Skip to Content

How To Use Television as a Learning Activity

How to use television as a learning activity

Moms don’t get days off.  Sadly, we all know that.  This doesn’t mean we don’t need days off sometimes.  When we are sick, when we are pregnant, or when we are just plain exhausted we still have to parent.  Those days are tough!  All we want to and need to do is rest, but tiny humans still need us so badly. 

Fortunately, we live in a time of great technology and can turn on the tv to entertain our kids.  The guilt that accompanies those days can be real.  But there are ways to use television as a learning activity and as an interactive activity, instead of a passive babysitter.

How to turn television into a real learning activity

I personally went through a big period of depending on the television when I was pregnant with Sammy and Ali.  I had a relatively easy pregnancy, but I was still pregnant with twins.  That meant that I got tired quickly and sitting down was one of my favorite things to do.  (Topped only by laying down.)  Ben was only two-years-old at that time, and his idea of a good time was not sitting quietly while Mommy rested.  It was winter and super cold, so playing outside wasn’t an option.  But television was.  So we watched it.

I knew this was just a season, it wouldn’t last forever.  That didn’t mean I wanted to just let my child stare at a tv for months at a time.  Then once the girls were born I was couch-bound nursing for hours of the day.  I needed to use this time as a positive instead of a brain dead waste of time.  So I turned watching television into a learning activity.  It is actually quite easy to do, and something I still do with the kids today.  All you need is a kid show and a remote.

How To Use Television as a Learning Activity

Pause

A lot of children’s shows try to be interactive.  They ask questions and then give a pause for kids at home to provide an answer.  The thing is, that pause isn’t actually very long.  I found that it does not actually give kids enough time to process the question and then answer it.  So I paused the tv and give my kids a chance to actually answer.

Screen time really can be a season, so learn how to forget your guilt.

Ask Learning Questions

I would ask more questions than just the show asked.  For example, if we were working on colors I would pause and ask what color a character was wearing, or what color a flower was.  I would ask what letters were, what sounds they make, and we would think of words that start with that letter.  Try counting what you see on the screen.  Ask if they can find a certain shape.  All the basics can be covered.

Explore Emotional and Social Concepts

Shows like Daniel Tiger cover all sorts of emotional and social development topics.  Utilize this as well.  Pause and ask what your child would do in that situation.  What is the right thing to do?  This doesn’t have to be limited to shows highlighting these topics, you can do it with any show.  Pause Paw Patrol and ask if a character was being kind or helpful.  How did another character feel?  Stop during PJ Masks and ask if the characters are being good friends to each other.  You can focus on sharing, kindness, and helpfulness.  These questions help children learn social skills, and it helps them develop empathy.

Learn how to teach your children to be kind.

Turn It Into A Movement Game

As Ben got better at answering questions, or if he was feeling particularly energetic, I would try to turn our questions into a game.  I would have Ben name a color on the tv and then go and find a toy with that same color on it.  This takes the understanding of basic concepts to a deeper level, and it encouraged him to get up and move around.  I would also have him jump or stomp to count out numbers.  Anything to keep him moving.

How to use television as a learning activity. Sometimes the tv needs to be on, but that doesn't mean you can't add in learning. Here is how to us screen time to your advantage, plus educational shows to check out. #screen #time #learning #activity #pregnant #newborn #toddler #television #kids Team-Cartwright.com
Using television as a learning activity. TV can be used to learn and interact with your child in those times when you just need to rest. #learningactivity #momwin #momlife #pregnancytip #pregnantwithatoddler #toddlerlearning #preschoollearning #noprepactivity Team-Cartwright.com
11 TV shows that actually teach kids something. Educational shows and how to use them as an interactive activity. #toddleractivity #preschoolactivity #momlife #momhack #pregnantmomtip #learningactivity #learningtv #nursinghack Team-Cartwright.com

By doing this sort of pausing and questioning, we could make these little 24 minute episodes last 45 minutes.  We were talking, interacting, and Ben was learning.  And I was sitting and resting on the couch.  No prep, no materials other than the tv, and a lot of fun.  This sort of tv activity helped me get the rest I needed and still allowed me to help Ben learn.

