Kids Summer Entertainment Gift Guide

We are starting to feel the boredom that creeps in during the summer.  We actually work pretty hard here on the farm (kids included), but relaxing time tends to be the same old cable TV or DVD we've seen a hundred times.  Here are some of the  best kids entertainment products we've tried -- and love -- just in time to help keep you sane when the kids are out of school.

BIG Elmo Fun on DVD

My 2 and 5-year-olds are among the most passionate of Elmo fans.  BIG Elmo Fun on DVD incorporates the same sweet style of the little furry guy with updated skits on pop culture that parents will love.  Our favorite episode is actually a playful rendition of "Iron Chef" called “Cast Iron Cooks"  (featuring Jason Schwartzman) where contestants are challenged to create dishes for the judges containing only select letter sounds.  Never boring and always educational, this DVD (now available) is one we view at least once a week with our tiny learners.


If sweet tearjerkers with believable happy endings are more your speed, Smitty is a great way to share some time with the family.  The story of a troubled boy wouldn't be complete without a shaggy lovable mutt, and this film does a great job of adding in some hardship and lessons in grace to keep the discussion going long after the movie is over.  This film (now available) does have some elements that are a little rough for younger kids (a burglary, death, and an injured dog), but does a good job of reminding us what's important through the trials life hands us.  With an all-star cast featuring Peter Fonda (our favorite in the film), Lou Gosset Jr., and Mira Sorvino, there is a good amount of quality acting, even among the more rushed scenes.

Iron Man Armored Adventures: Season 2, Volume 1

If there is one cartoon on TV that ALL of my kids like to watch together (even my 13-year-old daughter), it's Iron Man Armored Adventures.  Now that Season 2, Volume 1 is set to be out on DVD, June 26th, we can catch up on all the episodes we missed during the school year.  This series, which features Tony Stark and friends as teenagers, is highly entertaining; my husband and I even like to watch!  It's a milder version of the Iron Man movies and comics, but with all the intense story lines that will keep you guessing from one episode to the next.

Recess Monkey: In Tents CD

We've always enjoyed the appealing tunes of Recess Monkey, so when they were set to release their In Tents album on June 19th, we were ecstatic!  With a circus theme throughout all of the songs on this album, they are catchy for the kids -- but with the classic Recess Monkey talent you'd come to expect.   Get into the world of the trapeze, strong men, and elephants; it's a magical, musical phenomenon.  Because it is never condescending and always fresh and memorable, this is one kids CD you can put on your iPod without shame.  Often compared to the Beatles, but with a relevance to today's old AND young crowds, we'll be playing this CD over and over this summer!

Orange Sherbet: Delicious CD

For the more mellow and whimsical crowd, there is a new album designed to help you chill out while learning everything there is to know about in-season foods.  The Delicious CD from Orange Sherbet has all the cool of a coffee house, while simultaneously teaching about beets, broccoli, and bananas!  We really like to play these tunes while having some "quiet time", as even the more spunky tunes have a soothing effect.  Like smooth jazz with a bit of non-preachy nutritional guidance, these songs are delightfully appropriate after a long day of summer gardening!

VeggieTales: Larry’s Missing Music for Android, iPad, and iPhone

We have completely given up on any mobile app that doesn't teach my kids something; as a result, they have been a bit heartbroken that I deleted most every app in their inventory.  When shoot-em-ups and time-wasters are taking over your iPad or iPhone, you may consider replacing them with something wholesome, educational, and entertaining -- like Larry's Missing Music!  This app is narrated by a child, so kids pay attention and feel like part of a team.  It also incorporates stories with games by allowing kids to customize their own tale -- even getting a bit silly in the process.  My 5-7 year olds love this game, but even my toddler likes to press the buttons and make the characters react.  If you're not using digital apps to foster a love for reading, this is one you might like to start with!  You may purchase this for your Android device, Google Play, Nook, or your Apple device)

Wanna Win?  We are giving one lucky reader the Big Elmo Fun DVD!  To be entered to win, just comment on this post with why you want to win!  You have until June 30th at 11:59 pm CST to get your entries in, and we will pick one winner at random from all eligible entries.

BONUS ENTRY: This giveaway offers you a second chance to win.  Follow us on Twitter!  Then leave a 2nd comment below letting us know. 

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents ages 18+. See our full rules here. Don't forget to enter our other blog giveaways while you're here!