Kids Programming on Netflix Instant
February 11, 2013 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Kid-friendly Netflix / Hulu ideas for elementary school indoor recess?

I am an elementary school music teacher in northern Illinois. On days when it's too cold to go outside for recess, the kids watch 15-20 minutes of a movie in the gym (yes, they need the fresh air and the exercise, unfortunately this is the only option right now). We have been showing movies from a teacher's Netflix account and it has gone really well, but I am looking for more ideas.

Movies or shows must be:
Rated G (absolutely no PG+)
Appealing to grades 3-5
Free of gender essentialism, racist caricatures, etc
Available on Netflix Instant or Hulu Plus

Our kids like:
Things with music (Happy Feet and The Lorax were a hit)
Movies that do not feel dated, even if they hold up (we are watching Alice in Wonderland right now and it's not going over great)

Movies or TV shows would be fine, as long as they are watchable in 15-minute chunks.

Thanks AskMe!
posted by rossination to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Avatar the Last Airbender could be a great fit if you are willing to predetermine where to split episodes up. :)
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:19 AM on February 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

There's some really terrific kids television on Netflix these days. Word Girl is awesome, as are A.N.T. Farm and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Fresh Beat Band might be popular too, given the emphasis on music.

If there's an abundance of slightly littler ones, I'd emphatically recommend The Backyardigans. Good lord, I will sit and watch that show, the music is so good and the characters so charming. (No, really, I will watch that show even if my kids aren't around.)
posted by jbickers at 10:21 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Looks like the Wallace and Gromit movies are on Instant! I was OBSESSED as a kid.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:21 AM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh, and FernGully! Loved it as a kid- although it's been ages since I've seen it, so I can't swear that it will hold up.

In general the Instantwatcher Children and Family page will be a great resource for you- you can even sort by age group.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:25 AM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

The "recently watched" section of my Netflix account has been basically exactly what you're looking for ever since my (4 year old) son learned how to navigate on the iPad.

Kids shows that he loves and that I don't find too terribly grating include Dinosaur Train, Super Why, Blues Clues, Pocoyo, Shaun the Sheep, and Pingu. Others that he loves but that I can't stand listening to -- I have a low tolerance for saccharine and for kid-voice singing -- include The Backyardigans, Caillou, The Fresh Beat Band, Wonder Pets, Yo Gabba Gabba and of course every parent's twin nemeses Dora and Diego.
posted by ook at 10:35 AM on February 11, 2013

Dinosaur Train is on Netflix - those are 22 minute episodes broken into two parts. The first season is 20 some odd episodes. Downside: you may find yourself singing some of the songs to yourself on your ride into work occasionally.

There are also episodes of Curious George, The Backyardigans, and Yo Gabba Gabba.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:39 AM on February 11, 2013

There's a documentary called Ants: Nature's Secret Power that is available on Hulu, youtube, and probably Netflix (though I don't know for sure). I know documentaries aren't the first thing you think of when you think "ok, time to entertain some kids!" but it's really captivating. They have poison-shooting ants and big-ass leafcutter ants and ants that fight a bear and even put a few ants through feats of strength (lift this thing, run on a treadmill, hold on while we stick you in a windtunnel, etc). IT'S AWESOME. Highly recommended.
posted by phunniemee at 10:40 AM on February 11, 2013

Thanks everyone; keep them coming. I also loved Wallace and Grommit but it doesn't seem to be too popular with our kids (mostly African American and Latin@). Suggestions for the younger set are great, but I'm particularly interested in things for 8-10 year olds. Thanks!
posted by rossination at 10:41 AM on February 11, 2013

I really like Ruby Gloom.
posted by spunweb at 10:42 AM on February 11, 2013

Netflix has a character search function that I've seen the teachers in my school district use (I work in the tech department). Also, if your tech department can set it up, PBS has an iPad app that has a lot of their TV shows in it. You could Airplay to your computer (assuming you have that capability as well). Just a thought! :)
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 10:49 AM on February 11, 2013

My kids are slowly working their way through a bazillion Phineas and Ferb episodes on Netflix. They are a little bit ADD-inducing, though.
posted by Mid at 10:51 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Fly Away Home (about the geese) just totally thrilled my 5-year-old, but also makes my spouse cry, so I think it would be great for your target audience.
posted by acm at 10:53 AM on February 11, 2013