Here are some of our favorite shows for learning activities.

Super Why (PBS Kids)

Team Umizoomi (Nick Jr)

Blaze and the Monster Machines (Nick Jr)

Pinky Dinky Doo (HBO)

Daniel Tiger (PBS Kids)

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (Disney+)

Sesame Street (HBO)

Nature Cat (PBS Kids)

Wild Kratts (PBS Kids)

The Wonder Pets (PBS Kids)

Color Crew (Netflix)

Word World (PBS Kids)

Peg + Cat (PBS Kids)

Odd Squad (PBS Kids)

Number Blocks (Netflix)

Alpha Blocks (Netflix)

Leapfrog Letter Factory (Netflix)

Emily’s Wonder Lab (Netflix)

It can be hard to find things to entertain both your baby and your older child. But there is a lot you can do with both with minimal effort on your part as a mom. Here are 10 activities to do with a baby and a toddler. Toddler activity | Baby activity | Sibling activity | Preschooler activity | Family Fun #toddler #preschooler #baby #simple #activity #no #mess #easy Team-Cartwright.com
Mystery Tinker Bags for Creative STEM Fun. Create opened imaginative play that encourages critical thinking and problem solving. STEM Kids | Learning Activities | Art Craft | Science Project #STEM #science #toddler #kids #preschooler #easy #DIY #science #art #craft #project Team-Cartwright.com
We all know too much screen time is bad. But we can't overlook the fact that TV can be a powerful tool. Here is how to use that tool effectively and get 11 shows that actually teach your kids something. #TVShows #EducationalTV #EducationalTelevision #KidTV #ScreenTime #LearningActivity Team-Cartwright.com
educational tv shows for toddlers and preschoolers
Using television as a learning activity. TV can be used to learn and interact with your child in those times when you just need to rest. #learningactivity #momwin #momlife #pregnancytip #pregnantwithatoddler #toddlerlearning #preschoollearning #noprepactivity Team-Cartwright.com
We all know to limit screen time for our kids. But it can be a valuable tool in challenging stages of life. Here are 11 children's shows that actually teach your kid something, plus how to utilize these shows for maximum learning. #learning #activity #toddler #preschool #pregnancy #survival #television Team-Cartwright.com
picture of a preschool boy watching educational tv on a laptop

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Sensory STEM fun with a tasty archaeological dig. Use Jell-O to create a science project your kids can eat! #STEMactivity #scienceathome #toddlerlearning #preschoollearning #homeschool #birthdaypartyactivity #kidcraft Team-Cartwright.com
How To Create a Tasty and Fun Archaeological Experience
← Read Last Post
The pool is a great laboratory to explore scientific concepts! Here are easy and fun activities to explore science by the pool. #STEMactivity #easyscience #toddlerlearning #preschoollearning #scienceproject #summerlearning Team-Cartwright.com
Science by the Pool: Easy Summer STEM Activities
Read Next Post →

* Checkbox GDPR is required

*

I agree

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Meg

Friday 1st of June 2018

Have you tried Octonauts? My boys love it, and it teaches them all about ocean creatures.

kimcartwright

Friday 1st of June 2018

Yes! My son loves that one. And it does have a lot about the ocean in it!

Liz Talton

Thursday 24th of May 2018

I love this article! I see so many articles about screen free activities for kids. But we often forget that technology can be a learning tool for a growing mind. I haven't watched Daniel Tiger, but we'll have to give it a try. Currently my son is obsessed with watching Sesame Street. Thanks for the great article!

Liz|Pitter Patter Of Baby Feet

kimcartwright

Thursday 24th of May 2018

It can be such a great tool! And there are seasons, like when we are pregnant when it can be so helpful. Daniel Tiger is great for social skills and just basics like learning to use the potty. My kids really listen when Daniel talks. This isn't always the case when mommy says things. ;)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.