Thoughtful, creative, and quieter videos for a two-year-old?
December 10, 2022 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Our two-year-old has very limited screen time, but on the occasions when it's inescapable, we prefer stories being read aloud or quieter, process-oriented videos that aren't necessarily overtly educational, but show creativity, thoughtfulness and are not switching camera angles or scenes every half-second like many of the videos specifically targeted for kids. Do you have any favorites you can share that might fit that criteria?

A few example that our little one enjoys are this Becorns video and this Locking Dollhouse video, that supplemented my answers to her questions about keys.

I already have some Mr. Rogers and Bob Ross on the potential list, but what are videos on YouTube or the Internet at large that the hive would recommend for a precocious two year old?
posted by secretrobot to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
There are lots of picture book read alouds on YouTube.
posted by bookworm4125 at 10:00 AM on December 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

There's a lot of DIY/maker/crafter youtube that seems like it would be relevant here.

I'm in my late 30s, and when I was a kid, PBS things like New Yankee Workshop / Woodwright's Shop / This Old House / Newton's Apple were the things I was allowed to watch with my dad. Fast forward 35 years, and I just introduced him to Samson Boat Company (A British guy restores an 1890s-era wooden sail yacht) and Acorn to Arabella (A guy in MA builds a wooden sail yacht from scratch with help from his friends and wood from his family farm). "What the boat guys are doing" has become a repeating topic of phone conversation for us these days.

This kind of content is definitely not targeted at kids as young as yours, but they are thoughtful/creative/quiet, often show process in a way that's like "How it's Made" but moreso, and might appeal to the grown-ups too and spark interesting conversations.

However, you might eventually end up with a 15-year-old who wants his/her own Bridgeport. I'd consider that a win, but your mileage may vary.
posted by Alterscape at 10:16 AM on December 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My nephew likes this 7-year-old painter, Old Enough on Netflix, classic Sesame Street (how crayons are made, etc), and Sunflower Creamery's YT channel, which shows quiet, music-free scenes of baby goats.
posted by pinochiette at 11:03 AM on December 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

I think this is exactly what the Teletubbies are for.
My grandson was very fond of Peppa the Pig as a precocious 2-yo.

Scandinavian programming for small children is excellent, with the Norwegian NRK as the Lodestar these days, but I couldn't find English versions of the programs.

I think the difference is that countries with strong public broadcasting traditions can focus on age-appropriate pedagogical knowledge and servicing the children and parents rather than the advertisers. So look for those.
posted by mumimor at 11:20 AM on December 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Sankofa Read Aloud is a YouTube channel that calmly reads children’s books with Black protagonists and Black authors. It’s great, both as calm entertainment and as a way to quickly “audition” a book before deciding to purchase it.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 11:35 AM on December 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Sarah and Duck! It's the best.
posted by Dr. Wu at 11:37 AM on December 10, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Wallace and Gromit? Not sure it would hold a two year olds attention, but it's creative and not loud or busy.
posted by Eyelash at 3:16 PM on December 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I go through The Kid Should See This when I cannot take another minute of Cocomelon.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 4:15 PM on December 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Hedgehog in the Fog is a quietly told story that captivated my 2-year-old. The narration is in Russian. The first time we watched it together, I explained a little, but I never found it necessary to read all the subtitles aloud; when she wondered about something, she asked.
posted by aws17576 at 4:29 PM on December 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

Don't know how you feel about Trucks (we two artists accidentally made a giant truck/train monster) but we watch mighty machines for nail cutting and other such emergencies. Lots of episodes on YouTube. I like that it's live action and generally long boring sequences.
posted by stray at 4:30 PM on December 10, 2022

Best answer: If you're open to old, old shows, Mr Dress Up and Polka Dot Door episodes are on YouTube. I haven't looked for The Big Comfy Couch, or for Today's Special, but they might be there.
Check out CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp) they are usually reliable for good kids shows.
posted by Enid Lareg at 6:55 PM on December 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

We really liked kipper the dog. It is animated but it's slow,simple and not flashy. with calm sounds and movements. It's almost like a book being read with some movement on the pages. Plus it's thought provoking for a younger child.
posted by CleverClover at 7:27 PM on December 10, 2022

At that age we would watch train videos it was like 30min of trains going by, about 3 min per train, no edits. So, like slow tv but for kids.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:43 PM on December 10, 2022

Best answer: At that age, my kid loved the BBC's Come Outside - sweet, silly, usually revolving around a How It's Made-style sequence or exploration of some animal.

Also Babies (trailer; not the one on Netflix), a narration-free documentary about babies being raised in different cultures, which is feature-length but easily watched in chunks.
posted by McBearclaw at 8:57 PM on December 10, 2022

Bluey is all the rage in the UK at the moment. Kind, imaginative, thoughtful and really funny. Not stories read aloud but rather, entire play narratives re-enacted by the little ones…

Review here: The cult of Bluey: how a kids’ cartoon became a bible for modern parenting
posted by moiraine at 11:37 PM on December 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Caitie's Classroom, which is an offshoot of Super Simple Songs (which is itself better than most toddler song wormholes), has some nice stuff like this. My kid still loves this video where she basically just methodically applies glitter to a rainbow. We also really like the Field Trip episodes.
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 4:50 AM on December 11, 2022

A Young Children’s Concert with Raffi was a massive hit with my kids at that age and our YouTube go-to for a long time.
posted by castlebravo at 8:17 AM on December 11, 2022

A+++ for Miffy.
posted by nkknkk at 9:57 AM on December 11, 2022

I really appreciate Moon and Me for all these qualities.
posted by pipstar at 12:27 PM on December 11, 2022

Best answer: The Snowman - lush piano music, charming story, no words.

I had videotapes of old Sesame Street episodes, they're much slower than new ones.
posted by theora55 at 12:54 PM on December 11, 2022

Best answer: We like this version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (and the same company has done other Eric Carle books too).
posted by featherboa at 1:04 PM on December 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you, all! You've reminded me of some excellent ones and pointed me to some great new ones that already look promising.
posted by secretrobot at 3:45 PM on December 11, 2022

That version of Very Hungry Caterpillar is a favorite with one of the two year olds at work.
posted by kathrynm at 4:46 PM on December 11, 2022

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