Best Educational TV Shows for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Illustration of three young children sitting on a beige couch and watching an educational TV show featuring an animated cat and mouse talking to each other in speech bubbles. The child in the middle, with brown hair, is pointing at the screen, while the child on the left, wearing a yellow shirt, is looking up at the screen. The child on the right, with blonde hair, is holding a remote control. In the background, there's a plant on the right side, contributing to the cozy atmosphere of the room.

Lots of shows call themselves educational, but some ACTUALLY are. And I don’t know about you, but right now, my sanity relies on finding the best educational shows for toddlers and preschoolers!

When we’re busy trying to keep kids happy while working from home (or even just trying to get dinner on the table), TV becomes more of a necessity than many of us might like. Let’s give ourselves a break and rest better knowing we’re at least turning our toddlers and preschoolers onto educational tv shows. 

Because every family watches different TV shows on different platforms, I went to the best source I knew to get a variety of information: other mamas.

They gave their recommendations, I vetted them like I do, and we’re here to present you with an amazing list. The BEST educational TV shows for toddlers and kids, all in one simple place (and you may like them, too!). 

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Educational TV Shows on Netflix

  1. True and the Rainbow Kingdom – If you want your child to learn how to brainstorm and change direction when things don’t go to plan, then True and the Rainbow Kingdom is for you! Each episode, True and her cat friend Bartleby receive 3 unique wishes to save the day.
  2. Gabby’s Dollhouse – Gabby and her cat friends in the dollhouse work together to solve problems and learn persistence. Plus, Gabby’s adorable friends Baby Box, Cakey, DJ Catnip, and more come together to teach shapes, music and more.
  3. Ask the StoryBots – We all know how inquisitive little people can be, and this show actually answers their questions! Episodes like “How Do You Make Music?” and “Why Do People Look Different” break down actual scientific questions for your toddler in a way that they can understand. Plus, the episodes are fun to watch (and are super entertaining for adults, with celebrity guest appearances like Jason Sudakis as the plumber explaining what happens when you flush a toilet.)
  4. Storybots Super Songs – Does your kid love to sing and dance? This show will teach them all about things like dinosaurs, emotions, and outer space–all while keeping it light and super entertaining. Parents can zone out, but if you do sit and watch, it’s cool–because it’s HILARIOUS!
  5. The Magic School Bus Rides Again – You remember how excited you got when your teacher popped in a VHS tape of The Magic School Bus? Mrs. Frizzle’s little sister Fiona is the star of this revamped childhood favorite, and she’s here to teach your kid all about things like glaciers, how flying works, and the nervous system! The plot of this show is a little more advanced, so it’s more one of the best educational shows for preschoolers (& even elementary school kids).
  6. Octonauts – This show is all about what happens under the sea. A team of brave explorers will entertain your child and explain mysterious creatures of the deep like blobfish, whales, spider crabs, and more. The show also teaches empathy as the explorers help out creatures in need.
  7. Charlie’s Colorforms City – This show focuses primarily on shapes and colors and is a great way to help reiterate your home lessons on these topics. Charlie goes on plenty of adventures, which keeps things fun and lively for your little one. 
Why trust us?

Our recommendations for educational shows for toddlers and preschoolers have been meticulously curated and vetted by Katy Huie Harrison, PhD. This article has been fact-checked by Samantha Radford, PhD and edited by Sarah Creel, PhD.

We dove deep into the world of educational tv shows, analyzing educational value, engagement factor, and age-appropriateness to ensure your little ones not only learn, but also enjoy the process.

Educational Shows for Preschoolers on Disney+

Disney+ has a great variety of TV shows for little ones.

  1. Bluey – Bluey is a big favorite, and it’s no secret why! Bluey’s adventures with her sister, family, and friends are always surprisingly relatable for parents, but still entertain and teach toddlers.
  2. Doc McStuffins – A little girl runs a clinic for toys and stuffed animals. This show focuses on teaching kids to help others. We love the focus on empathy and the fact that this show features a Black main character whose mom is a doctor.

Educational Shows for Toddlers on Cable

Cable offers tons of great shows for kids. I’m admittedly a Daniel Tiger fanatic because it’s taught me how to parent as much as it’s taught Jack lessons. So of course it tops the list. But it’s not the only amazing option. 

Best Shows on PBS

PBS kids is an absolute go-to for television for young children. Most of Jack’s favorite shows were originally made by PBS kids, which is known for classics like Sesame Street, Odd Squad, Sid the Science Kid, and even online compilations of nursery rhymes.

