People watch hundreds of millions of hours of YouTube daily; the site clocks more than a billion views per day. Your kids are probably somewhere in that viewing audience, or they soon will be. But getting glued to YouTube can be a win-win for your kids if you steer them to quality entertainment - and there's plenty of that for just about every age.
Compilation videos are brief collections of many videos on one topic, sandwiched together into a long, single view.
Larva, a GGI animated series produce by Tuba Entertainment in Korea, is a completely slapstick cartoon about two little bugs who bounce from misadventure to misadventure in search of garbage to eat. Their "Best of" compilations range from 14 to more than 45 minutes. The production is first rate; the comedy is very broad; there is no dialog - it's all action. Any kid with a goofy streak will groove on the nonstop madness, but the cartoons are especially appropriate for toddlers and up.
If you can't get enough of these little bugs, never fear, there are plenty more where that came from:
- Cheese - When the adorable Larva wake up a sleeping rat, they have to run for their lives, all the while hoping they can get more cheese.
- Meet Violet - Violet is a large would-be monster that would like nothing more than to eat the main characters.
Can't get enough of The Muppets? ABC has popped a raft of short muppet videos on YouTube with Kermit, Miss Piggy and all the gang serenading and acting silly. It's more a consecutive playlist than a true compilation, but it's binge-watching at its finest. The best part is that while young kids love the muppets, you'll catch even your middle schoolers enjoying their antics.
Want more binge watching greatness? These compilations could keep your kinder entertained for hours:
- HooplaKidz TV Funny Animal Cartoons - Appropriate for ages 2 and up, this compilation features wordless cartoon animals doing plain silly things. Animals featured include elephants, chickens and others doing things to repetitive, albeit entertaining, music.
- Looney Tunes Compilation - Go old school with this compilation of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons. Perfect for early elementary aged children, the compilation features over 10 hours of your favorite characters.
More ambitious animation films will appeal to a cinephile who can handle a bit of abstract thinking. The two below are pretty sophisticated, and a real treat.
Home Sweet Home
Animated short films range from amateur experiments to award-winning CGI gems like Home Sweet Home, a film about a house that ditches its foundation and sets out to find a better neighborhood. It's a delight for all ages but the meaning works best for school-age on up. Screen it first so you get to enjoy it yourself.
The Gift is beautifully animated and contains an important life lesson about the power of love. This could prompt discussions about what really matters - a good choice for ages 10 and up, and a "possible" for mature younger children.
Other Animated Shorts
- Short, fantastical or very sweet films from The Kids Club, can charm and captivate preschoolers up to school age kids. Caminandes is nonstop, slapstick comedy. Fat is a funky and surreal episode on a farm.
- Trouble in Paradise transports little kids (preschool and up) and animation fans of all ages to a tropical island for the ongoing adventures of Crabby, a tiny intrepid orange crab.
- Disney Channel put the full episode of Elena of Avalor, First Day of Rule on YouTube - 24 minutes and 30 seconds of the heroic Crown Princess rescuing her science nerd little sister amid palace intrigue and epic seafaring. Elena portrays a Latino royal family, in English with Hispanic accents, and lots of historic and cultural references for broad appeal. It works for school age and up - or younger - hey, she's a princess! What's not to like about that?
Animal Odd Couples
Who says that education can't be entertaining? Animal Planet provides a window onto species and their people that's hard to resist. Animal Odd Couples features animals and their people, species that shouldn't be friends and other odd couples.
Polar Bear Purring
This full-grown polar bear bonded with her trainer when she was just a cub. What kids will find entertaining though, is that when the polar bear is near her human dad, she purrs. Educational entertainment at its finest, kids will be amused and touched at this polar bear's affection for her human dad. The video is appropriate for older elementary-aged kids who like animals.
Jessica, the Hippo
Jessica the hippo, who loves baby bottles of rooibos tea, pops by the kitchen at dinner time for a snack of fresh string beans. School age to 'tween viewers might learn something, but even the younger sibs will be transfixed.
Other Animal Videos
- If you loved these odd couples, make sure to check out the Animal Planet TV page on YouTube. There you'll find videos like this odd trio - a lion, a tiger and a bear - who are the closest of friends or Maria the goose, who waddles in step with a zookeeper on his walks through a park. Also great for the older elementary student who doesn't need animations to be entertained.
- My Animal Friends are short videos "told" in the voice of a young animal. The 13-minute films are videos, not cartoons, and cover such interesting critters as crocs, cats and clown fish. Elephant brings a young viewer inside the African world of a baby elephant and introduces other African animals in the calf's environment. Younger animal lovers, from ages six to ten, should appreciate this series.
