Today was day forty-bazillion of quarantine. And that would make it the forty-bazillionth day in a row that everyone’s tensions were running just a little bit high from just a little too much togetherness. I couldn’t make it two paragraphs into what I was reading, my boys’ attempt at a board game had failed miserably after my kindergartener realized he wasn’t going to win, and their quality time had devolved into “fighting for fun.” At that point, I realized that I had two big-gun options in my back pocket: 1) Resort to Netflix, which would very likely band-aid the situation but leave us all in a worse state once I pulled the plug, or 2) “Get your shoes and meet me in the car! We’re going for a drive with kids’ podcasts!”
The Magic of a Podcast
When my boys were ages six and two, we moved from Rhode Island to Seattle. The thought of driving two small children from one coast to the other petrified me. I spent weeks carefully planning out countless ways to keep them occupied while on the road. I learned many lessons on that trip, but one of the most shocking and helpful things I learned was that my children could sit riveted for hours if they were listening to a good kids’ podcast. Unlike with screen time, my children emerge from a podcast session calmer, happier, and nearly always having learned something.
Now that my kids are a few years older, we have been able to sample a plethora of kid-friendly podcasts, and we have developed routines that work them into different parts of our days. There are some which we use to start our day off on the right foot every morning, either at breakfast or on our way to school. Others work perfectly as a stand-in for storytime. Some we even worked into our Covid-schooling lessons. Primarily, though, children’s podcasts are our go-to quality entertainment while riding in the car. My boys take turns choosing their favorites, the top ten of which they have recommended below.
Our Family Favorites
As far as my household is concerned, this is the gold standard for kids’ podcasts. It was the first show we ever listened to, and when I ask my boys what their favorite podcasts are, this is still the first one each of them mentions. Mindy Thomas and NPR veteran, Guy Raz, are the hilarious hosts of this show whose wacky adventures help kids fall in love with science while keeping the adults in the car laughing as well. This podcast is a must!
I’ll admit, I was skeptical about a science podcast hosted by a nine-year-old. However, the host of this podcast is smart, thoughtful, and can hold his own while interviewing scientists on topics ranging from planetary geology to animal poop. He even posed Coronavirus questions to an infectious disease expert, which helped answer some of my kids’ own questions about Covid-19.
Animal-loving kiddos, this one is for you. This cute children’s podcast is hosted by a wildlife biologist who takes listeners around the globe to explore its most interesting creatures. It will entertain the littlest listeners while still captivating their older siblings with its fun facts and conservation focus.
Not just for girls! My boys nearly jump out of their seats when they find out a new episode of this beautifully produced podcast has been released. Like the book series it is based upon, each episode tells the story of an extraordinary woman, some of whom are very famous and others who simply should be. The stories are riveting, the lessons are exemplary, and both girls and boys alike come away from this podcast feeling brave, empowered, and inspired.
This quirky kids’ podcast gets two big thumbs up from my history-loving fourth grader and has our whole family giggling at its comical delivery of historical anecdotes and factoids. It’s full of everything you never learned from your history books from Lewis’ and Clark’s Christmas underwear gifts to the founding of the Harlem Globetrotters in … Chicago?
Storytime, anyone? This exquisite children’s podcast weaves together enchanting storytelling, original music featuring a different instrument in each episode, and big-name guest actors. Circle Round delivers folk tales and fairy tales from around the world in a timeless style which has never lost its appeal for my children.
Listen up, music lovers! Classics for Kids tells the stories of history’s most famous composers and the music they gifted to us all. The information in this podcast may be better digested by older elementary-aged kids, but its scores will captivate all ages.
Formerly known as Pants on Fire, this podcast puts your kids’ critical thinking skills to the test by pitting two supposed “experts” on a given topic against one another and then asking the listeners to determine which personality actually knows his or her stuff and which is only pretending. For us, this podcast has sparked invaluable discussions about how we spot untrustworthy sources of information and how we can apply those skills to all of the media we consume.
Ethics for kids? Yep! This podcast from Australian-based ABC Radio is specifically designed to get children thinking about ethical dilemmas in a way that is equal parts silly and serious. While listening to this show, my boys have debated everything from whether discrimination is always bad to who deserved to be in the Titanic’s lifeboats to the merits of birthday presents. You’ll be amazed at how this podcast can get the gears turning in your child’s brain.
This is the magical podcast to pull out when you need your kids to calm down and chill. Chanel Tsang’s soothing voice will take your children from bonkers to bedtime in no time. Her yoga prompts, mindfulness and breathing techniques paired with kid-friendly visualizations are great for quiet time, bedtime, or even just helping your kids to press pause for a minute on the craziness of the day.