With kids out of school and daycare largely nonexistent during this pandemic, parents inevitably will plop their kids in front of the TV, tablet or smartphone.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of shows to choose from, be it adventure, comedy or reality.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution uses the age recommendations defined by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization that provides education and advocacy to families promoting safe technology and media for children.
Here is a sampling of 14 shows and films released in the past year on various streaming services for kids ranging from 3 to 8 years of age, with Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime and Apple TV+ represented.
“Clifford the Big Red Dog” (Amazon Prime), age 3 and up
This reboot of the original PBS Kids is still focused on Clifford and his best friend Emily Elizabeth but also features new friends, adventures and art style. There is also an emphasis on social-emotional skills, such as empathy.
“Sesame Street: Elmo’s Date” (Hulu), age 3 and up
Anne Hathaway, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tracee Ellis Ross join Elmo and friends for a half-hour “virtual playdate” created after the pandemic began. Among the “Sesame Street” friends who pop up with Elmo: Grover, Cookie Monster and Abby Cadabby.
“True: Terrific Tales” (Netflix), ages 3 and 4
True and her buddies use the magic of the Story Spinner to revamp classic tales, such as “Pinnochio” and “Little Red Riding Hood,” for current day kids.
“Green Eggs and Ham” (Netflix), age 4 and up
Creator Jared Stern channels the spirit of the Dr. Seuss classic over 13 episodes with visual and linguistic flair.
“Bluey” (Disney+), age 4 and up
In this popular Australian series which first aired on ABC Kids in 2018, Bluey is a sweet 6-year-old blue heeler dog who loves to play and turns everyday family life into cool adventures, building imagination and her resilience.
“Forky Asks a Question” (Disney+), age 4 and up
Forky, the goofy trash-obsessed plastic fork from “Toy Story 4,” explores topics such as reading, art, time and love in different animated shorts. Other characters from “Toy Story” join in such as Ham and Mr. Pricklepants.
“Here We Are: Notes For Living on Planet Earth” (Apple TV+), age 5 and up
Narrated by Meryl Streep and based on the children’s book of the same title by Oliver Jeffers, this charming, low-key film tracks a precocious 7-year-old who, over the course of Earth Day, learns about the wonders of the planet from his parents and a mysterious exhibit at the super cool Museum of Everything.
“The Bravest Knight” (Hulu), age 5 and up
This series focuses on Sir Cedric, his husband Prince Andrew and their 10-year-old daughter Nia, who wants to be a brave knight like her dad. Each episode focuses on Cedric telling Nia an old story about his glorious past. This is one of the first kids’ programs to feature an openly gay lead character.
“A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon” (Netflix), age 5 and up
This is a British stop-action film and sequel to the 2015 film and the 2007 TV series, all from the creators of “Wallace & Gromit.” For the uninitiated, there is virtually no dialogue but perpetually compelling visuals. In this film, an adorable alien possessing strange powers crash-lands near Mossy Bottom Farm and befriends Shaun the Sheep, who helps keep the alien from being captured by a dangerous organization.
“Be Our Chef” (Disney+), age 6 and up
Angela Kinsey, who is much more chipper in real life than her “The Office” character, hosts a competition focused on five families who love to cook together. Each cooking challenge is conveniently themed to a Disney character, such as Cinderella and Baymax from “Big Hero 6.” The winner gets a Disney cruise line vacation — which unfortunately may not be such a big win in pandemic times.
“Just Add Magic: Mystery City” (Amazon Prime), age 6 and up
Aspinoff of the original “Just Add Magic,” this amusing series features three new protector kids who receive a magic cookbook and special seeds to create spices that are used to create cool things that enable them to be invisible or travel in time. The book also unlocks an ancient mystery and takes the trio on a historical adventure through fictional Bay City to find a secret recipe.
“Amphibia” (Disney+), age 7 and up
Inspired by creator Matt Braly’s childhood trips to Bangkok, Thailand, this animated series follows independent, fearless teen Anne Boonchuy, who is magically transported to a strange world packed with talking frogs, huge pond monsters and deadly praying mantises. Anne becomes buds with a troublemaking young frog, Sprig Plantar, and adjusts to life as a quirky outsider.
“Twelve Forever” (Netflix), age 8 and up
Reggie, hitting the age of 12, does not want to grow up; so she escapes to Endless Island, a bizarre fantasy land where she and her quirky friends can remain young while fighting off the Butt Witch. This animated series has a great pedigree, emanating from the mind of Julia Vickerman, who came up with “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Yo Gabba Gabba.”
“Power Players” (Netflix), age 8 and up
From the creators of “Ben 10,” this series focuses on Axel, a kid who discovers Power Bandz, which turn him into a real-life action doll. He fights evil with a group of secret toy heroes. It’s basically an amped-up “Toy Story” without the sentimentality.
About the Author
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years.