Entertaining, informative, and kid-friendly podcasts for bedtime, road trips, and more. Best part? They’re screen-free. By Frannie Ucciferri
What if something out there had your kid begging you to turn off the TV or tablet, put away the video games, and listen to a story? It seems practically impossible in today’s media environment. Why would anyone (especially kids who’ve grown up with YouTube and Netflix) bother with screenless entertainment? But with podcasts, “no screens” becomes “no problem.” Podcasts made for — and even by — kids are popping up all over the place. Check out these 20 great podcasts for kids! Be sure to check out our previous article on 8 educational podcasts here.
As always, we encourage you to check out these podcasts prior to listening to them with your child to ensure they are a good fit.
Many adults are already familiar with podcasts, thanks to popular but mature hits such as Serial and Radiolab. But thankfully, podcasters are starting to realize that kids love what they’re doing as much as grown-ups. Teachers are even using them in the classroom. With exciting stories, fascinating facts, and lively sound effects to grab kids’ interest, all you need for an entertaining family-listening experience are some headphones or a set of speakers. Check out these 20 awesome podcasts for kids — including perfect bedtime stories, science exploration, cool news, and more. Plus, find out the best way to get them and use them. (We took our best guess for the target ages but include them as a guide since some of the content can be mature.)
How to Listen
It can be daunting for a first-timer to enter the world of podcasts, but digital tools have made it easier than ever to start listening. Podcasts are available to stream online or with a “podcatcher,” an app you can download specifically for podcasts. Here are some popular options for listening:
- Podcasts. The original podcast app (only available for Apple iOS). FREE!
- Stitcher Radio for Podcasts. “Stitch” together custom podcast playlists with this mobile app
- Pocket Casts. A mobile app with a sleek, easy-to-use interface
- SoundCloud. An online audio-streaming platform for podcasts as well as music (also an app)
- Podbay.fm. Streaming platform specifically for podcasts (app available for Android, but iOS coming soon)
- NPR One. Download content and stream via Bluetooth in your car. Many of the podcasts below are from NPR content
Once you have your favorite app or website, search its library by topic and start exploring everything from science to sports to movies and more. And don’t forget to subscribe! Subscribing lets the app push new episodes directly to your device as soon as they’re available, so you’ll always have the latest update at your fingertips.
Pros and Cons of Podcasts for Kids
On the plus side, podcasts:
- Boost learning. With engaging hosts and compelling stories, podcasts can be great tools to teach kids about science, history, ethics, and more. Listening to stories helps kids build vocabulary, improve reading skills, and even become more empathetic.
- Reduce screen time. With podcasts, families can enjoy the same level of engagement, entertainment, and education as screen-based activities without worrying about staring at a screen.
- Go anywhere. Podcasts are completely portable. You can listen in the car, on the bus, or in a classroom or even while doing chores around the house.
- Cost nothing. Podcasts don’t have subscription or download fees, so anyone with internet access can listen and download for free. Most podcatcher apps are free, too.
- Get two thumbs up from kids! Podcasts are designed to hook kids with music, jokes, compelling stories, and more. Some are designed in a serial format with cliffhangers at the end to get kids to tune back in.
On the downside, podcasts:
- Play lots of ads. Many podcasts run several minutes of ads at the beginning or end. Because they’re often read by the podcast host, the ads can feel like a hard sell.
- Can be confusing. Many podcasts update regularly, so you can jump right in and start listening. Others are styled like radio or TV shows, so the most recent episode is actually the end of a season. Check whether something is serialized or long-form before listening to the most recent update.
- Vary in age-appropriateness. The iTunes Store labels podcasts “Explicit” or “Clean,” but even a “Clean” label doesn’t guarantee kid-friendly content. When in doubt, listen first before sharing with your kids.
