Educational toys at discount prices. Parenting resources.

By Lottie Hirsch

When my first daughter was born children's videos were new to the marketplace. There were very few titles available. Finding a quality video worth the high price tag, was not easy. Back then, children's videos were quite costly. In fact, the high price for children's videos at the time ($29.95) was one of the reasons I started Live And Learn...the outlet for quality children's products at affordable prices!

But this is not a commercial for my company, I do enough selling elsewhere on this site (smile).

Today, there are thousands of children's video titles available, but finding really good children's videos is still not an easy task. If you are not careful, the video will spend more time sitting on the shelf rather than in the VCR.

But if you have a library of high quality videos, you may be able to prevent your child from watching commercial television programs for quite a few years. My older daughter didn't begin watching regular television programs until she was five years old! I wasn't as fortunate with my younger daughter.

The benefits of videos versus regular television are enormous. To begin, your child is not subjected to commercials. That in itself is terrific! But there is more. With videos there are no surprises. You know the subject matter; you know the language content; you know that it is age appropriate; and you know it is was made with a child in mind. In addition, if you choose wisely, the video will be educational as well as entertaining.

Good children's videos stimulate the child. They entertain and teach. One video series which comes to mind as being excellent is the Wee Sing video series. Don't confuse the video series with the audio tapes. The Wee Sing video series has titles to suit a variety of ages and stimulate different growth skills in children. For example, Wee Sing Together is an excellent first video for children ages 2 to 5 (please note - all age recommendations are mine in this article).

Wee Sing Together is well produced (as are all the videos in the Wee Sing series) and encourages singing and dancing. It has songs such as B-I-N-G-O and The Itsy Bitsy Spider. It also helps encourage children to learn their ABCs, colors, address, phone number and much more. Although as a parent you may find the two main characters a little obnoxious, children love them. And most children will enjoy watching Wee Sing Together for a long, long time.

Also in the Wee Sing series are Grandpa's Magical Toys which encourages motor skills (ages 2 to 6); the Musical Mansion which teaches quite a bit about music (ages 4 to 8); and the Big Rock Candy Mountain which stimulates a child's intellect with riddles, puns and poignant observations (ages 4 to 8). There are others in the series, but these are my personal favorites.

The key to a Wee Sing video is that your child interacts with them. After watching a Wee Sing video a few times most children will sing and dance with the characters, but if your child does not, then you need to prod your child by singing and dancing yourself! Hopefully, your child will join in and not need encouragement in the future.

There are many other fine videos available. Some Sesame Street titles are very good, as are Baby Songs and More Baby Songs. But be aware, the two Baby Songs videos are geared for very young children. By the time they are 3 years old they will probably have outgrown them.

It is nice to have a collection of Disney videos, but most children don't watch them for a long period of time. They will be watched over and over, but it will be for a short period. Yet, Disney titles are the biggest seller in the marketplace! I have a few Disney titles in my video library, but I bought them more for myself than for the kids ! Also, most Disney titles have scary parts which can be very frightening for young children. Think of the wolf attack scene from Beauty And The Beast or the hyenas attacking Simba's dad in The Lion King.

If you are looking for a good children's concert on video then make sure you get a hold of Raffi's In Concert With The Rise And Shine Band. It has a very nice selection of songs, and part way through the video Raffi encourages the viewer to get up and interact with the video.

Another nice video is Joe TV, Joe Scrugg's first video. It is very well produced and uses different mediums throughout the video. But of course, you need to like Joe Scruggs to appreciate this fine video.

Overall, there are many children's titles for sale. In my opinion, some are not worth buying such as the Arthur videos. I say this not because I don't like Arthur, but because you can tape the television show and have the exact same stories. Sesame Street videos are also taken from their television show, but they reorganize the material to create a new video based on a central theme, such as numbers or dancing.

If in doubt, go to your library (if they loan videos) or to your local video store (my local store rents children's titles for $1.00) and preview the video before going to the store and buying it.

Lottie Hirsch

Parenting resources. Educational toys at discount prices.