This is a list of the best educational shows for kids to watch on the TV, on their tablet, or on any screening surface, you might have! These are the shows that we don’t mind our kids watching for more than an hour a day. #NoJudgement!
Our ‘friend’ Covid-19 has graced us with a number of Lockdown Silver Linings. However, I find it ironic that they are suddenly lifting a large number of restrictions just as schools break up for a 7-week summer ‘holiday’. I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit ‘outdoor activitied’ outed! I am tired of entertaining my kids, educating my kids, and paying an arm and a leg for other people to entertain them too. I work from home, both on this blog and on my freelance business training other people on Pinterest, SEO and social media. Quite frankly, it takes up a significant amount of time, and I can’t always just do that in the evenings.
How Much Screen Time Is Too Much Screen Time?
I am more than just a mom, I’m also a human being. At some point, my survival instincts have kicked in and I have lowered my standards when it comes to screen time limits. I still need to find a way to let go of the mum guilt that comes with allowing my kids to watch more than the recommended daily allowance of screen time!
It’s not just me either. Many parents across the board, have admitted, OUT LOUD, that their kids are watching far more on screens than ever before. And it’s for one simple reason … we need them to be occupied so we can get shit done! So I’ve come up with a list of educational programmes that we can let our kids watch whilst we try get some stuff done. At least that way we won’t feel as much guilt, I hope. That’s the theory anyway.
So, here is an epic list of some of the best educational shows for kids to watch that almost don’t make parents feel guilty. It’s a combination of the main streaming services: BBCiPlayer, CBBC, CBeebies, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney+ and to a lesser extent, YouTube Kids too. I asked a few other parent bloggers to share their recommendations, so this list is based on my kids’ opinions, as well as those of other kids and their parents.
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The Best Educational Shows For Kids by the BBC
The BBC is huge. With decades of material and experience, it’s no wonder they are leading the pack in terms of variety and volume of educational TV programmes for Primary school kids. Here are the most popular educational TV programmes:
Horrible Histories is a BBC TV show that has transcended the small screen and made it into Movie Theatres around the world. The show takes kids through specific periods in history and uses more current and familiar speech to draw kids into the story. It’s done in a very funny, gory, slightly rude and ridiculous manner that makes kids want to keep watching, not even realising that they are learning as they watch. It’s by far one of the most all-round popular educational TV show recommended by kids and parents. Here’s what a few of them had to say.
Claire says: My 9yr old (Year 4, going into Year 5), watches Horrible Histories, mainly on Netflix on her tablet or the SmartTV in her room now, & has honestly learnt so much from it. Her older sister got her into it & it’s honestly made her homeschool history lessons a breeze. She watches it for fun without even realising she’s learning, so win-win.
Eddie says: My Daughters all enjoy watching Horrible Histories on Netflix. They all have an interest in history, the show is a great way for them to learn about various moments in history. We sometimes do tasks in between episodes and have them answer and write questions about the topic they watched. Eddie’s girls are 4, 7, 8 and 9 years old. Quite the team!! 🙂
Clare says: In my 8 year old’s words, it is about horrible things that happened in the past, and it features a talking rat. It is one of the only educational programmes that he likes, and he has watched all of the episodes many times over! It’s very entertaining.
The Claire’s love Horrible Histories – we have another vote for this one. She says: Horrible Histories on BBC iPlayer have. It’s great for my son in year 3 (he’s 7 almost 8 ) I don’t think he even realises he’s learning and asks to watch them.
Personally speaking, both my 7 and 9-year-old daughters agree. They love Horrible Histories. It’s all gory and wonderfully weird that they don’t realise they are learning.
Horrible Histories the series is available on CBBC, BBCiPlayer, YouTube and Netflix! A clear favourite!
Blue Peter is a British institution. My daughter in Year 4 sent off her application for her Blue Peter Badge(s) at the end of the last half term. We are holding thumbs that we will hear back from them soon. The Year 4 teachers set their year group the challenge to see how many Blue Peter badges their group could get for their incredible efforts during lockdown.
Blue Peter is a fab show that really does provide, not only education but entertainment, sports, art, activities, nature and everything in between. They have something for everyone.
Jennifer says: Blue Peter ( lots of crafts, cooking and learning about hobbies and the world we live in)
Operation Ouch on CBBC and BBCiPlayer
My girls LOVE this! Presented by Dr Ronx and twin brothers Doctor Chris, Doctor Zhan, it’s basically a medial reality show for kids. They follow real-life ambulance crews, GPs, emergency room staff and focus on all sorts of medical issues that kids face. It’s a great show with a bit of gore, lots of medical terminologies mixed with a real effort to make kids aware of what their bodies can and cannot do.
Operation Ouch is available on CBBC, BBCiPlayer, and YouTube. They have done a few episodes specifically about Coronovirus too which is really useful during these times.
