Like most children, Max and Zoe love cartoons and films for children. I am of an opinion that screen time can be parents and children’s friend when used wisely. In the question of bilingual development , especially when a languages is not widely represented in the mainstream society, videos in that language are an irreplaceable source of new vocabulary, cultural realia and supralinguistic norms characteristic of the “source country/society” in question.

I started showing Max and Zoe videos since they were about 6 months old and could sit up. I believe that in our age of technological progress and the rule of IT technologies it is unwise to shun such a perfect source of information and education as videos and applications. These resources are further indispensable in exposing the children to other voices speaking the heritage language than those of their parents’.

I see the key to successful use of such means in liberation of its quantity and filtering of its content. I try to select age appropriate content and only allow no more than 30 minutes of screen time per day for toddlers and under 2 hours for preschoolers. We also have screen-free days, about 2 days a week.



tiny loveMax and Zoe’s first and most favourite video was the developmental video by Tiny Love. I particularly like it for its age-appropriate content: the speed of the change of pictures, the amount of vocabulary, its repetition and gradual broadening, cute characters that attract children, as well as the educational value of the videos (the video teaches shapes, colours, parts of the face, etc). Max and Zoe’s attention is gripped by what they see. At the age of 16 months, they also start to interact with the characters, like clapping together with them to songs and repeating what they do.baby_einstein_logo-svgI like the series Baby Einstein for its educational quality. I am grateful to the parents who created a Russian version of this series. The videos are particularly helpful when the kids are about 15 months old and up for teaching shapes, colours, animals, numbers, etc. Max and Zoe like the puppets in the show as well as the images of real animals. Max, however, is occasionally afraid of some abstract imaging present in the series, like mixing paints, moving sand, etc (in the part about colours). I think it is too unclear to him at the age under 20 months as to what that is, so the unknown disturbs him a bit.masha and the bearChildren’s cartoons in Russian, like Маша и Медведь (Masha and the Bear), which are mainly entertaining, similarly to, say, Tom and Jerry, but with a little more words, did not attract Max and Zoe much under 20 months of age. I personally love the humour of the plots, the characters, and everything else really, but Max and Zoe were not able to understand the message of the stories before they turned 2. After they turned 2, however, they started to appreciate this cartoon.

animalsBBCOccasionally we watch a children’s series telling about different species of animals “Твои весёлые друзья зверята“, or “Всё о животных“, or “Ребятам о Зверятах” (All About Animals, BBC). Although the vocabulary is too advanced for Max and Zoe, I still find it useful to help them learn about the variety of animals and to introduce some new vocabulary. I try to watch this series with them and comment pointing out at different concepts I want them to learn.

peppaPeppa pig is a new world-known trademark. Max and Zoe started to watch itin Russian when they were about 2 years and 3-4 months old. Zoe got to liking it almost straight away. Max does not mind it most of the time. I personally have mixed feelings about this cartoons. First of all, it may be a bit too advanced for this age. On the other hand, a bit of a linguistic challenge may turn out to be stimulating for our children.

igri-lyntik-01Лунтик (Luntik) is one of Max and Zoe’s favourites, especially Zoe’s. The children started watching it around 2 years. I like the tempo of the stories, the moral of the plots, and how new concepts are introduced from part to part as Luntik is exploring the world. Max and Zoe are discovering the world together with Luntik. I find the educational content of the cartoon excellent for this age!

cheburashka_idet_v_shkoluMax and Zoe both really like the Russian cartoon about Crocodile Gena and Cheburashka. They also listen to the songs from this cartoon, and at 2 years and 5 months they can reproduce some songs in quite a recognisable manner. they do change the lyrics a bit though.

karlssonFurthermore, we watch cartoons about Karlsson once in a while. They are more age-appropriate than the book that we have, so the cartoons prepare Max and Zoe for following the book later on.

suteevWe watch old Soviet cartoons based on the stories by Vladimir Suteev. His stories are very kind, the main characters are always animals, and the cartoons are beautifully executed and contain lovely songs. We have some of Suteev’s books as well which help us to better grip the plot of the stories.

karuselMax and Zoe like the cartoons from the Soviet series Весёлая карусель (Merry-Go-Round). The stories are short, they are very often based on popular children’s songs that our children are already familiar with and can sing along. I have created playlists of similar songs from classic Soviet cartoons on YouTube, which I play from time to time. Luckily for us, the Soviet legacy in the form of absolutely brilliant children’s cartoons and films is a real high-quality treasure that is easily accessible. Such cartoons are truly emotionally charged for me, and I hope that my children will love them as much as I do, and will appreciate them on linguistic and cultural levels like the children born and living in Russia do.

alfons Martin likes showing Max and Zoe the cartoons that he liked to watch when a little boy. He likes to show them Alfons Åberg cartoons and cartoons about Bamse. Max and Zoe preferred Alfons Åberg cartoons to any other cartoons in Swedish for a long time. Martin likes the clear images of these cartoons, the speed and quality of the narration, as well as their down-to-earth and positive content with a good morale.Bamse2When Max and Zoe turned 18 months they got quite hooked on the Alfons cartoons, especially Max. They received two little dolls as presents: Alfons and his friend Milla. They also got books about Alfons. The presents made them super happy! Bamse becomes a new favourite around the age of 2 years.pettsonfindusThe cartoon about Pettson and Findus becomes popular with Max and Zoe at the age of 2 years and 3 months. It is beautifully drawn, has intriguing plots, and Max and Zoe start retelling the stories about these funny characters at the age of 2 years and 5 months.pippi_langstrump_boxWhat child living in Sweden does not know Pippi Långstrump by Astrid Lindgren? Zoe loves this character, her songs, and the film, of course.


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