There are two weeks; 14 days; 336 hours of school holidays to fill. What better way to fill it than a bunch of great TV? Tara Ward runs down the best TV and movies on Lightbox to watch with your kids these school holidays.
It’s school holiday time again, which means the children of Aotearoa will have free rein to terrorise the nation for two weeks. Tiny humans, everywhere. They’ll be in the homes, they’ll take to the streets. Nowhere will be safe from their nonstop energy and enthusiasm and desire for hot chips. Do what you can to survive. My advice? Watch TV.
To make school holidays great again, we’ve handpicked some of Lightbox’s best kids shows to watch when you need a break. There’s some cracking shows to appeal to all ages, from your youngest puppet-loving munchkin to your cynical teenager who yearns for a film featuring Nicole Kidman swallowing a goldfish. It’s all here!
Ages 3-6 years
What kid hasn’t dreamed of a) living in a theme park or b) saving the world from evil? I still harbour secret ambitions to do both, which is why I love the adorable Nori: Roller Coaster Boy. Nori is a brave rollercoaster who comes out to play when the magical park is closed to the public, getting into some wild adventures with his rolly mates while fending off the evil villain Vegas.
Fun facts to impress the tiny people in your life: Nori screens exclusively in New Zealand on Lightbox, was made in Wellington, and is voiced by Kiwi actors. See kids, learning is fun, even in the holidays.
Rusty Rivets is both my secret stage name and the title of a Canadian cartoon about two creative kids and their team of trusty robots. BFFs Rusty and Ruby invent a bunch of rescue robots, which is super handy considering they keep getting themselves into sticky situations.
Whatever you’re looking for in holiday entertainment, Rusty Rivets has it. Catchy theme tune? Tick. Cool robots? Tick. Two smart kids who could teach adults a thing or two about staying calm in a crisis? Tick, tick, ticketity tick.
There’s a whopping 17 Sesame Street shows in Lightbox’s catalogue of TV dreams, which means there’s one show for every day of the school holidays, plus a few leftover for when the little darlings wake up at 5am and decide it’s time to start the day.
Frankly, Elmo is out of control. He’s reached pandemic levels, having spread his fuzzy joy over everything from Art and Crafts to Super Numbers to my own personal fave, Big Elmo Fun. It’s big, it’s Elmo and it’s fun, need we say more?
The tide is in, and it’s washed up a new season of hijinks from our favourite yellow sponge. Old mate Spongebob is up to his crazy tricks in Season 10 of Spongebob Squarepants, the cartoon about a tiny sea sponge who works at a fast food restaurant and lives in an underwater pineapple.
Kids will be in school holiday heaven with episodes like ‘Whirly Brains’ and ‘Code Yellow’, and while they think it’s just a nonsensical show about a talking sponge, you can bask in the knowledge that Spongebob Squarepants is an award-winning piece of television. It even won a Children’s BAFTA! Freeze it, frame it, it’s a spongy masterpiece.
Think you know Spiderman? Think again. This Spiderman is Miles Morales, a Brooklyn teenager who becomes a Spiderman of his own reality and meets other Spidermen in alternate dimensions across the universe. Sometimes I’d like to escape to an alternate dimension during the school holidays, but this is as close as I’m going to get.
Spiderman slayed at the box office, and this is like seeing the comic book come to life. The animation is sophisticated, there’s plenty of sharp humour, and it’s voiced by superstars like Zoe Kravitz, Mahershala Ali and Kathryn Hahn.
Just what every child with a giant hair bow has ever wanted: an intimate look into the frenetic world of all singing, all dancing teen superstar Jojo Siwa. Spoiler, Jojo’s world is full on, and she’s got more get-up-and-go in her little child finger than I have in my got-up-and-gone dried husk of an adult body.
But I believe children are the future, teach them well and let Jojo Siwa lead the way. My World shows how much energy Jojo Siwa brings to everything she does, from her stage performances to continually pouring juice on her own head. “My dreams are literally coming true, and I’m about to share it all with you guys,” she tells us. Sweet dreams are made of this, Jojo Siwa.
Since when have superheroes been named Arthur? Since Aquaman, that’s when. Arthur Curry is a half-human, half Atlantean heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, and he’s on a quest to prevent a war between the worlds of ocean and land. That’ll put your school holiday arguments into perspective, plus it has incredible stunts and special effects. There’s also a stellar cast, including Jason Mamoa, Amber Heard, Temuera Morrison and Nicole Kidman.
Dynamo, Magician Impossible
Put some magic into your school holiday life with Dynamo, Magician Impossible and try to solve some of his most astonishing illusions. How does Dynamo get a cellphone inside a beer bottle? How did he get the cards to move in Noel Fielding’s hands without touching them? Most importantly, can he find the source of Jojo Siwa’s energy and inject it into my old bones through the power of television?
Subscribe to The Bulletin to get all the day’s key news stories in five minutes – delivered every weekday at 7.30am.