As we seek to enhance instruction with technology, one tool we might not think of is podcasts. These can be used in flipped classrooms or blended learning models in the same way you might use videos: to deliver content, provide enrichment, or explain topics in a different way for students who don’t get a concept the first time around. As podcasts become a more popular medium, a growing number of them are being produced just for kids. Today we’re going to look at eight of them that you can share with your students tomorrow.
A Quick Introduction to Podcasts
If you know what podcasts are and you already listen to them, then you can skip this part. If not, this section will introduce you to the wonderful world of podcasts.
What is a podcast?
A podcast is a lot like a radio show. It has episodes, like a TV show would have, and it’s usually in audio-only format, although video podcasts do exist. The length of a podcast episode can vary drastically, anywhere from two minutes to two hours, and they produce on a schedule that ranges from daily to “whenever.” Listeners will typically subscribe to favorite podcasts, so that new episodes are delivered to them through whatever app they use.
How does one listen to podcasts?
Although you can listen to them right through a desktop or laptop computer, many people listen to podcasts on a smartphone, on a tablet, or in their cars, using a podcast app that can grab just about any show you’re interested in and update that series whenever a new episode is published. This overview from Digital Trends explains how podcasts work and what your options are for listening.
Got it? Now let’s dig in to these eight fantastic podcasts.
Age Range: Best for ages 6-12, appropriate for any age
Tumble is a science podcast that shares the stories behind science discovery. It explores how science actually works as a process. With stories ranging from reaching the deepest part of the ocean to hunting for black holes in distant galaxies, Tumble is co-hosted by a science journalist and a teacher.
Sample Episode: The Mystery of When Brains and Sports Collide
Book Club For Kids
Age Range: Best for ages 9-14, appropriate for any age
In every episode of this podcast, a different group of kids discusses a young adult book. Each episode also features a celebrity reader and an interview with the book’s author.
Sample Episode: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Short & Curly
Age Range: Best for ages 7-12, appropriate for any age
Short & Curly is an ethics podcast from Australia. The hosts investigate dilemmas relevant to kids, like whether you have to love your sibling or whether Pokemon Go is actually playing you.
Sample Episode: Is it ever okay to lie?
The Show About Science
Age Range: Best for ages 3-9, but fun for curious minds of any age!
This science interview show is hosted by 6-year-old Nate, and while it has some serious science chops, it’s also just plain adorable. Nate talks to scientists about everything from alligators to radiation to vultures, in his distinctly original interviewing style.
Sample Episode: Climate Change, Evolution and Bacon with John Wiens
Age Range: Best for ages 8-18, but entertaining for older ages as well
This fast-paced, quirky podcast uses fictional stories to teach listeners about science. It’s hosted by an emergency medicine physician, a science journalist, and a filmmaker. Season 1 tells the story of three kids who are separated from their parents during a zombie apocalypse.
Sample Episode: Episode 1: Brain Traps
(Note: The audio player on this site takes some time to kick in after you press play.)
Age Range: Best for ages 6-12, but interesting to all curious minds
Each episode of this science podcast is co-hosted by a different kid, tackling their questions with interviews, fun segments, and the occasional musical number. Episodes cover a wide range of topics like carnivorous plants, interpreting dog and cat sounds, and life on other planets.
Sample Episode: Mosquitoes: What are they good for?
Age Range: Best for ages 5-10, but interesting to all curious minds
Produced by Vermont Public Radio, each episode of this podcast starts with an audio recording of a child asking a question (listeners are invited to send in their own), such as why people have different religions, why the sea is salty, and whether bumblebees have hearts. The rest of the episode goes on to answer that question by inviting experts to share their knowledge on the topic in simple language kids can understand.
Sample Episode: Why is soccer called “soccer” instead of “football”?
Classics for Kids
Age Range: Materials available for grades K-5, but content would be interesting to anyone wanting to learn about composers
The short episodes of this classical music podcast introduce listeners to different composers, often taking several episodes to study specific pieces or aspects of a composer’s work. The site also offers lesson plans, games, and other activities to supplement the show.
