I am always on the look out for positive, educational kid’s shows. The kind I can let my kiddos watch, free of mom-guilt.  We have all read the studies on how screen time melts children’s brains and stunts their intellectual and physical development. I wholeheartedly agree that the amount of time kids spend in front of a TV should be limited. This is even more true for younger children. I endeavor to fill my kid’s waking hours with books, games, crafts, and outdoor activities as much as the next parent.

However, I am also realistic. Sometimes you just need to get the laundry folded, or the dishwasher unloaded in peace. Sometimes, after a long day you just need to pop on a show for the kids and drink a glass of wine. In my experience there are kids shows that are decidedly less painful for an adult to sit through than others. There are also shows that I think might actually benefit my kiddos—in moderation of course. 

1. Puffin Rock 

Streaming Service: Netflix

Recommended Ages: 1-5 years old

Plot: This Scottish program follows the day to day of puffling (baby puffin) Oona lives on Puffin Rock with her parents and adorable fluff ball of a baby brother, Baba. Oona and Baba have all sorts of adventures with their friends (a seal named Silky, Mossy the shrew, and Bernie the crab, among others). Along the way they learn about different species of animals, as well lessons in friendship, responsibility, and family. Oh, and did I mention that they have Scottish accents?! 

Positives: This is the most soothing kids show I have ever seen. The animations are beautiful and calming, using soft colors, and less visual stimulation (over-stimulation) than many other programs. The instrumental background music is soft and gentle. The characters are loveable and genuinely adorable as they learn wholesome lessons about life and friendship. There is also an educational component of the natural environment and actual animals. I also love the narration of this show. 

Negatives: None 

2. Spirit Riding Free 

Streaming Service: Netflix 

Recommended Ages: 4-10 years old 

Plot: This turn of the century show takes place in the fictional frontier town of Miradero. Lucky and her best friends, Pru and Abigail, ride their horses, Spirit, Chica Linda, and Boomerang respectively and embark on a variety of adventures. My girls LOVE this show. They have watched Lucky and crew save the town from bank robbers and Frontier Flu, challenge gender expectations by entering a males-only horse race, and work together to solve a variety of every day (and not so every day) challenges.

My favorite episode is the Christmas one where a blizzard prevents the train from arriving with everyone’s Christmas presents. Rather than dwell on their lack of material gifts, the girls make homemade gifts for all the kids in town and deliver them secretly at night. It is a beautiful episode with beautiful Christmas carols (actual Christian ones like In the Bleak Mid-winter and Angels We Have Heard On High) and beautiful lessons about what is really important. 

Positives: This show promotes family, friendship, wholesome values, courage, problem-solving, girl power and is very entertaining and engaging. 

Negatives: There are some definite historical inaccuracies. 

 3. Octonauts 

Streaming Service: Netflix 

Recommended Ages: 2-7 years old

Plot: Follow the crew of the “Octopod” as they travel the oceans helping sea creatures. The characters are engaging animal members of the Octonauts—Captain Barnacles Bear, Kwazii Kitten, Peso Penguin, Dashi Dog, Shellington Sea Otter, Tweak Bunny, Professor Inkling Octopus, and Tunip the Vegimal (not sure what a Vegimal actually is). My kids love this show, and I love that they learn real facts about actual sea animls. It is fun and very informative. 

Positives: Teaches kids actual facts about sea animals. 

Negatives: None. 

4. Super Why 

Streaming Service: Netflix 

Recommended Age Range: 3-8 

Plot: Journey to the magical world of Storybook Village and meet the friends Whyatt, Pig, Red and Princess Pea. In this fairy tale meets super hero interactive cartoon, the friends meet at the “Book Club” and, once they change into their super alter-egos, embark on a problem-solving reading journey. My 4-year-old loves making predictions and solving riddles as they discover the “super letters” and find the solution to the “super big problem.” 

Positives: Teaches kids reading skills. 

Negatives: The music is a little annoying. 

5. The Magic School Bus Rides Again 

Streaming Service: Netflix 

Recommended Age Range: 4-10 years old 

Plot: Remember the Magic School Bus books and videos from our youth? Well, Ms. Frizzle‘s class is back again in this updated animated series. This time, the original Ms. Frizzle’s younger sister, Fiona, is the teacher. The magic school bus takes the class on a variety of unique “field trips” to learn, first-hand, about topics ranging from ecosystems to allergies and satellites to fossils. 

Positives: Highly educational material on a variety of topics. 

Negatives: None 

6. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood 

Streaming Service: Amazon Prime 

Recommended Age Range: 2-5 years old 

Plot: Another spin-off of a beloved children’s show of yesteryear, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood continues the story of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood from the viewpoint of an animated pre-school tiger. Daniel and his friends navigate the everyday situations children face with positive attitudes, catchy songs, and gentle guidance from the adult characters. My kiddos love this show and I often overhear them quoting the songs and wisdom as they deal with difficult situations (“Mad, mad, mad, it helps to say I’m mad!” or “When you’re upset, you can find a way to feel better!”) 

Positives: A gentle and positive show that teaches kids about how to share, how to regulate emotions, how to maintain friendships and tons of other important pre-school skills. 

Negatives: None 

 7. Leo the Wildlife Ranger 

Streaming Service: Amazon Prime 

Recommended Age Range: 2-8 years old Zero mom guilt

Plot: Join Leo, Katie, and Ranger Rocky as they travel the world learning about and helping animals. My two-year-old absolutely loves this show. The other day she announced out of the blue that “Zebwas wiv in Afwica!” I didn’t know she knew Africa existed! Again, this is a fun and engaging program that is full of good information. 

Positives: This show gives kids tons of factual information on a variety of animals and their habitats. 

Negatives: None 

8. Dino Dana 

Streaming Service: Amazon Prime 

Recommended Age Range: 4-10 years old 

Plot: Dana is a 9-year-old girl OBSESSED with dinosaurs. In this live-action series, Dana experiences dinosaurs in her everyday life. With the help of her backpack and her dinosaur field guide, she imagines dinosaurs into real life and tests her theories about dinosaur abilities and behavior. The dinosaurs are CG and entertaining for kids to watch. 

Positives: Inspiring to little paleontologists and full of interesting dinosaur facts. 

Negatives: There is some creative license taken with the dinosaur facts. 

 9. Dinosaur Train 

Streaming Service: Amazon Prime 

Recommended Age Range: 2-6 years old 

Plot: Dinosaur Train is an imaginative and informative series that follows the adventures of Buddy the Tyrannosaurs and his adopted Pteranodon siblings. This cartoon is vividly animated, entertaining and informative. They use great vocabulary as the characters have adventures, solve problems, and learn about different types of dinosaurs—my preschooler was using they word “hypothesis” in sentences on her own! 

Positives: Tons of dinosaur information and great vocabulary. 

Negatives: The themes song is a bit annoying. 

 So, next time you need a break, stream one of these great shows for your kids and you don’t have to even feel guilty!! 

**This post contains affiliate links for products I use and love. If you click on a link, I may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you).**

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