Why Podcasts for Kids are Worthy of Being Part of Your Homeschool Day
By Jodi Murphy
When you think of podcasts, you might see them as solely entertainment for your family — listening to them as part of your children’s bedtime rituals or when you are out-and-about in the car. Both are fantastic reasons to listen, but did you know that there are numerous podcasts worthy of being a part of your homeschooling day?
Podcasts give children a much-needed break from screen time to engage them in “active listening.” Research has shown that active listening through audio increases focus, concentration, and comprehension; broadens vocabulary, and builds critical thinking.
Podcasts in the “Kids and Family” category are invaluable educational resources that are easily accessible, often downloadable, and available for free. Incorporating them into your daily plans is easy because so many podcast makers are also creating activity guides and curriculum for their episodes.
So where can you find podcasts worth adding to your lesson plans?
One of the best ways to find great podcasts for literacy, creativity, and STEM is through Kids Listen. This is a grassroots organization committed to high-quality audio content for children. The members work collectively to create high standards and best practices for Kids and Family podcasts.
Here’s a Kids Listen list of fun and educational podcasts that offer lessons — some free and others for a small fee — to get you started:
NOTE: These podcasts are available wherever you listen to podcasts. In this article, I will be linking you to the Kids Listen app.
The Story Seeds Podcast
This podcast has a very interesting format that will “seed” your child’s imagination. Kids ages 6 to 12 collaborate with a beloved storyteller who “grows” an original short story inspired by their ideas. If you want to go deeper into storytelling, Story Seeds offers their Imagination Lab, a series of individual episode activity kits for a small fee, and their new “Imagination Lab: Experiments in Creativity” activity book with over 80 pages of episode-inspired prompts and projects.
Dorktales Storytime Podcast
Jonathan Cormur is an award-winning storyteller, voice actor, and the inspiration behind the creation of the Dorktales Storytime Podcast. As a young child, Jonathan was a different kind of learner who always felt our greatest lessons came from stories. Now, he uses his experience to bring tales to life as the Dorktales’ narrator. Through his friendly recountings and charming character voices, he shares two kinds of stories: slightly wacky retellings of classic fairy tales, and stories about real-life hidden heroes in STEAM and human rights who made history in ways you’d never imagine. The podcast team has released activity guides for all of their Hidden Heroes of History episodes, available for free when you sign up for their podcast newsletter. Lessons for their fairy tales are in development.
April Eight Songs & Stories Podcast
April Eight Songs & Stories is a charming original fairytale and folk-song podcast for the whole family created by Waldorf teacher, storyteller, writer, and musician April Mann. She is creating Waldorf-inspired sets of lessons — wet-on-wet watercolor for K-2nd grade, math lessons, letter-sound introduction and blends. She’s rolling out a new set each month. Find the podcast and lessons on her website.
Book Club for Kids and The Fina Mendoza Mysteries
Two outstanding podcasts by Kitty Felde, an award-winning public radio journalist! Book Club for Kids is devoted to middle-grade books and readers. Each show features a trio of students discussing a favorite book, an interview with the author, and a celebrity reading. The Fina Mendoza Mysteries is a “West Wing” meets “Nancy Drew” podcast for little girls and political junkies. Both podcast series come with free curriculum, including a 32-page teacher’s guide for the Fina Mendoza Mysteries.
Tumble Science Podcast for Kids
Tumble explores stories of science discovery with the help of scientists. Lindsay Patterson (science journalist) and Marshall Escamilla (teacher) ask questions, explore mysteries and share what science is all about. They offer educational materials (for a small fee) that cover episode topics, transcripts, and curriculum.
Nature Just Got Real!
Join K.B. Carr, author of the Weird and Wacky Planet Series, along with a few friends, as they bring kids the skinny on what’s really going on in the natural world. Season 2 comes with coloring pages and free PDF lesson plans for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students, including Common Core and ELA codes, a resource list and recommended reads for the subject.
Wow in the World
Wow in the World is an NPR podcast that gives kids hope, agency and makes you say, “wow!” The hosts share stories about the latest news in science, technology, and innovation. They offer comprehensive resources including worksheets, recipes, crafts, experiments, and more that align with each episode. You can search for recommendations by age group, desired resource, and topic.
Eat Your Spanish
Eat Your Spanish Introduces the Spanish language to your children and family through interactive games, sing-along songs, funny characters, and engaging stories. Creators and hosts, Evan and Vanessa, share their deep love of music and the Spanish language in a way that’s fun and comforting. Vanessa, a certified Montessori teacher, has created lessons and activities for each episode, available to their Patreon supporters for a small monthly fee.
The Kids Listen Activity Podcast
Kids Listen members rallied together to launch The Kids Listen Activity Podcast to help homeschooling parents who are looking for ways to engage their kids in some screen-free learning. Over 50 episodes were released, giving kids a chance to listen and learn about science, animals, music, history, storytelling and language. It was so popular that the podcast is back for Season 2! You’ll find the lesson description at the end of each podcast along with links to printable materials.
Kids Listen University
Kids Listen University is a resource for teachers and parents who would like to incorporate high-quality kids’ podcasts into their lesson plans. It is currently a pilot program with free access to over 130 lesson plans for elementary school ages.
*Jodi Murphy is the founder of Geek Club Books autism storytelling nonprofit and a member of the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Board of Advisors. She manages the Dorktales Storytime Podcast team of creators who believe in the power of storytelling. The podcast’s mission is to bring families together to laugh, learn and delight in a tale well told.