There is something special about the TV experience with the family. It’s even better when you watch a show you adored as a kid.
Seeing your own child, niece, nephew or godson have as much joy from characters, central songs and stories as you did decades ago.
And as the weather cools down and the days get shorter, it’s the perfect time to put on a fluffy hoodie, make popcorn and snuggle up in the living room on a retro TV.
Here are eight of our favorites that are worth visiting again.
Nostalgic shows to share with preschoolers
Game school (first years)
My wife and I enjoy watching the first episodes of Play School with our three- and five-year-olds. It’s so healthy and basic, it encourages imagination and encourages creativity.
My wife’s parents have a DVD that we all love.
Watching children’s TV shows from the 80’s and 90’s is often really weird, sometimes dubious, but what they all have in common is inciting the imagination.
Johnson and friends
I’ve been thinking about this show for ages and how much I liked it, and in the end I remembered the title. Johnson and Friends is an Australian show and the forerunner of Toy Story, which is about live toys and their adventures.
It is filmed on the stage of a huge bedroom with live actors dressed in full-body costumes to act as toys in the bedroom, complemented by Australian accents.
I enjoyed watching it as a child – it seemed real and magical at the same time. I remember feeling like we were lying on the floor with these live toys. It hit your imagination.
The figures were quirky; there was Johnson, a giant pink elephant, and Alfred, a strange figure of hot water coming out from under the bed. The whole show is just weird and amazing!
I haven’t tracked it down yet to look at it with my children.
– Isaac Egan
I’m 12 years older than my youngest brother, and that meant I had to watch a lot of my favorite children’s TV shows with him again. Mr Bean was a huge hit (the whole family watched it together) and I was happy to see his reaction to my favorite show, Sooty.
He, too, loved the tiny furniture in the puppet bedroom, and the stupid villain Sooty (the bear) and Sweep (the dog) rose – all without a word (Sazavý whispers to the people, Sweep only squeaks).
Only Sue (panda) can speak in this British TV show, which has one adult cast member, the puppet owner Matthew.
It’s a sweet and stupid show that I’ve introduced to my nieces and nephews ever since. Even though they laughed at them a few times, it had a much better response in my siblings’ chat on WhatsApp! Next time I’ll try Art Attack.
– Sonya Gee
My almost three-year-old son already knows everything about Transformers and already loves robots. So the natural next step was to show him a robot that does a lot of great things and looks like him (with some hair product, my son makes a decent Astro impression!).
There’s a lot a little boy can love in Astro Boy. There’s a lot of action, stories centered around kids and school, and the fact that Astro has a couple of machine guns on his ass is just a laugh!
On Astro Boy, I’ve always liked that he has such purity that goes hand in hand with his power, which you don’t really find in many superheroes or other action TV shows. But the show is actually more sophisticated and challenging than I remember.
He often deals with difficult topics such as death and civil rights. So I need to watch when I’m around to answer his questions and guide him through it. But if he watches TV alone, you better stick to Paw Patrols.
– Christian Harimanow
It’s time to remember your youth – shows you can share with older children
I absolutely loved Bewitched, and I remember watching it on my parents’ little, little TV when I was about five. Now that my eldest daughter is approaching this age and very interested in magic and wishes it had abilities (she tried to turn me and the rest of the family into penguins), it’s time!
The 60’s and 70’s series is about the witch Samantze, who marries Darren’s mortal husband – to the great horror of her mother Endora and other magical relatives.
It’s a relaxed show about magic, mischief, tricks and grotesque comedy.
The other day I recommended the show to my children and showed them a clip from YouTube. We plan to check it out the next time we visit my parents, who have the entire DVD series that I bought when I was 20 years old. Since we don’t own a DVD player and my kids don’t know what a DVD is, it’s going to be exciting.
– Amanda Hoh
Confession: I really don’t remember what this show was about, it was just a little chaotic – but in a good way!
Angela was a savage (very related to me at the time) and was surrounded by an eclectic group of friends / unhappy who always seemed to be planning something.
However, the best thing about the show was the fascinating visual elements in the style of collage, which excited me. It inspired me to grab scissors, old magazines and a glue stick, and a new lifelong hobby was born.
I would 100% recommend this show to all creative children – it will stimulate their imagination!
– Ruth Barber
OK, this isn’t a TV show for little kids, but I made love to watch with my daughter.
It was the beginning of a pandemic – a particularly unfortunate period for her – and she was experiencing anxious anxiety for the first time in her life. Watching the joke and closeness of Lorelei and Rory (also mom and daughter) became a special routine for mother and daughter. Every night after dinner, we snuggled under her doon and watched the episode.
It’s a feeling drama that touches on so many great topics that young girls might want to talk about with their mothers; from friendly dramas and bodily changes to feminism and infatuation. My daughter especially loved the controversial fashion and pop culture references of the early 20th century (and at the same time made fun of me).
Round the Twist
Have you ever felt – sometimes like this? Like weird things are happening? Like you’re going around?
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sorry, you probably weren’t a 90’s kid.
This is my childhood TV show and is based on short stories by Australian children’s author Paul Jennings.
Each episode deals with the strange, rude and uncomfortable scams that Bronson, an eight-year-old, and his 14-year-old twins, Pete and Linda, are involved in. From super-powerful underpants to a human ice cream machine; stories have a strong childhood appeal.
I introduced this series to my children when they were in elementary school and loved it – and they still love it. Some episodes may be a little scary or supernatural (in a very PG way), but kids as young as eight love it.
– Fiona Purcell
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