Luckily we’ve discovered some excellent kid-friendly podcasts that you and your family will love listening to. Here are 20 of our favorites:
For the Whole Family
Precocious 7-year-old Eva Karpman and her mom interview celebs, award winners, and experts in a range of fields each week, with a hope of encouraging young people to find their passion and follow their dreams. The relatable mother-daughter dynamic and the big-name guests make this a fun choice for kids and their parents to listen to together. Best for: Kids
Wow in the World
One of the newest podcasts to hit the scene, NPR’s first show for kids is exactly the sort of engaging, well-produced content you would expect from the leaders in radio and audio series. Hosts Guy Roz and Mindy Thomas exude joy and curiosity while discussing the latest news in science and technology in a way that’s enjoyable for kids and informative for grown-ups. Best for: Kids
Book Club for Kids
This excellent biweekly podcast features middle schoolers talking about a popular middle-grade or YA book as well as sharing their favorite book recommendations. Public radio figure Kitty Felde runs the discussion, and each episode includes a passage of that week’s book read by a celebrity guest. Best for: Tweens and teens
This American Life
This popular NPR radio show is now also the most downloaded podcast in the country. It combines personal stories, journalism, and even stand-up comedy for an enthralling hour of content. Host Ira Glass does a masterful job of drawing in listeners and weaving together several “acts” or segments on a big, relatable theme. Teens can get easily hooked along with their parents, but keep in mind that many episodes have mature concepts and frequent swearing. Best for: Teens
Best Bedtime Podcasts
Produced by the same people who do Story Time, this is a gentle podcast that encourages relaxation as well as mindfulness. Great for bedtime, but also any time of day when kids could use a calming activity, this podcast combines breathing exercises with whimsical visualizations for a truly peaceful experience. Best for: Preschoolers and little kids
These 10- to 15-minute stories are a perfect way to lull your little one to sleep. The podcast is updated every other week, and each episode contains a kid-friendly story, read by a soothing narrator. Short and sweet, it’s as comforting as listening to your favorite picture book read aloud. Best for: Preschoolers and little kids. PERFECT for getting bedtime stories in on the go!
What If World
With wacky episode titles such as “What if Legos were alive?” and “What if sharks had legs?,” this series takes ridiculous “what if” questions submitted by young listeners and turns them into a new story every two weeks. Host Eric O’Keefe uses silly voices and crazy characters to capture the imaginations of young listeners with a Mad Libs-like randomness. Best for: Kids
One of the first kids’ podcasts to grasp podcasts’ storytelling capabilities, this podcast is still going strong with kid-friendly renditions of classic stories, fairy tales, and original works. These longer stories with a vivid vocabulary are great for bigger kids past the age for picture books but who still love a good bedtime story. Best for: Big kids
Best Podcasts for Road Trips
The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian
This serialized podcast tells the story of an 8-year-old boy living on an interplanetary space station who explores the galaxy and solves mysteries with his friends. With no violence or edgy content and with two seasons totaling over 13 hours of content, this sci-fi adventure is perfect for long car rides. Best for: Kids and tweens
Inspired by old-timey radio shows — complete with over-the-top sound effects — this exciting serial podcast follows a plucky journalist who goes on adventures looking for her big scoop. Tweens will love Eleanor’s wit and daring and might even pick up some great messages along the way. There’s even a “Road Trip Edition” episode with the entire first season in a single audio file. Best for: Tweens
The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel
This Peabody Award-winning scripted mystery series has been called a Stranger Things for tweens. With a voice cast of actual middle schoolers, a gripping, suspenseful plot, and interactive tie-ins, this story about an 11-year-old searching for his missing friends will keep tweens hooked to the speakers for hours — more than five, to be exact. Best for: Tweens
Welcome to Night Vale
Structured like a community radio show for the fictional desert town of Night Vale, the mysterious is ordinary and vice versa in this delightfully eerie series. Both the clever concept and the smooth voice of narrator Cecil Baldwin have helped the show develop a cult-like following. It’s a bit creepy and dark for kids, but older listeners will find it perfect for a nighttime drive along a deserted highway. Best for: Teens
Best Podcasts for Science Lovers
But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids
Kids are always asking seemingly simple questions that have surprisingly complex answers, such as “Why is the sky blue?” and “Who invented words?” This cute biweekly radio show/podcast takes on answering them. Each episode features several kid-submitted questions, usually on a single theme, and with the help of experts, it gives clear, interesting answers. Best for: Kids
Similar to But Why, this is another radio show/podcast that takes kid-submitted science questions and answers them with the help of experts. What makes this one different is it tends to skew a bit older, both in its questions and answers, and it has a different kid co-host each week. The result is a fun show that’s as silly as it is educational. Best for: Kids and tweens
Often compared to a kid-friendly Radiolab, this podcast not only addresses fascinating topics but also tries to foster a love of science itself by interviewing scientists about their process and discoveries. The hosts don’t assume that listeners have a science background — but even kids who think they don’t like science may change their minds after listening to this podcast. Best for: Kids and tweens
Stuff You Should Know
