Special Report

25 Best Educational Kids' Shows of All Time

Courtesy of Public Broadcasting Service

In today’s digital age, where screens are an integral part of daily lives, educational kids’ shows have become the superheroes of the small screen. They’re not just entertaining; they’re also packed with valuable lessons that make learning fun.

To determine the best educational kids shows, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on audience reception from IMDb, an online movie and TV database owned by Amazon. Educational kids shows were ranked based on average IMDb user rating as of mid September 2023. When more than one show had the same ranking, the one with more votes was rated higher. Only shows with at least 1,000 user votes were considered. Cast information is also from IMDb. This list was produced with the assistance of automated technology.

From solving mysteries with animated animals to exploring the wonders of science with quirky scientists, these shows have it all.

Such series as “Dragon Tales,” “Franklin,” and “Clifford the Big Red Dog” took young audiences on animated journeys through the trials and tribulations of childhood. They addressed themes like friendship, problem-solving, and growing up, making them timeless favorites. (On the other hand, you may not want to let your kids watch some of the best animated sitcoms of all time.)

“Cyberchase” and “Schoolhouse Rock!” took on the challenge of making complex subjects like mathematics, grammar, history, and science engaging and fun through catchy tunes and clever animation. “The Magic School Bus” and “Liberty’s Kids” transported young viewers on educational escapades.

Click here to read more about the 25 all-time best educational TV shows for kids

Shows like “Blue’s Clues,” “The Backyardigans,” and “Curious George” introduced memorable characters and innovative storytelling methods that actively engaged young audiences. (Movies aimed at younger viewers often use the same tools. These are the highest grossing kids’ movie every year since “Toy Story” came out.)

These shows, each with a unique approach, helped shape young minds and provided entertainment that transcends generations.

Editor’s note: This list was produced with the assistance of automated technology.

25. Dragon Tales (1999-2005)
> IMDb user rating: 6.4/10
> IMDb user votes: 4,392
> Starring: Kathleen Barr, Andrea Libman, Danny McKinnon, Eli Gabay

Developed by Jim Coane and Ron Rodecker, this educational animated fantasy show for children features siblings Emmy and Max, who embark on a range of adventures alongside their dragon companions Ord, Cassie, Zak, Wheezie, and Quetzal. Produced by a collaboration between Children’s Television Workshop, Sesame Workshop, Columbia TriStar Television, Sony Pictures Television, and Adelaide Productions, the series was broadcast on the PBS Kids block.

[in-text-ad]

24. Franklin (1997-2006)
> IMDb user rating: 6.4/10
> IMDb user votes: 5,075
> Starring: Noah Reid, Leah Renee, Elizabeth Saunders, Richard Newman

This show centered on Franklin, a young turtle, and his friends, who were other animals. as they faced the challenges of childhood. Through their adventures, the series addressed themes like friendship, problem-solving, and growing up.

23. Clifford the Big Red Dog (2000-2003)
> IMDb user rating: 6.5/10
> IMDb user votes: 5,276
> Starring: John Ritter, Grey Griffin, Kel Mitchell, Cree Summer

Based on Norman Bridwell’s book series, this show featured Clifford, a lovable oversized red dog, and his adventures on fictional Birdwell Island. The show emphasized themes of friendship, empathy, and problem-solving, making it a favorite among young viewers. Clifford’s distinctive size and cheerful disposition made him an iconic character.

22. George Shrinks (2000-2003)
> IMDb user rating: 6.6/10
> IMDb user votes: 1,117
> Starring: Tracey Moore, Paul O’Sullivan, Kathleen Laskey, Robbi Jay Thuet

“George Shrinks” was an animated series based on a book by prolific writer, illustrator, and filmmaker William Joyce. The series revolves around the experiences of a 10-year-old boy who’s just three inches tall. Despite his diminutive stature, George embarks on numerous adventures, aided by miniature machines crafted by both him and his musician father. His family and friends, including his closest companion and neighbor, Becky Lopez, are recurring characters.

