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School's out! Summer shows fit for kids of all ages

by: posted Thursday, June 9, 2011
Category: Education, Everything Else

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Summer’s here and the livin’ may not be easy — especially if you have children out of school for the summer and running around like crazy. But the TV schedule is just bursting with great ideas for the times you can’t just send them outside to soak up the sun.

Arm yourself (and your handy, dandy DVR) with these specials and series, all airing in the out-of-school months, so you can keep control over your kids’ veg-out time. (P.S. There's a good chance you moms and dads might even want to tune in yourself!)

For ages 5 to 8
“Maryoku Yummy” (weekdays, The Hub)
What young kid wouldn’t want to visit a land where wishes are made real? Let your child step into Nozumu, where that exact thing happens! Bonus for parents: It’s on at 10:30 a.m., so maybe your own wishes can come true when you get a little more shut-eye.

“WordGirl’s Ludicrously Literate Library Week” (July 11-15, PBS Kids)
This summer, PBS is putting its focus on kids and reading by tying many current series in with books and literacy. Subversive? You bet, but whatever works! This July, “WordGirl” will be expanding her vocabulary by tussling with the Association of Villains and many others. Here’s your vocabulary phrase of the week: must-read TV!

“Dinosaur Train: Dinosaur Big City” (Aug. 22, PBS Kids)
Has anyone ever gone wrong pairing dinosaurs and trains? OK, nobody’s really done it before The Jim Henson Co. took over “Dinosaur Train,” but you know this is catnip for children. This special one-hour event kicks off the series’ new season, and if your kids miss it, they may be stomping around like a T. rex until school starts again.

Story: Top 10 kids’ shows with grown-up appeal

For ages 9 to 12
“I Can Be President: A Kid’s-Eye View” (wtarts June 22, HBO Family)
Maybe not every kid grows up wanting to be the President of the United States, but it is the dream for millions of ambitious youngsters, who share that hope in this HBO Family Film. Maybe it will inspire your child in just the right way. Watch it together!

“Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension” (Aug. 5, Disney Channel)
Look out! Dr. Doofenshmirtz is after our heroes, Phineas and Ferb, who’ve been transported to a parallel dimension. Naturally, the Doc is up to no good and it’s up to the boys (and possibly sis Candace) to save the day. Gitchee gitchee go-go-go!

“A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!” (July, Nickelodeon)
Those expecting more “Fairly OddParents” should beware: This is not the animated series you’re used to. Instead, the live-action adaptation — timed for the series’ 10th anniversary — focuses on a physically adult Timmy Turner (Drake Bell) who’s still stuck in the fifth grade because he refuses to give up his fairy godparents (Jason Alexander, Cheryl Hines). But life has a way of forcing everyone to grow up, and Timmy’s resolve is tested with a grown-up romance and a super-grown-up villain in Hugh J. Magnate Jr. (Steven Weber).

“Family Game Night” (August, The Hub)
At home, family game night can turn into tears and thrown Monopoly pieces. So why not watch other families compete against each other in “life-sized twists on familiar games” (says the Hasbro-affiliate TV network)? It’s all about teamwork and strategy. Plus, you could get your family to appear on the show ... if you’re brave. The second season is casting now.

Ages 13 to 16
“Kickin’ It” (premieres June 13-16, Disney XD)
Hai-ya! This new series (which is also appropriate for younger children) focuses on the Bobby Wasabi Martial Arts Academy, which is about to get the chop. But when newcomers Jack (Leo Howard) and Kim (Olivia Holt) sign up for lessons, they form the nucleus of the Wasabi gang ... who may just be able to turn the place around. ABC Family kicks off the show by spotlighting three different episodes on three consecutive nights. Stand by with the number of your local dojo — your kids may want karate lessons the next day.

‘Harry Potter’ marathon (July 7-10, ABC Family)
With “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” set to hit the big screen on July 15 (and sadly mark the end of the film series), here’s a chance to refresh your memories of Hogwarts years gone by. ABC Family will begin running the first five entries in the series starting July 7, so be sure to send an owl to all your friends, and maybe make a party out of it.

“Shark Week” (starts July 31, Discovery Channel)
Sometimes you just want a series with a little bite to it, so chomp on this: Discovery's notorious Shark Week series returns with more teeth than ever. With episodes such as “How Sharks Hunt” (featuring Dave Canterbury and Cody Lundin of the network's “Dual Survival”) and “Shark City” (featuring “Saturday Night Live’s” Andy Samberg), here’s a show that'll put meat on your bones. Or maybe it’ll take it off?

“Thundercats” and “MAD” (July and August, respectively, Cartoon Network)
Teens have been discovering some of their parents’ (and in the case of “MAD,” potentially their grandparents’) favorite hits thanks to Cartoon Network. In July, the 1980s animated show “Thundercats” roars back in what the network is calling an “epic, all-new reimagining of the classic series.” The fact that it’s being put together by some of the same producers as “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” and “Avatar: The Last Airbender” should be all you’ll need to convince your kids to check it out.

Then in August, “MAD” returns with its hilarious quick-hit animated mayhem, based on the long-running magazine (since 1952!). Good humor never goes out of date.

Which shows will you be watching with your kids this summer? Tell us on our TV blog The Clicker's Facebook page.

Randee Dawn is a freelance writer based in New York, and was born with a remote control in her hand. She is the co-author of "The Law & Order: SVU Unofficial Companion."

FULL SOURCE: today.msnbc.msn.com/id/43270630