Have you guys heard of the Mighty Machines series yet? Shot in Canada, they’re awesome documentary-style videos perfectly suited for vehicle loving kiddos (got a little man in your life? – I’m talking especially to you). I’m really excited to share a little about the series with you today. Before we get to that, though, let me back up a little and briefly address the TV issue in general.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned here before that I’m not big on TV for the kids. We tried really hard to abstain completely until C turned 2, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. (For more info. on the AAP’s guidelines as well as some great tips on toddler TV consumption see here). We were pretty successful until he took in his first episode of Thomas the Tank Engine while getting his hair cut. After that TV started to slowly weasel its way into our life.
TV rules (how much and what types are OK) are something that every family has to address for themselves. There’s no magic formula or system that will work for everyone. So far two basic strategies have worked very well for our family:
- Setting clear limits on when TV is OK. C knows that we only watch it after his nap. He will still ask for it at other parts of the day but he’s easily dissuaded when it’s refused because we’ve tried our best to be consistent. (The one exception to this rule is when we’re traveling. A DVD player can work wonders on a plane ride or road trip – especially if your child isn’t allowed to watch much TV on a regular basis.)
- Offering very limited choices. We only offer C a few select shows that we’ve either DVR’d or have on video. That way I know exactly what he’s watching and there’s a clear start and end point to the program (no getting sucked into the beginning of the next show). Also, the shows we record don’t have commercials so he’s not bombarded with ads for the latest and greatest must-have crap toys.
Right now C basically watches two shows – recorded episodes of Mickey Mouse Club House or an episode of Mighty Machines on DVD. Mickey Mouse is a show that focuses mainly on problem solving and basic concepts like colors, numbers and shapes. It contains very little conflict and zero violence.
As much as we like Mickey around here – a Mighty Machines video is still always my preference. Why? Because they consist of nothing more than footage of real life “mighty machines” (i.e. bulldozers, excavators, airplanes, trains, ships, firetrucks, buses, etc.) at work. There are no contrived characters or drama. The machines narrate their actions and talk directly to your child to explain what they’re doing. Kids learn about how all kind of things work (“All About Recycling” is C’s current favorite) and they LOVE it.
Each video contains several episodes so it’s easy to control how long your child watches. Some of them, like the one about trains, even have a collection of 5 minute “bonus videos”. These can be invaluable bargaining chips. Case in point, C isn’t a big fan of the changing table these days but he’ll often climb up without complaint in exchange for the chance to watch a 5 minute segment on street cleaners.
For the record, I’m not affiliated with the Mighty Machines franchise in any way (although I am an Amazon affiliate so I will make a small commission if you buy a DVD through one of the links above). I was introduced to the videos when C received a few from his grandma for Easter and I’m sharing them with you simply because we love them. Plus with summer vacation approaching, I thought you might appreciate a recommendation for videos you can feel good about your kids watching while traveling.
Do any of you out there already Mighty Machine? Do you love it as much as we do?
P.S. Looking for more ways to simplify and connect with your family?