Looking for short (10 min or so) tv shows for pre-schooler
September 4, 2018 6:17 AM   Subscribe

Hi! We are looking for recommendations for tv shows for our son. He’s around three and a half. We are hoping to find shows that are 10 minutes or so long (to keep his tv-watching minimal). We are also hoping for shows that aren’t too heavy on the “fighting bad guys” element. Optional bonus if it’s a show you as an adult find enjoyable.

(We really like Backyardigans and the Magic School Bus, but those shows are 25 minutes long. We like Peppa Pig okay. Our boy likes Paw Patrol and PJ Masks, which are ten minutes, but which have a lot of the “fighting bad guys” part we’re hoping to have a little less of...)

Any tips?
posted by ManInSuit to Media & Arts (44 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Most of the PBS Kids lineup involves half hour episodes that are made up of two stories together. My favorite--Odd Squad-- is for kids a bit older, but Curious George is delightful and each story clocks in around 12 minutes. Pocoyo is another great one for little kids. The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, Dinosaur Train--depends what your kid is into and what kind of pacing you're looking for, but that's the place to go!
posted by gideonfrog at 6:26 AM on September 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

"Kipper the Dog" was our favorite show at that age. Each of the short story segments are about 9 minutes long. Many episodes are on youtube.
posted by belladonna at 6:26 AM on September 4, 2018 [5 favorites]

Charlie and Lola! There are tons of episodes (11-ish minutes long) on YouTube.
posted by sacrifix at 6:26 AM on September 4, 2018 [6 favorites]

The older "Bob the Builder" episodes were pretty short, and emphasized teamwork and conflict resolution. I really liked them. (Just yesterday I was singing the theme song, a good ten years after we last watched the show!) Your local library should have DVDs of these episodes, if you want to try them out.

I also adored "The Ruff Ruffman Show" by PBS. Its episodes might be longer, but they were cut up between live action and animation, so maybe that will work for you?

And "Word Girl" is fantastic, but probably too long for a pre-reader...and she is a crime-fighter, but also an ordinary, young girl.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:28 AM on September 4, 2018

Octonauts is about 10 mins an episode I think, and will result in your kid correcting you on sealife identification. Non violent, all about rescuing/helping sea creatures.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:30 AM on September 4, 2018 [12 favorites]

Puffin Rock might work for you. There is some antagonism/conflict due to natural relationships among species, but no real fighting.
posted by Knicke at 6:31 AM on September 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

Sarah & Duck intrigues my friends' kids and the adults who visit them.
posted by gyusan at 6:32 AM on September 4, 2018 [11 favorites]

Shawn the Sheep
posted by maya at 6:40 AM on September 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

You could do half a Daniel Tiger episode. Each is about 22 minutes long but they are split in two halves so it’s easy to just do half. My daughter won’t watch anything else. We also sometimes watch old Mr. Rogers episodes and if you leave out the land of make-believe part (which we often do) it's probably 10 minutes.
posted by pombe at 6:44 AM on September 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

If Peppa Pig is OK, you may dig Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom (which I find more fun as a grown-up). Seconding Puffin Rock, Sarah & Duck, and Shaun the Sheep (or its youthful spinoff, Timmy Time) as well. Also: Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.
posted by LadyInWaiting at 6:45 AM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Peg + Cat and Puffin Rock are two that I genuinely enjoy as an adult, and both are wholesome and valuable for kids imo.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:47 AM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Our son watches unlimited Mr Rogers (available on Amazon prime) because even though it’s 30 minutes, we really believe that Mr Rogers does a better job raising our son than we ever could.
posted by andreapandrea at 6:48 AM on September 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

Nthing Sarah and Duck. It's utterly charming. It has TALKING SHALLOTS. What other show has talking shallots?

If you have Amazon Prime, check out Creative Galaxy, which features a little alien solving problems with art. It's adorable.
posted by timestep at 6:50 AM on September 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

Toopy and Binoo
posted by Poldo at 7:01 AM on September 4, 2018

Seconding Daniel Tiger and Octonauts.
posted by Kriesa at 7:03 AM on September 4, 2018

Seconding Shaun the Sheep. Each episode is about 8 minutes long. And totally lovely for adults as well.
posted by RedEmma at 7:10 AM on September 4, 2018

I’ve recommended this in every similar thread: OSWALD
posted by tristeza at 7:32 AM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Little Bear has gentle, enjoyable, short episodes. Here’s an example on YouTube.
posted by doctord at 7:33 AM on September 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

Nthing Pocoyo and Sarah and Duck. Just lovely animations, very sweet, and a bit absurdist (crucial for parental enjoyment in our house)
posted by LKWorking at 7:37 AM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

How did I forget Peg + Cat and Shaun the Sheep? Both amazing choices!
posted by gideonfrog at 7:50 AM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Wonder Pets!

Each show is two segments so they clock in pretty short. The animation and music are fantastic, pretty much the same team that went on later to do Peg+Cat. Lots of fun for everyone.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:58 AM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

These are older, but check out Little Bear and Peep and the Big Wide World.
posted by metasarah at 7:59 AM on September 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

My son is 6 and still has about a 10-minute attention span. Daniel Tiger, Peg + Cat, Super Why and Dinosaur Train are all two 10-12 minute segments per episode. Peppa Pig and Peppa's less-well-known British cousin Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom are also 10-minute episodes.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:00 AM on September 4, 2018

You seem to be covered here, but if you're looking for more, and for future reference, Common Sense Media is an invaluable resource for kids media - TV, books, movies, and video games. There are lists by type of media, age, and source. For example, if you have Hulu, you can go to their best kids TV shows on Hulu and then select ages 2-4.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:02 AM on September 4, 2018

Pingu is excellent!