Sample Episode: Scott Joplin: Ragtime Music
Share Your Recommendations
This list is just the beginning: Let’s keep growing the collection in the comments! If you know of a great educational podcast that teachers and parents can share with their kids, tell us about it below, and feel free to provide a link so other readers can find it quickly.♦
I’d like to give a BIG thanks to Lindsay Patterson of the Tumble Podcast for putting this awesome list together for me, and providing many of the descriptions!
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So much of the learning curve time in teaching and planning is used finding and vetting good resources. Thanks Jennifer for bringing these resources to our doorsteps where we can look over them like the Sunday paper! I will be using these as part of a Play List for an IB MYP Unit my students are just starting!
I’m glad these will be put to good use, Kelly!
thanks love this
That paragraph was very interesting.I luv everything you do,please keep the good work up
When I said paragraph I meant ARTICLE lol ;p
Homeschool History with Greg Jenner
I have been trying to pull together a list of appropriate podcasts for my students as an alternative during silent reading time. I was thinking they could benefit from the rich storytelling used in many podcasts (think Invisibilia, Serial, etc.). Many of these on the list will be a good start, especially Shabam!, but I hope some other people will chime in with suggestions that might fit that particular need. Thank you so much for addressing this topic! I also want to give props to Listenwise (which I found through you). I have been able to integrate a few episodes into my classes.
I’m so glad to hear you’re liking Listenwise, Kelly! I think the body of good podcasts out there is just going to keep growing. It’s such an easy medium for creation, and the possibilities for good podcasts with focused topic areas are really just endless.
Have you tried stories podcast? They have fairy tales, traditional stories, and even some science fiction stories that I have used for kids 5-12. It is a great way for kids who have decoding issues to practice their reading skills outside of decoding.
Thanks for these great ideas. It would be helpful to have a sense of what age range each is best/appropriate for, any thought?
My own kid is going to love the young adult literature one.
Hi Susan! We are working on getting that information added to the list. Keep an eye on the post for more soon!
Thanks – that’s a great list. I have been using podcasts in my high school classes (RadioLab, On the Media etc) and the students really enjoy them.
I have heard of RadioLab but not On the Media. Will have to check those out.
I have been listening to podcast for my own enrichment. I am an elementary art teacher. Would love to see something appropriate for K-5 on art history. Thank you!
Keep checking back — if I hear of anything I’ll post it in the comments myself.
This is a great list! I love that there are several science podcasts and that some are created by kids. I love Book Club for Kids. My students did a short show last year to talk about their favorite books. I highly recommend this podcast.
These are wonderful resources. Thank you! Another favorite of mine is “Skunk Bear”, a science “Tumblr” produced by NPR. Easiest to find by entering Skunk Bear into YouTube’s search. Some sample episodes include: “A Crafty Flower’s Putrid Flower”; “Your Body’s Real Age”. Here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/user/NPRskunkbear
Thanks for the recommendation, Kimberly!
Thanks Jennifer! I work with the Brains On! team. Wondering how you first heard of Brains On! or how you discover good podcasts for kids for either teaching or to recommend for parents.
Hi Meggan! Lindsay Patterson from the Tumble podcast actually collected the items on this list for me.
We love podcasts at Listenwise and especially ones that engage kids. Here’s another great article with a list of podcasts for kids segmented into age groups. https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2016/10/23/how-audiobooks-can-help-kids-who-struggle-with-reading/
I think I found The Non-Fiction Minute podcast from this list. I am a Social Studies teacher and I’m very interested in finding podcasts that will be useful in my Middle School classroom. So far the Non-Fiction minute is all that I have found (other than some that I think would work better for high school like Hardcore History by Dan Carlin). Does anyone have any suggestions of podcasts for Middle School students studying Social Studies?
My kids (elementary/middle school age) LOVE NPR’s Wow in the World (we like it too – it’s fairly common for family road trip listening:)
Here is a list of podcasts for students that I put together recently…
Check out our new podcast “the Past and The Curious”
We weave a theme thru true unsung stories from history, humanizing tales, valid musical performances and fun quiz sections. It’s a lot of fun to create!
