What is it about tractors? They fascinate kids, from those oversize wheels to the open-air perch of the driver. Plowing, baling or mud racing, tractors are mesmerizing. Track those tractors via video, if you're not lucky enough to live on a farm.
The Deal With the Appeal
The contrast of a peaceful field, far from the hustle and stress of urban life, and the heavy-duty hard labor of working a farm is captured in the unmistakable image of the tractor. It's both complex machine and magic carpet back to a simpler time. Kids get this. They fantasize about riding high on the seat, steering the big clumsy vehicle with dexterity and grace, changing the very surface of the earth. Seriously cool. Hunt for a video that hits the right age-range and Junior the Farmer will be transfixed. Toddlers are some of the most rabid tractor fans out there, so don't leave any of the kids out.
Fun Tractor Vids -- Toddlers and Up
These are often personified, cartoon tractors that have adventures and chat nonstop. Careful, you might get hooked on them, too.
The Little Red Tractor is a claymation series of adventures, each around 10 minutes in length with lots of music, a superhero small tractor and a cast of G-rated characters.
Little Grey Fergie is a live-action video with anthropomorphized personable tractors saving the day -- in about 6 minutes per episode. (The inspiration for the series is a historic Irish tractor and its inventor Harry Ferguson.)
All About John Deere for Kids kicks off a series with those megastars of the barnyard -- tractors. Designed to spellbind your tractor-mad toddler, it might also captivate you. The part 1 and 2 DVDs sell for $9.99 each on Amazon. Shipping for Prime members is free.
Educational Tractor Vids for Avid Preschoolers
Avoid guilt and park your preschooler in front of some tractor videos that teach her about farms and machines. Let her learn about agriculture and expand her vocabulary -- or just veg out as the tractors do all the work.
Tractors for Children, More Tractors Working On The Farm features 5 minutes of lively banjo accompanying lots of great tractor shots in a farm country parade and working in the fields. Some of these are antiques -- and there are even a few kid-size tractors.
A slow-moving video of real tractors in real fields, set to nursery rhyme music, actually presents some very clear lessons for all the ways tractors make farming efficient. Little Known Facts About Tractors, by John Deere, is 7 minutes of plowing, cutting, raking, baling, stacking and hauling with tractors and their attached tools.
Show and Tell: A Children's Guide to Modern Tractors. This is an educational video with appeal for all ages. Little ones can watch all those dreamy tractors, and school-age kids can check their knowledge with quizzes. Available from Outback Toys $29.95 (60 minutes) Shipping is determined by weight and express, overnight and international shipping is available.
Big Kid Tractor Vids
There's no limit to an obsession. School age and older kids will sit transfixed in front of dreamy tractors doing expected and unexpected things, from demolition derby-style races -- machines against the mud -- to feats of strength and endurance, also known as tractor pulling.
The Russians do love their tractors. Russian Tractor Races (5:57) is mud racing with some spectacular fails. Annual tractor shows in Russia draw tens of thousands of fans as drivers navigate mud baths, jumps, and other obstacles while trying to beat competitors in time trials with the handicap of those messy conditions.
Tractor pulling is a sport that originated in the U.S. but is now worldwide. At a tractor pull, drivers compete to pull a weighted sledge down a measured dirt track. The tractor that gets the farthest wins -- but it's not so simple. The resistance of the sledge grows as the pulling tractor moves, ultimately grinding the tractor to a halt. Some competition tractors are souped-up farm vehicles, some are antiques, and some are competition models, but they all eventually get stuck in the dirt.
Classic farm tractors are slow but steady skill pulls like this one (13:21) in Puget Sound, Washington.
Super modified tractors make for heavy-duty and heart-stopping pulls. (5:15)
Tractor Multiplication is a 99-cent video app that works on iPhones and iPads for up to eight players at a time. The animated game pits tractor teams against each other with rapid-fire multiplication problems -- very simple ones to start. Best for kids who are studying multiplication in school or ages 9 to 11.
Half-Century of Progress VII is a full-length (4-hour!) documentary jam-packed with information about the development of tractors and farm machines. The high-quality video, featuring historic and current footage and a voice-over, is $25 plus $5 shipping from High Yield Productions.
Park It in the Barn
Yours might be the kid who develops a lifelong love for tractors, joins National FFA Organization (Future Farmers of America) and begs for a miniature ride-on tractor when other kids just want a new bike. But even if tractors are just a passing mania, the videos are fun, instructive and a goofy, big-wheel, good time opportunity to talk about farming, food sources, and life in harmony with the earth. Tractor videos show what happens when those barn doors swing open, and farmers unleash their superpowers, most of the time at about five to seven miles per hour.