Sometimes YouTube gets a bad rap. Sure, there are countless videos of kids unboxing toys and grown men narrating Minecraft—but there’s also tons of educational content to keep your kids entertained and learning. From step-by-step drawing lessons to DIY science experiments, YouTube is teeming with amazing content you’ll feel good about sharing with your littles. Here are our recommendations for the best Youtube Channels for Kids.*
*If you feel safer putting your kid on the more kid-filtered YouTube Kids, you can find select episodes of much of the below content via the YouTube Kids search bar.
Science & Nature
Smithsonian - While the Smithsonian does have a paid portion of its channel, there is still a plethora of free videos to peruse on its Youtube Channel—everything from documentary-style videos with real, historic footage of big events throughout history to a series on orangutan conservation that will make your little a full-on expert on apes.
National Geographic - You'll find a sprawling library of Nat Geo videos, from Brain Games to Planet Earth. Parents will need to sleuth the channel to find the videos most appropriate for their kids' needs, but there are so many quality choices Mom and Dad may want to come back and browse for themselves.
Bill Nye The Science Guy - The quirky scientist has a myriad of easy-to-understand segments on a variety of complex scientific concepts including static electricity, chemical reactions and evolution. Kids will love Nye's goofy demeanor; parents will love that he explains things just right for young scientists.
Cincinnati Zoo - This zoo recently made it its mission to offer "Home Safaris" for homeschooled kids. The 45-minute virtual field trips give viewers an inside look at the zoo's various residents with the help of a keeper, who teaches a full-on lesson (Psst: Our favorite is this one-on-one with the hippos.). The field trips live stream on Facebook and then are posted to the Youtube Channel for those who couldn't make the live class. The best part: It's all free!
San Diego Zoo - Watch a giant tortoise munch down a watermelon; see a baby gorilla's tiny face up close; watch polar bears play in the snow. There's a reason the San Diego Zoo is known worldwide—and its Youtube channel gives viewers an inside peek into the action.
Sick Science - Steve Spangler hosts this fun channel that gives kids great ideas for DIY experiments. Kids can make a "sugar kaleidoscope," make geodes inside an eggshell and make an instrument out of a straw.
Mystery Doug - Big concepts, small concepts—it's all here. Mystery Doug puts sciences into words and visuals that kids can understand. Each video is about five minutes long, and Doug (a former school teacher) makes it easy for kids to grasp questions like, "How do germs get inside our bodies?" or "Why do we get goosebumps?" To subscribe, go to his website (it's free!). Some videos also have easy-to-do activities or experiments that go with them.
Ryan's Easy Science Experiments for Kids - The king of "unboxing," Ryan Kaji (of Ryan's World and Ryan's Toy Review) has a new show just for kids staying home because of COVID-19. Ryan's Easy Science Experiments for Kids shows kids how to do fun things like how to make rock candy, how to make a tiny tornado and how to make a volcano. Kids who are already fans of Ryan will cling to every word. For everyone else, Ryan has enough enthusiasm and teaching know-how to make science fun for little learners.
Doctor Mad Science - This channel is full of easy-to-understand videos of simple-to-perform science experiments. Got milk, Q-tips and soap? You've got one experiment covered! A grape and a microwave? You won't believe what happens (and make sure you supervise!). The channel is hosted by a young autistic boy, who narrates and does all the experiments himself.
The Quirkles - This channel is based on the children's book series, which follows 26 young scientists (one for each letter of the alphabet) as they perform a variety of easy and fun science experiments.
Art & Music
Art For Kids Hub - We love watching artist Rob—and his adorable family—making art together. Rob gives easy, step-by-step instructions that will have even the smallest kiddos making art in just minutes. With popular kid subjects like Pokemon, Star Wars, Frozen and Fortnite (as well as a slew of other things that are just plain cute), the videos make drawing super-easy and fun.
Disney Parks Drawing Tutorials - Learn how to draw your favorite Disney characters (Note: The link takes you to the Disney Parks channel, and you have to scroll to find the characters you want to draw.).
EasyPicturesToDraw - For more reluctant artists, these step-by-step tutorials make it super-easy to draw simple characters.
Red Ted Art - Easy-to-do art projects that are suitable even for young (3+) children. Kids and parents can create everything from cardboard roll projects to pop-up cards and bath bombs.
Babble Dabble Do - Part art, part science, this channel teaches kids how to make a variety of things, from paper lanterns and rubber eggs to wizard's brew, rubber eggs and DIY toys (we love this super-easy instructional on how to make a "rubber" egg). Some of these are a bit complicated, so most require parental supervision to keep kids on track.
