I have a toddler who is obsessed with princesses. First, it was the all-consuming obsession with Frozen. It was all Elsa, Anna, and Olaf all the time. Finally, I just had to “Let It Go” and join in on the Frozen frenzy. As toddler life goes, my daughter’s obsession has now shifted gears to Sofia the First.
Sofia the First
Sofia the First is a show on Disney Junior. It chronicles the life of young Sofia, who was just chilling in the village of the kingdom with her mom, Miranda. One day, Miranda falls in love and marries King Roland. Now, Sofia has to learn how to live life as a princess with her new-stepsiblings, Princess Amber and Prince James.
Sofia is given a magical amulet that allows her to do all kinds of things like talk to animals and summon the other Disney Princesses in times of need. There are all kinds of adventures in the Kingdom of Enchancia set to a fabulous musical soundtrack.
It sounds like a cute show, right? Not that I am promoting excessive television watching toddlers, but if you need a “go to” program to occupy your little one while you prepare a meal or fold laundry, give Sofia a try. This is a show that not only your toddler will love, you will love it too!
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5 Reasons Moms and Toddlers Should Love Sofia the First
During our recent bout with the stomach flu, my toddler and I snuggled up and watched a Sofia the First marathon. It was then that I realized that this show was not only fun but has some great merits.
1. Sofia Lives with a Blended Family
It is not really explained in the show, but I believe Queen Miranda and King Roland were both widowed. They were definitely single parents for quite some time before getting married. Sure, it sounds great to suddenly move into a castle and become a princess. However, adjusting to life with a blended family as equally challenging as adjusting to life as a princess.
In the episode, “Mom’s the Word”, it’s Mother’s Day and Sofia is looking forward to spending the day with her mom. Only Miranda has arranged to have a picnic with Sofia and her new siblings, Amber and James. Sofia is devastated and asks her little witch friend to cast a spell to give her some alone time with her mom.
At the end of the episode, Miranda explains that she has enough love to share with all of the kids. Sofia realizes that just because her mom has more kids to love that it does not mean that her mom loves her any less. This is a real life problem that kids in blended families struggle with.
It is so important for kids to recognize that families can be of all shapes and sizes. Sofia and her siblings have trouble from time to time adjusting to their new life together, but there is a lesson about how to resolve family squabbles in many episodes. For some additional reading on all the wonderful forms families can take, check out this book, The Family Book by Todd Park.
2. Sofia Challenges Gender Roles
Okay, yes. This is a show all about princesses. Amber and Sofia wear fancy dresses resembling ball gowns and tiaras every day. When Sofia is in need, the other Disney princesses (also clad in fabulous attire) come to the rescue.
Amber, Sofia’s new stepsister, is a girl after my own heart. She agrees to go on a camping troop with Sofia’s girl scout troop and packs sparkly dresses instead of a tent. When the troop leader makes her wears boots instead of the shoes that match her outfit, she nearly has a coronary. As a child who wore nothing but dresses and patent leather shoes for most of her life, I get it.
However, Sofia is a bit different. In the first episode of the series, Sofia wants to try out for the flying derby team. (It’s like polo, but with flying horses). Traditionally, only boys are on the team. Despite a rather catchy number sung by Amber on how Princesses should do “Princess Things” like throw tea parties, Sofia follows her own heart.
In the same tune, Sofia sings:
3. Sofia Addresses Class Differences
Although Sofia is thrust into the royal life, she maintains her ties with her old friends “from the village”. On several occasions, she is asked to choose between her old life and new. In one of the first episodes of the series, Sofia and Amber throw a royal slumber party. Amber invites her princess friends and Sofia invites her buddies from the village.
At first, Amber is appalled at Sofia’s friends and their lack of class, station, and manners. Even Sofia gives them royal makeovers to make them more like the other princesses. But, of course, by the end of the episode, both Sofia and Amber realize that they are equals and special in their own ways.
Throughout the series, Sofia faces challenges and learns lessons that remind her that she may be a princess on the outside, but it is more important who she is on the inside. Despite living in a castle and attending a snooty school for prince and princesses, she always remembers her roots. She is not afraid of a little hard work to get the things she wants in life and helps snobby Amber recognize the importance of being as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside.
For further reading on how to be royal on the inside, check out one of my favorite children’s books ever, The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch.
4. Sofia Shows How to Cope with Jealousy
There are several episodes that address the feeling of jealousy. This a feeling that toddlers and young children often experience, but do not know how to articulate. Have you ever had your toddler meltdown at the sight of you talking with your significant other? Or have you watched your toddler’s tantrums increase with frequency after bringing home your new baby?
