Bored of the radio? 7 podcasts to listen to with your kids on the ride to school

September 25, 2017 | Posted in: Elementary, Middle Years

Podcasts have become part of my daily routine.

I wake up, brush my teeth, pour myself a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats and download a podcast for my commute to work.

It sure beats listening to radio commercials, and – if I can sift through the hundreds of thousands available to find a good one – they leave me feeling smarter and strapped with small talk ammo by the end of my hour-long commute.

I’ve binge-listened to “Serial,” “S-Town,” and even made it through some non-fiction shows such as “Rabbits” and “Tanis.” But, honestly, it’s the entertaining style of learning and quirkiness of “Radiolab” and “This American Life” that I truly appreciate.

John Slyer, a science coach at Amsterdam High School, has found podcasts to be a fun way to connect students with important learning material.

“Kids are linked to the internet and can review almost anywhere,” he said about his decision to use podcasts in the classroom. “Many students used the podcasts … and some are still being used on the net.”

And “almost anywhere,” he said, could definitely include commute time to and from school.

“Driving or bus time to school is a great time for a quick review for students,” Slyer said.

A recent Edison Research report estimated that about two-thirds of 12-to-24-year-olds listen to online radio weekly in 2014. And 30 percent of the report’s respondents said they had listened to a podcast at least once.

While the podcasts Slyer used in the past are no longer available, I put together a list of interesting educational shows parents and students can listen to – and maybe make part of their daily routines, too.

The latest episode of each podcast – all of which are available on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher — is included.

And the best part? They’re all free.

But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids

But Why is a show led by kids. They ask the questions — about nature, words, even the end of the world — and the hosts find the answers. Kids can use their parent’s smart phone to submit a question and it may air on the show.


According to its website, “Tumble” is a “science podcast for kids, to be enjoyed by the entire family.” The hosts, Lindsay and Marshall, tell stories “about science discoveries, with the help of scientists.”

Book Club for Kids

Targeting young readers, “Book Club for Kids” is a biweekly podcast “where kids talk about books,” according to its website.

Brains On!

According to its website, Brains On! is a science podcast for curious kids and adults. Co-hosted each week by kid scientists and reporters from public radio, they ask questions ranging from the science behind sneezing to how to translate the purr of cats.

Wow in the World

Wow in the World is a NPR show that is a “way for families to connect, look up and discover the wonders in the world around them. Every episode, hosts Mindy and Guy guide curious kids and their grown-ups away from their screens and on a journey. Through a combination of careful scientific research and fun, we’ll go inside our brains, out into space, and deep into the coolest new stories in science and technology.”

Short & Curly

“Short & Curly” is a “fast-paced fun-filled ethics podcast for kids and their parents, with questions and ideas to really get you thinking.” There’s time for questions about animals, technology, school, pop culture and the future, but also time for silliness, according to its website.

The Longest Shortest Time

Here’s one for parents! Hosted by “This American Life” contributor and author Hillary Frank, this podcast is a parenting show for everyone. According to its website, the podcast shares “stories about the surprises and absurdities of raising other humans—and being raised by them. The Longest Shortest Time is a bold, daring podcast about parenthood in all of its forms.”

Alissa Scott is a public information specialist for the Capital Region BOCES Communications service in Albany, NY. She loves to go camping in the Adirondacks, DIY projects and her cat, Wednesday Addams.

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