Good Videos for a 3-Year Old?

I'd like to expand Anthony's exposure to English, and one way to do that is with a broader range of videos or movies. We've been pretty restrictive about watching anything on TV/video, and until now he's been limited to the occasional Dora the Explorer, Bob the Builder, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and the Disney movies Dinosaur and Finding Nemo. By far, Dora is his favorite.

Looking for different types of videos, I went to my old DVD collection and found a few to try: 101 Dalmatians, Ice Age, and Space Jam.

We started out with Ice Age, and wow, what a mistake that was. Within five minutes he was extremely scared (and shaking!) because of a scary scene. We bailed on that movie, but the damage was done -- he had to sleep with the door open, and woke up scared at 5am (I then slept with him for a while).

We tried Space Jam a bit, but it's way beyond his age, and just full of senseless violence (a la Bugs Bunny). He wasn't interested in it and I didn't want him to be, so we bailed on that fairly quickly.

We had better luck with 101 Dalmatians. There were some sad/scary parts, but they were beyond him and he didn't understand, so wasn't scared. There were a lot of puppies, and that was enough. He didn't really understand the story (and certainly not the premise of the mean lady wanting to kill the puppies to make a coat), so it was fine for a 3.5-year old, but probably won't be good for a 5 year old.

We'll be in The States for much of the summer, and so will have a chance to pick up more videos. Any suggestions on wholesome, non-violent videos for a 3- or 4-year old?

All 11 comments so far, oldest first...

Tom and Jerry? I can still watch ’em all the time.

hmm, on second thoughts, there isnt much spoken English :D….

— comment by mmk on June 26th, 2006 at 3:43pm JST (18 years ago) comment permalink

well, i don’t know how good his english is but when i started to learn english at school we watched “Muzzy” a lot ( )

so long, greetings from austria!

— comment by Nitschi on June 27th, 2006 at 4:50am JST (18 years ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog (it’s the only one I read). I also have a three and a half year old boy. He LOVES the “Thomas the Tank Engine” series. It’s all about various talking trains, and most of them have a decent moral to them, and what little boy doesn’t love trains? I think Thomas is big in Japan, as well. I understand there is some sort of “Thomas Land” amusement park there.

He also loves the “Little Einsteins”, which is a newer Disney Channel show, that should be out on video by now. Each episode focuses on a classic musical composer, while the kid characters solve various puzzles, and fly around in a rocket ship. My son also loves Dora the Explorer, which this is similar to. Side note, one of girls in the show is of asian descent.

Other series he enjoys is “Bear in the Big Blue House”, and “Caillou”, a PBS show from Canada about a four year old boy and his family.

As for movies, he loves “Finding Nemo” and the first “Toy Story”, both Pixar films. The movie “Cars” is out on the big screen right now, and might be a fun thing to do. It’s also a Pixar film. My only caveat would be that it’s a bit long for a kids movie at just under two hours. What’s nice about the Pixar films is that adults can usually enjoy them, as well. A small warning about “Finding Nemo”. The beginning has the usual Disneyesque parental snuff scene, though a little one doesn’t really doesn’t understand what happened (the mommy gets eaten by a barracuda, though this is implied, not shown). The rest of the film is one of the few great daddy and son stories.

If I can think of more, I’ll add them. Have a great trip!


— comment by Marius Moore on June 27th, 2006 at 12:02pm JST (18 years ago) comment permalink

Hi Marius,
Thanks for the kind words, and all the recommendations. You’re right about Finding Nemo being great — I’d forgotten to list it, as its one of his three favorite movies. (He’s only seen three — Nemo, Dinosaurs, and 101 Dalmations). Oh, well, we added “Paulie” the other day (nice family movie about a talking parrot), which he enjoyed although he didn’t understand much. I made up various things to explain what was happening. The bird was cute and that’s what important.

I’ve seen some of the Thomas videos running in the store, but I worry about exposing him to that strange English (that is, British English). I’d hate that he might start talking like that. But, were we to watch it, we’d have a video that matched his Thomas underwear, which has merit. 🙂

By the way, on the Japanese side (in case you’re reading, John), I highly recommend a subscription to the Shimajiro magazine. The magazine is filled with age-appropriate fun things (that maps to and changes with his age), and comes with a 20-minute DVD that’s equally good. Each month…..