Is there any way the kids could do indoor games or activities instead of watching videos? Or I guess if you're stuck with only videos as your option, how about exercise videos?
posted by kinetic at 11:14 AM on February 11, 2013 [6 favorites]

My 3rd grader (and I) loves Shaun the Sheep on Netflix!
posted by msbubbaclees at 11:26 AM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think Ultimate Spider-Man has been out long enough that the first season should be on netflix. It's fast-paced and zippy, emphasizes teamwork, and the main cast includes multiple Latin@ and African American characters. I'm not sure where the line is drawn between G and PG, though -- it is a superhero show so there's a lot of bloodless violence of the punching/kicking/throwing people around persuasion.
posted by bettafish at 11:35 AM on February 11, 2013

Phineas and Ferb may fit your needs and age group. The title character's personality in the first episode/pilot was a tad sarcastic, but thankfully he got a personality upgrade by the 2nd episode onward.
posted by CancerMan at 11:38 AM on February 11, 2013

If you're not set on Netflix, there are a lot of appropriate (and short!) videos on PBS Kids.
posted by xedrik at 12:04 PM on February 11, 2013

Microcosmos is streaming now-amazing documentary about insects. Very little talking. My kids lOve it.
posted by purenitrous at 12:10 PM on February 11, 2013

This is PBS but my 3rd grader likes to watch Fetch with Ruff Ruffman. It has real kids completing challenges, it's funny and mildly educational. I haven't checked Netflix/Hulu for this but they also enjoy Pearlie, an Australian cartoon about fairies. Also, ANT Farm which I haven't seen myself so check it first if it meets your requirements.
posted by biscuits at 12:23 PM on February 11, 2013

Thanks for the ideas everyone. We do have an Apple TV on the projector so the ipad apps are good suggestions too.

Kinetic: that's what I would like too, trust me. We are getting there. The PE teacher is trying to find some good exercise videos / routines that would work for this application.
posted by rossination at 1:50 PM on February 11, 2013

I can't vouch for this series, but Netflix does have the Shanti Generation youth yoga available for streaming: Shanti Generation.
posted by smuna at 2:11 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Update: I just put Shanti Generation in our queue and my 6-yo is testing it. It's surprisingly rigorous for a younger audience, yet the directions are simple to follow. It's likely that some poses like triangle or tree would test children who don't have practice balancing, but much of the first episode is standing and sitting poses that don't require balance or much flexibility. Things I like: the pacing is good for a younger audience with a shorter attention span, the models are children or tweens, the instruction includes directions for mental as well as physical guidance, and there is no reference to any specific spirituality (no prayers or chanting), which helps avoid the public school/religion conflict. Things I don't like: nothing yet, but I've only made it through the first episode.
posted by smuna at 2:51 PM on February 11, 2013

Kids yoga - awesome!

Kids Zumba. Super fun. Here's one example.
posted by barnone at 3:24 PM on February 11, 2013

I can't remember if it's NetFlix or Hulu+, but Arthur is available on one of those.
posted by raccoon409 at 3:50 PM on February 11, 2013

Adding vote for Phineas and Ferb

How It's Made

Merlin - not sure if appropriate or chunkable

Liberty's Kids - 40 episodes, 30 minutes each, PBS, thought this was streaming but may not be.
posted by RoadScholar at 6:54 PM on February 11, 2013

I am a substitute teacher, and I often use Sean the Sheep for any age elementary kids. Sometimes the older kids groan a bit at first (baby stuff!) but they always end up laughing and happy. The best part of Sean the Sheep is that there are three six minute episodes in each, so it's easy to break up. I have never had any trouble keeping them engaged with Sean the Sheep. (And watching them again and again is still funny.)
posted by RedEmma at 5:59 AM on February 12, 2013

NWI is still showing Mad Hot Ballroom (2005)
posted by dgeiser13 at 9:27 AM on February 12, 2013

(I'm embarrassed that I misread grades 3-5 as ages 3-5. Sorry about that.)
posted by ook at 11:05 AM on February 12, 2013

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