- Chill with polar bears in a preschool to kindergarten animation by All Things Animal TV. The animals are videotaped, so the perky cartoon is grounded in real images and the 6:40 trip could be a learning adventure. There is really enough info in this vid for a younger school-age kid who will listen to, as well as watch, the mini-story.
These popular science personalities make it easy to want to learn all about science. Entertaining and educational, these videos make science fun.
Increasing your knowledge is painless when Bill Nye, the Science Guy rocks it on YouTube. He's uploaded a bunch of his videos with subjects ranging from the food web to magnetism to outer space. Want to learn more about eyeballs? Probably not, but you can bet your elementary aged kids will find it fascinating.
Whiz Kid Science
Whiz Kid Science makes it all seem so easy. The young host presents simple, clear science experiments kids can do at home with ordinary household items. From Walking Water to Making a Bouncy Ball, Whiz Kid makes science seem easy. While the WhizKid himself is not the most fluid of speakers, he does a pretty good job, and the 'doability' of these projects will keep early elementary kids entertained for quite awhile. Below Whiz Kid shares the classic tie-dyed milk experiment.
Other Science Videos
Check out more amazing science experiments.
- Check out more amazing science experiments with #5Facts, hosted by Matt Silverman and Annie Colbert. This video features Grover, helping the hosts with five science-y things to try. The video is less than 10 minutes and the experiments use household ingredients such as pepper, oranges, cornstarch and food coloring as chemicals. Because Grover is guest hosting, it's a good bet your preschool Sesame Street aficionados will get into this one.
- If you can handle the mess, your kids will get right into Kidspot, 39 videos of super-quick and eye-popping science tricks for school-age kids to try. Make a tornado in a jar, a jellyfish in a bottle, or a bowl of "floating M&Ms" and then find out why the weirdness happens.
Wolfgang Riebe will make stuff appear and disappear like, well, like magic. His Easy Magic Tricks for Everyone videos are fascinating to watch at any age and fun to try for school age kids and intrepid 'tween tricksters. Little ones might be interested enough to try a trick or two - with help from an older sibling.
Other Magic Videos
- Wow 'em or creep 'em out with believable magic tricks that require some sleight-of-hand with this video from EvanEraTV. The video gives clear directions for all 10 cool tricks, making it appealing for those hard-to-please tweens.
- Have your kids ever wished they had an encyclopedia full of magic tricks? Magic Tricks for Kids is an endless supply of classic tricks with props that dedicated magicians from age nine and up can master with practice. Choose from spoon bending to card tricks and impress your audience.
If the magic tricks don't wow 'em...the jokes may fall even flatter. With that said, kid humor is a very particular thing, and it's more about thigh-slapping comedy than clever comebacks. Bounce Patrol Kids features a gaggle of Brits who push the limit of what is giggle-worthy into eye-rolling - just the way kids like it. This video below features 20 silly jokes sure to make your preschooler to first grader melt in a fit of giggles.
Other Funny Joke Videos
- Kids could steal some of these jokes but the fun is watching a handful of short stand-up comics telling them at the Iowa State Fair Children's Joke Telling Contest. The kids telling the jokes are super cute and the jokes are corny - but for the right hammy first through third grader - this video is a winner.
- If your kiddo is looking for something totally cheesy, this compilation of jokes will be right up his alley. Written and shown 'flash card style,' this video is best for confident readers, although the video could be paused.
Talk, Talk, Talk
Who says Ted Talks are for brainiac grown-ups? Not so. Your middle-schooler, the one with the insatiable curiosity, can pick and choose among the series of TED-Ed short videos that track everything from how Band-Aids were invented to the chemistry of cookies (below). In the process, she gets a hit of both science and history.
A TED-Ed video can be the initial inspiration for a beautiful A+ class paper - or a quick snack on food for thought. It's TED-Ed, for education, so each mini-video is a lesson, disguised as entertaining trivia. Find out, along with your offspring heading into double digits answers to their most burning questions:
- Could your clever 'tween have survived 2.5 million years ago? This video explains why that may, or may not, be a possibility.
- What would his life have been like as a teenager in ancient Rome?
, why dolphins and orangutans might just be as smart as you are - humbling and enlightening.
Spending some time on YouTube might just spark a life interest in science or give your budding claymation animator the edge in grammar school. If you curate the viewing, you can be confident that on-screen hours widen their world. Give your curious kids quality YouTube links and let the learning begin!