In the Wild West of kids digital media today, YouTube is perhaps the wildest of all. I mean, my parents just had to peel me away from The Brady Bunch or The Love Boat; they did not have to worry about me “clicking the wrong button” in elementary school and stumbling onto sexual or violent images or teen role models who swear all the time. Even with screen-time limits and generally good judgment, my kids will often spend far too long watching YouTube’s mindless fluff — endless “funniest pet tricks,” video game “advice” or negative banter about sports or popular media. I’ve quickly realized that it’s hard to simply say, “Don’t watch that.” Know what’s a lot easier than that? Saying, “How about watching this instead” — and offering new content ideas all of us will love.
The good news is amazing content does exist on YouTube; it’s just buried in the 7 billion (and growing) videos that are so often garbage. An hour on YouTube can be engaging, educational and inspiring and offer positive role models — but good videos kids actually enjoy are not easy to find. So I set off on a search through mountains of YouTube content to start building a lineup of the really good stuff.
Below is a handful to kick us off: 11 YouTube channels for various ages and interests, plus links to more on SmartFeed, where you can find and save great kids media. The 11 fun and educational channels ahead focus on animals, science, crafts, magic, sports and cooking. I’ll keep adding to the full playlist, so feel free to share anything you and your kids love.
See the full playlist of kid- and parent-approved YouTube Channels and save to a free SmartFeed Library.
Tip for parents: When you start playing a YouTube video, turn off Autoplay (upper right corner) unless you are in a Playlist of titles you selected so the next video doesn’t start without your approval.
Best for ages 6 and up, this YouTube channel has a fun compilation of crafts, DIY projects and life hacks kids will love to try — or at least they’ll love to watch the videos. Five-Minute Crafts is a wonderful site to inspire children’s creativity and imagination.
National Geographic Kids
This YouTube channel, featuring jaw-dropping footage and fascinating facts about nature and wildlife, is chock-full of amazing educational and entertaining videos for kids ages 8 and up. Curated playlist topics range from volcanic eruptions to mysterious human biology to wild weather — plus lots of animal cuteness to bring out all the awwws. As can be expected, some of the scenes of wild animals attacking and killing their prey are graphic, so viewers should be mature enough to handle these images.
This YouTube Channel is a compilation of science experiments for children. It claims to make science “super fun and super simple.” Experiments are narrated in a clear, direct style with step-by-step instructions, including a list of the materials you need to do the experiments at home. A range of safe science experiments for kids 9 and up (with help from an adult when necessary) are available, including “How to Make Mini Lightsabers at home.”
Super Simple Songs & Kids’ Shows
This YouTube channel was created in a small classroom in Japan in 2005 but has grown to become a favorite program of preschool children and parents all over the world. The songs, nursery rhymes and videos help teach children to sing, dance, draw, problem-solve, respect others and adopt good everyday habits such as brushing teeth. Long-term favorites include Mr. Monkey, Monkey Mechanic and the Bumble Nums — along with a few fun collaborations with the Wiggles.
The San Diego Zoo
This YouTube channel has one of the largest collections of kid-friendly videos — and it helps children 2 and older learn about animals, science and ecology. The San Diego Zoo is one of the few places in the world that houses and successfully breeds the giant panda, so it has lots of adorable footage of baby pandas and their moms. It also offers videos of animals from Australia — taken at the Koalafornia Dreamin’ exhibit — as well as animals in the new Africa Rocks habitat (monkeys, hippos, giraffes, lions and cheetahs, oh my!).
‘Sports Illustrated Kids’
Great for ages 8 and up, this YouTube channel has a nice collection of sports videos, including kid-reporter interviews with basketball, football and baseball legends — and inspiring stories about the past SI Kids SportsKids of the year, such as Mo’ne Davis (a 13-year-old female baseball, basketball and soccer star).
HooplaKidz (Hair) Style
This YouTube channel is a collection of how-to videos for kids 6 and older on hairstyles and nail designs that will inspire creativity and artistic expression. My favorite includes 33 videos of fun and easy DIY hair tutorials for short, medium and long hair (“Braid it, Knot it, Make a Bow”). With tons of hairstyle ideas for kids of any gender, these videos make chic hairstyles easy to copy.
This YouTube channel gives kids a slew of videos on how to make unusual, creative treats with recipes and easy step-by-step instructions. Young chefs ages 7 and up (with help from an adult) can learn how to follow a recipe and how to be creative and imaginative in their cooking and presentation. The recipes range from rainbow-colored desserts to pizza rings to healthy homemade ice cream. Bonus: While your child prepares delicious treats, they’re also strengthening their knowledge of math and language as well as sensory and fine motor skills.
Books Read Aloud for Children
This YouTube channel is just what it sounds like: videos of kids books read aloud by a storyteller. It gives 2-year-olds and older the librarian-storytime experience right from home. Over 100 great kids books have been recorded so far, with more added each week, including A Bad Case of Stripes, Where the Wild Things Are, Love You Forever and the Thomas the Train books.
The Kid President YouTube channel features 12-year-old Robby Novak — better known as Kid President — who has charmed millions of kids, adults and teachers with his fun video pep talks. Kid President spreads his perspectives on gratitude, courage, compassion, kindness and having a positive attitude. His mantras include “treat everybody like it’s their birthday” and “give the world a reason to dance.” Kid President believes kids can change the world; it just takes teamwork. He inspires viewers 7 and up to listen to each other and take action. Can Kid President be our actual president?
This YouTube channel for kids 10 and older has a fun collection of magic and illusion tricks that are fairly straightforward to perform. Quirkology is the brainchild of magician, psychologist and author Richard Wiseman. Wiseman does a nice job of showing tricks and then explaining how they work — although you may need to pause the video here and there to try them out. If you are into psychology, illusions, bets you always win, magic and the impossible, this is the place to be.
What Is SmartFeed?
SmartFeed is a free family media resource to help parents find and organize books, movies, TV, podcasts and apps that are just right for each member of the family through an easy-to-use app and website. Our mission is to help parents access inspiring educational media that their kids will love.
We offer savable, shareable playlists for families and communities. Titles are easily sortable by provider (e.g., Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, etc.), age and topic.
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