[in-text-ad-2]

21. Bear in the Big Blue House (1997-2006)
> IMDb user rating: 6.8/10
> IMDb user votes: 4,447
> Starring: Lynne Thigpen, Noel MacNeal, Peter Linz, Vicki Eibner

This children’s series, featuring a kind and caring bear, was created by Mitchell Kriegman and produced by Jim Henson Television for Disney Channel’s Playhouse Disney. Each episode presented a unique theme, exploring life skills and social lessons through adventures, songs, and jokes. Characters including Bear, Tutter the mouse, Ojo the bear cub, Treelo the lemur, otters Pip and Pop, and storyteller Shadow, engaged young viewers with their dynamic interactions.

20. PB&J Otter (1998-2001)
> IMDb user rating: 6.9/10
> IMDb user votes: 1,594
> Starring: Adam Rose, Brook Jenell Slack, Gina Marie Tortorici, Chris Phillips

This show revolved around the adventures of three otter siblings – Peanut, Butter, and Jelly – living in fictional Lake Hoohaw. Each episode featured their everyday escapades, emphasizing problem-solving and sibling relationships. “PB&J Otter” was celebrated for its engaging storytelling, catchy songs, and positive life lessons.

[in-text-ad]

19. Cyberchase (2002-present)
> IMDb user rating: 6.9/10
> IMDb user votes: 2,841
> Starring: Christopher Lloyd, Novie Edwards, Annick Obonsawin, Jacqueline Pillon

“Cyberchase” is an animated science fiction series that made its debut on PBS Kids more than 20 years ago and is still going strong. The storyline revolves around three young Earthlings, Jackie, Matt, and Inez, who employ their problem-solving abilities and scientific knowledge to thwart the malicious Hacker within a digital realm. Assisting them in their endeavors is Digit, a “cybird” created by Hacker. Together, the heroes work to safeguard Cyberspace, which comprises a collection of diverse themed planets, and restore the health of Motherboard, the central system’s brain, which had been infected by a virus unleashed by Hacker. The series explores various themes, including those inspired by Ancient Egypt, the American Old West, and Greek mythology.

18. Blue’s Clues (1995-2007)
> IMDb user rating: 6.9/10
> IMDb user votes: 6,426
> Starring: Steve Burns, Traci Paige Johnson, Michael Rubin, Aleisha Allen

This educational children’s program showcased an animated dog named Blue with distinctive blue spots who would provide clues for both the host and the audience to decipher her daily activities. The series was groundbreaking in its adoption of cutout animation, its engaging narrative structure, the use of repetition to reinforce learning, and its encouragement of active viewer participation. It played a pivotal role in the expansion of Nickelodeon’s audience, earning the distinction of being the top-rated preschool show on American commercial television. Additionally, it enjoyed international success, airing in 120 countries, translated into 15 languages, and even inspiring a live stage show and spin-off series.

17. The Backyardigans (2001-2013)
> IMDb user rating: 7.1/10
> IMDb user votes: 3,732
> Starring: LaShawn Jefferies, Sean Curley, Jonah Bobo, Thomas Sharkey

“The Backyardigans,” conceived by Janice Burgess and brought to life by Nickelodeon through computer animation, was a musical show. It stars five animal friends who embark on imaginative journeys in their own backyard, taking cues from diverse genres and settings, sometimes playfully satirizing action-adventure movies. Each episode highlights a distinct musical style. It was renowned for its clever storytelling and exceptional music,.

[in-text-ad-2]

16. Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat (2001-2004)
> IMDb user rating: 7.2/10
> IMDb user votes: 1,345
> Starring: Holly Gauthier-Frankel, Oliver Grainger, Jesse Vinet, Hiro Kanagawa

“Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat” was an animated series based on a book series by Amy Tan. It followed the adventures of Sagwa, a Siamese cat in ancient China. Sagwa’s curiosity often led her into humorous escapades, while she learned important life lessons. The show highlighted values such as the importance of loyalty, and showcased Chinese culture, making it both entertaining and educational for young viewers.

15. Curious George (2006-2022)
> IMDb user rating: 7.2/10
> IMDb user votes: 3,087
> Starring: Frank Welker, Jeff Bennett, Rino Romano, Jim Cummings

This animated series revolves around the adventures of George, an inquisitive little monkey with an endless thirst for knowledge, and his companion, the Man with the Yellow Hat. Adapted from the beloved children’s books by H.A. Rey and Margret Rey, the show harnesses George’s escapades to acquaint young audiences with principles of mathematics, science, and engineering. Each episode immerses George in a fresh setting, transforming his innate curiosity into enjoyable and educational learning journeys.