KidsActivitiesBlog - You'll find simple art projects using household items. There's a slew of toilet paper roll projects, as well as things like paper plate crowns, sidewalk chalk paint and gak bubbles.
Inner Child Fun - Kids can learn how to make a duct tape wallet, a paper fortune teller, tissue paper flowers, a foolproof paper airplane and more.
Muffalo Potato - Kids learn to draw using the shapes of numbers and letters.
Art with Mati & Dada - Animated shorts (each is around eight minutes long) make it easy for kids to learn about specific artists, from Van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci to Jackson Pollock and Kandinsky.
Hoffman Academy Piano Lessons - Easy-to-follow piano lessons for kids and adults.
To Get Kids Thinking
Smart Girls - Saturday Night Live's Amy Poehler co-founded Smart Girls to help young people "cultivate their authentic selves"—and its YouTube channel highlights a variety of topics, from "Making Math Fun" to profiles of famous women in history. It's best for tweens to teens.
TED-Ed - Short videos on interesting topics, from "A Day in the Life" videos about various people in history ("A day in the life of an ancient Egyptian doctor," for instance) to brainy riddles for kids to solve.
TinkerLab - An online maker space where kids can learn how to create a variety of things from basic and repurposed materials—from cloud dough and paperclip bracelets to chain reaction ideas and stop motion animation instruction.
Soul Pancake - Older kids and tweens can explore the world—and learn how to change it—via these inspiring videos.
It's OK to Be Smart - Joe Hanson, Ph.D. helps answer fun questions like, "Humans are smart. Why are babies so unsmart?" and "How to drink coffee in space."
Nerdy Nummies Cooking - Kids will learn how to make a variety of cakes, cupcakes and sandwiches—often with shaped or themed on pop culture favorites (make Star Wars' blue milk or Harley Quinn's famous cheese sandwich.).
The Bow Girls - Two adorable sisters teach kids how to make fun things like ice cream cupcakes, blueberry muffins in a mug and green eggs and ham.
Miniature Space - Want to see giant on-screen hands making a hamburger fit for a mouse? Kids aren't necessarily going to recreate these edible items at home, but watching these tiny foods being made is fascinating for all! Even the plates and frying pans are dollhouse-sized ... and yet it all works and cooks like the real (human-sized) things.
To Get Kids Moving
Cosmic Kids Yoga - A yoga and mindfulness program designed for kids 3 and up, yogi Jaime makes yoga poses fun for kids by turning them into stories and using some of the kids' favorite pop culture themes to grab their attention (there's a Minecraft yoga story, for instance, that asks kids to use various poses to "survive" the Minecraft world).
Go Noodle - Short videos (they're all under five minutes) to get kids moving, these videos make perfect "brain breaks" during the day. Kids can hop on and learn Fortnite dances, pop bubbles on screen, or hop and jump with Sonic the Hedgehog.
Just Dance Kids - You don't need a video game console to let your kids follow the Just Dance moves. Just type "Just Dance Kids" into the YouTube search menu, and you'll get a plethora of videos that'll make kids feel like they're playing the game (and younger kiddos don't even know the difference).
Seven Minute Workout - OK, so this isn't really for kids. But Mom and Dad need a workout, too! And this is only seven minutes, so kids can join in.
Super Simple Songs - Toddlers will be mesmerized watching these colorful videos featuring simple songs like "Twinkle Twinkle" and "Five Little Ducks." Need a few minutes to decompress? Plop your tot in front of this for a bit, and you'll both be happy.
KidsTV123 - Toddlers and preschoolers can learn basics like letters, shapes and colors with these short musical videos.
Sesame Street - Kids can dance, sing and learn with all their favorite Sesame Street friends.
Pinkfong - It's the YouTube channel that hatched the infamous Baby Shark—and tons of other cute song videos your toddler will love.
WordWorld - Full episodes of the popular PBS show that helps kids learn how to build and recognize letters and words.
Just for Fun
OK GO - This LA-based rock band makes music videos that look more like YouTube stunts than song. The band does all kinds of cool stunts set to their music, from singing and dancing in zero-gravity to a dance routine done on treadmills. Kids will be too enthralled to dance, but that's OK—so will you.
Dude Perfect - What started as four friends recording trick shots in their backyard basketball court has become a multimillion operation—and one of the most popular sports channels on YouTube (they have 50 million subscribers!). The friends do all kinds of fun record-breaking stunts, including "the world's longest basketball shot made with your head," and "the world's highest basketball shot (which was thrown from the top of a skyscraper).
Storyline Online - Celebrities read aloud from their favorite story books, which are then given some simple animation to bring the stories to life.
Featured image: iStock