Dinosaur Train

 
Young dino's travels teach kids about science and diversity.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The series is rich in scientific content that's just right for preschoolers. The characters incorporate terms like "hypothesis," "herbivore," and "carnivore" into the storylines, illustrating their meanings for kids. Preschoolers learn about the characteristics and lifestyles of different dinosaur species, and the Dinosaur Train's journeys to different periods within the Mesozoic era introduce kids to the concept of a timeline.

Positive messages

Encourages learning new things and solving problems. When the characters meet new dinosaur friends, they enjoy discovering their similarities as well as what unique traits and skills set them apart from one another, reminding kids that being different is OK and that each of us has special talents to share.

Positive role models

All of the adult dinosaurs are patient and caring with the youngsters and encourage them to explore their world to discover the answers to the questions they have about it.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

The show includes some plugs for its Web site.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this series encourages preschoolers’ curiosity about the world around them as it introduces them to basic scientific principles and several species of prehistoric creatures. Each story exposes kids to science terms like "hypothesis" and "herbivore," illustrating their meanings in kid-friendly ways. In addition to its educational quality, the show also celebrates differences and encourages respect for others, as Buddy’s travels lead him to make many new friends whose lifestyles and appearances are very different from his.

What's the story?

DINOSAUR TRAIN centers on a young Tyrannosaurus Rex named Buddy (voiced by Phillip Corlett) and his adoptive Pteranodon family, who live in a giant nest near the sea. Inquisitive Buddy is always on the lookout for adventure, and there’s no shortage of it when he and his siblings Tiny (Claire Corlett), Shiny (Erika-Shaye Gair), and Don board the Dinosaur Train and speed through time to meet other prehistoric creatures. As questions arise, Buddy comes up with theories and eagerly makes discoveries that will solve the scientific riddles he faces. The show also includes live-action segments starring paleontologist Scott Sampson, who chats with kids about science and fun dinosaur facts.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This delightful series combines typical preschool interests like trains, dinosaurs, and a healthy appetite for adventure -- and the resulting tales feed kids’ vivid imaginations. Through Buddy’s travels within the Mesozoic era, young viewers learn about different species’ lifestyles, diets, and unique characteristics. Kids are also encouraged to think critically about the world around them; comparing dinosaurs’ traits to those of modern animals, for example, and learning to classify different species by size, appearance, and lifestyle habits.

And the show’s value isn’t limited to early paleontology education or its fun take on basic scientific processes. There are also plenty of positive messages about tolerance and respect for differences. Buddy’s adventures introduce him to a range of species with obvious differences, and his curiosity allows him to discover not only the unique traits that separate him from his new friends, but also the basic similarities that make them all alike.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the dinosaurs lived. Kids: How was the Earth different during their time? How did different species adapt to their surroundings? What traits differentiated the species?

  • How do scientists work to answer our questions about the past and the future? What tools do they use to uncover and piece together clues? How do modern inventions improve our lives?

  • Kids: What did you learn from this series? What questions do you still have about prehistoric creatures? What other shows have you seen that teach you something about science?

TV details

This review of Dinosaur Train was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 2, 4, and 4 year old Written byCourtneyB January 19, 2010
age 4+
 
Don't like the evolution tid bits thrown in after each section.
Parent Written bySalanaland March 1, 2012
age 3+
 

All the dino info nobody knew when you were a kid, plus manners and social skills too!

Dinosaur Train has an excellent scientific backing with the most up to date information about dinosaurs. It also does a great job of teaching scientific literacy, both in general ("I have a hypothesis!" is Buddy's tagline, followed by Tiny explaining, "That's an idea you can test") and dinosaur-specific ("You have three toes, so you're a therapod like me"). All little kids should watch this show--it's a great counterbalance to the scientific illiteracy being promoted by certain institutions in the US today. Not only is the science component incredibly strong, it also contains lots of great lessons on social and emotional skills as well as problem solving. (This is especially appreciated as I have [and was] a kid who tends to become obsessive about interests, and is lacking in social skills.) Social problems--like jealousy over a new friend being better than you at your best skill--are handled deftly, and every encounter with a new dinosaur ends with a new friendship being formed and a lesson being learned. For example, Tiny Pteranodon is jealous when they meet Mikey Microraptor, who is even smaller than Tiny and has four wings where she has two. He can get into smaller places and retrieve things, which she has taken special pride in. She is jealous of him, despite his obvious admiration of her. Mrs. Pteranodon even explains to her that he's imitating everything she says because he thinks she's so awesome (partially because she can fly much better than he can--excellent science, of course.) But when the Dinosaur Train is stopped by a nut wedged in the exhaust pipe, Tiny and Mikey work together to get the nut out and save the day, and then sing a song about Tiny-and-Mikey Power. Everyone can learn from that situation, and it's not just a bland plotline like you'd expect from a kid's show. Dinosaur Train is also interesting for parents. There's no objectionable content, but parents will recognize allusions like "Confuciusornis Says", and more dino-savvy parents will be amused at Arlene Archaeopteryx's German accent (the first Archaeopteryx was found in Germany). Also, nobody even knew half these dinosaurs when we were kids, so it's quite educational. Plus, feathered dinosaurs are awesome, especially Microraptor. Seriously, FOUR WINGS.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byStayatHomeDad June 10, 2011
age 2+
 

What happened to "All GODS creatures"/

I love this show and so does my 8month old, as soon as he hears the opening song he turns towards the TV and starts bouncing. However, I noticed this morning that the mother does not say "We are all GODS creatures" in the opening song. That bothers me VERY much.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

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