For years, YouTube has been known mostly as a time sink. Your kid watches one Disney toy unboxing, they click through to the next, and suddenly two hours are lost forever. But YouTube has emerged as a great resource for parents and kids looking for free and awesome educational content.
So whether your kid’s struggling to understand their homework or developing a healthy obsession with physics, here are ten great YouTube channels you can enjoy together.
Note: As this list goes on, the ideal age of the viewer goes up. Your kid is your own, though, and may enjoy more grownup content earlier than their peers.
I have no great love for Elmo, but kids sure do. Sesame Street’s “Elmo at the Zoo” features lots of adorable animals, as well as the little red narcissist talking about something other than himself. Just this once. If you watch for no other reason, watch for the baby rhino.
PBS Kids offers a full playlist featuring this funny, animated show about animals from all over the world. One video that lasts less than two minutes will convince your kid that it’d be pretty great to be a barnacle. Two words: head glue.
Baby elephants. Baby clouded leopards. Baby orangutans. Apparently this simple, friendly channel has videos featuring animals that aren’t adorable babies, but my kid and I have yet to watch them.
Any grownup who loves YouTube has long been acquainted with TED Talks, but they might not know about the wealth of kid-friendly content TED produces. TED-Ed applies real scientific laws and principles to superhero scenarios. TED-Ed shows how much math it takes to make a Pixar movie. TED-Ed is amazing.
My little girl has yet to ask me if it’s better to run or walk in the rain, but when she does, I’ll be able to show her the answer because of this perfect, perfect little channel. I’ll also steer her this way when she wonders how big the sun really is, and how bicycles work.
If your little thinker is the type who’d love seeing a rufous-crowned sparrow drinking, an American robin reinforcing her nest, or a Gyrfalcon hunting rodents in the snow, show them LabofOrnithology from Cornell University. If your kid isn’t into that kind of thing, show it to them anyway.
Fire extinguisher plus skateboard to illustrate rocket science. A terrible, informative love song about atomic bonding. A cellular breakdown of how chameleons change color. This channel is all over the place in the best way.
What happens when you hold your pee? Why haven’t we cured cancer yet? How do you really escape quicksand? This slick, colorful, dense channel is hosted by the great Hank Green, and is a deep well of videos for the young science lover in your house.
Chemistry may not be as immediately appealing as zoology or Pixar math, but Periodic Videos is bubbling with the cool things that can happen with a little bit of platinum and lot of safety gear.
Finding snakes with Pablo. Skinning and gutting a wolf. Mummy brains. This show, which is hosted by the chief curiosity correspondent of the Field Museum in Chicago (yes that’s a real job and it’s amazing), is cheery and plain about graphic science. Take a look. If your kid is ready for it, they’ll love the skulls, fangs, and generally awesome museum stuff.
Is there a YouTube channel your kids are loving?
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