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Kids Can Watch TV, And Learn Something, Too

Teachers are on vacation, but nonfiction DVDs are a fun way to keep learning!

Summer… school’s over. The kids are home. Hopefully, they’re reading, either through their library’s summer reading program or on their own.  But even when they’re not…

Try turning your plasma screen into a learning machine! It’s easy to do with the right DVDs.  Dogs, atoms, bugs, kitchen math and families around the world are just a few of the topics featured in new DVD releases! Check it out.

May I Pet Your Dog?  Intended for children from 4 to 8, this 14-minute-long DVD shows how to approach dogs safely and respectfully. Think of it as “doggie dos and dont's” – both for kids who already love dogs and kids who are afraid of them. “Harry the Dachshund” offers advice with help from dog expert Stephanie Calmenson.

 Kitchen Math & Measuring  Children baking chocolate-chip cookies? Your recipe tells them how to make four dozen, but they want more? How do they multiply the recipe? Handle that “teachable moment” with this DVD (23 minutes): math to the rescue! They’ll learn how we measure oven heat and ingredients, both liquid (milk, oil) and dry (flour, baking powder, chips).

 Families of Afghanistan  How do people live in this faraway place? Zamora lives in a village, feeds cows and chickens, gathers wood and helps around the home. Madina, 12, the daughter of an engineer and a doctor, lives in Kabul and goes to school, plays chess, and uses a computer. An intimate look at everyday lives (25 minutes), it is part of the “Families of the World” series. Also new: Families of Kenya.

 Bill Nye the Science Guy: Atoms  Practically a TV legend now, Bill has a wacky take on science that makes it thoroughly engaging. Atoms explained in just 26 minutes? That’s Bill for you. Aimed at middle school students, this is just one of his videos Disney has linked to National Science Standards.

 Sing and Learn Spanish  An easy way to learn about 100 words that name animals, food, clothes, places, opposites, and things in the home. Featuring language expert Agnes Chavez, the DVD serves up plenty of Salsa, Cumbia and Ranchera music to make the learning more fun. Length: 27 minutes.

 Science Fundamentals: Matter  What’s the matter? Exactly: what is “matter”? Gases, liquids and solids, for starters. But how and why do they change states via vaporization, evaporation and condensation? This 15-minute video explains in down-to-earth language.

 Life: Insects  Is your child a budding entomologist? From Discovery Education comes a 44-minute look at, among other things, the Japanese red bug, Darwin stag beetle and bombardier beetle, the latter being a sort of chemical warfare expert thanks to its toxic discharge.

Punctuation Explained  Perfect for the student baffled by commas, colons, apostrophes and other marks, dots and dashes that separate thoughts, show possession, etc. Have a student who struggles with writing and wants a better English grade? This DVD is just 18 minutes long and it’s a good start towards better writing.

 These and many other entertaining-but-educational programs are available free from the Niles Public Library, which is now also open on Sundays (1:00 to 5:00) throughout the summer. See for yourself, and help your children learn new things.

Lauren O'Keefe July 11, 2011 at 07:54 PM
My kids are learning French and Spanish, so in additon to borrowing foreign language DVD's, many regular kids DVD's are also dubbed in either French or Spanish (or both). Its a great way for them to watch their favorite shows and be exposed to another language at the same time.

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