YouTube gets a bad rap from a lot of folks. Parents tend to think the massively popular video platform is only good for cat videos, toy unboxings or zoning out on Minecraft channels or video game playing , but there are actually a ton of excellent, high-quality educational shows and channels available on YouTube.
Many are great for motivating elementary students, gearing up interest in art or music in tweens, or brushing up on complex math or science concepts. YouTube can be an asset and a boon to your child’s learning. Make sure you use it in the right way.
Curious to know what some of these unmissable educational shows are?
Chicago’s Field Museum has created a YouTube channel called The Brain Scoop, which engages kids with such videos as “Why Did King Tut Have a Flat Head?” and “The Human Biology Collection.”
If your child has an affinity for animals, check out the Houston Zoo YouTube channel. YouTube often gives kids (and adults) access to many popular educational attractions that are too far away to visit in person.
The SoulPancake YouTube channel dishes out a menu of “brain batter” about art, culture, science, philosophy, and more. As the site proclaims, “We make stuff that matters.”
This phone show started in 2014 and is hosted by Jessi and Squeaks, her robot rat. Twice a week they answer fun and complex questions like “Why Does Ice Cream Hurt My Head?” and “Why Do We Cry When We’re Sad?” Making science fun and accessible, SciShow Kids is a wonderful choice for screen time, supplementing school lessons or finding answers to your kid’s endless list of questions.
Produced by educational stalwart PBS Digital, It’s Okay To Be Smart encourages curiosity and host Joe Hanson makes learning fun with kid-friendly topics like “Flatulence and You: It’s Okay to Fart” and “How Poop Shapes The World.” It’s not all about poop though; he also tackles serious scientific concepts about climate change and the properties of light. Part science magazine, part science instruction, It’s Okay to Be Smart is perfect for tweens and teens wanting to know more.
Flocabulary uses hip-hop to teach everything from language arts to history, for all ages. Covering topics ranging from the original 13 colonies to how to manage anxiety. Flocabulary teaches standards-based lessons in a fun and memorable way.
“Imagine a cross between MacGyver, James Bond and the Myth-busters” sums up The King of Random pretty well. With fun experiments, host Grant Thompson pushes the envelope of “don’t try this at home” and shows kids top-tier science in a safe way.
Whether you homeschool or not, Homeschool Pop has a lot of great kids videos. Uploads include:
- “Oceans of the World”
- “South Carolina for Kids”
Homeschool Pop!’s learning videos are geared toward kids from Kindergarten to 4th-grade level. Precocious preschoolers will also learn from these videos.
Host and rapper Mike really likes science. Every month, Mike releases a new science-themed rap song and they are all awesome. He covers everything from deep space to scientists of color. This show is a great choice to complement middle school core sciences.
Biographies, history, geology, oceanography, mythology, are all topics Free School tackles on their kids YouTube channel. Free School’s videos can be used with younger children, but they are best for kids in 3rd-6th grades.
The Dr. Binocs Show is geared toward kids in elementary school. Peekaboo Kidz’ channel has Nursery Rhymes and Alphabet Songs for younger siblings.
TED-Ed (from the nonprofit responsible for TED Talks) is committed to creating lessons worth sharing. On this channel, kids can be challenged by perplexing riddles, or they can investigate nature or ponder such subjects as “questions no one knows the answers to.” While most preteens will love this channel, many of the videos are appropriate for younger kids as well.
For older kids, check out Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls channel. It features the requisite DIYs that kids love, such as how to make fizzing bath bombs, for example, but also provides profiles of inspiring women, including astronauts and scientists, not to mention manners tutorials and videos designed to inspire girls to become involved in social issues such as climate change.
This is a great YouTube channel that’s focused on teaching kids about physics. Uploads include:
- “Is it Better to Walk or Run in the Rain?”
- “Immovable Object vs. Unstoppable Force”
- “What Is Gravity?”
This channel is best-suited for kids who are in the 3rd-6th grade age group, but some of the more general videos will be enjoyed by 1st and second graders.
Mike Wilson uses his rap lyrics to teach kids about science and math. Uploads include:
- “Slope Formula”
- “The Internet of Things”
- “Black Scientists Who Changed the Game”
The content of Mike Likes Science’s videos is best geared for preteens and above.