[in-text-ad]

14. VeggieTales (1993-2015)
> IMDb user rating: 7.3/10
> IMDb user votes: 1,663
> Starring: Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki, Lisa Vischer, Dan Anderson

The series is famous for its personified fruits and vegetables that engage in creative, morality-centered narratives. These stories frequently draw inspiration from biblical tales, using humor and catchy songs to communicate ethical teachings. Central characters like Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber serve as hosts for each episode, based in their kitchen setting. Throughout its 22-year duration, “VeggieTales” presented 47 episodes, captivating young audiences with its distinctive combination of educational, faith-based, and entertaining content.

13. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (2012-Present)
> IMDb user rating: 7.4/10
> IMDb user votes: 1,347
> Starring: Addison Holley, Ted Dykstra, Heather Bambrick, Amariah Faulkner

Produced by the Fred Rogers Company, this show is a derivative of the enduring classic “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Geared toward preschoolers, the series employs musical techniques to impart socio-emotional lessons that assist young children in their daily experiences. The central character, Daniel Tiger, is the offspring of the original series’ Daniel Striped Tiger, and he engages with a variety of characters within the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

12. Arthur (1996-2022)
> IMDb user rating: 7.4/10
> IMDb user votes: 15,287
> Starring: J.T. Turner, Daniel Brochu, Bruce Dinsmore, Melissa Altro

“Arthur” is adapted from the highly popular children’s book series created by Marc Brown, with its primary character being Arthur Read, a third-grade anthropomorphic aardvark. Over its long duration, “Arthur” delved into a diverse array of subjects, encompassing social matters and the experiences of daily school life. The series consistently underscored the significance of values such as friendship, empathy, and education.

[in-text-ad-2]

11. Zoboomafoo (1999-2001)
> IMDb user rating: 7.6/10
> IMDb user votes: 3,509
> Starring: Martin Kratt, Chris Kratt, Gord Robertson, Samantha Tolkacz

“Zoboomafoo” was an educational series whose hosts, Chris and Martin Kratt, shared the screen with Zoboomafoo, an animated lemur known for its playful antics. This show was created with the aim of educating young viewers about animals and their environments, incorporating live-action segments, claymation clips, and puppetry. “Zoboomafoo” gained significant acclaim for its fusion of entertainment and education, offering children captivating insights into the wonders of the natural world.

10. Wild Kratts (2010-Present)
> IMDb user rating: 7.7/10
> IMDb user votes: 2,008
> Starring: Chris Kratt, Martin Kratt, Athena Karkanis, Heather Bambrick

In “Wild Kratts,” viewers follow the animated journeys of the Kratt brothers, Chris and Martin, as they explore the world of wild animals. This series combines live-action elements with animation to provide children with lessons in zoology and ecology. Equipped with creature power suits, the Kratt brothers have the ability to immerse themselves in the lives of the various animals they encounter during their global adventures.

[in-text-ad]

9. The Magic School Bus (1994-1997)
> IMDb user rating: 7.8/10
> IMDb user votes: 10,741
> Starring: Lily Tomlin, Daniel DeSanto, Lisa Jai, Tara Meyer

The cherished educational animated series “The Magic School Bus” tracks the resourceful and unconventional Ms. Frizzle, portrayed by Lily Tomlin, and her third-grade students as they embark on thrilling excursions aboard a sentient, shape-shifting school bus. In each episode, they delve into a spectrum of scientific topics, from the human body to the mysteries of outer space. Its distinctive combination of wit and learning endeared it to both children and grown-up audiences.

8. Liberty’s Kids (2002-2003)
> IMDb user rating: 7.9/10
> IMDb user votes: 1,428
> Starring: Walter Cronkite, Kathleen Barr, Reo Jones, Chris Lundquist

This series, designed to educate children about American history, tracks the escapades of three youthful correspondents: an American teenager, an English lady, and a French boy, all employed by Benjamin Franklin during the American Revolutionary War. Spanning 40 episodes, it explores pivotal historical occurrences, ranging from the Boston Tea Party to the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. The show is celebrated for its captivating narratives and incorporation of significant historical figures, delivering an enjoyable and informative glimpse into the early days of America.

