Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: Open Discussion

Your Children’s TV Guide to Educational, Positive Programming

Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article

If you cringe every time SpongeBob’s theme song plays, it means one of two things. First, it could be time to send the kids outdoors for a while. Second, it could be time to revisit your cable television options and build an updated list of children’s TV channels containing educational, positive programming.

These shows may contain equally cringe-worthy songs, but they will instill in your child lifelong lessons like sharing, caring for nature, or pursuing a dream job. To create your personalized TV programming list, use the selection of shows found below. It contains some of the best children’s TV shows available today.


17 Positive and Educational Children’s TV Shows

Cable programming gives you access to more than just sports and movie channels. It creates an entry point, a bit like Ms. Frizzle’s school bus, through which kids can learn about the world and connect with people. Each of the shows listed below features a descriptive blurb, lesson learned, and viewing channel.

1. ABC Galaxy

Giggs and Hugg travel the “ABC Galaxy” in their special, scrappy spaceship.

Lesson: Young viewers learn the alphabet.

Channel: BabyFirst TV

2. Babar and the Adventures of Badou

Babar, the beloved elephant, shows that life’s challenges often turn into opportunities for learning, laughter, and growth.

Lesson: Viewers learn interpersonal skills such as being a good friend and taking responsibility for their actions.

Channel: Disney Junior

3. Baby U

Several fun characters, including an adorable tiger, teach core building blocks to babies and toddlers.

Lesson: Young viewers will get a head start on their numbers and letters.

Channel: BabyFirst TV

4. Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom

Fairy Princess Holly’s attempts at magic often go haywire, and she and her friends find creative solutions to her magical mistakes.

Lesson: Viewers learn that mistakes aren’t the end of the world and can often be remedied.

Channel: Nick Jr.

5. Blaze and the Monster Machines

AJ, an eight-year-old boy, goes on adventures with his monster-truck, Blaze, and together they encounter problems of the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) variety.

Lesson: Kids hone their STEM skills and become more experienced with problem-solving.

Channel: Nick Jr.

6. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

Mister Rogers’s legacy lives on with Daniel Tiger. Every day, he puts on his red cardigan, ties his shoes, and invites viewers into the Neighborhood.

Lesson: Daniel Tiger, like Mister Rogers, encourages curiosity and teaches kids how to be good neighbors.

Channel: PBS

7. Doc McStuffins

Doc McStuffins repairs broken toys in her backyard clinic. She often receives help from friends Hallie, Lambie, Chilly, and Stuffy.

Lesson: Viewers learn how working together benefits everyone, and they may be inspired to build their own visiting clinics in rooms or yards.

Channel: Disney Junior

8. DOT.

Dot uses technology to learn, create, and investigate the world around her. However, she always unplugs to spend time with her friends and family.

Lesson: Kids learn the best ways to use technology, and they are encouraged to employ it as a tool and to connect with people face-to-face.

Channel: Universal Kids, NBC

8. Handy Manny

Handy Manny works with his friends to solve problems and help people in his neighborhood.

Lesson: Kids primarily learn about collaboration, preparedness, and service with this show. However, they’re also likely to pick up some Spanish vocabulary and develop respect for other cultures.

Channel: Disney Junior

9. Hank Zipzer

Hank Zipzer shares what it’s like to struggle with dyslexia in middle school.

Lesson: Kids learn they can overcome obstacles, including learning disabilities. They also develop compassion for kids who have dyslexia, autism, or other disabilities.

Channel: Universal Kids, NBC

10. Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation

Mo Rocca, host of CBS News Sunday Morning, heads this Saturday morning show that celebrates inventors both living and dead.

Lesson: Kids are inspired to find solutions to challenges. They will also see the characteristics needed to create those solutions and learn about perseverance, passion, grit, and integrity.

Channel: CBS

11. Kody Kapow

Kody Kapow finds himself outside his element when he visits his family’s village in China and discovers he’s the next Village Defender. Fortunately, he has friends, family members, and a “’fraidy-cat” tiger to help him.

Lesson: Kids learn about other cultures, as well as the power found in accepting help from others.

Channel: Universal Kids, NBC

12. Nina’s World

In Nina’s neighborhood, everything she sees is a wonder. She and her best friend Star investigate the local area, learning about diverse cultural customs and the joys of a close-knit family and surrounding community.

Lesson: Kids develop an appreciation for their family’s quirks even as they experience other cultures and customs.

Channel: Universal Kids, NBC

13. Octonauts

When there’s undersea trouble, everybody knows to call the Octonauts. This team of eight heroes, including Captain Barnacles the Bear and Professor Inkling the Octopus, rescue sea creatures and protect the oceans.

Lesson: Kids learn about the ocean and their responsibility to care for its vegetation and sea life.

Channel: Disney Junior

14. Sesame Street

Sesame Street goes back several decades, but it remains alive and relevant today. Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, and Count von Count all offer lessons and experiences that kids can relate to.

Lesson: Kids learn everything on this show, from educational building blocks to positive qualities like cooperation, creativity, and kindness.

Channel: HBO

15. Sid the Science Kid

Sid wants a career as a stand-up comedian, but he acts more like a sleuth. In every episode, he starts the morning with a question and finishes the day with an answer.

Lesson: Kids learn it’s okay to ask questions and to pursue knowledge.

Channel: PBS

16. Tinga Tinga Tales

This show provides African folktale answers to questions like “Why do cheetahs cry?” It provides the reply by sharing “what really happened” in a vein similar to the The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.

Lesson: Kids develop an appreciation for storytelling and other cultures.

Channel: Disney Junior

17. WordGirl

Becky Botsford looks like an ordinary fifth grader, but she transforms into WordGirl, using vocabulary words to save the day.

Lesson: Kids learn that solving problems doesn’t always require super-strength or special abilities. They also learn new words and develop a larger vocabulary.

Channel: PBS


The above shows cater to younger audiences. If you have older kids, review other cable channel offerings like Animal Planet, Discovery, HISTORY, NASA, National Geographic, Science, and Travel. With cable TV, you’re certain to find at least a few children’s TV shows with positive, educational content.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.