From the people behind the award-winning website HowStuffWorks, this frequently updated podcast explains the ins and outs of everyday things from the major (“How Free Speech Works”) to the mundane (“How Itching Works”). Longer episodes and occasional adult topics such as alcohol, war, and politics make this a better choice for older listeners, but hosts Josh and Chuck keep things engaging and manage to make even complex topics relatable. And with nearly 1,000 episodes in its archive, you might never run out of new things to learn. Best for: Teens
Best Podcasts for Music Fans
The catchy soundtrack is the star in this delightful podcast from children’s music duo Andrew & Polly (not surprising since the hosts have created songs for Wallykazam! and Sesame Studios). But this funny program also covers a range of topics by talking to actual kids as well as experts, providing thoughtful fun for young ones and their grown-ups. Best for: Preschoolers and little kids
The Past & the Curious
Reminiscent of the TV show Drunk History (minus the alcohol), this amusing podcast features people telling interesting, little-known stories from history with an emphasis on fun and humor. Although it’s not specifically a music podcast, each episode contains an often-silly song that’s sure to get stuck in your head. There’s even a quiz segment, so kids will learn something, too. Best for: Kids
Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child
Families can enjoy rock and roll without the downsides with this fun radio show/podcast. Each week there’s a new playlist combining kids’ music from artists such as They Might Be Giants, with kid-appropriate songs from artists that grown-ups will recognize, such as Elvis Costello, The Ramones, and John Legend. It’s a perfect compromise for parents tired of cheesy kids’ music. Best for: Kids
All Songs Considered
This weekly podcast from NPR covers the latest and greatest in new music with a particular focus on emerging artists and indie musicians. It covers a wide range of genres and even includes artist interviews and live performances. Some songs contain adult themes and explicit language, but teens will love discovering a new favorite that you’ve probably never heard of. Best for: Teens
About the author
As catalog data coordinator, Frannie Ucciferri
assists Common Sense Media’s reviewers and editors in making sure each of more than 29,000 reviews
is as complete and comprehensive as possible. Frannie is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where she earned a degree in cognitive science and taught a class on her favorite TV show ever, Arrested Development
. Her passion for reading and writing is paralleled only by her love of Bay Area sports, especially baseball. When she isn’t playing with her dogs or trying out San Francisco restaurants, you can probably find her watching Pixar movies
, Parks and Rec
, or one of her favorite girl power movies
and TV shows
Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsensemedia.org
What we love…
easy to use portable stand for your iPhone, iPad or other device
What we’d love to see…
better way to carry it around – I currently put it back in the box each time I use it although it can be flattened.
Overall, this is a great flexible stand which is perfect for anyone with tech in your life. It’s held up very well during my testing and multiple uses.
The Stanley Stand by Distil Union is a leather device that bends to hold your device and accessories while cooking, serving as a portable charging station, holding your tablet and more. Stanley Stand is made of leather, merino wool felt and heavy steel. The Stanley Stand is covered on the outside by leather in your choice of color (black, brown, gray, lime, aqua, red) and on the inside is Merino wool felt. They cover up a piece of steel inside which bends to make the Stanley stand usable in so many situations. Each stand has light grey Merino wool felt which has white stitching, and the darker stand (black) has darker grey felt with black stitching. The stand features a small hole in the back designed to feed your cables through so they are not in the way of your device.
You can use it as a non-traditional dock on your desk at work, on your kitchen counter to hold your device while cooking, to act as a small typing stand or simply to get your device up from a flat spot. It will hold phones and tablets up to 8″ tall and held my iPad Mini in a Griffin Survivor case quite comfortably. You can bend the stand to your viewing angle (so you can watch movies while it is on a table or use it for cooking) or a low angle so you can use it as a typing stand. Inside the box is the Stanley Stand in your choice of color and a USB extension cable which is six feet, this plugs into your lightening charger for your iOS device and works with any USB cable you already use to charge your device by giving it a bit more length.
When I got my Stanley Stand I started coming up with great ideas of using it. The Stanley Stand is small enough to toss in my backpack and bring with me when I’m out with my kids, so I can stream a Netflix movie while they are having an appointment or while I wait in the car for the time of the appointment. I also brought it along as a portable charger – I like many have my iPhone go dead sometimes. This can be frustrating – especially when you find a plug but it’s a little bit too far away or perhaps you don’t want to be limited by the length of your standard issue Apple cable. Thankfully using the USB extension you can now comfortably sit in a char while having your device plugged in! I also liked the Stanley Stand when cooking – I have lots of recipes on my device but I hate touching my iPhone with dirty hands to check the ingredients. Now, I simply prop it on the Stanley Stand, turn off sleep mode and get cooking! My husband also recently brought the Stanley Stand to a conference he attended where he had all of the slides on his iPad – instead of having to hold his device while listening to the lecture he simply propped it up and could easily follow along. One of my favorite things was that I could adjust the Stanley Stand to almost any direction to make it suit my needs – it was nice that it was not molded plastic and static.
