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We aren’t a TV family. I’m not putting judgement on those who are but we have our family reasons for choosing DVDS over TV (you can read my post about WHY here!). It works for us and it’s a blessing to know exactly what our kids are seeing!
Our favorite DVDs are Disney movies. We are a BIG Disney family and having our kids watch Disney films often helps spread the love for Disney to them and make them more excited for the times we visit the parks or get to meet certain characters.
Our kids visit Disney for the first time around age 2 ½ so I try to get them familiar with characters and storylines from about age 2.
Our “movie time” is typically in the mornings. We will do independent playtime and then follow that with a movie. I find that works so smoothly because it’s an incentive for that independent time and it gives me a full block of time to get things done with them being back to back! I try to limit movie time to 30 min a day or less. Sometimes if my husband is traveling I’ll turn a movie on for another 30 min so I can fix dinner. It’s also something we use on Sunday mornings. Veggie Tales for the win while we get ready for church!
I also tell moms with multiple children and a new baby that it’s a phase of life where movie time is your best friend. A new baby in the house is a big transition for everyone so don’t feel guilt over your older child (or children) watching a little more movies than normal! It can literally be a life saver during those early days (my favorite tip is to let the older ones watch a movie in your bed when the baby naps…you can easily get a little extra sleep yourself while they are in the movie zone!).
For the toddler and preschool age here are our favorite movies in our DVD collection:
- Your Baby Can Learn: When I bought it was was “Your Baby Can Read” but I know they had some lawsuit issues or something and changed the name. No, my baby didn’t learn to read by watching it. BUT if you need some movie time for your little ones, these dvds are short and interactive. I figure something basic and educationally based is better than a lot of options out there!
- Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: My 2 year old loves it and so does my 7 year old. Again it’s short and interactive which is great! For us though it’s the perfect way to introduce the kids to Mickey Mouse and friends. I know it’s on TV and I have DVRed several episodes but own several DVDs as well!
- Veggie Tales: I LOVE Veggie Tales. We watch them every Sunday morning as well as many times throughout the week. We have also recently bought the entire What’s In The Bible series. I talked about it more in this post but it’s been a GREAT way to learn about the Bible together as a family (it’s def better for the older ages…our 7 year old “gets it” but the 4 year old can’t quite follow it all yet!).
- Curious George: The dvds are always super cheap and our 2 year LOVES George! What little ones don’t love monkeys?
- Octonauts: This is one our older child came home talking about from school. We’ve invested in a few DVDs and all three kids (7, 4, and 2) enjoy them but the 4 and 7 year old like them the most. Very educational and lots of interesting ocean animal facts that I surely never knew before!
- Leap Frog Letter Factory: This DVD (as well as all of the others in the Leap Frog series) is AWESOME. It’s a little advanced for a toddler but the preschool age? It’s HUGE in helping learn and retain letter knowledge, number knowledge, even reading and math as they get older. They are entertaining but also very educational and they make learning fun! If you have movie time anyway, your kids might as well be learning something at the same time, right? 🙂 Big mommy win for this one!
- Disney Movies: As I mentioned earlier, our family favorite movies are Disney ones. Educational? No. However there are many lessons that can be learned from the films. It’s a great way to enjoy movies as a family. We often do movie theme days where we have activities and meals that go along with the film we’re watching. We also do popcorn and candy nights which the kids love! We eat our snacks and enjoy the movie together. We love visiting Walt Disney World and exposing our kids to Disney films helps them foster the love for the parks as well! However, Disney movies can be a tad tricky with the toddler and preschooler age. Here’s a few that I’d recommend avoiding with this age group as well as the ones that are our favorites for these ages:
- Brave: As a first time mom I made some mistakes in the world of movie watching! I took my 3 year old to see this. In theaters. He is now 7 and STILL fears bears. #momfail. The bear scenes are intense and scary. We did re-watch it and had a movie themed day about it to help prepare the kids for those scenes and I think that really helped! My 4 year old daughter loves it without any fears 🙂 I for SURE wouldn’t do toddler age though for it and if you do have a preschooler watch it I’d do a lot of preparation with them.
- Lion King
- Beauty and the Beast: I know many Disney movies have scarier scenes but both this and Lion King have scarier scenes pretty early on in the movie. Little Mermaid, for example, doesn’t have a scary scene until the very end so it’s easy to either only watch the beginning portion of the movie (which is what I do with my 2 year old because, duh, I want her to love Ariel) or just skip the one scene at the end and watch the happy ended 🙂 Beauty and the Beast is dark and in the woods and the beast is pretty scary. It’s a LOT for a younger child to take in. Lion King has the death scene early on that we ALL know still makes us cry!
- Dumbo: Dumbo is so tricky b/c it’s THE most toddler friendly ride at Disney World parks but it’s a movie that I’d never recommend for a toddler to watch. The whole “elephants on parade” scene still freaks me out and I’m almost 32 years old!
- Cars 2 : Another “mom fail moment” for me was assuming that Cars 2 would be just as little kid friendly as the original. We went to see it in theaters and I was SHOCKED and APPALLED by this movie. Most Disney fans say it’s the very worst Pixar movie ever made. It was VERY violent. Lots of weapons and the main plot was based on the bad guy wanting to kill Lightning McQueen. Even at 7, my son has not seen this movie again. We will not own it and we are patiently waiting for Cars 3 with high hopes that it’s WAY better.
- Zootopia: It’s a newer movie and it’s fabulous but also has some very dark scenes. Both of my 7 year old and 4 year old cover their eyes and say it’s scary. And they don’t scare very easily. I was surprised how scary they found it because the scenes are very brief but I would not recommend it for the younger crowd due to that reason!
- Finding Nemo This is one of the first Disney (Pixar) movies my kids watch. Yes, it has some more frightening scenes but for some reason none of them have ever really frightened my kids. I think the whole mom scene early on isn’t very obvious what happened to her (def not a Lion King moment) which helps! The characters are all so likable and the plot is fast moving enough to keep their attention. In fact my 2 year old’s birthday party recently was Nemo themed because she loved it so much!
- Frozen What kid doesn’t like Frozen? My 4 year old is obsessed. My 2 year old is obsessed. Her first sentence was “Let it Go.” It’s a great movie with, again, very minimal “scary” parts. Even the bad guy isn’t super obvious and it has TWO princesses so of course every little girl loves it!
- A Bugs Life: More animals for the win! With the younger crowds animal movies are really perfect.
- Tangled I grew up with Ariel being my favorite princess…but Rapunzel miiiiight have taken that spot thanks to this movie. It’s adorable. Plus, hello, Flynn Ryder anyone? 😉
- Toy Story: I personally recommend the first two over the third for younger ones. The third is AMAZING but does have more frightening scenes (even I was nervous the first time watching!). It’s another one that little kids really are drawn to and one that parents don’t mind watching over and over and over either. My son was a HUGE Toy Story fan and we did a Woody themed party for him when he turned 3 🙂
- Cars In a world filled with princesses, it’s nice to have a movie that is really geared towards boys. Girls love it too! This movie has one SMALL scary scene (tractors) but overall it’s SO kid friendly that I’d put it as one of the first Disney movies to watch with a toddler. Plus all young kids (boys and girls alike!) enjoy playing with cars and this film STILL has tons of merchandise on the market 🙂
What are some of your family favorite movies for the toddler – preschooler age?