We don’t tend to watch an awful lot of TV in our house, and Xan even less than we do because he’s far too busy playing with his toys and friends, or we’re out and about during the day, however there are a small handful of programmes he enjoys, most of which I also rather like:
1. Trumpton and Camberwick Green
These shows played when my hubby and I were kids and even then, it wasn’t their first outing. I love the sweet innocence of these shows and Xan can’t get enough of of Windy Miller or Captain Flack and his crew of firemen – Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub – who never get to put out an actual fire (“No, no, no! Not the hose!”) and instead rescue all manner of things from trees and remove things from rooftops by use of their extending ladder (“Elevate! Descend!”). The delightful stop-motion episodes are oft-requested by Xander, and childhood memories are brought back for hubby and me through Brian Cant’s narration – he was in everything when we were kids!
2. Something Special and Gigglebiz
I can’t stand clowns, but Justin Fletcher is adorable, both as Mr. Tumble and as himself! I love that this show is all-inclusive and shows kids that not everyone is the same. It’s also great that children are not only entertained, but learn something interesting – Makaton sign language – which can help them communicate more effectively. Xander and I love to join in with the signs and he remembers a lot of them – in fact, at the start of each show, he signs “Hello, Justin!”. Xan also laughs like a loony at Gigglebiz, which is Justin’s sketch show for little’uns, with a whole host of instantly recognisable characters, such as Captain Adorable, Packed Lunch Pete, and DIY Dan.
This show is absolutely marvellous! Each lettered block is a character that reflects the sound that letter makes, so it’s easy for children to remember the sounds when they see them. When they pull together, they form words that come to life, and there are songs for the letters too, to help reinforce the sounds and their associations. As a result of watching this show, we’ve worked on words and letters a lot with Xan and if we spell out simple words, he knows exactly what they are “b-e-d; c-a-t; d-o-g; c-a-r; s-t-o-p; etc). He also knows the songs very well and sings along – two favourites are the songs for “E” (which includes double-E, and silent-E in creating words), and “Y” (who laments not being more like a vowel, even though he can sound like one sometimes). We’ve seen them all multiple times on the TV and on the CBeebies website.
These animated numbers live in a sofa and solve problems for humans without ever being found out! Each episode, there is a puzzle to be solved involving maths, shapes and patterns, so they send out a Numberjack to see if they can help, but they need extra Brain Gain to be sent out by the other Numberjacks to beat The Meanies – Spooky Spoon (who likes to mix things up), The Shape Japer (who affects the size and shape of objects), The Puzzler (who traps Numberjacks and refuses to set them free till they have solved a puzzle), The Problem Blob (who spits out goo that causes problems for those it touches), and The Number Taker (with his number sucker-upper who steals a certain amount of things, or even numbers themselves, to cause problems). Also great for teaching kids to count both forwards and backwards – Xan can do both!
When I first saw this programme, I’ll admit I hated it. I didn’t like the scribbly-type animation at all… but it grew on me pretty quickly! This one is all about a little boy called Billy who is a big daydreamer and gets into all kinds of adventures. It’s all about using your imagination and having fun. WHen we get up in the mornings, our first port of call is the Tiny Pop channel to catch this one, and sometimes we tune in at bedtime after CBeebies has sung the Goodnight song, as Tiny Pop continues through the night, so there are still shows on and Xan really likes to watch this one after his supper before we read him his bedtime story – it’s only a few minutes long and we know all the episodes backwards by now, but it’s sweet and it’s fun and it makes my little lad smile.
6. Nina and the Neurons
If science had been this much fun when I was a kid, I might have been inclined to pay attention! Nina is a lot of fun and never “talks down” to the kids who ask her questions and then, through use of clever experiments, help her discover the answer. It’s live-action apart from the little animated neurons, each of whom have names that reflect the sense they represent – Luke for sight; Felix for touch (Feel-ix); Ollie for smell (olfactory); Bell for hearing; and Bud for taste – sometimes they work alone, but sometimes they’re all needed or pair up to help Nina find the answer. Not only does Nina do cool experiments, but she also focuses on cool inventions and how they work. It’s a great way of encouraging kids to think about things and ask questions about the world around them.
7. Dirt Girl World
When this show started I absolutely detested it on sight because of the grotesque look of the characters who have real bodies but oversized hands and feet and HUGE animated heads. However, I very quickly came round due to the message and content. It’s great to see a show all about growing things, looking after the environment and learning where our food comes from, and he songs are crackin’! There’s also the little bug duo of Grubby (a little yellow grub) and Ken Weevil who, each episode, is made to perform a daring stunt designed by Grubby who declares each on to be “the best stunt ever!” It’s colourful, exciting, fun and has a very positive message about getting outside and interested in plants!
Not all of these programmes are on all the time (in fact, Trumpton and Camberwick Green aren’t on at all any more, but we got hold of them for Xander), and we don’t watch them every day, but if it’s raining outside and we’ve played with toys all day and one of these shows just happens to be on, we’ll certainly not complain if Xan fancies watching them, and chilling out for the few minutes they’re on.