There's no reason to feel guilty about some screen time, especially if you're housebound with kids! Subscription streaming services Netflix, Stan and Disney+ offer lots of entertaining shows with educational benefits. I've made a list of some of the best on each service.
At peak times very high demand can be expected for these shows, so I suggest you plan ahead and download episodes to watch offline in the future. Note you will need internet access to renew downloaded episodes after each episode's expiry date.
All the streaming services frequently update their library, so check often for new additions.
Also, look into what streaming services are available online from your local library service. Check out Melbourne's best libraries.
1. Ask the StoryBots, 3+ years
Join the crew of StoryBots on an adventure each episode to learn the answer to a “big question” such as “Where does night come from?”.
The episode answers the question more than once so younger learners may grasp more of the concept and uses animation and music to engage the audience.
2. Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood, 3+ years
An animated show about Daniel Tiger, his family and friends.
The focus is on recognising and addressing feelings and age-appropriate techniques for handling social problems.
3. Mister Maker, 4+ years
The dynamic Mister Maker presents a range of art and craft-based activities in his brightly decorated studio for children to try at home.
Mister Maker is also available via ABC Kids and ABC iview.
4. The Magic School Bus & The Magic School Bus Rides Again, 5+ years
Based on the eponymous books, The Magic School Bus heads out on an adventure and explores a different concept each episode, with science knowledge along the way.
The Magic School Bus Rides Again is a more modern reboot of the original series, and once again each episode is based on a scientific concept. An additional theme each episodes explores an individual character’s learning and development as a result of the adventure the bus embarks on.
Related: Best Books about Germs for Kids (including the Magic School Bus' The Giant Germ)
5. Odd Squad, 5+ years
The Odd Squad are a team of primary school-aged children who problem-solve with the use of maths.
It is an engaging show that includes social themes like team work.
6. The Lorax, 5+ years
A favourite of Dr Seuss’ stories, adapted for film. A cautionary tale about protecting forests, The Lorax is tasked with saving the Truffala trees from the Once-Ler before the environment is ruined forever.
Adaptations of other Dr Seuss books and characters, including The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That where Nick and Sally learn about a different topic each episode.
7. Brainchild, 7+ years
Science presented in a relatable and light hearted way. Includes demonstration of experiments with youthful hosts.
Each Brainchild episode focuses on a different topic, such as Germs, Memories, Space and Thinking.
8. Carmen Sandiego, 7+ years
The 1990s computer games (which were available on a floppy disk, inserted into an Apple 2E) have been updated in this modern animated show.
Carmen Sandiego is still an international thief, but with a more altruistic spin. Geography and culture are incorporated in each episode.
9. Matilda, 9+ years
Some of Roald Dahl’s classic books have been made into movies, and Matilda is on Netflix. Great to watch after you’ve read the book!
10. You Vs. Wild, 10+ years
Join Bear Grylls for an interactive experience in the wilderness. It's like a wilderness choose-your-own-adventure!
Viewers are invited to direct Grylls toward one option or another – e.g. mode of transport or choice of food.
11. Sugar Rush, 10+ years
A challenge-based reality baking show that is perfect for children who enjoy cooking, art and crafts and even budding scientists! There is also a themed Sugar Rush Christmas.
The contestants apply prior knowledge and problem-solving skills to create tasty and attractive desserts within a set time for a panel of judges.
12. Crazy Delicious, 11+ years
A creative cooking show where contestants are challenged to cook dishes with ingredients sourced from a garden set. The judges on this quirkily presented show are Carla Hall, Heston Blumenthal and Niklas Ekstedt.
13. The Wiggles, 2+ years
Bop along and learn about tune and rhythm with Australia’s favourite colourful quartet. There are multiple Wiggles titles available on Stan.
14. The Numtums, 3+ years
Building fundamental numeracy skills for pre-schoolers. Each numbat character has a number on their tummy and they go on an adventure each episode that involves music and games.
The Num Tums is also available via ABC iview.
15. Super Why!, 3+ years
The characters journey through classic stories with well-known characters to encourage early literacy skills, as well as developing social skills through teamwork.
16. Octonauts, 3+
The Octonauts work as a team to help marine life in this animated series.
Learn about the different species under the sea and the variety of environments that they inhabit.
17. Julia Donaldson
Some of the wildly popular Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler books have been made into delightful short films that use the words from the books, and The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child, The Highway Rat, Stick Man and Room on the Broom are all available on Stan!
18. David Walliams
The recurring character, local shopkeeper Raj, appears in each story, and each offers a life lesson.
19. Little Einsteins, 2+ years
Join the band of 4 heroes for music and art themed fun. Each episode of Little Einsteins sees the characters embark on a goal oriented mission.
20. Jake and the Neverland Pirates, 3+ years
This fun show for pre-schoolers incorporates humour and music, along with invitations to get involved, to keep children engaged.
Basic mathematical skills are incorporated into the episodes, which also feature strong social messages – problem-solving, supporting peers and respecting individuals.
21. Doc McStuffins, 4+ years
A cheerful TV show to inspire imaginative play and promote use of problem solving techniques.
The show includes basic age-appropriate health and hygiene messages. I also like how Doc McStuffins is female and brown-skinned!
Remember Forky, the handmade plastic spork toy from Toy Story 4? Forky now has his own series discussing philosophy and other curious questions “What is a friend?”, “What is art?”, “What is time?”.
23. Be Our Chef
A cooking challenge reality show with a twist! Families are challenged to create a Disney inspired dish.
24. The Big Fib 6+ years
Liar liar pants on fire! Pants on Fire is a podcast game show where a kid interviews two experts in a particular topic, one of which is a genuine expert and the other is a liar. It's one of the best podcasts for kids in my view!
Now the podcast has been turned into a TV show – The Big Fib (and the podcast has changed its name too).
The Big Fib is full of outrageous truths that sound like lies and audacious lies that sound like the truth.
25. Bizarre Dinosaurs, 7+ years
National Geographic documentary about the most peculiar dinosaurs and their origins.
26. Brain Games, 8+ years
This show looks at how the brain works to process the information we encounter throughout our lives.
There is audience participation invited with some fun experiments, optical illusions and brainteasers. However, some of the episodes and experiments undertaken by volunteers on this show can be uncomfortable for younger viewers so some prior screening may be required.
27. Dr. Oakley: Yukon Vet, 10+ years
National Geographic documentary about Dr. Oakley, a vet servicing a wide range of both wild and domestic animals in the Yukon.
Watch the best ABC for Kids TV Shows
I hope this post has helped or inspired you! Get my awesome weekly newsletter in your inbox every week to find out more ways for your family to have fun together!