Jo says: My little girl is 4 and just going into nursery in September. To be honest, prior to the lockdown I only let her watch CBeebies, as I think it has more educational value than the PJ Masks/Paw Patrol/advert TV – and it means she doesn’t get bombarded with adverts!
She has developed a real love for Octonauts in lockdown. And that is fine by me. It teaches ecology and being respectful of nature.
The Octonauts is available on BBCiPlayer, CBeebies, Netflix and Amazon Prime.
My friend Helen says: I let my five-year-old watch pretty much anything on Cbeebies, but our favourites are Number Blocks and any of the ‘Andy’ programmes in terms of educational stuff. Andy’s Prehistoric Adventures is basically where Thomas has learned all of his (very vast and impressive!) dinosaur knowledge. Octonauts is the same for all the sea creatures. He knows more than me!
Andy’s Prehistoric Adventures is available on CBeebies, BBCiPlayer and YouTube as part of Andy’s Amazing Adventures.
Jennie says: Numberblocks- iPlayer This show helps children learn all about numeracy. It has helped my little one learn to count as well as add and subtract. He is now confident with numbers up to 100. Jennie’s little one is 4 years old, starting school in September.
Laura says: My almost 5-year-old daughter loves watching number blocks on bbc iPlayer. It really helps her with her numbers so I’m happy for her to watch it every day!
Clare says her kids also love Numberblocks in BBC IPlayer. The show features cute block characters who live in Numberland. Each character is a number and when one of the blocks hops on top of another, they transform into a different character to make a new number. It is fantastic for little ones for learning numeracy and it was recommended by my son’s teacher so it has to be good?!
Numberblocks is available on BBCiPlayer, CBeebies and YouTube.
Jennifer says: My daughter is 9 years old (Year 4) and she enjoys watching Newsround (5-minute topical news show that keeps her up to date in a child-friendly way, she loves how they I love the viewers – other children her she and feature them regularly).
We love Newsround. The girls watch it in school as part of their learning, as well as at home. It’s basically news for kids and I believe it is a fantastic told for keeping kids informed of current affairs.
Go Jetters on BBCiPlayer and CBeebies
Jodie says: My 4-year-old enjoys watching Go Jetters on bbc iPlayer. There are lots of episodes and each features a different country. When I have time I follow it up by getting out the atlas and the globe and any other travel books we have and we try and work out 5 facts about the country. It’s amazing how many facts have been remembered!
This was definitely a learning tool that formed part of my girls’ homeschooling specifically related to Geography. It’s great show that they used to watch of their own choice when they were younger. Now, they watch it as part of the education. I love it.
Go Jetters is available on BBCiPlayer, CBeebies, and YouTube.
My girls also enjoy the following educational shows for kids that haven’t already been mentioned above:
- Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch – this is Matilda, daughter of Gordon Ramsay. She does a cooking show aimed at getting kids to be more independant and creative in the kitchen. It’s filmed mostly in their home in America and follows not only cooking, but the fun adventures her and her siblings have in America. It’s a really fun show.
- Deadly 60 – this is a show where Steve Backshall tracks down the worlds’ deadliest 60 animals.
- The Pets Factor – this is your typical vet practice care and rescue of animals but very well done aimed at children specifically.
- The Dengineers – Joe and Meryl host the show where they transform spaces into epic dens for kids. The creativity is amazing. Needless to say, my girls want to build their own den! lol
- The Repair Shop – This isn’t strictly a kids show, but my girls absolutely love watching this show. It does what it says on the tin. People bring in old, sometimes really valuable items that need a bit of love and repairs done to them, everything from toy trains to watches, chairs to rocking horses. It’s available on BBCiPlayer and BBC One.
My lovely friend Nicole says: My son (Y1) and I have become huge fans of the BBC Bitesize show (we see it on BBC i-player). This 20-minute show fits in so much and in such a fun way. It started after the Easter holidays to help parents and children with homeschooling, and it’s a great way to learn and revise new concepts.
It kicks off with a Supermovers Maths video and then covers two
subjects in each episode (English and Geography; Science and Well-being; Maths and History etc). What my son looks forward to most is the Book Club section where a prominent personality reads a book through the week and the hosts then discuss it.
Both my girls were given BBC Bitesize exercises to do as part of homeschooling during lockdown.
Educational Shows For Kids on Amazon Prime
Jemma says her kids enjoy Tumble leaf and Wild Kratts on Amazon’s. She said, “I like it because it’s encouraging outdoor adventures for kids and helps them think of outdoor activities to play! They are in reception & Year 1.”
Chanene also recommended Wild Kratts which is also available on Netflix and YouTube.
Dino Dana on Amazon Prime
Danni says: My 5-year-old daughter loves watching Dino Dana on Amazon Prime. She has learned so much about different types of dinosaurs (as have I) and she is desperate for the ‘field guide’ book that the main character has! Our two-year-old daughter loves it too! They mainly watch it on the smart TV or an iPad.
