I’ve been so immersed in the world of podcasts for so long that I’m constantly having to remind myself there is still a huge chunk of the population who haven’t discovered their magic yet. I’ve been publishing The Thoughtful Travel Podcast since March 2016 and listening to podcasts for many years longer than that, so it is probably no surprise that I got my son into podcast listening pretty young.
If you’re wondering what on earth a podcast actually is: very simply put, it’s an audio show that you can download and listen to at any time. They come in all shapes and sizes and definitely about any topic you can imagine!
Screen time that’s not screen time at all
There are some really beautifully-produced podcasts for kids and we listen to them in our house very regularly – every night at bed time (after a book – someone at a talk I gave recently asked if I didn’t read to my son anymore and just played podcasts – absolutely not!!), and at random other times. Sometimes my son will ask to watch TV when I think he’s had enough, and what he’s really wanting is something to listen to while he plays Lego, so I’ll offer a podcast instead and he’ll happily accept – that’s why I consider it kind of like screen time but without all the drawbacks!
The easiest way to play podcasts is on a phone or tablet and using either the Apple Podcasts app or the Google Podcasts app (depending on who you bat for!!). Often you may already have those apps on your device – for a long time they were already there when you got your phone, for example – but otherwise they’re free to download.
You can search through the podcasts directory for podcasts which are suitable for kids, although I have to say there are not really a huge number of great podcasts for kids available – yet!! New ones start all the time, but a good start is our list below.
Our recommendations for children’s podcasts
My son has a bunch of favourites and a few which he has tried but refused to listen to – of course, this is all a matter of individual taste! I’m including all of the ones which have his tick of approval in this list, and they even have my approval too. Often they’re created so well that they’re really (genuinely!) interesting for adults too – I must admit I’ve learnt a lot!
One important note: you’ll find a lot of these are science podcasts – but that’s not just the bias of my son, that’s because they seem to be the most commonly made kinds of podcasts for kids! I guess kids have lots of questions that science can answer.
Tumble is a science podcast for kids and I’ve got to know the creators, Lindsay and Marshall, after interviewing them for my own podcast (my son was rather envious that I got to chat with them!). Topics vary widely and they interview working scientists to get interesting info. (Because Marshall’s a teacher they also have teacher resources available!)
Brains On is another science podcast hosted by Molly Bloom and run by American Public Media; its episodes answer all kinds of questions kids have about many different topics and they have a recurring fun segment where you have to identify a mystery sound!
Smash Boom Best
Smash Boom Best is a spin-off of Brains On – they’ve sometimes featured fun debates, like “dolphins vs whales” and deciding which is better – and now this show features purely these kind of debates, which are both fun and fascinating – recent topics include “lava vs quicksand” and “pizza vs tacos”!
Wow in the World
Wow in the World is a particularly fun science podcast from NPR (National Public Radio) in the US – it’s a bit more scripted and produced and is really high-energy so my son actually prefers to listen to this one in daylight hours rather than at bedtime, because it’s less conducive to getting to sleep! It’s a great listen though.
Short & Curly
Short & Curly is a wonderful Australian podcast put out by the ABC and it is all about ethics! You might not think a podcast about ethics will be interesting but it’s really well done and covers topics like whether it’s OK for singers to use technology to make their singing sound better, whether you should wear school uniforms or whether we should ban lollies!
The Past and the Curious
The Past and the Curious is another non-science podcast – this one looks at history and culture and has a lot of music (often original) in it too. Creator Mick Sullivan lives in the US and so the history and people it features are very American-centric but my son still finds it really interesting (and I find myself learning a whole lot of stuff I never knew about American history!).
But Why is another science podcast and another NPR one – but it’s also really good! It features heaps of questions from curious kids and some really interesting answers – recent episodes include “How was the universe created?” and “Why do ants bite?”
Circle Round is one of the few storytelling podcasts that get the tick of approval from my son – it features stories which have been adapted from traditional tales from different places around the world and are voiced by sometimes famous people – they’re always interesting.
Pants on Fire
Pants on Fire has a really fun premise – each episode they get in two apparent experts on a particular topic (tennis, singing, cryptocurrency!) to be quizzed by a kid – and the kid has to work out which one of them is actually a liar and not an expert in that topic at all! We listened to the first few episodes of this on a roadtrip and thought we were really good at guessing the liar after getting the first ones right – but these days we seem to get it wrong every time!
The future of kids’ podcasts
Even though podcasts are commonplace in our household, I get that they’re still in their infancy really. I rather like this graph from Google Trends which shows more and more people are searching for podcasts for kids in recent years, though! I have a bit of a pipe dream of making one myself … but I’ll need to give up sleeping to find the time for that, I guess!
If you have any other podcasts your kids love, let me know and we can try it out, too!