THE BLOG
11/21/2014 07:13 pm ET Updated Jan 21, 2015

12 Best YouTube Channels for Kids and Teens

By Caroline Knorr, Common Sense Media parenting editor

YouTube's statistics never cease to amaze: more than 1 billion unique users per month, over 6 billion hours of video watched per month, 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute. Fine, but what if you want to find something for your kids to watch besides expletive-laced game commentary and twerking videos?

You're in luck. Among the millions and billions, there's a tiny slice of really good stuff -- stuff that's creative, innovative, eye-opening, mind-expanding, and even practical. But the truly excellent content is not always easy to find. Just when you think you've found a kid-friendly channel, your kid clicks off into something totally age-inappropriate.

We set out to find the 10 best channels for kids on YouTube; we wound up with 12. Along the way, we learned a lot, laughed out loud, and fell in love with what YouTube -- at its best -- can bring to your kids. (We estimated age targets and recommend you watch with your kid to familiarize yourself with the content.)

Mother Goose Club. Not at all fusty, the six colorful characters (adults and kids) introduce little ones to nursery rhymes and other preschool classics, through movement, song, and skits. You can choose to watch single, short (1- to 2-minute) episodes or the channel's curated playlists (which run around 30 minutes).

Best for: Preschoolers

Don't miss: "Rockin' Robot," a super catchy tune with fun robot moves the whole family will find irresistible

Simple Kids Crafts. With the motto "Recycled, easy crafts that really work," this channel offers more than 700 how-tos on everything from bottle-cap tops to doll furnishings. Most activities require a minimum of materials, time, and expertise, so you can get started right away.

Best for: Younger kids

Don't miss: The host's fascinating "Draw My Life" video, which tells the story of a precocious child who became a computer engineer and world traveler.

The Brain Scoop. From the Chicago Field Museum comes this quirky educational channel that provides a glimpse behind the scenes of a natural history museum. Trips to the animal prep lab (where skinning and gutting happens), hands-on demonstrations of earth science concepts, and explanations of animals and species are hosted by the highly entertaining and knowledgeable Chief Curiosity Correspondent Emily Graslie. Each video has a "viewer's discretion" disclaimer and a "grossometer" meter so you can decide if it's appropriate for your kid.

Best for: Older kids and tweens

Don't miss: "Emily Gets a Valentine," in which Emily dissects a pink teddy bear and unearths a real bison heart, which prompts a discussion of the organ's makeup and cultural symbolism

Coma Niddy. With his glasses and braces, Coma Niddy (aka Mike Wilson) isn't a typical rapper. But his educational riffs on everything from dark matter to nanotechnology lend him both street and science cred. Coma Niddy says he enjoys explaining concepts in a medium kids will remember.

Best for: Older kids and tweens

Don't miss: "All About That Space," which puts a contemporary spin on the concept of the cosmos

Good Mythical Morning. Good-time guys Rhett and Link offer nothing but pure, wholesome entertainment. Their skits, challenges, goofy explorations, and other random pursuits all are well-served by the hosts' comic banter, uncanny rapport, and use of good vocabulary words.

Best for: Older kids and tweens

Don't miss: "The Safest Way to Walk," which hilariously demonstrates how to move so you won't get mugged

MinutePhysics. Got a minute? If so, you can learn a wide range of concepts, from the nature of gravity to how the sun works. Using illustration and voice-over, the episodes simplify complex ideas, making science relatable and fun.

Best for: Older kids and tweens

Don't miss: The "9.9999 ... seconds" series, which explain ideas, such as the concept behind one-way mirrors, in about 10 seconds

React. Having started with "Kids React" videos (where kids watch and comment on YouTube videos), Fine brothers Benny and Rafi have expanded to include teens and elders. The results can be moving as the participants express profound truths that subtly illustrate how to view media critically.

Best for: Older kids and tweens

Don't miss: "Kids React to Gay Marriage," which includes a disclaimer about the sensitive topic and shows how people can disagree respectfully

Geek Gurl Diaries. Upbeat British host Carrie Anne Philbin's tutorials, vlogs, and interviews on software engineering make computer programming seem doable, fun, and appealing for girls. How-to's include introductions to computer languages, programming basics, and even how to build a computer.

Best for: Older kids, tweens, and teens

Don't miss: The "Learn to Solder" video, which demonstrates how to safely and confidently connect add-ons to circuit boards

SoulPancake. Cofounded by actor Rainn Wilson, this uplifting channel offers several shows -- including "Kid President," "The Science of Happiness," and "Metaphysical Milkshake" -- targeted at a range of ages. The idea is to get kids to think, question, and act ethically.

Best for: Older kids, tweens, and teens

Don't miss: "Five Words to Say More Often," a feel-good favorite featuring Kid President and Grover

Vlogbrothers. If you know The Fault in Our Stars, then you know John Green. He and his brother Hank make up the Vlogbrothers, who promote curiosity and learning on just about every topic, from health care and ethics to psychology. Both former teachers, the duo run several off-shoot channels including CrashCourse (mini-lessons on history, literature, and more), SciShow (science explainers), and others (not all as age-appropriate as the original Vlogbrothers channel).

Best for: Tweens and teens

Don't miss: "How to Apologize like a Fartbag," which tells kids why they should say they're sorry when things are their fault

SmartGirls. Brought to you by actress Amy Poehler, Smart Girls is an uplifting, enlightening place for girls to hang out and bond. Interviews with female celebrities, Q&A vlogs with Poehler, tours of girls' lives around the world, and even the "Boy's Minute" help affirm girls' value to society.

Best for: Older tweens and teens

Don't miss: Part of the "Operation Nice" project, "A Nice Message from Amy" encourages viewers to do something nice and send in a video about it.

OK Go. Whether it's dancing on treadmills or having paint dripped on their heads, this four-man band is willing to do pretty much anything in the name of coolness. Their music, which is mostly alt-rock, is mere window dressing to their elaborately choreographed videos, which feature optical illusions, trompe l'oeil, Rube Goldberg devices, and other visual tricks. Behind-the-scenes videos explain how shots were filmed.

Best for: Teens (Some videos, such as "WTF?," have iffy language.)

Don't miss: "I Won't Let You Down," which features the band members rolling around on Honda UNI-CUBs (motorized unicycles) and is nothing short of amazing



We know this is only the tip of the iceberg. Give a shout out for your favorite YouTube channels in the comments below!