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Recommended Educational TV Shows for Kids

Looking for educational TV shows for your kids to watch on Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime or YouTube?

Below is a list of  some worthwhile educational shows for kids that I would recommend for parents looking to avoid all the terrible, worthless, and even damaging fluff that is on children’s TV these days.

Netflix Shows for Kids / Educational Shows on Amazon Prime and Hulu

In the first part of this post, I will do my best to let you know which educational shows you can see  on Netflix Streaming, Netflix DVD,  HuluPlus,YouTube, Amazon Prime, or Amazon DVD. Keep in mind that Amazon, Hulu and Netflix often stop carrying shows without much notice, so apologies if a link is broken or a show is no longer available.

In the second part, I tell you what you can find that’s worthwhile for children to watch for free on YouTube–mostly PBS shows that make the most sense for older kids. Certainly, there are a wide variety of YouTube kids’ shows, I am only naming the ones I am familiar with.

[By the way,  if you have gifted and talented kids, see my article about birthday presents and Christmas gift ideas for smart kids!]

These educational and kid’s science TV shows have various themes, so there should be something to catch any child’s attention. I feel I must add the caveat that too much TV is too much TV, no matter what the value of the material.

I am dividing the educational kids shows up by age group, but really I think all of them are appropriate for a younger kid who is willing to watch them–in other words, my experience has been that the ideal age for these shows really depends on the children who are watching them, so a show may be meant for four year olds or seven year olds, but that doesn’t mean a ten year old or a two year old can’t enjoy it. I note one or two exceptions to this, where the language or topics might not be appropriate for younger kids (for example “The White Rabbit Project” on Netflix isn’t really appropriate for young kids due to language and violence.)

The educational and show quality rating scale is my own.  Again, alot depends on the child, where her/his interests lie, and what their capabilities are. I rate each show on a scale of 1-5 for educational value and overall quality.  (I don’t bother to list anything that’s below a 3.5):

Netflix, HuluPlus and Amazon Prime TV learning shows for younger toddlers:

  1. Little Einsteins (Amazon Prime/Netflix DVD) –  Introduces children to art, musical instruments and composition. Highly recommended for all kids, but kids who want to play an instrument will particularly enjoy this classic show from Disney Channel. (Animation) [Educational/Quality Rating: 4.5]
  2. Super Why (Netflix/Amazon Prime) – Spelling and literacy for toddlers  (Animation) [Educational/Quality Rating: 4.5]
  3. Wonder Pets (Netflix/Amazon Prime– Teaches about animals and geography. Several years later my girls are still quoting this show! (Animation)  [Educational/Quality Rating: 4.5]
  4. Sesame Street (Online, Amazon Prime / Hulu) – Alot of segments are available online on the SeseameStreet.org website.  This is a great show for young kids.  [Educational/Quality Rating: 3.5]
  5. Leapfrog – (Netflix DVD/Netflix /Amazon Instant Video) Leapfrog has several educational shows that include math, reading and getting ready for preschool.  For example Math Adventure To The Moon teaches basic counting skills. Note that some of the one’s that are on DVD aren’t available on demand. (Animation)  [Educational/Quality Rating: 4.5]
  6. Peep and the Big Wide World (Netflix/Amazon Prime) – Basic science lessons for younger kids.  (Animation)  [Educational/Quality Rating: 4]
  7. Zoo Clues   (Netflix) – Facts and information about animals for younger kids [Educational Quality Rating 3.5]
  8. Charlie and the Numbers (Hulu) – Charlie learns numbers while he goes on adventures. [Educational Quality Rating 3.5]
  9. Peg + Cat (Amazon Prime) – Great show for learning numbers. [Educational Quality Rating 3.5]

Birthday coming up for your advanced child? See my list of fun, educational gift ideas.


 

Netflix, HuluPlus and Amazon Prime Educational TV Shows for older toddlers and five  year olds:

  1. Martha Speaks (Netflix/Amazon Prime)  –  Martha Speaks builds toddlers’ vocabulary.  About a dog who swallowed alphabet soup and started talking (Animation)  [Educational/Quality Rating: 3.5]
  2. Word Girl (Netflix/Amazon Prime) – Builds vocabulary for young kids (Animation) [Educational/Quality Rating: 3.5]
  3. WordWorld (Amazon Prime/Netflix/Netflix DVD/Hulu) – PBS show that helps kids learn to read.  Very good and highly recommended to help kids understand how reading works. (Animation) [Educational/Quality Rating: 5]
  4. Dinosaur Train (Netflix/Amazon Prime/Hulu) – Educational, teaches scientific method and quite a bit about dinosaurs (Animation). The show is fun and well done. [Educational/Quality Rating: 4.5]
  5. Sid the Science Kid – (Netflix DVD/Amazon Prime) Great science show for younger kids. There’s a Sid the Science Kid movie too! (Animation) [Educational/Quality Rating: 4.5]
  6. The Electric Company – (Netflix/Amazon Prime) A redo of the 1970s classic show. [Educational/Quality Rating: 3.5]
  7. Zaboomafoo (Netflix/Amazon Prime)- Teaches kids about animals and science in general.  Nicely done. [Educational/Quality Rating: 3.5]
  8. Zeek’s Animal World (Amazon Prime) – Fun show filled with animal facts. [Educational/Quality Rating: 4]
  9. Guess With Jess (Netflix/Hulu) –  This show would be pretty good for younger kids, but for one problem–since the show is British, the accent makes it hard for some kids to understand.  Give it a try.  Jess is a cat who tries to help answer science questions.  (Animation) [Educational/Quality Rating: 3.5]
  10. Little Pim Language Series (Hulu) – Your kids can learn Spanish, Korean, Italian, German, and even Chinese.
  11. Curious George (Netflix/Amazon Prime) –  This show is relatively well done. It isn’t entirely educational but always has some informational content and kids definitely enjoy it. The “monkey chatter” gets kind of annoying after a while for parents though. (Animation) [Educational/Quality Rating: 3.5]
  12. Look Around You (Hulu) – Explore nature with this animated series. [Educational/Quality Rating 3.5]
  13. Postcards From Buster (Amazon Prime)- This is a pretty good show for kid’s to learn about the world via Buster from the show Arthur.  Some episodes are on YouTube. [Educational/Quality Rating: 3.5]

Birthday coming up for your advanced child? See my list of educational birthday gift ideas.

Netflix, HuluPlus and Amazon Prime TV Shows for six, seven, eight, and nine year olds:

  1. Jeff Corwin Experience (Netflix / Amazon Prime) – Jeff finds fascinating creatures and habitats to teach about.  Good for all ages. [Educational/Quality Rating: 4.5]
  2. Magic School Bus  (Netflix /Amazon Video) – Great science show from the 1990s.  Some of it is a little dated, but still very good.  Recently added to Netflix streaming. BTW, Netflix is working on creating new episodes! (Animation) [Educational/Quality Rating: 4.5]
  3. Popular Mechanics For Kids (Netflix DVD/Amazon Prime/Hulu) – Very good science show that covers a wide variety of science topics in news magazine format.  My four year old finds it entertaining and does learn from it. As far as educational tv shows, this is one of the best — especially in the realm of science. [Educational/Quality Rating: 4.5]
  4. Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego – (Netflix DVD/Amazon DVD) Not my favorite show in this list, but it does offer some social studies education and is an okay show in general–kind of a classic show. (Animation) [Educational/Quality Rating: 3]
  5. Wild Kratts (Amazon Prime/Hulu) – PBS Kids show:  Science, animals, Kratt brothers…what could be more fun? (Animation) [Educational/Quality Rating: 3.5]
  6. Beakman’s World (Netflix) – This show is full of scientific experiments and  facts, but even my kids don’t like this show because it is full of weird fluff and strange characters that make it difficult to watch.  You be the judge. [Educational/Quality Rating: 3
  7. Kids in the Garden (Hulu) – Inspires kids to get their hands dirty gardening and more. [Educational/Quality Rating 4]
  8. Bill Nye The Science Guy (Netflix/Amazon DVD) – Excellent, although somewhat older information about science presented in a fun, entertaining way.  My five and seven year-old love this show. Also on YouTube.[Educational/Quality Rating: 5]
  9. Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab (Netflix) – This is a great animated science cartoon. My kid’s definitely like it! (Animation) [Educational/Quality Rating: 4.5]
  10. Myth Busters (Amazon DVD/Amazon Instant Video)- This is a fun, interesting show. It is entertaining and includes all aspects of science, engineering and math.  [Educational/Quality Rating: 4.5]
  11. Modern Marvels (Netflix) [Educational/Quality Rating: 4.5] This is a fantastic show that teaches about how innovations are made and outlines the stories of various amazing feats of engineering.
  12. How the States Got Their Shapes (Amazon Instant Video) This is a great lesson in American history presented in an entertaining way. Better for older kids, but my 8 year old really liked it.[Educational/Quality Rating: 4.5]
  13. Liberty Kids (Amazon Instant Video) – Great show for kids about the American Revolutionary War.  [Educational/Quality Rating: 4.5]
  14. Biz Kid$   (Amazon Instant Video) – This is a great show from the makers of Bill Nye the science guy–I wish all kids would watch this show. It teaches about entrepreneurship. [Educational/Quality Rating 4.5]
  15. Adina’s Deck (Amazon Instant Video) – This is aimed more towards middle schoolers, and is a great conversation starter about cyber-bullying, plagerism and more. Unfortunately there are only a few episodes. It’s less that it’s educational and more that it’s just important for kids to see this!
  16. Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman (Amazon Instant Video) – Great, fun tv series with science challenges…a little more fluff than I’d like to see, but my kids enjoy it for the entertainment value… and there are some very important learning aspects to the show. [Educational/Quality Rating 4.0]
  17. Awesome Adventures  (Amazon Instant Video) – The show visits cities around the world and acquaints kids with local culture.
  18. Discover Science (Amazon Prime) – Loads of interesting science experiments. “Spectacular experiments to sharpen your sense of science”

