What to Watch: Teaching Science through TV Shows

Looking for ways to pique your kids’ interests in science? Some well-chosen TV time might be exactly what you need! That said, it’s not always easy knowing what to watch and why, so today I’m sharing some awesome science TV shows to help you make the most of your viewing time.Teaching Science Through TV Shows - using science TV shows for learning in your homeschoolSo, why encourage a love for science through TV time instead of field trips or hands-on activities? I’m all for those things, but I also know that it’s more feasible for me to incorporate science into our TV time on a regular basis than it is for me to buy tickets to all of my regional science museums.

And, let’s face it, there are days when hands-on learning isn’t possible. Experiments get pushed aside because laundry needs to be done or we’re suddenly missing a few of the needed supplies. Tell me I’m not the only one. 

All that said, I’m okay with some degree of just-for-fun TV time, but there’s a lot we can glean when we make the most of our TV time. That’s where these science TV shows come into the picture. There are plenty of great shows available to us that can be used to encourage a love for science or to help further explore science topics from your homeschool.

Science TV Shows for Kids

(Post contains affiliate links; see disclosure for details.)

Before we dig into all these science TV shows, do keep in mind that it’s always best to know what your kids are watching so that you’ll be prepared to answer questions or guide discussion spurred by the episodes.

Another thing to keep in mind is that these television shows may not always line up with your worldview. In particular, you’ll likely encounter references that contradict creationism.

This won’t be a problem if you consider yourself a secular homeschooler, but it’s wise to know in advance if you teach science from a creationist perspective. It doesn’t mean these shows will have no value to you, but it’s worth knowing so that you can discuss with your kids or feel the need to omit specific episodes.

Now that all that’s out of the way, let’s get started.

Assorted Science Topics

Some science TV shows cover a lot of different topics throughout their seasons. Even though they don’t necessarily focus on a specific area of science, these shows can be a great way to promote interest in science or expand on homeschool science lessons.

The Magic School Bus

Chances are you’re already familiar with The Magic School Bus, but it’s definitely one to check out if it’s new to you. This science-filled TV show touches on pretty much every science topic out there and can be easily found on Netflix. What’s more is that Netflix has recently rebooted the series, meaning there’s a spin-off with all new episodes!

Not a Netflix subscriber? No worries. You can still take advantage of TV time by grabbing the original series on DVD.

The Ruff Ruffman Show

Y’all, there are no words for how much we love this show! Not only is it hilarious, it does a fantastic job in helping kids see science at work in their everyday lives. Aimed at kids 4-8, The Ruff Ruffman Show focuses on scientific inquiry and experimentation, but does it all in way that’s fun and relatable for kids.

You can find it through your local PBS station, but it’s also available for streaming through Amazon’s PBS Kids channel. (For what it’s worth, I’d only go this route if you don’t have access to PBS through live TV or streaming the PBS Kids app.) Also worth knowing, you can find related videos, games, and activities at PBS Kids and free printables at PBS Parents.

SciGirls

Teaching Science Through TV Shows - using science TV shows for learning in your homeschoolAre you familiar with SciGirls? If not, it’s one to know about because it’s the only one on my list here that’s specifically for tweenagers! It features middle school girls learning how to put science to use in their day-to-day lives and it would be a great one to add the rotation for any older kids or tweens.

Want to check it out for yourself? It’s available through your PBS station and Prime Video, but you can also find the seasons on DVD. Best of all, it’s got all of the same resources you expect from a PBS show available PBS Parents and SciGirls Connect. Once you dig around, you’ll find episode details, viewing suggestions, awesome ideas for hands-on learning, and free activity guides.

Sid the Science Kid

Teaching Science Through TV Shows - using science TV shows for learning in your homeschoolSid the Science Kid is a perfect science TV show for younger kids. This one is aimed at preschoolers and tackles one main idea during each episode. By focusing on one thing, kids are able to become familiar with scientific ideas in digestible chunks.

You can watch Sid through your local PBS station or by streaming through Hulu or Amazon Prime Video. Also, like with most PBS Kids shows, you can find detailed episode information and activity suggestions through PBS Parents.

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That

I’m often amazed by what my kids have learned by watching this one through the years! The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That is written with preschooI kids in mind, but it can spark an interest in science for kids of all ages. (My kids watched it well beyond their preschool years and still do!) If you haven’t checked it out with your kids yet, you can watch it on Netflix, your local PBS station, or by purchasing episode collections on DVD.

You can find Cat in the Hat games, videos, and science coloring and activity pages by visiting PBS Kids. Also you can access a treasure trove of Cat in the Hat resources at PBS Parents. Serious business, there’s a ton of stuff to help you capitalize on each episode and dive deeper into the science topics that are discussed.

Topical Science TV Shows

Prefer a more topical approach to your science-inspired viewing? There are several that meet this criteria, but here are a few of my favorites.

