Article: 20 Great Podcasts for kids that encourage learning, relaxation, science and more!

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

Dream Big logoDream Big
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 logoWow 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 KidsBook 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 logoThis 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

Peace Out logoPeace Out
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

 

Story Time logoStory Time 
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 logoWhat 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

 

Stories Podcast logoStories Podcast
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 CaspianThe 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

 

Eleanor AmplifiedEleanor Amplified
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 logoThe 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 logoWelcome 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 logoBut 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

 

Brains On logoBrains On
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

 

Tumble logoTumble
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 logoStuff 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

Ear Snacks logoEar Snacks
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 logoThe 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 logoSpare 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 CostelloThe Ramones, and John Legend. It’s a perfect compromise for parents tired of cheesy kids’ music. Best for: Kids

 

All Songs Considered logoAll 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 moviesParks and Rec, or one of her favorite girl power movies and TV shows.
commonsense2Common 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.

Review of GoNoodle and #Giveaway for a New #Apple TV (4th Generation)

GoNoodle for Apple TV

What we love…

Great variety of channels to suit different ages and tastes, gets kids active, stress reduction tools, fun for all the family

What we’d love to see…

A way to bookmark favorite videos and create your own compilations

Summary

GoNoodle a great free resource with a great selection of fun active videos to get kids up, moving, exercising and dancing, perfectly suited to the Apple TV. Highly recommended.

Our Rating

 

Over the last year or so my kids added a new verb to their vocabulary – on the way home from school they could often be heard telling each other I “GoNoodled today”. This was usually responded too with an enthusiastic “me too” or occasionally a “No fair, I didn’t .” I couldn’t really get a good explanation from them as to what “GoNoodling” was, just that it was fun. So I was left scratching my head wondering was this some kind of dance? Yoga move ? Strange exercise involving spaghetti? Now I’m wondering no more as I’ve recently had the pleasure of GoNoodling with them at home !

GoNoodle started with the aim of getting kids more active at school. Teachers could subscribe to Go Noodle and access fun videos to get kids active. For schools it is available as a free subscription and a premium version is also available with extra content that incorporates common core standard academics as well as the exercises. My local school district has installed Smartboards in all the elementary school classrooms and my kids’ teachers have been using GoNoodle on the Smartboards. My kids love using GoNoodle in the classroom and when I asked my daughter’s teacher what was good about GoNoodle from a teacher’s perspective her reply was “everything!”

After it was launched for schools many kids started asking for GoNoodle at home and GoNoodle started to let families sign up for a free account on their website and watch at home on their computer, or via a web browser on their iPad or tablet. With the launch of the new Apple TV came the ability for developers to release apps for Apple TV, and GoNoodle has just launched an Apple TV app (N.B. Apple TV apps only work on the 4th Generation Apple TV not on older models.) Go Noodle is a free app with no adverts or in-app purchases.

After hearing about GoNoodle from my kids and their teachers I was happy to get the chance to check it out for myself on our new Apple TV. My initial assumption was that GoNoodle would be all active videos to get kids up and dancing, but I soon discovered it has a lot more to offer. It has dance and exercise videos set to music, for when you want to get kids active, but it also has calming activities too, including yoga and mindfulness exercises.

When you open the app there are 2 choices: mixes and channels. The mixes are great if I’m not sure what to watch but I want a particular effect such as getting the kids active, de-stressing or getting them calmed down before bed. They are 15 minute collections of videos around a theme e.g Kick Start Your Day, Zumba Dance Party, Stress Busters or Mega Workout, they are also a great way to discover new channels.

There are currently 13 different channels to choose from that will appeal to different kids, and have different themes. My 8 year-old son’s favorite channel is Moose Tube. On Moose Tube kids dance and sing along to a variety of chants and active songs such as Professor Ding-a-Dong (a variation of “Father Abrahams) and watch out for the big red dancing moose! My daughter prefers dancing to pop songs on the Kidz Bop channel. Although Go Noodle is designed primarily for kids from 3-12 there are some channels that older kids, and adults will enjoy. Fresh Start Fitness is a great way to get an active work out and “grown up” enough that my Middle Schooler and I can enjoy working out together with it.

The active channels are great for getting the kids exercising or getting out excess energy on a rainy day but there are also channels that are great for quieter watching. One of my favorites is the Flow channel which I like to watch with my kids when I feel they are stressed. It has a series of calming, meditative videos to help focus and relieve stress and tension. My kids also enjoy watching the “brainercise with Mr Catman” videos, it is really challenging trying to do different actions with both hands or feet at the same time but a great way to work on your co-ordination skills.

One nice additional feature is when the kids are Go Noodling via the Apple TV they will get a 30 min warning to let them know they’ve been playing for 30 minutes and might want to take a break, I wish all apps had this!!

Overall, I have found GoNoodle a great resource – it has a great selection of fun active videos to get kids up, moving, exercising and dancing – getting fit and active and having fun at the same time. It has a great selection of different channels to suit different ages and tastes and I love that new videos are being added all the time. As well as the exercise videos it also has some great tools for improving co-ordination, relieving stress, and calming down after a busy day. I love that it is a totally free kid safe app- no adverts or in-app purchases and think it is a perfect fit for the AppleTV as its much easier to join in and dance or exercise along with a video on the big screen of your TV rather than on a computer or tablet screen. Highly recommended!

For more information visit

GoNoodle Website

GoNoodle Facebook Page

@GoNoodle on Twitter

GoNoodle logo

NOTE: An Apple TV 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.

 

Giveaway

apple-tv-hero-select-201510

Thanks to GoNoodle we have a new Apple TV to giveaway to one lucky winner !! If you would like to win  New Apple TV 32GB (4th generation) with Siri Remote, please enter via the widget below. Winners will be emailed and must contact The iMums within 48 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to US only and a valid mailing address is required to claim the prize. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

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