  1. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood  – We LOVE Daniel Tiger! It’s especially great for emotions (like conquering anger), manners, & social skills. Daniel teaches children key skills for school and life, and we find ourselves singing Daniel Tiger songs outside of watching the show all the time to help calm down a fit or soothe anxiety. 
  2. Super Why – Super Why is geared towards children age 3-6, and its primary focus is on reading skills. The characters in this show are reading-powered superheroes, which makes this English major pretty happy. 
  3. Sesame Street – Who doesn’t love Sesame Street? Alongside teaching colors, numbers, and the alphabet, Sesame Street tackles cultural and emotional issues with a beloved set of characters that we all know and love. 
  4. Wild Kratts – Do you have animal-loving kids? If so, this show is SO much fun for them. The Brothers Kratts take kids on an animated-turned-real-life adventure in every show in which kids learn all about animal habitats, environmental issues, and more. 

Best Shows on Nick Jr. 

  1. Blue’s Clues & You – A new host, Josh, leads preschoolers on an adventure to find clues. Solving puzzles together, Blue and Josh will captivate your child and teach them critical thinking skills along the way. A super solid revamp in my book. 
  2. Blaze & the Monster Machines – This show tackles hard vocabulary, engineering, and more in-depth storylines. But while the show is more complex–definitely a fit for preschoolers–many toddlers love it too. My friend Kat says Blaze is the character her son chose for his underwear. If a potty training kiddo cares enough to not pee on a character, it’s a win in my book. 
  3. Bubble Guppies – Another underwater-themed show, this one features fish-tailed preschoolers with original music. The show teaches math, science, and literacy skills in a creative and imaginative way. 

Educational TV Shows for Toddlers on YouTube

  1. Storybots is on YouTube! Check them out for sure. 
  2. Blippi – It seriously pains me to write this because Blippi drives me up the wall. BUT, his show really is educational, as long as you watch the newer episodes. Blippi has helped Jack hone his colors, numbers, shapes, and knowledge of every piece of construction equipment on the planet. Here’s what you need to keep in mind with Blippi: He built his TV show status through his YouTube channel, so earlier videos are way less educational, while later ones actually teach kids a lot. 

Best Educational Shows for Kids on Amazon Prime Video

We’ve discussed all but the first two of these shows already, so I’ll just summarize those for you. The rest are great options we’ve talked about above that also happen to be available on Amazon

  1. Tumble Leaf – Free on Prime Video because it’s an Amazon original! It follows the adventures of Fig, a little blue fox who’s always discovering. It promotes play, curiosity, and helps kids see that learning is fun!
  2. The Stinky & Dirty Show – If your kid loves construction equipment half as much as mine does, this show will be a HUGE hit. Best friends Stinky (a garbage truck) and Dirty (a backhoe) get into all kinds of adventure. Their antics teach fun, resourcefulness, innovation, and problem-solving skills. The episodes are also super short–like 10 minutes–so they’re great if you don’t want your kid sitting down to 30 minutes of TV time. 
  3. Super Wings – if your child loves anything to do with airplanes, this show is perfect! Jett the airplane travels around the world delivering packages to little kids. Geography and travel are learning areas your child will benefit from.
  4. Super Why – Kids learn the skills they need to read when they get bigger (and they have fun doing it!)
  5. Peg + Cat – From PBS KIDS and The Fred Rogers Company, Peg and Cat’s adventures take them through worlds of infinite possibilities, demonstrating that math is everywhere.
  6. Sesame Street – Everyone knows Sesame Street! A ragtag band of characters teach children everything from emotions to numbers to cultural sensitivity.

Making Shows Educational for Children

One thing to keep in mind when you’re letting your kids watch educational shows is that you have the power to enhance the education. And if they have big kids as siblings, they can help, too!

Toddlers and preschoolers taking in what they see, but they also often watch passively. 

This is one of the reasons I love Daniel Tiger. When Jack insists he doesn’t need to go potty but I know it’s time to try, I just break out in song. “Do you have to go to potty? Maybe yes, maybe no. Why don’t you sit and try to go?

Daniel also taught us a great way to handle transitions, and I use that with not only with the potty, but with basically every transition we make. 

These tools don’t work just because Jack saw them on a TV show he loves. But when I can pull a tool from a TV show he enjoys (or a favorite book), he’s far more likely to go along with the learning than if I just create my own system. This is especially true of emotional lessons, like dealing with separation anxiety and transitioning out of fun activities. 

So when your kids watch something, talk to them about what they see. “Oh no! Prince Tuesday is sad that his crown is dirty. Did it make it better when Daniel apologized? What did he need to do next? Did that make it better?”

These conversations can start off easier, with questions about colors, shapes, and eventually, what emotions characters are feeling. But eventually, you can take these shows and turn them into lessons in learning comprehension. And as an English PhD, there’s nothing I love more than a kid having fun while building comprehension skills!

What’s your favorite educational TV show for toddlers and preschoolers?

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