In terms of enhancements – right now I put the Stanley Stand back into the box each time I take it somewhere with me – and the box is getting a bit tattered. I haven’t figured out a better solution – it’s pretty small and fits in tight spaces but I don’t want to mistakenly stretch it out. It does fold flat – and I have done that a few times to slide it into a tight space in my bag – but I’m not sure if that is a good idea long term.
Overall, this is a great flexible stand which is perfect for anyone with tech in your life. It’s perfect for kids who may be using a tablet to do reading and need to prop it up, adults who need a desktop charging stand or anything in between. It’s held up very well during my testing and multiple uses. In fact, if anything the leather has gotten a nice patina to it. At a cost of $49.99 USD I feel the Stanley Stand is worth it and is a great gift for someone on your list who may be hard to buy for! You can buy it direct from Distil Union for $49.99, Amazon and other retailers.
- Compatibility: Phones and tablets up to 8″ tall
- Bend to your viewing angle, or low angle for ergonomic typing
- Premium materials, skilled craftsmanship, and 1-year warranty
- Materials: Leather, Merino wool felt, and heavy steel
- Included: USB extension cable (6ft) – Note: Cable is NOT an iPhone cable. Instead, it works with any USB cable you already use to charge your device.
NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.The links in this post may contain affiliate links where The iMums will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link, this helps to support the costs of running this site and we appreciate your support.
Helping our children be 21st century learners is no easy task as a parent. I know for me, so much has changed since I was in school. My older son has a #STEAM themed curriculum at school where they try to infuse as much as they can into everyday learning. This can be anything from using manipulative to school to using Ozobots or Lego’s to allow them to code and create without realizing they are learning! I like this because I hope it will help my son to become more flexible and collaborative as he gets older since the key learning skills are currently being built at an early age. I also like to try to carry over these skills at home!
Beyond the classroom
In some classrooms before the advent of #STEAM students would watch a video or passively hear a lesson taught. As time has evolved, instead of just hearing the lesson the students are learning multiple ways to tackle the problem and solve it. This can lead to some challenges for kids at times, who may become overwhelmed with all of the ways to solve the problem without truly understanding the core concept or skill. Children with special needs also may struggle with the new concepts of #STEAM learning because being presented so many different ways to solve a problem can at the very least be overwhelming. One of the great things about STEAM learning is that the classes provide hands on engagement to solve real world problems – instead of just having to do a math page or read a chapter from a history book. One of the other great benefits is that children work together collaboratively to solve a problem or challenge rather than struggling to complete it on their own. This encourages team work, collaboration and reasoning which are all great skills to apply later in life.
Snapology is a company that wants to help children with STEAM and problem solving skills using their creative thinking and imagination. As part of their program offerings, they offer camps, field trips, birthday parties for kids three and over, scout adventures and more. Topics range from game design, building, coding, animation and more. Perhaps my son will learn how to code an iOS app to help me in the future!
Building and creating
As a parent, I am always thinking of ways that I can help to enrich my children outside of school. We regularly try to help our kids get hands on learning beyond the textbook or classroom. That means, I’m working on helping him learn more about STEAM via the use of our iPad, doing some simple programming and helping him experiment to solve problems We also pull out our Lego’s and create and build as well. We have even experimented a little bit with Scratch programming which is a visual programming language designed to give kids their first experience with coding. :Looking for more great tech enabled STEAM ideas? Check out our STEAM and STEM gift guide which has some great suggestions!
This giveaway is a partnership with Nakturnal. Thank you so much for supplying a Lego set for our readers!
Want a chance to win a LEGO® brick set of the Snapology Mascot Sebastian Gator? You can enter via a comment on this post. The comment must say where you are from and why you want to win the prize. Winners will be emailed and must contact The iMums within 48 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway is to those that live in the United States and have a valid United States mailing address. A valid legal name and address are required to claim the prize. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!
From outdoor adventures to summer enrichment to computer coding, online camps keep kids busy, learning, and having fun.
Virtual summer camps — where kids head to the computer instead of the pool or park — are a thing now. But don’t worry: These aren’t the solitary, sedentary, screen-centered experiences you fear. Plenty of virtual summer camps offer kids the chance to make projects, investigate ideas, and explore the world. And many are free.
