Children learn math skills with Sesame Street. It teaches them numbers, colors and shapes, and new abstract mathematical concepts in a fun way.

Top 5 Math Shows For Kids

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Sesame Street

If you’ve ever seen a young child clap with joy as they watch Elmo and friends perform, you understand that Sesame Street is one of those special shows that kids really love. The show’s educational content, aimed at preschoolers (though kids as old as kindergarten may find it engaging), has the power to engage and excite children about learning letters, numbers, math, science, and more. The educational content is a mix of pedagogical lessons and hands-on explorations, and the puppet characters encourage kids to engage in play with the show’s themes.

When the show first aired in the 1960s, creator Joan Ganz Cooney was determined to make Sesame Street different from other kids’ television. She hired a team of professionals to help her design a show that would improve numeracy and literacy in preschoolers. This included Gerald Lesser, a Harvard psychologist who had spent much of his career studying the effects of socioeconomic class on students’ academic performance.

Lesser’s approach to the show was one that focused on “teaching the kids the things they needed to know,” and it’s been a model for many children’s TV programs since. Sesame Street focuses on teaching kids about the alphabet, numbers, shapes, and colors while also making sure that they are exposed to a wide variety of cultures, foods, music, and more.

In addition to its educational content, the show also has an impressive array of follow-on learning materials. Kids can use these to practice what they learned from each episode, and parents can also incorporate the themes of each show into family activities and conversations.

The impact of Sesame Street has been studied on a large scale over the years, and recent research has found that the show actually improves children’s performance in school. In a study conducted by researchers from the Educational Testing Service, or ETS, who run the SATs, kids who watched Sesame Street were more likely to be prepared for school than those who did not watch the show. The positive effect was even greater for boys, non-Hispanic black children, and children from economically disadvantaged families.

Team Umizoomi

A computer-animated show for preschoolers, Team Umizoomi features the mini superheroes Milli and Geo along with their robot friend Bot. They use their Mighty Math Powers to solve problems for other kids in their town of Umi City. The characters live in a colorful and whimsical landscape that has streets paved with origami, sidewalks swirled with color and manhole covers with patterns. Kids can call on the Team whenever they need help by using their TV computers to talk into Bot’s bellyscreen. They can also request a specific problem that they need the Team to solve.

While many shows reinforce basic counting and number recognition, Team Umizoomi goes further by teaching kids how to use their numbers in solving real-world problems. For example, in one episode the kids find a crack in the aquarium glass and decide to use their math skills to measure and fix it. The characters first demonstrate how to measure units of length, then let the kids do it themselves with a tape measure while encouraging them to count as they go.

The show also has a “How Does It Work?” portion, in which the characters explain how everyday things work in the world around us. These include how eggs get to the grocery store and letters end up at your door. The show is also a fun way to introduce kids to chemistry and biology through its explanation of chemical reactions.

Although the show is no longer in production, the original episodes are available to stream on multiple streaming services. It’s worth a look for its imaginative and colorful settings and its entertaining characters.

As an added bonus, the animated characters often break the fourth wall and talk directly to the viewer, letting them know that they are part of the audience. This approach adheres to Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of learning and is a great way to teach kids about the process of learning. It also allows children to feel more connected with the show and its characters, which can make a big difference in their motivation to learn.

Peg + Cat

The popular preschool series Peg + Cat teaches kids about the power of numbers. Throughout the show, Peg uses her skills to solve problems that she and her sidekick Cat encounter on their adventures. The problems are set in a variety of locations, from ancient Egypt to faraway planets, but one thing is always the same: Using their math skills can help them overcome whatever challenge they’re facing. The show also focuses on teaching kids about teamwork and perseverance, both important life skills.

Peg is a smart, spunky girl who loves to use her number skills to solve problems. She’s not afraid to ask for help from others, and she works well with her friend, the indigo cat named Cat. The show also introduces viewers to other quirky characters who pitch in to help solve the problems. While the show is mainly a math-based cartoon, it does have some funny moments that kids will enjoy.

Embarrassing Mistakes

Peg and Cat are often guilty of making silly mistakes or putting their hands in weird places. In one episode, they forget what thirteen plus one is, and they end up calling it “chicken fright”. Other examples of Peg and Cat’s awkward moments include the fact that they can’t remember how many digits are in their last name or that they don’t know how to spell their own names.

While these mistakes aren’t meant to be taken seriously, they can still be a bit frustrating for adults. This is especially true for those who watch the show in order to teach their children about math.

Aside from a few minor mistakes, Peg and Cat usually get their facts straight. However, they occasionally fall into anachronism traps when they’re dealing with historical or mythological topics. For example, the Three Bears have a different surname in this adaptation, and Romeo and Juliet don’t die in this version of the story.

Other fun aspects of the show include Cat’s catchphrase, which he says after he helps Peg find a solution to a problem: “That was amazing! You did it, you sly genius Cat!” Cat is a loving companion who often inspires Peg to realize a solution without even realizing it.

Monsters Inc.

In this 2001 Disney/Pixar film, top-ranked scarers James P. Sullivan (voiced by John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) work at Monsters, Inc., a factory that generates power by scaring children. The pair’s rivals are Randall Boggs, a sneaky, disappearing lizard, and Henry Waternoose, a crab-like boss with a chameleon-like ability to change his skin color. Adding to the mix is Boo, a small child who visits the factory and frightens its employees.

The movie combines Pixar’s cornerstone touches — anthropomorphized characters, elaborate make-believe worlds and silly yet sophisticated humor — within the rubric of a scrupulously refined narrative arc. Its strongest message, however, is about thinking differently. Sulley’s transformation from a company man whose goals and mind-set are entirely in line with his employer’s to an innovative thinker is a lesson for kids of all ages.

Though geared toward kids, this film offers plenty of entertainment for adults as well. It’s free of the crude wit and unthinking mean streak that characterize so many contemporary children’s movies, and it avoids the gender biases common in much media, too. Moreover, its depiction of the work-life balance is a valuable lesson to adult viewers.

As an added bonus, the movie is free of most sexual content and other issues that might be a concern for some parents. There are a few mildly scary scenes where monsters hide in children’s closets and under their beds, but they are short and benign. A few characters briefly scuffle. One character is slapped by a co-worker. A scene involves a highly toxic substance, and helicopters, paratrooper-like characters and a decontamination unit descend on the factory.

A sequel, Monsters at Work, picks up where the first film left off. Upon being promoted to the Vice President and CEO roles, Sulley and Mike attempt to transition their company from scares to laughs smoothly. Meanwhile, new hire Tylor Tuskman (voiced by Jeremy Leary) struggles to find his way with the company’s facilities management team, MIFT, while pursuing comedy classes outside of work. This movie is also free of most offensive language.