Annedroids (Amazon Prime) – This show is mildly educational, but I do like it for it’s “niceness.”

Science Court (YouTube) This is an animated series that goes over science concepts. Pretty good quality, the Squigglevision animation is a bit annoying. [Educational Quality Rating 5]

White Rabbit Project (Netflix) – This show is probably best for kids older than 12. The opening scene of the series involves guns and there is definitely some questionable language throughout the series. It’s a Netflix original with some of the cast from Myth Busters. They do experiments and test the boundaries of technology to prove, compare, and discuss the “top 6” of all sorts of things–from scams and robberies to g-force. Overall a fun and definitely a very informative show. [Educational Quality Rating: 4.5]

Educational Videos on YouTube for older kids (8 years old+)

SciGirls is a great educational television show for girls or boys on YouTube

Finding worrthwhile shows for older elementary and middle school kids on Netflix isn’t easy. Luckily,  YouTube has lots of full episodes of shows that you can’t get on the other streaming services–for instance for older kids if you Google Bill Nye The Science Guy full episodes or SciGirls Full Episodes, you’ll find quite a few very worthwhile shows.  You tube also has some other fun things like “Its Okay To Be Smart“.  We watch YouTube shows while driving on our smartphone and on our television via our Roku box.
Show suggestions on YouTube:

  1.  Design Squad (More episodes on Amazon Prime)  – This is a great show to learn engineering and math from PBS. It is definitely a very worthwhile show for “makers” as the mindset of the show is to work out the best ways to build things including kayaks, peanut butter machines, and musical instruments. This is a mainly meant for older kids, but younger ones can still benefit from watching it. Season 1 is included with Amazon Prime (Recommended, but look for a sale!). Season 2 is available one episode at a time or by subscribing to the show. There are more than a few episodes on YouTube. [Educational/Quality Rating: 5]
  2. SciGirls (Amazon Prime) – Great science shows for girls (and boys).  Covers a wide range of science topics and presented in an interesting/straightforward way. My two girls really love this show, and it is full of educational material that gives them a leg-up in school. There have been many instances where my kids have background knowledge of a science topic at school because of watching this show. I highly recommend it. [Educational/Quality Rating: 5]
  3. DragonFly TV – There aren’t any full episodes on YouTube that I could find at the moment, but lots of interesting short segments from the show.  If you can find more of it, definitely worth watching. [Educational/Quality Rating: 4.5]
  4. It’s Okay To Be Smart (YouTube) – Lots of great science and general knowledge facts in this YouTube show, put together in an engaging way. My girls love watching episodes of this show in the morning with breakfast. Fun. Interesting. Science-friendly. Better for older kids.  [Educational/Quality Rating: 4.5]
  5. Mr. Wizard’s World  – (YouTube/More episodes on Amazon Prime) – Circa 1985, Mr. Wizard is a bit old school, but still quite a bit to learn from his show.  Engineering, Chemistry, Zoology, Geology and Physics are all topics covered on this show…they even do some actual math on the show! If your kids can get past the dated equipment and computers they will definitely like it. [Educational/Quality Rating: 5]

More Tips for Parents on TV, Reading, and Gifts

Have a kid with Autism? You must watch Autism Channel. Excellent programming for kids and parents of kids who are living with autism.

If you’re child hasn’t started to read yet, be sure and read my review of Hooked on Phonics.  Also, view my list of gifts for brainy kids (hint: In case you didn’t already know, all kids are brainy kids they just need their talents cultivated) and some birthday party ideas.

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One Thought to “Recommended Educational TV Shows for Kids”

  1. Melanie

    I started showing some simple educational YouTube videos to my 3 year-old as one additional way to work on learning letters, numbers, colors, etc. What surprised me was that my 5 year-old also loved them and started making her own. The videos seem so simple, but I think that’s what made my 5 year-old feel like she could also make videos teaching the things she’s been learning in kindergarten. It turned into a great activity.
    Here’s a playlist of some of the types of videos they like to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUqBWMOCo9s&list=PLukaSb6C3It3JBRII82yFpzw251pExoBP

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