The most terrifying noise in the house when you’re a parent? It’s when there’s no noise at all, which usually means your kids are up to no good. But if you want to keep them quiet, entertained, and out of trouble, plop them down in front of one of these Netflix shows that’ll also provide an educational element, too. As parents around the world do the school-work-life juggle in a whole different way this year because of COVID-19, we’re all trying to find new ways to keep our kids occupied during their downtime. No matter their age range, one of these shows is sure to pique their interest.
Recommended age range: 1-3 years
Episode length: 13 minutes
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two avoid screen time and that children between the ages of two and five shouldn’t watch more than an hour of screen time a day. We know a lot of those rules this year have been thrown out of the window and it’s okay — especially with a show like this one that’s actually catered to fit a child’s developmental level (a lot aren’t). Word Party changes the game, with five baby animals — a panda, wallaby, cheetah, elephant and tortoise — who love to sing and teach words and concepts. It’s created by The Jim Henson Company (the same creators behind the Muppets!).
YooHoo to the Rescue
Recommended age range: 2-5 years
Episode length: 12 minutes
Your kids will join captain YooHoo (a bushbaby) and his crew of animal friends (a fox, lemur, monkey and macaw) in the land of YooTopia as they travel to different destinations in each episode. The group of animals, which is based on a Korean stuffed toy franchise, use teamwork and smarts to help other animals in need.
Ask the StoryBots
Recommended age range: 3-8 years
Episode length: 20-25 minutes
Topic: History and Science
Kids ask a lot of questions, don’t they? They want to understand the world around them and sometimes mom and dad don’t always have all the answers. Instead of resorting to Google, have them check out StoryBots, which unearths topics like “why does night happen?” or “why do people look different?” Your kids will also get acquainted with some special celebrity guests like Whoopi Goldberg, John Legend and Zoe Saldana.
The Magic School Bus
Recommended age range: 4-10 years
Episode length: 25 minutes
Yes! This is the same famous show and book series that you probably watched or read as a kid when it came out in 1997. Your kids can now travel with Ms. Valerie Frizzle into space, through an anthill, under the sea and other exciting adventures. In 2018, Netflix released a reboot called The Magic School Bus Rides Again with Ms. Frizzle’s sister (Fiona Frizzle, voiced by Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon) who now leads the class at Walkerville Elementary for even more science-based fun.
Recommended age range: 7+
Episode length: 24 minutes
Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? Right on your Netflix app. The reboot, which comes out with season three this fall, features many of the same characters from the ‘80s computer game (it was also an Emmy-awarding winning show in the ‘90s). Your kids will follow the sneaky criminal Carmen as she travels the globe to steal priceless historic artifacts — and they’ll learn all about geography, culture and world history along the way.
Recommended age range: 8+
Episode length: 48-50 minutes
This docuseries about wildlife, climate change and nature shows amazing depictions of the animal world and the way mankind affects it. Fair warning: Though it’s rated PG, some scenes can get a little gory for younger viewers. Netflix even Tweeted a helpful list of certain episodes and when to fast-forward through them when they feature predators killing their prey, which can get intense if your kid is sensitive. But if they’re ready, it could offer a great opportunity to start important conversations with your kids about how life and death happen.
The Who Was? Show
Recommended age range: 10+
Episode length: 22-26 minutes
Though technically, it’s fine for kids as young as eight years old, this sketch comedy of the best-selling book series might be better off for an older, pre-teen kiddo that might better appreciate the bathroom humor, silly skits and jokes. Is the educational benefit somewhat questionable? Yes. But it helps bring some of the most famous people in history (like Joan of Arc, Gandhi and Amelia Earhart) to life in an entertaining way.
Recommended age range: 10-14 years
Episode length: 22-24 minutes
We love that this show is hosted by a woman of color, Sahana Srinivasan, who’s Indian-American. Produced by Pharrell Williams, Brainchild uses fun visuals and Srinivasan’s quirky personality to make science a little more relatable. She tackles how things work — like germs, emotions, dreams, gravity, and more.
Bill Nye Saves the World
Recommended age range: 14+
Episode length: 25-40 minutes
Hosted by Bill Nye, otherwise known as “The Science Guy,” this show deals with more mature topics that are intended for an older audience than the kids who watched his famous educational program back in the ‘90s. He brings on well-known guests (Karlie Kloss, for instance, helped kick off season one) to tackle topics from a scientific standpoint. However this version it’s not so much of him tinkering in the lab and more about food for thought.