There’s something wonderful about sitting around the table with your whole family. It hit something deep down when we sat Shimri and Shimei at the table with us for the first time and I looked around at our family of 5 all at the table. But there are still certain meals, like tater tots and hot dogs, that just seem to want to be eaten while watching TV. For a while we were watching TV series via DVD during dinner. But then it became clear that Iddo was paying a little too close attention to them and we need to put those on hold while the kids are up for a while. So what were we to do?
We opted for PBS.
Every three weeks when I take the kids to the library I pick up a NOVA series or two for us to watch in the evenings. It’s been a lot of fun. We’re not sure how much Iddo is learning, but she enjoys it and we’ve sure learned a lot.
We started with a National Geographic series called “In the Womb.” One of the episodes is about multiples births and since we have our own set of multiples we were interested in that. The whole series was fascinating.
Next up was Ken Burns “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” That was long, but was a real interesting look at American history. We’re going to be going to Yellow Stone National Park next year and might check the series out again before that trip as a refresher on the history of the area. We’ve also decided to see how many of the National Parks we can visit as a family. If we ever want to take a trip and don’t have a particular destination in mind we’ll just check out our list of ones we haven’t been to.
The next two taught us about the earth – “Earth: A New Wild” and “Earth From Space” (or as Iddo called it, Space from Earth). These were amazing! “A New Wild” was a conservationist talking not about how humans are ruining the planet, but how humans working smarter, in partnership with the wild, can help make the planet a better place for humans and animals to live. If you ask us about what we’ve been watching/learning lately, we’re probably going to bring that one up. The latter was all the things we’ve learned about weather and climate from the different satellites we’ve put into orbit around the planet. They trace temperatures, oxygen levels, dust molecules, and so many other things that really expand our understanding of this planet.
While watching “Australia’s First 4 Billion Years” we decided that you need to be Australian to make the phrase “4 billion years” sound cool. It just isn’t cool when we say it. But Australia has the interesting characteristic of having a record of the world back to the oldest rocks. We learned about super-continents, mass extinctions, the evolution of life. I showed of my knowledge of trilobites, mainly that I can recognize them by sight.
“Mt St. Helens: Back from the Dead,” about how the wildlife came back after the last big eruption, was interesting. But since it was only a 1 hour show and we were used to series it seemed real short.
“Becoming Human: Unearthing Our Earliest Ancestors” was an interesting look at the discoveries that have been made about all the pre-human species on this earth. There are apparently people who specialize their studies in brain casts and in making stone tools. There’s a specialty for everyone. We learned that our bones contain a record of everything we’ve ever eaten and that tooth enamel grows with our circadian rhythms and you can tell how many days a person has been alive by counting the bumps in their enamel (something that I’m sure graduate students and not the professors are doing).
Shortly after starting “The Buddha: The Story of Siddhartha” we realized that we’d seen it before when it was first broadcast. But it was interesting to watch again anyway. I love the Dali Lama. I find the Buddha mentality and way of life to be very appealing.
“Pale Male” was a Nature show about the red-tailed hawk that took up residence in New York City. New Yorkers can be a strange group.
Currently we’re watching “How We Got to Now,” the story of six facets of our modern world we don’t give much thought about but which greatly influence our life. So far we’ve only watched the episode about clean but we’ve already turned to each other more than once and wondered why we didn’t know that particular bit of history, like the creation of the sewers in Chicago or why soap operas are called soap operas.
Libraries are awesome. I’ve tagged enough PBS shows to keep us in tater tot and hot dog dinners (other dinners, like pizza, call for PBS too, we don’t have tater tots and hot dogs every week) for a while. We’re learning about animals, dinosaurs, babies, earth, and history. Iddo is learning to recognize the Buddha in every one and that none of this would be possible without viewers like you. Thank you.