That tantrum is happening because your toddler is jealous, but it is hard for them to express this feeling. At this age, toddlers are very egocentric and believe the world revolves around them (which it mostly does). When they feel attention being pulled away, it is difficult for them to cope.
In one episode, Sofia’s pet rabbit, Clover, is jealous of all the time Sofia is spending with others and how busy she is with her princess tasks. This is exactly how your toddler feels when you have to feed your infant, cook dinner, or fold the laundry. In another episode, Amber is jealous of the attention her father is giving Sofia and casts a spell to make him allergic to her. Sibling rivalry is real, even in a Disney cartoon!
These episodes offer a perfect segue to talk to your toddler about how much you love them and that it never changes no matter how busy you are. You can also talk about ways your toddler can help you and schedule some special 1:1 time.
When I Feel Jealous by Cornelia Maude Spelman addresses all the times your child might feel jealous. This book is part of “The Way I Feel” series, which I absolutely love. It validates your child’s emotions and gives you a chance to discuss them and find ways to problem solve together.
5. Sofia Sings…A Lot
There is at least one musical number per episode. Your toddler will love every one. The tunes are jaunty and catchy. I find myself singing along as my daughter watches the show while I cook dinner. Add to the fact that many of your child’s favorite Disney Princesses come to visit for a sing-a-long and trust me, your little one will be hooked.
However, all this singing is not only a good time. It is also great for your child’s brain development, as well. This article lists 10 Ways Music Benefits Children. Now, of course, playing Chopin and attending a music class at Gymboree are also great ways to expose your child to music. But Sofia and the gang are just too cute! Plus, these catchy songs are a great way to teach rhyming words and higher level vocabulary.
My Favorite Sofia the First Products
1. Melissa & Doug Disney Sofia the First and Princess Amber Magnetic Dress-Up Wooden Doll Pretend Play Set
I bought this set for my daughter’s third birthday and it was an instant hit. Did you ever have paper dolls as a kid? I did and I loved them, but they were…well, paper. This set is made of sturdy wood and all of the pieces are magnetic. The people at Melissa and Doug are seriously geniuses. My daughter loves mixing and matching all of the outfits. I love that pieces stay put! Seriously, genius.
This one was also a birthday gift and my daughter has taken to wearing it every day because what is better than dressing up dolls? Dressing up yourself! The great part about of dressing up is that it allows your child to role play and explore their imagination.
Today, at Trader’s Joe’s, my daughter was wearing her dress and whenever anyone complimented her on her dress, she would curtsy then explain that she is a princess and can talk to animals. Besides being adorable, she was “talking” to her animal friends as we walked up and down the aisles and pointing out their favorite foods. Clover the Bunny loves blueberries, by the way.
In an upcoming post, I will explain how and why I allow my daughter to dress herself. If she wants to wear her dress up dress to the grocery store, I support it. This article provides all sorts of great reasons for dress up play including developing their social, emotional, and fine motor skills
*The above item was out-of-stock when I tried to order for my daughter’s birthday, so I bought the dress below. However, the one above transforms into a shorter tutu, perfect for dance class!
This set is perfect because it comes with six little figures which are the perfect size for tiny toddler fingers. Rather than give them to my daughter all at once, I am doling out each figure one at a time as a reward for desired behavior.
My daughter has earned almost all of the figures thus far and they are perfect for role play. Rather than sit her in front of the television to watch an episode of Sofia the First, I ask her to use the figures to act out an episode. Or after watching an episode, I ask her to retell the story events using the figures. These skills will help her later develop reading comprehension!
Another great aspect of these tiny figures is that they are perfect for on-the-go. I stick them in my purse when we are planning to dine out or sit in a waiting room at a doctor’s appointment. She gets to be creative and use her imagination in different ways each time she plays.
Elena of Avalor
When Sofia was first created, she was slated to be the first Latina princess. Apparently, her mom has some Spanish ancestry, but it is not completely clear. Many critics felt that Sofia was not “Hispanic” enough. There are many cultures and nationalities featured on the show, but not in a direct way. Disney finally decided to create a spinoff of Sofia the First, Elena of Avalor.
Elena was trapped in Sofia’s amulet for years and now that she is been released, she is trying to learn how to be a good ruler in her own kingdom. This is how my daughter and I first discovered Sofia. I love the music and feel of this show. Elena is definitely Latina and Latin culture is thoroughly represented through the language, traditions, and music of the show. I highly recommend checking it out!