Just a few episodes right now but a whole batch in production.
Also on iTunes, Stitcher http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/mick-sullivan/the-past-and-the-curious
Hope someone enjoys. Parents and keep de have agreed so far!
Thanks for sharing this, Mick!
The Past and the Curious is my family’s favorite!!!! We just introduced it to cousins yesterday who subsequently begged their mom to let them listen on their road trip today!
Hello Jennifer, thanks for a great list of podcasts. I am the creator of Baalgatha (which means children’s stories), we launched in June 2016 and. We publish 2 episodes per week, one each in English and Hindi. Our website is http://www.gaatha.co
A great podcast for kids is April Eight! Lots of songs and original stories by a former rock band singer who now has a family of her own. My girls love this! http://aprileight.libsyn.com
Thanks, J! I am so glad your girls love my podcast! I love creating it. ❤
NPR also has a new podcast that started today called WOW in the World. I listened to the first episode today with my two girls. It sounds good so far!
Yes! My kids LOVE Wow in the World!!!
Love the recommendations! As a father of 4 year old I was struggling to find the right content for my son! However, I will take this a step further by having technology solve for it — I also happen to be creator of Leela Podcast App (https://appsto.re/us/3n0Ncb.i IOS/Free) and currently we are working on a kids-only version of the App to allow parents to quickly play an episode based on their kids age/interest. If you have any thoughts/comments, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
These are great! Do you have any suggestions for 3-5 minutes? Often we have under 5 minutes to fill before lunch, before recess, or as we wait for a guest to come in and talk to the class. I have used the videos on SciGirls Scientist profiles (below), but I would love to have 3-5 minute podcasts to choose from too!
Thanks for the content. It is very useful. Will pass it on to other teachers.
From a Puerto Rican living in Albania.
Write Life is another great podcast for middle grade kids and up, featuring authors interviewed by Fremd High School students and alumni. Past episodes feature acclaimed YA authors like Jeff Zentner, Nic Stone, Samira Ahmed. They run about 30-40 minutes and feature an author reading and clever game, too. Highly recommend!
I would also add Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls! Bite-sized stories about women who’ve changed the world!
My son (age 10) really likes “Wow in the World” from NPR: https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510321/wow-in-the-world/.
My students and I love Everything Is Alive. We made our own podcasts using this as a mentor text. Soooo fun!
I’m excited to try out all these new podcast suggestions. Thank you. We have been enjoying Circle Round. Short stories with morals, similar to Aesop’s fables. They are a springboard for good discussion afterward, or reminders when situations arrive.
Hello internet is a good age appropriate podcast
Stories Podcast. for kids and families. is a wonderful addition to any family listening to podcasts. It is a collection of retellings of fables and folktales and original stories too. Along with the stories are beautiful songs and music.
I hope you check it out!
We love Fierce Girls .. my girls are addicted ! Enjoy
This article is great! I’ve been curious about how to use podcasts in the classroom and have been wanting to explore having the students make podcasts. Between this article and the NPR post you shared on making podcasts I feel like I have some great info to run with! Thanks!
I always love learning about more podcasts I could listen to with my daughter. I came across one called Storytime with Dad, too, which has short, classic stories between 5-15 minutes each. Great for the bedtime routine or drives around town.
Hey Jennifer, this is a wonderful list! For some more audio fiction podcasts check out Timestorm, Six Minutes, Mars Patel, and Flyest Fables.
Thanks for sharing these suggestions!
Two podcasts for ages 14-18: In the SF Bay Area, local radio station KALW produces “tbh: (https://www.kalw.org/term/tbh) which stands for “to be honest” and they’re short opinion pieces or personal essays “Representing the voice of a generation.”
Also local is “YR Media (formerly Youth Radio)” https://yr.media/ and they have stories by teens on identity, arts/culture, tech, health, opinion pieces, and news.
I know teens who also enjoy “This American Life,” “Snap Judgement”, “The Moth,” and “TED Radio Hour”. “Serial” and “S-Town,” produced by This American Life, are also great for high school only (mature themes).
Thanks Jennifer, and all, for these helpful resources.