Going to camp online is a great way to keep your kids occupied during a “staycation” or between their other activities. It can also give kids something unique: individual attention. You, a babysitter, a grandparent, or even an older sibling act as virtual camp counselors, leading — and even learning alongside — your kids. With many of the virtual camps below, you can mix and match activities to tailor the experience to your kids’ interests. Expect to be more involved if you go for the free, choose-your-own-adventure camps. But fee-based camps call for some adult participation, too. Check out these offerings:
Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Summer Camps
Start with a Book. Free; age 6 and up.
In addition to a summer science camp, this site offers a long list of themes, such as Art, Night Sky, and Weather Report, for kids to explore. For each theme, you get book suggestions (for all reading levels), discussion guides, hands-on activities, and related sites and apps. You’ll need to shell out for books if you can’t find them at the library.
PBS Parents. Free; age 3–9.
With an emphasis on summer reading, the PBS Parents’ site offers a variety of practical, step-by-step plans to incorporate books into the dog days of summer. In addition to the downloadable Summer Reading Chart and the “Book-Nik” guide to a book-themed picnic, you can use the Super Summer Checklist PDF to plan hands-on experiences.
DIY. Free and fee-based; age 7 and up.
This site offers dozens of skill-based activities (which it calls “challenges”) in a variety of categories, including Art, Business, and Engineering, that kids can do year-round. Every summer, DIY runs camps and shorter courses. Some of the camps have online counselors who interact with your kid. Sign up to get notified of the latest offerings.
Make: Online. Free, but materials cost extra; age 12 and up.
The folks behind the maker movement offer weekly camps based on themes such as Far Out Future and Flight. You get a PDF with daily activities that support the theme, such as making slime and designing and flying kites.
Made with Code from Google. Free; age 12 and up.
A wide range of projects, including making emojis, animating GIFs, and composing music, is designed to ignite a passion for coding in teen girls. (There’s no stopping boys from doing these projects, though.) The site offers inspiration stories from female tech mentors as well as ideas to make coding social, such as a coding party kit.
JAM: Online Courses for Kids. Free for first 30 days; $25 per month (per kid) with discounts for yearly enrollment; age 8–16.
What can’t kids learn at this online school? There’s drawing, cooking, animation, music, and much more. Each course has a professional mentor and is broken down into easily manageable “quests” that kids can complete at their own pace.
Khan Academy. Free; age 6 and up.
While Khan Academy doesn’t offer specific camps, it provides meaningful, step-by-step exploration in a variety of topics, including math, science, and arts and humanities. Kids can sign up with a coach (a teacher, parent, or tutor) who can monitor their progress and suggest lessons. Kids also can earn badges by learning and teaching. The custom dashboard has a progress map that fills up as kids work their way through the skills.
Brain Chase. $79, extra for electives; age 7–14.
Created by two parents who were looking for a way to help their kids continue learning during summer, Brain Chase takes a creative approach to enrichment. It starts on June 19, 2017, and runs for six weeks; kids work on math, reading, and typing all while competing in a real-life treasure hunt for the chance to win a $10,000 scholarship.
Camp Wonderopolis. Free for campers; optional $25 instruction guide for parents; age 7 and up.
Sponsored by the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL), this online camp lets kids explore topics such as weather, food, and technology. Each topic includes lessons, outdoor activities, videos, and additional reading suggestions for all ages. The 2017 theme is Build Your Own Wonderocity, where families explore the wonders of construction and engineering in 42 lessons.
Connected Camps. $69-$99; age 8-15. For tech-curious kids, check out Connected Camps, which offers week-long, instructor-led, Minecraft-based camps including coding, game design, and engineering. There are also courses in Minecraft and the Scratch programming language just for girls.
TechRocket. Free for a course sampling; memberships: $19/year, $29/month; age 10 and up.
Launched by iDTechCamp (the popular — and pricey — computer day and overnight camps), TechRocket offers online instruction in coding, game design, and graphic design. Each camp offers a variety of levels and challenges as well as a dedicated instructor.
About the Author: Caroline Knorr
As Common Sense Media’s parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids’ media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you’re wondering “what’s the right age for…?” Caroline can help you make the decision that works best for your family. She has more than 20 years of editorial and creative marketing writing experience and has held senior-level positions at Walmart.com, Walmart stores, Cnet, and Bay Area Parent magazine. She specializes in translating complex information into bite-sized chunks to help families make informed choices about what their kids watch, play, read, and do. And she’s the proud mom of a teenage son whose media passions include Star Wars, StarCraft,graphic novels, and the radio program This American Life.
Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsensemedia.org.