This phonics-based programme is designed to make learning to read fun for young children. With an adventure in each episode, the Alphablocks are a group of 26 letter characters, who are able to create a word and make it come to life by holding hands. Just like the children watching, they use sounding out and blending to read it. You can watch clips online, or check schedules for broadcast times.
First broadcast in 1969, this classic US show from the creator of the Muppets teaches numbers and letters with characters Elmo, Ernie and Bert and the Cookie Monster. Hard to find now on UK TV, but there are thousands of clips and episodes to watch on the Sesame Street YouTube channel.
Get Well Soon, Cbeebies
Presented by real-life doctor, Raj Singh, Get Well Soon helps young children learn about how to keep healthy. Each show is based around children's experiences of going to the doctor, through the eyes of five loveable puppets. The show teaches children how their bodies work, in sickness and in health, and helps to take the fear factor out of being unwell and needing medical treatment.
Dora the Explorer, Nick Jnr
It’s bright, loud, and not to every parent’s taste, but plenty of children love the adventures of Dora, Boots the monkey, and Swiper the fox. Off on an adventure in every episode, Dora asks children to help her solve puzzles, and teaches numbers, shapes, letters, colours, and basic words in Spanish along the way. Classic episodes of Dora the Explorer are available on DVD if you can't find a showing on television.
Get Squiggling, Cbeebies
Help establish the foundations of good handwriting and develop an interest in art and drawing with some arty adventures. Children are encouraged to join in with Squiglet the cat and his magic ‘Squiggle Sticks’ to make pictures. Each episode uses one of the seven different types of line (straight, wavy, etc) as Squiglet draws his way out of tricky situations. A great way to get young children used to holding and controlling a pencil, and recognising colours and shapes.
Something Special, Cbeebies
Thanks to his use of sign language, millions of children with – or without – special educational needs can join in the fun with Mr Tumble. The show takes a simple format and covers topics familiar to young children: colours, weather, all about me etc. There’s plenty of repetition, and it’s all presented in a way that encourages children to learn.
Messy Goes to OKIDO, Cbeebies
Thrill-seeking monster Messy tackles children's big science-related questions in this new comedy adventure series. Along with his sidekicks, Zoe and Felix, and his gang of science boffins, Messy answers tricky questions like, 'Why do things fall down, and not up?' and 'What makes a rainbow?' There are lots of clips, songs and activities for your child to enjoy on the Cbeebies website.
What's The Big Idea?, Cbeebies
Philosophy for three- to five-year-olds? It's not as crazy as it sounds, thanks to this thought-provoking show from Cbeebies. What's The Big Idea? explores big questions such as, 'Is it ever okay to be angry?' and 'What is a grown up? through the eyes of the enquiring Hugo.
The Lingo Show, Cbeebies
This spin-off from the Cbeebies website focuses on teaching children words in different languages. Each episode concentrates on a particular language, and Lingo and his troupe of talented bugs teach around ten common words, such as ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’, as well as showing the sights and sounds of other cultures.
This number programme for very young children is designed to help with early counting skills. It features 10 furry critters, each with its own number. Each episode includes lots of repetition, counting up to ten, and a special masked numtum, who sneaks out into the real world to look for numbers. There's a great maths and puzzles learning area online, too.
Ask Anything, Cbeebies
We've all struggled at times to answer our children's craziest questions - from 'Why don't dogs wear shoes?' to 'Are jellyfish made of jelly?' Ask Anything answers all of those burning pre-school questions through catchy songs and preschooler-friendly animations.
Team Umizoomi, Nick Jnr
Team Umizoomi – made up of Milli, Geo and Bot – help young children solve everyday maths problems. Using counting, comparison, measuring, patterns and shapes, each episode is designed to develop basic maths skills, and build confidence with numbers.
From the makers of Alphablocks comes their mathematical equivalent, Numberblocks. The Numberblocks are made up of the counting blocks every child plays with (Numberblock One has one block, Numberblock Two has two blocks, and so on) and they count things, discover patterns, sing songs, play games and go on number adventures! Made with the support of the National Centre for Excellence in Teaching of Mathematics, the programme is a great way to introduce core maths ideas to children aged three to six.