Popular TV Shows for Preschoolers That Help Them Learn

Focus Your Child's Screen Time on Learning Specific Subjects

TV for preschoolers can be both educational and entertaining. Parents can use TV time to supplement what kids are learning at home or at school, and glean ideas from games and activities on the shows to make learning fun for kids at home.

Here are some of the top shows for preschoolers organized by subject. Some shows overlap, covering different curriculum elements, but they are listed under the main educational focus of the show. 

01
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Between the Lions
Copyright © Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). All Rights Reserved

​Preschoolers are all about learning the alphabet, phonics, and the basics of early literacy. The following shows help kids learn about a variety of literacy skills from the alphabet to storytelling, and a couple of them even aspire to teach reading skills such as phonics and blending.

Attaining literacy skills at an early age helps kids' confidence and makes other subjects easier, so it can't hurt to supplement your preschooler's learning during TV time too!

  • "Between the Lions" (PBS)
  • "Super Why" (PBS)
  • "WordWorld" (PBS)
  • "Sesame Street" (PBS)
  • "Pinky Dinky Doo" (NOGGIN)
  • "Wilbur" (Discovery Kids)
  • "Blue's Room" (Nick Jr.)

02
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Early Math Skills

Photo © 2006 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Preschoolers' series based on a math curriculum are not as numerous as the literacy-based shows. However, concepts such as shapes, size, and color are pre-math skills and are often covered in TV shows for 2 to 5 year-olds.

The following shows focus significantly on math skills and often include numbers and counting in addition to the pre-math concepts.

  • "Peg + Cat" (PBS KIDS)
  • "Curious George" (PBS KIDS)
  • "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" (Disney Junior)
  • "Special Agent Oso" (Disney Junior)
  • "Team Umizoomi" (Nick Jr.)
  • "Dora the Explorer" (Nick Jr.)

03
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It's a Big Big World
Photo Credit: Courtesy of PBS and Big Big Productions. 2005.

Science-based shows for preschoolers are becoming more popular, and they encourage thinking and exploration.

In these programs, kids see examples of how show characters explore the world around them and become excited about the discovery process. The shows also teach kids fun facts about nature and science.

  • "The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!" (PBS KIDS)
  • "Dinosaur Train" (PBS KIDS)
  • "It's a Big Big World" (PBS KIDS)
  • "Mama Mirabelles Home Movies" (PBS KIDS)
  • "Sid the Science Kid" (PBS KIDS)
  • "Curious George" (PBS KIDS)
  • "Peep and the Big Wide World" (Discovery Kids)

04
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Art & Music

Little Einsteins
Photo © Disney Enterprises. All rights reserved.

While some of these shows often include a factual based curriculum as well, the main focus is art and/or music. Kids will have a blast singing and dancing along as they learn about creative arts.

  • "Little Einsteins" (Disney Junior)
  • "Backyardigans" (Nick Jr.)
  • "Jack's Big Music Show" (NOGGIN)

05
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Social Skills, Life Skills, and Humor

Bubble Guppies and Mr. Grouper
Photo courtesy Nickelodeon

Social topics such as cooperation, respect, and sharing (among many others) are very important for preschoolers to learn. The characters on these shows model good social skills as they overcome their own challenges and pass on good manners and social skills to viewing children.

  • "Bubble Guppies" (Nickelodeon)
  • "Yo Gabba Gabba!" (Nick Jr.)
  • "Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!" (Nick Jr.)
  • "Doc McStuffins" (Disney Junior)
  • "Henry Hugglemonster" (Disney Junior)
  • "Johnny and the Sprites" (Disney Junior)
  • "Bunnytown" (Disney Junior)

06
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Problem Solving & Thinking Skills

Imagination Movers
Photo © 2008 Disney. All rights reserved.

Nothing is more important education wise than teaching kids how to think and solve problems on their own. The following shows model problem solving and thinking skills, often calling attention to the steps of problem solving with catchy songs or phrases that kids can remember during their day as the "Think, think think!"

  • "Blue's Clues" (Nick Jr.)
  • "My Friends Tigger & Pooh" (Disney Junior)
  • "Imagination Movers: (Disney Junior)
  • "Special Agent Oso" (Disney Junior)

07
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Preschoolers' TV Shows Based on Book Series

Caillou
Photo © PBS. All Rights Reserved.

These popular shows for preschoolers were first successful as  book series. Now, kids can read about their favorite characters and watch them on TV, too.

The shows present an excellent opportunity for parents to instill a love of reading by incorporating books about the characters they love on TV.

  • "Caillou" (PBS KIDS)
  • "Max & Ruby" (Disney Junior)
  • "Charlie and Lola" (Disney Junior)

08
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Foreign Languages and Culture

Ni Hao Kai-lan
Photo credit: Nick Jr.

Thanks to Dora and others, more and more shows for preschoolers are incorporating Spanish into the education and entertainment. Now, Ni Hao Kai-lan brings us a Chinese-focused series as well.

Here are some shows that incorporate foreign languages and customs into the preschool curriculum.

  • "Dora the Explorer" (Nick Jr.)
  • "Go, Diego, Go!" (Nick Jr.)
  • "Ni Hao Kai-lan" (Nick Jr.)