add two of her hand-painted Minnie Mouse shirts for my girls. When I got them, I had to write her to be sure they were really done by hand, because they looked so amazing and professional! The shirts definitely meet my cool, affordable, adorable criteria! (We chose to personalize with “Little Sister” and “Big Sister,” but these shirts would also look cute with your child’s name!)

Dressing for Disney! 5 unique and affordable outfit ideas.

Get creative and make your own.

Given my shock that the shirts from CharmantLittles were really hand-painted, you might assume that I have zero artistic ability. It’s true. I’m a terrible artist. But I managed not to flub up these DIY Disney shoes too badly.

DIY Disney clothes!

Wanna know how I did it? They were so easy that it’s almost silly to write a tutorial! But here you go…

Supplies:

  1. Do a few test runs of the Minnie Mouse heads on paper before you squeeze the black puffy paint onto the shoes. (Handy hint: All you really need to be able to do is paint on three black circles and two red triangles!), but for visual people it helps to have a picture of the iconic Minnie Mouse ears handy when you’re designing/drawing/painting.
  2. Let the silhouette dry overnight.
  3. The next morning, draw on Minnie’s ears using the red puffy paint.
  4. Optional: add the bows. Ours were hair bows, so they just clipped on to the shoe strap.

Ta-da! DIY Disney shoes!

Borrow from friends.

About a month or so before our trip, I asked my local facebook friends if they had any Disney costumes we could borrow for our trip. That’s how we ended up with a second pirate costume that fit our oldest daughter!

Dressing for Disney: Five unique and adorable ideas that won't blow the  budget!

Sidenote: even when the girls were dressed as pirates, the cast members at Disney still called them “Princess.” Our three-year-old daughter (who has no clue what a Disney princess is) finally got so frustrated that she said, “I’m not PRINCESS!” Disney believes that every girl wants to be a Disney princess. Do you think calling all of the girls “Princess” is a good marketing move or should they move on to include less stereotypical nicknames?

Pick up a Disney outfit when Halloween costumes are on clearance. 

If you think there’s a chance of a Disney trip in your future, pick up super cheap costumes at the end of fall. This is how we ended up with our Minnie Mouse costume. Even if we hadn’t gone to Disney (we had no foreseeable Disney plans last October), this would have been a nice addition to our dress-up bin.

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Similarly, pick up costumes at yard sales and consignment events!

You can find Disney outfits in most big box stores.

Clothes for Disney--5 Affordable (and Adorable!) Ideas

I found red and white striped Minnie outfits at the discount chain everyone loves to hate (you know, the one that rhymes with “hall-art”). And guess what? The outfits were adorable, cool, and budget-friendly.  Surprisingly, I didn’t even see other kids wearing the exact same outfits in the park. Score!

Want cute clothes for Disney that won't blow your trip budget? Check out these ideas!

Okay, Disney experts! Now that you’ve heard my tips, can you add any other tricks for finding adorable and affordable clothes for Disney?