Podcasts fill a niche for many screen-free families, and can give families that don’t have such rules an alternate form of entertainment when TV shows get just a little worn out. From learning a new language to traveling around the world to learn about mythology, animals or history – there are so many choices out there for living room explorers. Here are a few of our favorites podcasts for kids.
1. Circle Round
Producers of Circle Round gather folktales and myths from around the world, find great performers, and add sound effects and music to create dynamic radio plays for kids. The stories in the most recent episodes come from a wide range of places, from Korea to New Zealand to Argentina to Ireland. Each episode is 10 - 20 minutes and perfect for ages 4-10.
2. But Why
Based on the question young people ask again and again, in this podcast from Vermont Public Radio, producer and host Jane Lindholm investigates questions kids send to her. She talks to experts and educators about each question to get answers that are both entertaining and interesting. This podcast covers everything from why baby teeth fall out to questions about the natural world, food and animals. It is perfect for curious-minded explorers and their parents who want to know too!
3. Sound Walks
There are ten of these very short meditations, but they are a perfect start to afternoon rest time. Released by the Australian Broadcast Company, each 5-7 minute “episode” takes little minds on a walk through nature. One meanders through a meadow in spring with sound from rustling grasses and flowers to the birds enjoying the warm weather. Another is a nighttime walk ending in zipping up a tent and listening to rain while the listener is encouraged to close eyes and go to sleep. If calming down for a few minutes in the afternoon is challenging, this podcast is great for kids with active minds who love the outdoors.
4. Eat Your Spanish
This is a simple introduction to Spanish for younger kids. Each Eat Your Spanish lesson is followed up by a review lesson so the words introduced will really sink in. The hosts, Evan & Vanessa, sing songs that are cute, clever and easy to remember so you’ll hear your little one mumbling about amarillo meaning yellow for a few days afterwards. They also have games to make sure the lessons really sink in. Episodes are just around 15 minutes so kids don’t have a chance to get bored.
5. Animal Sound Safari
In 20 minute episodes, the hosts of Animal Sound Safari take kids around the world to explore the stories of different animals. There are lots of audio effects to keep kids entertained and each one always discusses the animal with an animal expert. But they don’t just share facts about the animal in question, the show also shares interesting stories about the creatures and how they have related to humanity throughout history. The hosts also include in information about the countries they are visiting and use language and other sounds to really set the scene.
6. Earth Rangers
Similar to Animal Sound Safari, Earth Rangers is all about animals. The show is hosted by Earth Ranger Emma who loves animals and learning as much as she can about them. The episodes tend to feature multiple animals in each, sometimes spending time on habitat and surroundings. But most often each show is packed with animal facts and plenty of fun sound-effects. The episodes also focus on conservation and help kids figure out what they can do to help their favorites.
7. Past and the Curious
This podcast is for slightly older children who are interested in learning the lesser-taught aspects of history. Host Mick Sullivan runs the youth and family programing at Frazier History Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. Sullivan makes every effort in The Past and the Curious to focus on people and stories worldwide that are not often told. Episodes are accessible, but very smart and never talk down to the kids.
8. Radio Adventures of Eleanor Amplified
This is a serial-story podcast about an adventurous journalist who travels around the world outwitting villains and solving mysteries to get the scoop. Eleanor Amplified is an exciting and complicated adventure reminiscent of old-timey radio shows. Great for slightly older kids and families who like adventure stories.
This one is a little different from the others. In a 23-episode arch, writer and creator, Dania Ramos tells the story of the Beni and Alexa Ventura, Puerto Rican twins living in New York. The two are sucked into a Timestorm and given a mission by a distant cousin: to travel through time and uncover Puerto Rico's history and ensure the stories survive. With an interesting story line, where the twins travel through time and five countries to learn about the history of Puerto Rico, the story confronts issues of colonization and cultural erasure in a way that speaks to middle grade students.