Backyardigans was very much loved by my kid
posted by Ftsqg at 8:11 AM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding "Peep and the Big Wide World", "Pocoyo", "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" for your young'n. Please note that "Wild Kratts" is very adversarial. No one here suggested Wild Kratts, I'm only mentioning it because it's in the same lineup as Peep and Odd Squad and Dinosaur Train and whatnot. Odd Squad is like half adversarial. The other half of the time they're trying to patch the warp core, or get back from the mirror universe or whatever.
posted by turkeybrain at 8:27 AM on September 4, 2018

Backyardigans makes me melancholy and I don't know why. Is it associated with that particular time in my life? Is it the dissolution of the fantasy world at the end?
posted by turkeybrain at 8:29 AM on September 4, 2018

When he was three my boy loved Trotro the donkey, and i liked watching with him. Stories are short, sweet and focus on family life and friendships.
posted by 15L06 at 8:41 AM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding some already-mentioned (approved by our 3-year old):

* Peppa Pig
* Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom (bonus points for the Peppa Pig references)
* Octonauts

Some other favourites:

* Bubble Guppies
* Bookaboo
* Stella and Sam
* Big Block Sing Song (just a bunch of short, goofy songs)
* Floogals (also on Netflix)

Our 3-year old also loves Pocoyo but we've found the simplistic "dialogue" has a negative effect on her language (she's normally very chatty, but when she starts imitating Pocoyo we know it's time to cut her off for a while.)
posted by howling fantods at 8:43 AM on September 4, 2018

Octonauts made my daughter into the lovable pedant she is today. “Mom, that’s not an octopus, it’s a dumbo octopus”.”
posted by lydhre at 8:58 AM on September 4, 2018

Oh and I have been watching Octonauts for going on three years now and it still doesn’t get old. A++ has tiny girl rabbit engineers, would recommend again (and I have. Every time).
posted by lydhre at 9:00 AM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Puffin Rock is great. It's calm and slowly paced. There are no annoying voices or music.
posted by TrialByMedia at 9:16 AM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Puffin Rock is my personal favorite because it's so mellow and everyone has delightful Irish accents, but I also nth Octonauts and Daniel Tiger.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:28 AM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Steven Universe episodes are a bit longer than 10 minutes, but I don't think any of them are longer than 15 except the few double-episodes they've done. I just finished watching it as an adult and loved it. While there's some 'fighting bad guys', there's also a lot of compassion for all kids of folks (former bad guy becomes a member of the team sort of thing). I'm not sure how it works for a 3.5yo in general as far as them following the plot or understanding what's going on, but you might want to check it out.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:11 AM on September 4, 2018

There's a lot of Sesame Street on youtube, much of it shorter clips, some of it delightfully odd. Search "Vintage Sesame Street".
posted by theora55 at 11:21 AM on September 4, 2018

For Old School Sesame Street check out their Throwback Thursday Playlist. Lots of great memories there.
posted by howling fantods at 12:11 PM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you have Prime, Amazon makes a great little series called Tumble Leaf. My 4-year-old loved it. Math and science concepts, stop-motion animation, and not at all annoying (or at least I didn't find it annoying; I usually watched it with him). Each episode is divided into two standalone mini-episodes of 10 min. each or so. There's no fighting whatsoever, and my kid usually wanted to, for example, experiment with mirrors after watching the mirror episode.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 12:59 PM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by Morpeth at 1:13 PM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

FYI, I love Steven Universe to bits, but I think things like the gem monsters would be *way* too scary for a kid that young. And it doesn't have the gentle mellowness of little kid shows. Pass.
posted by velvet_n_purrs at 2:11 PM on September 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

Ask the Storybots on Netflix is great, although the episodes are 22 minutes it would be easy to do half an ep at a time. They are the reason my preschooler can tell you about four different kinds of white blood cells.
posted by beandip at 2:21 PM on September 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

My now five year old fucking loves Steven Universe, but at 3 and a half it did encourage him to "fight" my living room walls with a potato masher. Very heavy on the fighting. Best leave that one a few years.

Sarah and Duck have been in constant rotation since the boy was like, 18 months old. I'm watching an episode right now, as it happens. Ben and Holly is an excellent next-step for kids who like Peppa. It's the same production company, but has much more sophisticated humour. We've also gotten a lot of milage out of Pocoyo. Bing is also very sweet, but a tad trying for adults.
posted by Jilder at 11:38 PM on September 4, 2018

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is a successor to Mr. Rogers and is as gentle and good as you'd want. It is longer (20-25 minutes) but consists of two stories per episode so it can be stopped in the middle. There's also Arthur, which has the same format. Both are non-violent and focus on teaching kids emotional intelligence, compassion, and relationship-building. Arthur especially has a diversity of characters to teach kids about divorce, autism, things like that--and they aren't Very Special Episodes either, the characters are regulars. Both shows have a billion episodes.

There's also Sesame Street, particularly the older episodes if you can get your hands on them. Again, the full episode is longer, but the skits mean they can be broken up.
posted by schroedinger at 5:37 AM on September 5, 2018

Masha and the Bear. Its on Netflix (each approx half hour episode contains three 10ish minute stories) or youtube. On Youtube, you may come across the Russian originals (Маша и Медведь) which you can also watch because the dialog is minimal and very secondary to the animation telling the story. No fighting bad guys. Lots of cute shenanigans.
posted by WeekendJen at 2:37 PM on September 6, 2018

Thanks! These are all amazing!
For anyone else looking at this thread (and for FutureManInSuit): A friend also recommends Kazoop.
posted by ManInSuit at 5:19 PM on October 2, 2018

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