Faerie Tale Theatre – Imagining Anew

Age Levels targeted:

Overview of the show: Faerie Tale Theatre is a show that re-tells classic fairy tales but with a twist – each episode tells the stories faithfully but does so with affectionate parody or satire. The target audience is for children 3 and up; as fairy tales they are moral stories that are invaluable lessons for children but will most likely be too complicated for toddlers.

FTT was made in the 1980’s and features some fantastic costumes and sets – many of the stories compete with Disney animated features of the same name (e.g. Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, etc). The cast is packed with A-list celebrities, and although this will mean little to children, it does endear parents and keep them interested.

As fairy tales, the value in this show is in its morality; children will enjoy the battles of good and evil along with the foibles of tragic heroes.

Lamb Chop – a lamb to love

Overview of the show: Lamb Chop is a precocious female lamb; a sock puppet character made by Shari Lewis. Together the two have discussions, sing songs and get into mischief. On her own, Lamb Chop is often a character in other puppet shows and is curious, inquisitive and generally naughty.

This show is primarily for entertainment; Shari Lewis will often teach the puppets lessons about manners or life (such as chores, responsibility and the like) but most watch it for its good-natured humour and funny puppetry.

There are several iterations of Lamb Chop including “The Shari Lewis Show”, “Play Along”, “Charlie Horse Music Pizza” and a number of specials; all are variety shows filled with comedy, singing, skits and sketches.

The Doodlebops – social lessons through songs

Overview of the show: The Doodlebops is a children’s band that performs musical acts and dances. The primary characters are Deedee Doodle; who plays the keyboard and does vocals, Moe Doodle; who plays the drums and is rambunctious, and Rooney Doodle; guitarist.
The Doodlebops could be characterized as a children’s variety show as they act in skits and comedy routines; these performances, while entertaining, also have the aim of teaching social lessons. The target audience is for children 1 and up.
The characters dress up in interesting costumes and encourage the audience to join in the dancing and singing. The show teaches good lessons but the primary value in the show is in its entertainment.

Reading Rainbow – Because Reading is fun

Overview of the show: Reading Rainbow is a series whose primary purpose is to encourage young children to read. Each episode features a theme that is prominent in all of books read by the host.

There are no overall storylines or characters as the show is purely educational though the hosts are generally celebrities. The format of each episode is identical – the narration of a book, followed by the interviewing of a contributor to society and finally a book review.

Reading Rainbow is one of the longest running children’s shows of all time – more than 25 years. It has also won dozens of awards including a Peabody.

Pocoyo – teamwork trumps personal ego

Overview of the show: Pocoyo is a Spanish-made 3D animated series made for pre-schoolers. The show has no real setting – all of the characters exist in a largely empty white void. This has the effect of emphasising all of the people and their activities as well as setting it apart aesthetically from all other kids’ shows.

Pocoyo is a flawed though curious boy and is the only human character. He is joined in most episodes by Pato, Elly, Loula and Sleepy Bird; a duck, elephant, puppy and bird respectively. Pocoyo learns simple lessons with the aid of his friends – to overcome his (relatively minor) selfishness in order to cooperate and solve their problems as a team.

Peep and the Big Wide World – Problem solving’s for the birds

Overview of the show: Peep and the Big Wide World is an animated episodic series that stars Peep the chick, Chirp the robin, and Quack the duck. Together these three friends explore their world and discover how it works.
The primary focus of Peep is to teach basic science in an entertaining manner – each episode the characters face problems and try to solve them using different methods and ideas.
The show is simply but cleanly animated; the characters are all brightly coloured and the backdrops are interesting to look at.
The recurring theme of the show is of discovery, adventure and exploration – all excellent messages for young children to hear.

Oobi offers kids a helping hand

Overview of the show: Oobi is a somewhat unconventionally produced show as all of its characters are portrayed by hands with large googly eyes on the knuckles; the effect of which is to create faces using hands. This is much like a sock-puppet show without the socks.

The show has several characters – Oobi, his younger sister Uma, his best friend Kako, and his grandfather, Grampu. The plots generally follow the simple experiences of young children – school, eating, dancing, painting, making music etc. Oobi works on developing mathematics, literacy and simple logic.

All of the characters speak in short, incomplete sentences, often communicating without using pronouns, adverbs or adjectives (e.g. “Oobi hungry – eat). The gesticulations of the hands make the meaning clear (Oobi will rub his “stomach” and pick up a fork), and has gained popularity amongst parents with pre-literate children.

Mighty Machines are mightily useful

Overview of the show: Mighty Machines is a live-action educational show that teaches young children about what large machines do and how they do it.

There is no overall plot or story – the format of this series is documentary-style. The episodes feature long, slow shots of large trucks and industrial equipment performing their tasks and a voice over explaining their purpose.

What separates this show from others of a similar type is that the “commentator” is not a traditional narrator; the trucks and machines themselves will “talk” about themselves rather than having a single person narrating the entire series.

Max and Ruby – Brotherly Love

Overview of the show: Max and Ruby are cartoon sibling rabbits that play and live together. The show is aimed at pre-schoolers and each episode is split into 3 short self-contained stories.

Together they cooperate in their activities – often Ruby will want to do something creative or perform chores, while Max will (sometimes unwillingly) assist his sister in whatever the endeavour entails.
The show is somewhat simply animated – the characters move about like paper cut-outs but it is pleasant without being overly complicated.

The primary focus of Max and Ruby is about brotherhood/sisterhood – being able to have fun and get along with siblings, no matter the age.

Little Bear – friends matter

Little Bear is a cartoon series for toddlers about anthropomorphic woodland animals. The episodes are short and intended for easy consumption by young children.

The eponymous hero is Little Bear, a grizzly bear cub who has fun with his friends, rain or shine. His friends all have the same name as their species – Owl, Duck, Hen, Cat, Frog – except for Emily, who is one of the few humans in the show.

The stories are simple tales about friendship and play games with others; to cooperate, be thoughtful and considerate of others’ feelings.