Noggin - It's Like Preschool on TV (but Not!)

Jan 15, 2007

The Bottom Line Watching is no substitution for doing.

When we moved we finally dumped our cable television company in favor of a satellite. One of the new to us stations we now have is Noggin.

The Basics
The Noggin television programming is broken into 12 hour blocks. From 6 AM to 6 PM it is commercial free programming for preschoolers, although many of the shows have appeal to toddlers and older children alike. Noggin advertises this block as being "like preschool on TV." Noggin is part of the CBS network so many of the shows can also be seen on Nickelodeon, although there are more and more shows made just for Noggin.

The programming from 6 PM – 6 AM is aimed at teens and preteens, showing syndicated sitcoms and teen dramas such as Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Degrassi: The Next Generation

Although I personally have nothing against the evening programming I can't say that we ever watch it. I wasn't a fan of those shows the first time around so I see no reason to watch them again. My children however are huge fans of the daytime programming and for the most part, so am I.

Like most networks some shows are better than others. If we let them the kids would have the TV on and tuned to Noggin all day long. Instead we try and pick and choose a few shows that they really like or that we feel have some value and make sure we skip those that don't!

Most shows are 22 minutes long so they could be shown on regular commercial television. In between shows instead of blatant product advertising, there is the occasional advertisement for other Noggin programs but mostly songs, short skits from other shows and specially produced shorts. Noggin is hosted by two cartoon characters Moose A Moose and a blue bird named Zee. They introduce shows and have their own short games and features between regular programming.

What We Watch
Our Noggin day usually starts with Play with Me Sesame. As the name implies this show is produced by the Children's Television Workshop (the producers of Sesame Street) for Noggin. This show features Bert, Ernie and Prairie Dawn but includes other "classic" characters like Grover, Cookie Monster and the Honkers; don't tune in expecting "the Elmo show." This is mostly the Sesame Street I grew up watching in a half hour format. All of my children love this show and they play right along with this interactive program.

One of the newest programs and one my children can't get enough of is The Upside Down Show. Hosted by two British men, Shane and David, children are invited to use their imaginary remote controls to operate the program. The simple live action show focuses primarily on vocabulary acquisition. My children laugh as they use their remote controls to turn Shane and David upside, make them move faster or slower or rewind.

Pinky Dinky Doo is another great show that teaches the elements of story telling. The "quizzes" during each show challenge children to determine the order of events and to remember which character did or said something specific. The show helps children learn to use their naturally active imaginations for story telling.

At almost two, my son's favorite show is Blue's Clues one that was a favorite with his older sisters as well. Both of my girls have outgrown most of the educational value of this live action and cartoon show about a puppy named Blue, but they tolerate it much better than other toddler shows. Letter, color and number recognition makes some good programming for toddlers and young preschoolers.

What We Don't Watch
Many of the shoes shown on the Nick Jr. programming block on Nickelodeon are also shown on Noggin. Those are the shows that we tend to skip; Dora, Go, Diego, Go! and The Backyardigans as those aren't shows we usually watch on Nickelodeon either.

Max and Ruby is another show that the girls like that I generally don't let them watch. It is a shame because this show about cartoon rabbits has potential by fails on its execution. My gripe is how bossy Ruby is toward her little brother Max; it isn't something I want my children to emulate. I have noticed that when my children do manage to catch an episode my oldest starts trying to control her younger brother and sister; that never goes over well!

Another show that we have banned is Wonder Pets another show with poor execution. Three pets in a school room go on fabulous adventures once the children go home to save other animals. The animation includes computer manipulation of photographs of real animals and is interesting to watch. Most of the lines are sung giving the show an operetta type feel, unique in children's programming. All sounds good right?

My problem is with Ming-Ming the duck. She speaks with a common speech impediment of substituting the "W" sound for "R." While it does sound cute, it is something my 3 1/2 year old mimics if she is allowed to watch the show. The day Buttercup asked me for "cwack-ooze" (as Ming-Ming says) instead of crackers was the last time I ever let any of the children watch the show.

Final Thoughts
With a large array of children's programming there is probably something for every child, as well as shows that you may find inappropriate. Take the time to watch the a few episodes with your children to decide how you feel about them. Too much of anything is bad and educational TV is no exception. It is important to monitor what your children are watching and how much.

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