Have you ever wondered what the heck your preschooler is obsessing over? It may be a Disney Jr. show (and accompanying characters).
Below is a handy reference guide to the current on-demand of shows to watch ad nauseam. For adult clarification and understanding, the house of mouse offerings are categorized according to typical high school stereotypes*.
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: The Popular Crowd
This is the legacy group. The infamous cartoon characters known and loved by generations (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto) use problem-solving skills to figure out preschool level puzzles.
Mickey and Minnie are the prom king and queen just as their parents and grandparents were. Mickey is the first-team all-American quarterback. Without fail, he can rally the team for the winning play. Minnie and her crew lead their educational CG animated cheers with nary the thought of mean girl backstabbing.
Everyone wants to be them.
Jake and the Neverland Pirates: The Jocks
These kids spend their days running amuck on Never Land island competing against Captain Hook in games of â€œpirate problemsâ€ â€“ all the while counting up the score of gold doubloons for the team treasure chest.
In the most obvious of allusions, Jake and his posse play for the mouse. Treasure hunting is their sport; Bucky the ship is the school mascot. And they love their game because doubloons in the W column arenâ€™t the only perk. Piece together enough puzzles and the even bad grades awarded to the puny pirates wonâ€™t matter.
Theyâ€™re all going Division 1.
Sofia the First: The Prepsters
Sofia is a young girl who becomes a princess when her mother marries the king. The person everyone wants love and hate, dear Sofia is the all American Enchancian girl.
Sheâ€™s outgoing and innocent, active in all the aspects of ruling a kingdom â€“ including navigating mean girl cliques. She still keeps in touch with the lowly village kids, but does her best to help them clean up a bit. And Sofia is always dressed impeccably. (After all, Tim Gunn in one of the castle stewards.) Who doesnâ€™t want to be a princess overnight?
On Wednesdays, they wear pink.
Sheriff Callieâ€™s Wild West: The Student Council
While Sofia and her fellow preppy princesses are really the reigning monarchs, down near the debate room on the western side of school is where Sheriff Callie has called the latest student council meeting to order.
In such Nice and Friendly Corners of campus, everyone generally gets along, but definitely engage in entertaining and spirited dialog over the issues getting fellow students into trouble â€“ like that pesky no homework platform everyone ran on.
Together they all solve problems and teach their classsfolk to get along with each other no matter what quad of the gym you sit in for spirit rallies â€“ all while working hard to make this the best school year ever!
They all used to be hall monitors.
Octonauts: The Drama Geeks
Life is a stage, and all the men and women anthropomorphic animals merely players.
The spring musical: A globally diverse underwater exploring crew of eight, living in an Octopus submarine (pause for Yellow Submarine in an Octopusâ€™ Garden dance number) embark upon adventures with the varying marine life they encounter upon the way.
The closing number is always the â€œcreature reportâ€ â€“ reviewing and showing live-action footage of the animal featured with facts facilitated by a dance break of dancing turnips (played by the Vegimals.)
Creature report: Exeunt, pursued by a [polar] bear. (British captain of the Octopod.)
Handy Manny: The Shop Crew
Handy Manny and his talking tools live in the town of Sheetrock Hills. When someone calls, the titular character excitedly cries, “Hola, Handy Manny’s repair shop, you break it,” as his tools gleefully shout, “We fix it!”
Obviously this gang is also highly involved with the theatre, focusing on the highly necessary job of set building. Working together, each with their own expertise, the team collaborates on the best way to fix various broken items. (Those darn actors who think they can do this stuff themselvesâ€¦) Although, in the end, theyâ€™ve got their own show tune (â€œWe Work Togetherâ€) to whistle while they work.
First choice of power tools goes to the seniors. The cool shop kids claim the power drill.
Chuggington: The Band
For six young railway locomotive Trainees, tracks are a way of life. Passion to master the art borders on obsession.
Throughout each episode the Trainees learn the value of friendship, honesty, listening carefully, learning new concertos and working together â€“ each individual and their instrument part of the larger group creating a single marching display, chugging forward.
This one time, at Chugger Campâ€¦
Doc McStuffins: The Yearbook/AV Club
Dottie “Doc” McStuffins pretends to be a doctor by fixing toys and dolls. When she puts on her stethoscope, toys, dolls, and stuffed animals come to life and she can communicate with them, just as your audio visual tools help bring the school day to life.
Doc helps the group feel better by consulting â€œThe Big Book of Boo Boos,â€ a missive to remember whatâ€™s gone down. A book of memories for posterity.
Rolie Polie Olie: The Nerds
A teapot-shaped house in a geometric world where robots rule the roost â€“ the main gang are circular bots but with all variety of shapes welcome. Itâ€™s the preschoolersâ€™ version of mathlete champion R2D2 (oblong shape).
Pay homage to the future of your technological overlords.
Henry Hugglemonster: The Emo Crowd
Daily life offers a plethora of problems. Existence is rife with conflicts. Even in a suburban town like Roarsville where everyone is a friendly, fun-loving monster on the surface (as well as in animated form).
The darkness may be merely subliminal amid the chaos, so problem-solving skills are an art to be celebrated with original jams. They are the anti-trend trendsetters.
You do you, Henry.
Little Einsteins: Stoners
Intended to teach classical art and music appreciation to the pint-size set, the Little Einsteins travel around in their plane â€“ jet-setting off on adventures such as their mission to reunite a baby violin with its viola mother or return a talking tulip to its favorite pot.
All are encouraged to experience the magic. Even the invisible fans far behind that fourth wall. Curtain call is upon mission completion. Feel the light, taste the sound, man.
Whether the Einsteins themselves or the writers behind the spectacle â€“ someone, somewhere, is clearly smoking something.
*NB: Purely based on well-known stereotypes. This article includes no commentary on my own awesome Chaminade cohorts of the late-90s. Eagles rocked. (And I was a drama geek.)