I received two DVDs of the most recent Shalom Sesame episodes for review.
The first, Counting Down to Shavuot, was adorable. It really managed to get most of the elements of the holiday into the video, if not overtly, then in a subtle way. There was a sofer writing a mezuzzah, there was counting down the weeks to the holiday, decorating the home, eating dairy (including the usual stinky cheese from Moshe Oofnik!), and a really great telling of the story of Kabbalat Torah, the Receiving of the Torah. (I wish that segment was available on their YouTube Channel.) There were a few segments that were silly or too long, like the "chasing the cheese" (?!) and I was a little weirded out by Ben Stiller's choice of costume...why does he want to dress up like cheese? (Plus, since when is the Cable Guy a person in your neighborhood?) I loved the sign language poem at the end of the show, and overall this was a great way to teach kids about Shavuot.
The other video, Grover Learns Hebrew, also had a few highlights. The story of Eliezer Ben Yehuda was great. I plan to use it with kids in Hebrew School - it was really well done:
The rest of the video was a little bit basic for my family, or it was over their heads. The basic stuff? Grover learns just a few words - boker tov (good morning), todah (thank you) and bakbuk (bottle). Over their heads? This really cute segment about onomatopoeia words in Hebrew (I'm embarrassed to tell you how many tries it took for me to get that word typed correctly.)
Cute, right? But totally over the heads of my kids. A nice version of the Aleph-Bet Song - my kids weren't familiar with it but they recognized that the letters were "the same as our Aleph Bet Song, mom!"
So...bottom line? Both videos are worth watching with your kiddos. I recommend the Shavuot one if you're making a choice.
Full disclosure: I received copies for review from the publisher. I was not obligated to say nice stuff in any way.