Use movie soundtracks to steer kids away from the tube

Kirsten’s brilliant hack brings to mind all the great movie soundtracks I used to listen to as a kid. Star Wars is the big one, but pretty much any John Williams score would do. Remember Close Encounters of the Third Kind? DO-DO-DO-DO-DOOOOOOO.

I found out long ago that my kids are more likely to play quietly (esp. in a different room than me) when there’s music playing.  But sometimes they really just want to watch that favorite show.  That’s where soundtracks come in. My kids will accept a soundtrack instead of a movie – and then they PLAY instead of WATCH. Awesome. Some of their favorites are:  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Danny Elfman), the Heffalump movie, and Star Wars. I think some of the TV soundtracks would drive me crazy, but the movie ones are nice and work well.

What are your family’s favorite sountracks?


  1. says

    We recently dug out Mary Poppins from the cardboard box of forgotten VHS tapes. My 2.5 year old son loves it. I think that listening to the soundtrack (mostly in the car) has only fueled his obsession. I don’t mind too much…it’s fun to catch him singing “um-diddle-diddle-diddle, um-diddle-ay” to himself.

  2. Antares says

    The sndtrk to “O Brother Where Art Thou” is a big hit here. We don’t have the actual CD but we’ll put in the movie so the sound comes through the stereo and then turn the television off.

  3. says

    My daughter’s obsession is the Spirit soundtrack. Hubby picked it up on a whim, to help her sleep at night, and now she listens to it constantly.

    Our son listens to a mixture of things, but loves the Scooby Doo themes, no matter which version :)

  4. says

    My son LOVES the Curious George Soundtrack. He dances and plays along to it- it’s great to watch him, and he even engages his 6 month old brother with him.

  5. Hands Free Heart says

    We like the Jurassic Park soundtrack, though my kids have never seen it (or any movie other than G rated). Tim reminded me that my son loves Msry Poppins, maybe we’ll put that soundtrack on our Christmas list!

  6. says

    Miyazaki (anime) soundtracks, especially Spirited Away, are a favorite in our house.

    My 7-year-old really likes the Atomic Betty soundtrack. It’s very high-energy pop, so your mileage may vary.

  7. carmie says

    We listen to the 28 days later soundtrack a lot in the car, although there’s some tracks we skip. No, I have not let my toddler see that movie ;) He really, really likes the Grandaddy song in the middle of that album.

  8. suz says

    When the two youngest are starting to get on each others’ nerves (and mine), all I have to do it play the Superman Theme song and they both start “flying” around the house with one arm out. Instant eraser of whatever beef one had with the other. Ditto with the Spiderman and Batman theme.

    I like how they don’t even need to have seen the movies to enjoy the soundtracks. Reading books about the superheroes gives them the whole story (without the violence and overstimulation).

  9. Katwoman says

    The soundtrack to Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (the fabulous DreamWorks movie) gets a lot of play at our house. It is great driving music as well!

  10. says

    I just downloaded the Meet the Robinsons’ soundtrack from iTunes, since my 2 1/2 year old had watched the DVD a gazillion times and I intend on listening to the great songs for a long while.

  11. says

    I’ve found the same goes for the audio CDs of some of my son’s favorite movies. Twice now I’ve found large, colorful books in the Borders bargain bin. For $5, I got story books and CDs containing four of the Pixar movies (Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., Toy Story, Bugs Life) and also Disney movies. My three year old son will sit quietly and listen to the stories and look at the books. Sometimes, he’ll even listen to the stories and act them out. It’s a nice change from the drooling stare at the TV.

  12. tiredMama says

    We listen to the Cars soundtrack and the Toy Story 2 soundtrack a lot – favorite flicks around here – my son even loves the instrumental parts and can place the scene each bit plays under during the movie.

    He definitely is happier playing with some kind of background noise, so I’m experimenting with some other stuff now – he liked a couple of odd new age CDs I had (ah, college memories! :) ) and next I want to try the Fantasia 2000 soundtrack. (He used to watch bits of the movie when he was smaller, and I love it.) I would bet anything by Danny Elfman would go over well, too, it’s always very theatrical and quirky. :)

  13. mar says

    The Harry Potter soundtrack is on perpetual circulation in our house – even my youngest, before she could read the books, loved it. They would put on their capes, get out their wands, and play out scenes. It is one of those things I’ll always remember!

  14. Jill says

    Our son loves to listen to soundtracks, and as a bonus, he is learning to identify “themes” that belong to each character — the clearest example of this is the little pieces of Darth Vader’s theme that show up in pieces of the Star Wars music to let you know something bad is going to happen; Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean have similar motifs that reappear throughout the tracks. His kindergarten music teacher is working with them on identifying which instruments they hear (as a post-“Peter and the Wolf” sort of thing) and now we’ll be in the car and he will spontaneously shout out, “violin! The kraken is a violin!” Makes me smile every time, and I’m amazed at how much attention to detail he has developed!

  15. Emily Smith says

    My daughter is a little too young to show preferance for one soundtrack over another, but a great classical soundtrack for time in the car or adults is that of the movie “Gettsyburg.” Very inspirational.

  16. Emily Smith says

    My daughter is a little too young to show preferance for one soundtrack over another, but a great classical soundtrack for time in the car or adults is that of the movie “Gettysburg.” Very inspirational.

  17. bill page says

    in 70s and 80s i had fun with record movie songs and movie storie book with recoder ideas on record players:)
    star wars record, star wars record and book and michael jackson E.T book and with record ps book and 33 size records is hearing excakly same thing right from the theater movie just think simluar to dvd movie ideas:)
    everyone in my family and my friends are amazed icoul say word for word just like how the movie theater done
    they say bill pages a walking movie or walking tv show
    or walking tv guide
    or walking magic book:)
    type in
    dc secrets in a nut shell
    type in
    how to gain illusion secrets
    ps extra also i cassette recorded tv shw themes and got my friends to make tv show them songs off of the tv shows on cassete tape then we played guess that tv show :)
    from A team, knight rider, voygers, six million dollar man, to jamie summers binock woman, kroft super show
    the great space coaster
    roll the film no no not roll the film i mean rool the film:)
    the ba na na splits
    the monkeys
    danger island
    space ghost
    you get the idea:)
    same bat time same bat channel:)
    CBS spiderman live action tv show series
    wounder woman tv series too