This three-hour morning programming block is to preschoolers what a cup of coffee and the paper are to adults. It helps its young viewers rub the sleep out of their eyes, get a good start to their day and pick up some new information along the way. Sandwiched between animated series like Dragon Tales and Bob the Builder, Sunny Side Up is hosted by real people — Kelly Vrooman, Sean Roach and Kevin Yamada, formerly of Sprout’s Birthday Show — and a somewhat endearing plucky chicken puppet named Chica. The show, which premiered September 2007, is set in a whimsical barn and each week focuses on a different theme such as family, animals, weather and various holidays. The topic du jour is explained and demonstrated through bite-size live-action segments intercut with abbreviated versions of other Sprout shows. Remember, this target audience really does have the attention span of a 2-year-old. While children’s shows featuring the seemingly odd combination of a few grown-ups and an oversized puppet are nothing new, we put Sunny Side Up at the top of our list for its innovative focus on interactivity. Viewers are continually encouraged to interact with the hosts, who pose questions and puzzles straight into the camera. And the show is intertwined with its Web site, where parents and kids can submit birthday greetings, weather reports and other goings-on.
Peep and the Big Wide World, Discovery Kids: Two-time Emmy winner Peep is all about teaching science to preschoolers. And its bright, plainly drawn animation and equally uncomplicated storylines prove that sometimes simplicity works best when trying to convey a message.