Go ahead, admit it. Maybe it’s too cold to take the kids outside or a heap of veggies are waiting to be chopped for dinner. Whatever the reason, now and then most of us squeeze a little extra time into the day by showing our kids videos. So why not put on shows that are entertaining and educational (yes, it’s possible!)? Services like Hulu Plus and Netflix feature unlimited streaming for a subscription fee of about $8 a month. From sleuthing cats to trekking zoologists, we’ve pulled together a list of eight shows available online that will keep kiddos interested, and teach them a thing or two along the way.

Get Your Kids in on the Fun
Your kiddos can help create posts for your family’s blog and upload images, too. The Microsoft Store offers hands-on TechTots classes for kids ages 2 to 5 covering topics including making photo slideshows and using Windows Phone 8. Click here for more information.

Arthur (Hulu Plus, Netflix)
Based on the books by Marc Brown, Arthur is a wise beyond his years eight-year-old aardvark. Episodes follow Arthur, his sister DW, and their friends on a series of adventures. Storylines do a great job of showing instead of telling morals, including the importance of sticking by friends.

Word World (Hulu Plus)
Kids can’t seem to get enough of the triple Emmy Winning animated series Word World. Funded in part by a U.S. Department of Education literacy initiative, Word World episodes follow dog, pig, duck, and friends as they get out of sticky situations by collecting letter clues and building words. Careful, it’s easy for grown ups to get sucked into the show, too.

Timmy Time (Netflix)
From the UK-based creators of Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep, Timmy Time focuses on farm animals at nursery school. The claymation show’s cast of characters, including lamb Timmy and owl Osbourne, don’t have any speaking parts. Brilliantly, each episode uses squeaks, woofs, and baas to follow Timmy and crew in and out of trouble. Even better, it teaches kiddos about sharing toys, admitting to mistakes, and caring for classmates.

Sesame Street (Netflix)
Millions of kids have fallen for Big Bird and crew since the first episode of Sesame Street aired more than four decades ago. Odds are, you were one of them. There’s something about the show’s big city setting that holds an allure for kids of all ages. Sesame Street segments are built around teaching kids emotional behavior basics and kindergarten readiness, starting with Murray’s “Word on the Street” game.

Wild Kratts (Hulu Plus)
Wild Kratts follows zoologist brothers Chris and Martin Kratt and friends on journeys around the globe. Young viewers will travel in the brothers’ aircraft shaped like a sea turtle to learn about endangered wildlife. The cartoon manages to be lighthearted and poignant, teaching kids about big concepts like conservation and extinction in ways that are easy to grasp.

Dinosaur Train (Hulu Plus, Netflix)
Odds are, after kiddos watch a few episodes of the wildly popular Dinosaur Train they’ll be running around the house saying, “I have a hypothesis” just like lead character Buddy the T-Rex. Dinosaur Train’s brainy conductor teaches kids about prehistoric time periods and dino species, while siblings Tiny, Shiny, Don, and Buddy learn about family and friendship. Each episode ends with an application from real-life paleontologist “Dr. Scott” Sampson.

Busytown Mysteries (Netflix)
The Canadian cartoon series Busytown Mysteries follows a group of animated characters as they investigate all sorts of whodunits. Series lead Huckle and friends come to life from the pages of beloved children’s book author Richard Scarry’s Busytown books. Kids won’t be able to stop singing the “who what where when why how” ditty included in each episode. And without knowing it, they’ll build deductive reasoning skills by following clues and testing theories.

Super Why (Hulu Plus, Netflix)
Super Why’s lead character (and bookworm) Whyatt Beanstalk resides in Storybrook Village, home to fairy-tale characters like Red Riding Hood and Princess Pea. In each episode, kiddos have the chance to add their name to the Super Readers pack, joining the group on problem solving adventures. By following along with the story, kids learn about spelling and narrative. They also flex reasoning muscles by deciding each show’s outcome. It’s sort of like Choose Your Own Adventure books from when we were little. Only a lot cooler.

There are countless shows out there that are educational and entertaining. Which ones are always on in your house? 

— Sara Billups

Photo courtesy of Paul Mayne via CC