Friday night at our house is traditionally movie night. We whip up some pizzas, flick on the telly and have a bit of quality chillaxation as we wind down from a busy week.
There are so many movies and shows for kids available through streaming services, we’re never short of something to watch. Honestly though, I’ve reached my limit of cute, enormous-eyed, talking animals. While I am a big fan of clever children's movies, the thought of having to watch another poor destitute creature learning how to overcome the odds through complacency and singing makes me want to gouge my eyes out.
Did I mention that Friday night is also wine night for hubby and I?
Rather than risking the loss of my vision, about twelve months ago we started to search for some fun, family-friendly entertainment via YouTube—an admirable endeavour, and not without its foibles. Who would have thought an innocent search for ‘the world’s biggest balls’ would have ended so badly?
Some of our kids have anxiety issues (and not because of the big balls, might I add). Our son is really into science and ‘interesting facts’ while our daughter loves the arty stuff. We also have a two-year-old who rotates exclusively between ‘Shaun The Sheep’ and ‘Pingu’, so it’s pretty tough to find common ground.
Yet, we have succeeded! I thought I’d share with you the fruits of our labours, and offer our top twelve picks for YouTube searches which should have something for the whole family.
Of course, here comes the disclaimer bit. I would never leave my children to search YouTube unsupervised, even with these set searches. We all know dangers. I also know (now) that videos tagged as ‘funny’ or ‘cute’ does not necessarily make them so. Please monitor your kids and be ready to pause in case something goes off-piece quickly!
1. ‘The Slow Mo Guys’ Dan and Gav are two young, funny and rather intelligent British guys with some seriously cool slow-motion filming expertise. Our whole family (2yo included) LOVE their channel as it’s science, explosions and humour all wrapped into one. They upload a few new videos every month or so, so there’s always something new to see. Search anything by the 'Slow Mo Guys' or visit their channel.
2. ‘World’s Best Dominoes’ You won’t believe what some people can do with several thousand dominoes at their disposal. It’s a world-class competition! Our family was hooked on watching domino tricks for at least a month. Just search ‘World's Best Dominoes’ or try this one for a stunning glimpse as to what they can do.
3. ‘Glass Blowing’ If you’ve ever seen glass blowing before, you will know how spectacular it can be. This is especially great for kids who love science, because it gives you opportunity to talk about how glass is made (liquid hot sand BTW), and you can have a little competition to guess what the final shape/object is going to be! Check out this one for starters.
4.‘Candy Making’ Similar to glass blowing, your kids will be amazed to see how hard candy is made. Just be prepared for multiple requests for lollies during and after the videos! This video is a great one to start with as it gives you the overview and narrative of how they make the candy from scratch. After that you can watch other videos and try and guess what shapes/styles they are making!
5. ‘Science Experiments for Kids’ Warning: watching these videos may lead to your child wanting a ‘weird science’ birthday party for their next birthday (as I discovered too late). But at least you’ll have the ideas! The experiments are entertaining and we always learn something new. Because they’re for kids, you’ll probably find you have lots of the wherewithal around the house to try them for yourselves! Many of these videos just have music and written prompts on the screen, which gives you a great chance to narrate what’s happening for your kids! Check out one of my favs here.
6. ‘Satisfying Video’ Okay, okay – I know this search could potentially end you up in the wrong place. But stick with the ones that have sciency/artsy looking thumbnails and you won’t go too far wrong! Most of these videos are just random collections of things that are completely satisfying to watch for all sorts of reasons. Whether it’s chocolate fudge oozing from a cake or paint being mixed together, you won’t be bored. Here’s a great one to start off with.
7. ‘Drive Thru Prank’ Rahat is a magician who puts his talent into toying with drive-thru workers in these videos. It’s all good natured, and hilarious to watch some of the reactions! (FYI there are a few curse words in the staff reactions, but nothing usually OTT). Here’s one of my favourites.
8. ‘American Gladiators’ or ‘Wipe Out’ If you’ve got kids who love a bit of sport or a bit of slap-stick, go for one of these good ol’ staples from our childhood—re-made for more recent generations. Sure, it’s cheesy and often cringe-worthy, but kids love it! Besides, it’s strangely satisfying seeing cocky competitors getting knocked on their butts.
9. ‘Muppets Songs’ Depending on your kids’ sense of humour, The Muppets never gets old—especially when they keep updating their bank of song clips. Even if your kids have no idea who The Muppets are, just see if they can keep a straight face during this.
10. ‘World’s Best Roller Coasters’ You’ll need to select carefully which videos you watch, but if you’re a lightweight like me, watching these videos on the big screen is (unfortunately) somewhat like being there. Your kids will love it! There are also many animated clips too—things that would never be possible in real life.
11. ‘World’s Best Water Slides’ Warning: this search will need quite a lot of filtering! Not only do there seem to be lots of boring, British males who think they are the authority on all things water-slide related, this category does tend to have a lot of videos of gruesome theme park accidents. (What sickos are posting these videos BTW?) Just be careful in what your kids see, especially if they are the anxious sort. But lots of them are quite fun like this one.
12. ‘Amazing Desserts’ If you’ve got kids with sweet tooths and they have exhausted all of the candy making videos, there is some pretty spectacular dessert art out there, just like this.
I’d love to know what your favourite family-friendly channels are! Let me know in the comments section and I look forward to checking them out!