7. Carmen Sandiego (2019-2021)
> IMDb user rating: 7.9/10
> IMDb user votes: 6,550
> Starring: Finn Wolfhard, Gina Rodriguez, Liam O’Brien, Abby Trott

In the Netflix series, Carmen Sandiego, the renowned world-traveling master thief, takes on a new role as a vigilante. She employs her talents to thwart the sinister schemes of V.I.L.E., the nefarious organization that once groomed her. This show, recognized for its educational value, blends elements of adventure, mystery, and geography, offering viewers insights into diverse cultures and global locations.

[in-text-ad-2]

6. Sesame Street (1969-Present)
> IMDb user rating: 8.1/10
> IMDb user votes: 14,818
> Starring: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Caroll Spinney, Jerry Nelson

“Sesame Street” is a pioneering educational series that employs a distinctive combination of puppetry, live-action segments, and animation to impart fundamental academic and social skills to preschool-aged children. The program is celebrated for its vibrant and captivating Muppet characters, including Big Bird, Elmo, and Cookie Monster. “Sesame Street” has been broadcast in more than 150 countries, solidifying its status as one of the most globally watched children’s shows.

5. Schoolhouse Rock! (1973-Present)
> IMDb user rating: 8.2/10
> IMDb user votes: 4,218
> Starring: Bob Dorough, Jack Sheldon, Lynn Ahrens, Bob Kaliban

“Schoolhouse Rock!” employs memorable melodies, featuring noted jazz musicians Dorough and Sheldon, and captivating animations to educate children on a wide range of intricate topics, including mathematics, grammar, history, and science. Recognized for its iconic tunes like “Conjunction Junction” and “I’m Just a Bill,” the series has left a substantial cultural imprint and continues to hold a cherished place in many childhood memories.

[in-text-ad]

4. Bill Nye the Science Guy (1993-1998)
> IMDb user rating: 8.2/10
> IMDb user votes: 8,233
> Starring: Bill Nye, Pat Cashman, Michaela Leslie-Rule, Jaffar Smith

Hosted by scientist and comedian Bill Nye, the program sought to impart scientific principles to a preteen viewership through an engaging approach. Across five seasons encompassing 100 episodes, the show covered a wide array of subjects, spanning physics, biology, earth science, and chemistry. It gained recognition for its dynamic presentation style, humor, and the inclusion of educational music videos referred to as the “Bill Nye the Science Guy Soundtrack.”

3. Reading Rainbow (1983-2006)
> IMDb user rating: 8.4/10
> IMDb user votes: 4,974
> Starring: LeVar Burton, Jennifer Betit Yen, Arnold Stang, Fred Newman

Hosted by LeVar Burton, “Reading Rainbow” had the goal of fostering a passion for reading in young audiences. In each episode, a children’s book was brought to life through narration, often by a celebrity or the book’s author, accompanied by illustrations from the story. The program also featured segments where children shared book suggestions and embarked on field trips connected to the book’s theme. Over its 23-year duration, “Reading Rainbow” secured more than 30 prestigious broadcasting awards. The show was rebooted last year as “Reading Rainbow Live” – an interactive program with multiple hosts replacing Burton.

2. Horrible Histories (2009-2023)
> IMDb user rating: 8.7/10
> IMDb user votes: 5,659
> Starring: Jim Howick, Simon Farnaby, Mathew Baynton, Martha Howe-Douglas

Derived from Terry Deary’s well-loved book series of the same name, the British children’s series “Horrible Histories” provides a humorous perspective on history. It delves into a range of historical eras, from the Stone Age to World War II, employing sketches, songs, and animation to deliver historical information in an enjoyable and amusing manner. This distinctive approach has garnered numerous accolades and established it as a beloved choice for audiences of all ages, both young and old.

[in-text-ad-2]

1. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968-2001)
> IMDb user rating: 8.7/10
> IMDb user votes: 9,284
> Starring: Fred Rogers, Betty Aberlin, David Newell, Joe Negri

The impactful American children’s television series “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” was brought to life and hosted by Fred Rogers. It was staged in a modest yet welcoming setting, evoking the ambiance of a small town. The program offered valuable insights on themes like love, friendship, and empathy, frequently addressing intricate societal matters. Each episode included Rogers directly engaging with the audience, puppetry segments in the “Neighborhood of Make-Believe,” and excursions to diverse locations or interactions with guests.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.