Wild Kratts

Teaching Science Through TV Shows - using science TV shows for learning in your homeschoolWhen it comes to learning about animals and nature through TV shows, there’s no better place to start than Wild Kratts! Each episode combines live action and animation and aims to encourage an interest in animal life and promote observation skills. It’s aimed at kids from 6-8, but there’s plenty to be gleaned from this one regardless of age! No joke, I love watching Wild Kratts!

Ready to check it out? You can find it through your local PBS station or stream it through Prime Video. You’ll also want to check out the CreaturePedia and learning games at PBS Kids while you’re at it. Lastly, you can find episode information, activities, printables, and even birthday ideas at PBS Parents.

Got younger kids? Be sure to check out Zoboomafoo on Prime Video. It’s similar to Wild Kratts, but is geared toward the younger crowd.

Go, Diego, Go!

I acknowledge that Nick Jr.’s Go, Diego, Go! isn’t exactly the new kids’ show on the block, but it’s still a wonderful viewing option for younger kiddos who love learning about animals. In each episode, Diego and friends travel the world and experience adventure, all while rescuing an animal in danger. You can see how it’s an easy setup for learning, right? 😉

You can watch it by streaming Nick Jr’s app or by purchasing the countless episode collections on DVD. Also worth knowing, you can find related Go, Diego, Go! games and activities at NickJr.com.

Nature Cat

Teaching Science Through TV Shows - using science TV shows for learning in your homeschoolNature Cat from PBS aims to connect children to nature by encouraging a backyard exploration mindset. You can catch this one through Amazon Prime Video or for free through your local PBS station.

Written with ages 3-8 in mind, this show is a fun way to promote curiosity about animals and environments while promoting the roles we play as stewards of the natural world.

You can find details for what’s covered in each episode by visiting PBS Parents. While you’re at it, be sure to check out PBS Kids for Nature Cat videos, games, and learning activities. I especially like the pond viewer and composter ideas!

Octonauts

Octonauts is a good option for learning about ocean animals with your younger kiddos. Episodes usually follow the Octonauts as they complete an ocean-themed mission of some sort. Along the way, they encounter interesting sea creatures, show close-ups, and provide interesting facts about the featured creatures.

While I didn’t find specific age guidelines for this one, it will most likely appeal to preschoolers and early elementary children. You can watch it on Disney Junior, Netflix, and episode collections on DVD. You can also head to Disney Junior and access Octonauts games, videos, and fun printable activities.

Dinosaur Train

Teaching Science Through TV Shows - using science TV shows for learning in your homeschoolGot a kiddo who loves learning about dinosaurs? Dinosaur Train from PBS is sure to satisfy that curiosity. Written with preschoolers in mind, you can watch it on PBS and Prime Video.

Also keep in mind that PBS Kids has videos, printables, and identification tools to keep the learning rolling along. Additionally, the PBS Parents site has lots of resources waiting for you there: episode guides, games, and additional learning ideas.

Even if you choose not to include this show in your TV viewing, don’t miss the Nature Trackers Club information. The monthly challenges would make an awesome addition to your nature study plans!

Dino Dan

Think dinosaur fun is only for preschoolers? Think again. Dino Dan is a great live action/CGI option for middle and older elementary kids who love all things dinosaur. It’s no longer regularly airing on networks, but you can find all the seasons on Prime Video.

Popular Mechanics for Kids

Teaching Science Through TV Shows - using science TV shows for learning in your homeschoolPopular Mechanics is probably the oldest one on my list, but it’s still worth watching after all this time! While there are a few episodes about animal life throughout the seasons, most episodes focus on physical science and how things work.

It originally aired on Discovery Kids, but you can currently stream it via Prime Video. Also worth noting, the entire Popular Mechanics for Kids series is available on DVD.

Ready Jet Go!

Packed with info about astronomy and earth science, Ready Jet Go! is one to know about if you’ve got younger kiddos. It aims to introduce kids 3 through 8 to space, technology, and earth science by following the adventures of an alien boy named Jet.

It’s available through your local PBS channel and Prime Video. Lastly, you’ll find lots of Ready Jet Go! fun for your kids at PBS Kids and episode information at PBS Parents.

What about you? Where do you turn when you want to include science in your TV time?

Teaching Science Through TV Shows - using science TV shows for learning in your homeschool
Want more ideas for teaching through TV shows? Be sure to check out the rest of this series on Learning with TV Shows.

3 thoughts on “What to Watch: Teaching Science through TV Shows

  1. It’s crazy how much my kids have picked up from Octonauts and Magic Schoolbus! One of our favourite shows here is Annedroids. It’s not educational per se, but it inspires my girls to learn more about science. And yeah, they’ve learned a few things watching too. It’s a great show. I think you can watch it on Amazon Prime?
    Thank you for recommending SciGirls, I’m off to see if I can find it in Canada!

    1. I’ve heard great things about Annedriods, but haven’t checked it out yet. Looks like I need to add it to my Amazon watchlist soon! 🙂

  2. My son is definitely a visual learner and I love hearing him recite back to me all of the info he learns from the shows he watches. Mine are 10 and 12 now–thanks for the older kids’ recommendation. I can’t wait for them to start on SciGirls 🙂 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.