The Best Educational Shows for Kids on Netflix
Other than the ones already mentioned above, here are some other educational programmes for kids on Netflix:
You vs. Wild with Bear Grylls
This is an interactive series where kids use the remote to make choices which determine the plan of action of none other than bear Grylls himself. They help him (or maybe not) get out of tricky situations out in the wilderness, with the aim of helping him complete his missions. My girls love this one. It’s good for teaching them about making decisions should they ever be in these extreme situations, which is hopefully unlikely, but it’s still a great educational show for kids to enjoy.
Jenni says: The Magic School Bus Rides Again on Netflix. Ms. Frizzle’s younger sister and her students go on magical adventures in their high-tech school bus, learning about the wonders science across a variety locations and time periods.
My girls are currently making their way through the 4 available seasons on Netflix. They love it and it has a real educational feel to it. Tonight they were learning all about ISPs, the internet, emails and cyber space. I even learnt a thing or two! This one is a definite winner for us.
The Magic School Bus Rides Again is also available on YouTube.
Storybots on Netflix
Hayley says: I have a four year old starting reception in September and a two year old. They both really enjoy Storybots on Netflix, and so do I! It’s a cartoon that explains how things work but in a really fun way with some funky tunes as well – how computers work, how the brain works, the solar system etc. I’ve learnt loads too!
Chico Bon Bon on Netflix
Robbie says: My 5-year-old son loves the new Netflix show, Chico Bon Bon. It’s a cheeky little cartoon in which each episode’s problem is resolved by an engineering solution (pulleys, counterbalances, etc.) I don’t expect him to start building any machines anytime soon, but I guess it can’t help to introduce these ideas early.
Lauren says her little one in Reception loves watching this show. You can watch is on BBCiPlayer, but it is also possible to purchase the DVDs on Amazon.
Erin says: My two both love Brain Child on Netlix. The kids learn so many interesting facts on it and it’s presented in a really engaging way! I don’t mind sitting down and watching it either. They just need to make another season!
My girls enjoyed this too. We also wish they would make another season.
Educational Shows for kids on Disney+
Disney+ is probably one of the newest streaming services available. My girls have really enjoyed being able to catch up on their favourite Disney movies and series. BUT … there is more to it than that. It also has a huge back catalogue of National Geographic shows.
Some of our favourite family TV time shows are on Disney+ – we’re just waiting for them to be extended and the new seasons available. Here are our favourite educational shows for kids on Disney+:
More Educational Shows for Kids on YouTube
A lot of the shows I’ve mentioned already are available on YouTube. I guess it’s up to you where you access these shows, which will also be dependant on where in the world you are as some streaming services are only available in certain locations. YouTube is great as it offers access to some shows that you wouldn’t normally get based on your geographical location.
Here are the best educational shows for kids on YouTube:
Sarah says: Blippi is Isabella’s latest find on YouTube and at last it’s one that I don’t cringe at her watching. Blippi is an American children’s entertainer who makes educational and fun videos for children, from learning the alphabet to building a robot and making ice lollies made from fruit. With over 6 billion views of his channel, Isabella (7) and Rosie (3) can sit together without fighting when Blippi is on so he must be doing something right!
Blippi also gets another vote from Helen: My son also watches Blippi on YouTube, although this is more because his little three-year-old brothers watched it when I was trying to get them out the way to homeschool Thomas! It’s American and annoying, but actually, if you sit and watch it, it’s pretty educational for little ones – lots on colours and shapes etc. In fact, they were telling me one of their diggers wasn’t a digger the other day, and I was like, what are they are on about. Turns out its correct term is a ‘Backhoe’ which they learned on Blippi. Every day’s a school day!
Don’t let the mum guilt get the better of you!
We all have other things to do too! Carla says: My son is 4 and initially I jumped on the bandwagon about limiting screen time but of course, running a business around my son seems somewhat impossible without screen time, so I have allowed it a lot…. he usually watches Netflix or the new Disney app but I do encourage the odd number blocks programme or documentary on animals to make myself feel less guilty.
I’m with Laura too, Netflix is their teacher now! Schools out, and I hope to never have to home school / crises educate my kids, ever again!
And there you have it! Gosh, I don’t think I quite knew what I was getting myself in for when I started this post. So many of these educational shows for kids are available on different services. I’m happy to keep adding to this list so if you have any other recommendations, please do let me know.
I think what’s key here is balance! Don’t beat yourself up about letting the kids have a bit more screen time in the holidays. It’s been a shitty last term of school here in the UK, with most kids having to be homeschooled by their barely capable parents who did not enjoy it (I mean the kids and the parents). We all need a break and to just chill and to enjoy our summer holidays. Balancing screen time with other activities, and just making sure we’re taking the time to recharge their little batteries is what is important.
Don’t forget to pin this post for later. Enjoy the summer holidays everyone!