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

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.
 Mussila – Musical monster adventure by Rosamosi ehf. – Review

Mussila – Musical monster adventure by Rosamosi ehf. – Review



iPad Screenshot 3

What we love…

fun interactive music making app that uses repetition and skill building to help kids successfully complete levels and enhance their musical knowledge as well as build on listening and attention skills.

What we’d love to see…

ability to play the app both in portrait and landscape mode, have the sounds played on the instruments replayed for a second chance to listen

Summary

Beautiful app designed to help kids understand the fundamentals of music in a non stressful way that teaches using a skill building method.  My son, who has only had experience to music via listening to it and at school loved this app!  He’s looking forward to trying out a real instrument as he gets older.  Amazing amount of content included in the app to help children learn music theory making this a comprehensive app.

Our Rating

Mussila - Musical monster adventure | Notes | Piano | Rhythm | MelodyMussila – Musical monster adventure by Rosamosi ehf is a universal app for iOS featuring a variety of musical monsters who teach you about the basics of music while on an interactive journey to find their costumes and instruments.  As you journey through the different lessons which include: listening to identify a specific instrument, defining rhythms and melodies you are moved up in each lesson.  You fly from lesson to lesson for a total of 64 different lessons each of which focuses on a specific concept.  If you take too long to answer, the monster gives you a clue and helps you to answer correctly – a timer appears on the lower levels during instrument identification and you can earn new instruments or costumes  as you complete the levels successfully. As you complete the levels you can earn stars which help you earn costumes and instruments by being “tested” to see what you have learned in the previous levels.  The app targets elementary aged children from about age 6 through 11 using an interactive learning style that shows children how the music is made or what the objective is before giving them more lessons and testing.  The app features 12 different instruments each of which is repeated throughout to help children become more familiar with them.

One of my son’s favorite parts of the game was copying the music that was being played and playing it via the on screen piano.  He also got quite a bit better at discerning rhythms and the various instruments as he moved up in levels of the app.  I was surprised at how quickly he picked up the music and sounds of the instruments – some of which he hadn’t heard before.  I also liked that it was progressive and if my son struggled with a specific level he was able to go back and play it over again.  The app also saw when he struggled with a specific section like the rhythm and didn’t make him upset that he didn’t know it – he just went back and listened again.  He also liked earning costumes and prizes including instruments that he could dress the monsters in.  I also liked that you could do a level and then go back to the app without feeling like you had to sit and play with it for hours – it was fun and could be broken down into bite size pieces which encouraged kids to learn in their own fashion.

iPad Screenshot 2

In terms of enhancements, I do wish the app worked in both portrait and landscape modes just to give kids a bit more space on the screen. During the rhythm section, it would be nice if you could go back and “replay” the rhythm on the instruments just in case you wanted to hear it again.  I would also like to see a multi-player option so if you had multiple children they could each have their own customized content.

This is a great app to help introduce kids to music and help them understand the various sounds that instruments make.  My son learned a lot in this app and enjoyed listening to the various instruments and working on identifying them as well as playing them during the interactive jam sessions.  There are no ads or in-app purchases.   It is a fun app for teaching not only music appreciation, but to help with listening skills.  Beautiful app designed to help kids understand the fundamentals of music in a non stressful way that teaches using a skill building method.  My son, who has only had experience to music via listening to it and at school loved this app!  He’s looking forward to trying out a real instrument as he gets older.  The app is priced a bit on the higher side $5.99 USD but for the amount of content it provides (65 lessons) it is a bargain!  It is not an app that you will pick up and play for a few times, but one that kids will engage with over and over again especially if they are new to learning about music.


Mussila Musical monster adventure - Notes | Rhythm
Mussila Musical monster adventure - Notes | Rhythm
by Rosamosi ehf.

Category: Games, Adventure, Music, Education
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 270.39 MB

$3.99USD

Screenshots
(Click to enlarge)
Screenshots for iPad
(Click to enlarge)

NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

 

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.
 Mastering the piano with Lang Lang by Tido – Review

Mastering the piano with Lang Lang by Tido – Review



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There are many benefits to learning to play a musical instrument like improved memory, mathematical ability, listening skills, hand-eye coordination, creativity, concentration and better discipline that can positively impact a child’s learning. But what is most valuable to me is that it helps build children’s confidence and self esteem. My teenage son is a good example – from a terrified preschooler who ran away from the stage during his first concert to a confident young man performing in an orchestral hall, I saw how he has blossomed and become an inspiration himself to many others.

What we love…

Exclusive videos of Lang Lang sharing helpful tips and demonstrating the various skills and techniques that students will learn in the app.

What we’d love to see…

Advanced levels added.

Summary

Mastering the piano with Lang Lang is both an inspiring app for young musicians and a comprehensive learning app on the finer points of piano playing.

Our Rating

To experience success, a child needs the support of the family (which is usually the mum) but this doesn’t mean we must know how to play the instrument ourselves in order to be able to guide our children. You can equip yourself with the essential knowledge by being attentive in your child’s lessons, taking notes, recording masterclasses, attending concerts, doing research, etc. If you are wondering if there is a ready and easy to use resource that you can turn to, then lucky for you, I have just the app for you!

Mastering the piano with Lang Lang by Tido is the perfect resource for you and your children to learn the art of making music on the piano. It doesn’t just stop at what skills and techniques an accomplished pianist need to have, it also gives an insight to what music can do to our children’s personal development.

Lang Lang needs no introduction in the world of classical music and this app offers a rare chance for any music student, regardless of age and ability, to learn from a great master. Watching Lang Lang play and hearing his expressive playing would be such an inspiration to any aspiring pianist.

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There are currently 5 levels of music training in the app, corresponding to piano grades 1 to 5. Each level comes with 8 units, each unit focussing on a key technique (like legato playing, developing dexterity, hand coordination, phrasing and rubato, dynamics, etc.) Lessons are presented with the use of interactive scores, instructions, videos, warm up exercises and the related scales/broken chords/arpeggios. A diverse range of music from different musical periods is chosen to progressively improve students’ skills and expand their repertoire.

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Technology-wise, the iPad’s capabilities is fully utilized in the app’s interactive sheet music. You can follow the music while listening to an audio recording of it (played by Lang Lang), and your music practice is supported by tools like an in-app metronome, adjustable audio playback speed and musical note size, notepad and annotations. There are also additional features like a glossary of the musical terms used, information on the composer and the genre of the piece that was introduced in the lesson (because it is important to understand the music that we play – another point highlighted in the app).

What I really appreciate is the analogies used and the demonstrations that Lang Lang gave to explain each technique. He also made an effort to make sure that students understand the purpose of each exercise and he gave many tips and advices using personal anecdotes.

Help your children find success in playing the piano by learning with the master. Every young pianist should have access to the wealth of wisdom in this app, to better understand their instrument and what they can do on it, to improve their skills and techniques, and to have an awareness of what makes a musical performance.

Download Mastering the piano with Lang Lang and explore the first unit for each level for free.

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Mastering the piano with Lang Lang

Mastering the piano with Lang Lang Mastering the piano with Lang Lang by Tido
Category: Education, Music
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 190.71 MB

$FREE

 

 

NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

Grace was working in the fields of early childhood education and staff training before quitting to attend to her 4 children full time. She and her family live in Singapore, which is well known for her highly competitive education system.

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