— comment by Jeffrey Friedl on June 27th, 2006 at 2:30pm JST (18 years ago) comment permalink

Hi again,

You’re welcome, and yes, many of the Thomas videos have the Brit accent. Some of the older ones have Ringo Starr as the narrator! On the flip side, some of the older ones had George Carlin narrating. Very odd, but he was actually quite good. Some of the new ones have Alec Baldwin, who also does a fine job. Whoever does the narrating does ALL the voices, so if you get one with an American narrator, it will be fine (most of the new ones have American narrators here in the states). A warning, though, I haven’t met a boy who after he started watching Thomas, didn’t get addicted to it!!!

They also sell the little Brio style wooden train toys, which can become quite an expensive collection, at about $10 a pop. You can often find a “special DVD or video” at Target that comes with one of them for free, and their DVD and video prices are usually the lowest.

— comment by Marius Moore on June 27th, 2006 at 11:12pm JST (18 years ago) comment permalink

My daughter is two (though it would be hard to tell that from her size or vocabulary), she’s a big fan of Dora and Dora’s cousin Diego (of “Go Diego Go”). Diego and his sister help their parents at an animal rescue center (in what I believe to be Coasta Rica). Each episode there is a different animal in trouble, and Diego (often accompanied by Baby Jaguar, the analog to Boots) has to solve a couple problems on the way.

Besides Sesame Street, she also watches “Wonder Pets”. “Wonder Pets” is about a hampster, turtle and duckling that save baby animals. Theme of every episode is teamwork. There are two “episodes” per half-hour, in each they save an animal. Usualy what happens is there is some sort of issue with them leaving to save the animal (something’s stuck, their way is blocked, a wheel needs to be oiled, etc) and then it so happens that the animal is in trouble in a similar way (elephant’s trunk is stuck in the mud, the puppy needs to go outside to tinkle, a dinosaur needs slime to slip between two rocks, etc). The pets draw on their earlier experience with solving the problem to solve the new one. Since this is a fairly new series, I’m not sure Nick has it out on DVD yet, but while in the states, you could record a bunch.

— comment by chad on June 28th, 2006 at 9:12am JST (18 years ago) comment permalink

There’s always Blue’s Clues, which is boring for adults but recommended for kids…

— comment by James Harvey on July 5th, 2006 at 10:13am JST (18 years ago) comment permalink

Possibly old Disney, like Dumbo? Worst things in it are the mother getting jailed, an alcohol scene which will almost certainly go over Anthony’s head.

Incidentally, go on eBay for Thomas trains/accessories. My kids have tons of them (though with a new third boy, we won’t be giving ours up any time soon)

— comment by Sam on July 13th, 2006 at 2:54am JST (18 years ago) comment permalink

As others have said already, Little Einsteins is wonderful. Thomas the Train, Blues Clues, Scooby Doo, The Wiggles, Sesame Street, SpongeBob, and Caillou all keep my Tivo busy for my 3yo. He also really likes Futurama. 🙂

For trips (we have a DVD player in our minivan), most of the above have DVDs, but he also likes Disney classics (Lady and The Tramp, mary poppins, Fox and Hound…). I think the kid has a bigger DVD collection than I do. 🙂

— comment by dan isaacs on July 26th, 2006 at 1:37pm JST (18 years ago) comment permalink

try Faerie Tale Theatre!

— comment by sknifer on February 1st, 2007 at 3:03am JST (17 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

Winnie the pooh movies! Lots of good harmless fun there. My 3 yr old daughter loves them.

— comment by Adrian on January 3rd, 2012 at 3:21pm JST (12 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink
Leave a comment...

All comments are invisible to others until Jeffrey approves them.

Please mention what part of the world you're writing from, if you don't mind. It's always interesting to see where people are visiting from.

IMPORTANT:I'm mostly retired, so I don't check comments often anymore, sorry.

You can use basic HTML; be sure to close tags properly.

Subscribe without commenting