Shows for the entire family

Filed under: Big Kids, Tweens, Teens, Activities: Babies, Development/Milestones: Babies, Day Care & Education, Gadgets, That's Entertainment

With kids ranging in age from high school to kindergarten, finding something on television the whole family can enjoy can be challenging, especially when years seem to pass in between new SpongeBob episodes. (I'm a Squidward fan.)

I hate reality TV that shows people doing anything for money. This includes: eating gross things, participating in dangerous challenges, and backstabby/rude/sleazy behavior, so network television can be rather limiting at times.

If you have cable, there are quite a few offerings that are educational and suitable for nearly all ages. Here are some shows we've enjoyed:

How It's Made (Discovery): Every episode is like going on a cool field trip

MythBusters (Discovery): Debunking urban legends (Pro: a lot of things are blown up. Con: Sometimes the myths involve damage to the human body and seeing a gelatin head getting shot at is disturbing)

America's Dirtiest Job (Discovery): Every episode is like going on a super filthy field trip. Also makes you appreciate those who do the dirty work.

Samantha Brown (Discovery): Charming Samantha travels the world and makes you wish you could.

Ace of Cakes (Food Network) I like the interactions among the workers (especially Duff and Geof) even more than the amazing cakes. It also shows what can happen when you pursue a dream, even if you are a hairy, stocky guy with a passion for cake decorating.

Globe Trekker (PBS) Like Samantha Brown only in super remote locations where there is no room service. Or rooms.

The Dog Whisperer (National Geographic) Cesar turns bad dogs good. Interesting even for dogless households because the explanations behind the animal behavior are fascinating.

Explorer (National Geographic) Nature stuff, always good.

Survivorman (Discovery) Guy gets dropped off in wilderness for a week alone. No film crew.

Man vs. Wild (Discovery) Good looking guy gets dropped off in wilderness. Has film crew.

While You Were Out (The Learning Channel) Someone leaves and comes back to a redone room. Everyone cries with joy, including viewers. (Caution: major inspiration for redecoration.)

Crocodile Hunter (Animal Planet) Steve Irwin's legacy, showing why animals are great.

Blue Planet (Animal Planet) Most amazing footage of nature ever gathered, and I'm not kidding. Downsides: seeing cute seals swallowed whole by a silent killer whale or shark is disturbing. Will also make you long for an HD TV.

Leave it to Beaver (TV Land) Classic little kidness that still applies today.

I Love Lucy (TV Land) The scrapes she gets into are still funny.

The Brady Bunch (TV Land) - You might have seen them all, but have you shared "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" with your kids?

Everyday Italian (Food Network)-Giada makes cooking so easy, a kid could do it.

Tyler's Ultimate or Bobby Flay (The Food Network)- Because guys can be in the kitchen too!

Project Runway (Bravo) - Designers complete weekly challenges in a contest to win cash and exposure. Have had to limit younger kids viewing of this as there is some bad language (which is to be expected when creating an entire outfit from materials gathered at a recycling center in less than six hours, but still. Edit that stuff out and it'd be the perfect family show. Kids can really relate to deadlines and making something from nothing.)

What family-friendly television fare does your household enjoy?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.