(And you won’t think they’re too shabby either…)
While life with an almost-four-year-old has it’s…challenging moments, there’s one development I can’t help but praise to the high heavens:
The conversations are a hell of a lot more interesting these days.
Don’t get me wrong. I adored (and spend a significant time mourning) our son’s babyhood.1 But, guys, one can spend only so much time discussing the nuances of Thomas the Tank Engine before she’s found curled up under the train table at Barnes & Noble muttering “They’re two, they’re four, they’re six, they’re eight…shunting trucks…and hauling freight…”2
Now that we’ve got our feet firmly planted in childhood territory, things have definitely leveled up. Our son’s always been very observant and curious about the world around him, but these days (as with most preschoolers, I’m sure) his appetite for learning is downright insatiable. This is especially awesome for us because his unbridled enthusiasm for ALL OF THE THINGS makes it all the more fun to expose him to parts of life we think of as cool or amazing or beautiful or hilarious.
Sometimes we’re able to share those things with him through real-life experiences, but more often than not, we do what everyone else does these days: partake in the magic that is The Internets3–specifically, the YouTube parts of it.
Granted the majority of my personal YouTube usage revolves around re-watching clips from Band of Brothers and searching for tutorials on how to fold a fitted sheet,4 but when it comes to the kid, our use of it is a bit more meaningful. For us, it’s a way to introduce him to new ideas; to build on what’s already piqued his interest; to expose him to things he might not otherwise see; and to just help him build an appreciation for what the Internet brings to the world—be it completely amazing or totally absurd.
Today I’ve got for you a handful of YouTube videos my kid loves; I think yours will, too. And not to worry: there’s not a talking train or a certain red Muppet5 in the bunch. Each of these videos are kid- and adult-friendly/approved/appreciated. It’s my hope that they’ll spark some good conversations between you and your kids—or, at the very least, let you share a good laugh.
If you haven’t already seen this, please take a couple minutes to watch it; the action starts at about 0:25 in, and it’s pretty amazing. As soon as we finished watching this one for the first time, my son shouted “AGAIN!” That’s a pretty good sign, I’d say.
2. This Too Shall Pass
Yeah, yeah, I know this OK Go video made the rounds pretty thoroughly a couple years ago, but just take my suggestion and watch it again with your kids. I predict either enraptured silence or constant shrieks of delight.
3. Garden Spider vs. Giant Wasp (Part 1)
Ok, the premise of watching a spider trapping, wrapping, and subsequently killing a wasp could be considered gruesome, but Circle of Life, etc. etc. (By the way, I haven’t watched Part 2. Honestly, I’m a little scared to. Feel free to do so and report back.)
4. Reno Ballon Race 2006
The concept of hot air balloons still blows my mind, so I’m sure your kids will be stoked. Also: bright colors and stuff flying all over the place! Trust me, they’ll love it.
5. Dogs Bake Homemade Bread
This one exists for the sole purpose of sharing some hearty LOLZ.
6. Discovery’s Final Launch
My husband and I both got a little emotional over this one because we realized that with the retirement of the shuttle program, we can’t guarantee our son the same excitement about manned missions to space that we had as little kids.6 The video is a bit long, but the first couple minutes prompted a good conversation about how the launches worked…and about how anything rocket-like is the coolest.
7. People Are Awesome 2012
Because they friggin ARE. Just be sure to tell your kids that this video is meant to inspire them on a more general level, not to encourage them to actually try these stunts themselves. But really, what do I know? Maybe your child is meant to gain Internet fame by jumping off a roof and plopping right through a basketball hoop with nary a scratch on him. Your kid, your call.
8. Lil Drac, Part 2
Guys. It’s a baby fruit bat that rocks himself to sleep. I die. Oh and I guess you could use this video as a jumping off point for learning about bats (or mammals in general) or as a follow-up to Stellaluna. You know, if you’re trying to make the experience “meaningful” and “relevant.”
Or you could just watch it over and over and squeal a lot like we did.
9. Nyan Cat
Experience mischievous joy as you watch your kids sit in silent anticipation for something to happen. Because nothing does. At all. However, good ol’ Nyan clocks in at 3:37. That’s enough time to make a quick phone call or pee alone. You’re welcome!
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Got any kid-friendly YouTubes you’d like to share? Feel free to leave them in the comments. I’d love to add a few to our line-up.
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- I mean, hello? ↩
- That didn’t actually happen. But I was thisclose. ↩
- When we were in the library the other day, my son noticed a set of encyclopedias stacked up near the checkout desk. I told him that when I was a kid, we’d look in books like that to find answers to our questions. He made a face and asked, “Why didn’t you just look on your phone?” Damn digital natives. ↩
- Unsuccessfully, I might add. My brain just cannot process the steps. If anyone wants to come to my house and show me how to do this, please do. ↩
- No disrespect, Elmo. This video brought me much peace in the early days. ↩
- You ALL loved it just as much as we did, and you know it. ↩