The best kids TV shows for inspiration, education and escapism

Don’t get stuck watching the same DVDs and TV shows on repeat. We’ve rounded up the very best children’s TV that will help engage and entertain them during the break from school.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 24 March 2020 - 7.47pm
Nick Jr

Parenting is always tough, but right now it feels trickier than ever.

You are always inclined to reduce your kids screen time, but kids – just like adults – need a break and a little escapism too.

However, that doesn't mean you have to endure hour upon hour of the same TV shows on repeat over and over and over again. 

Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, the back catalogue of Disney and Pixar films are all phenomenally popular for a reason – they are practically perfect for their audience in every way.

But with schools out, your little scientists, superheroes and explorers are probably going to be looking for some new adventures and inspiration. And if you’re lucky, they may even pick up a few sneaky lessons in maths, geography and history when they’re not looking.

But where should you begin when looking for the best kids TV? Here is our guide to all the best shows you can stream with BT TV.

BBC iPlayer

Octonauts BBC

CBeebies and CBBC have long offered an essential helping hand for stressed-out parents and excitable youngsters for many years.

Endlessly creative and unrivalled when it comes to education, you’ll probably find yourself learning just as much as the kids when you watch along too.

CBeebies favourites include Numberblocks – which makes early years maths gripping for four-year-olds – and the underwater adventures of Octonauts, a show made with the assistance of real life marine biologists to share the wonders of life in the ocean.

Hey Dugee is a masterclass in pre-school animated fun, which encourages friendship, learning through play and adventures, Go Jetters will teach your little ones about an incredible world beyond the UK and Maddy’s Do You Know is the perfect show for curious little minds as it explains how the world works, from disco balls, bar codes and train tracks to loo roll and wind turbines.

CBeebies Andy
BBC

And if your kids haven’t discovered Andy yet – of Safari Adventures, Aquatic Adventures and Andy and the Band fame – prepare to be amazed as they learn all about animals and nature.

The fun doesn’t stop at early years and CBBC packs iPlayer with a mix of the educational – the incomparable Horrible Histories – to escapist delights like Deadly 60 and The Dumping Ground.

Newsround and medical series Operation Ouch will also provide comfort for kids looking for answers about the world around them.

BT TV Kids

Bluey kids TV series Disney Junior

Adding the kids bolt-on to your BT TV package gives you access to channels including Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, Cartoon Network., Cartoonito and Boomerang.

Watching on the BT Player means back-to-back episodes, box sets and no adverts to worry about and across all these channels you’ve got bucketloads of episodes of kids TV classics such as Peppa Pig, Fireman Sam, Paw Patrol and Thomas & Friends.

But if you’re looking for inspiration beyond the old favourites, Nick Jr will warm your heart with The Adventures of Paddington – voiced by Ben Whishaw and capturing all the magic of the recent movies about the marmalade-munching bear.

Bluey from Disney Junior is a show that parents will adore as much as kids. Celebrating the pleasures of learning through play, the joyous Aussie series will ring true for every parent with young kids. In fact, we should apologise in advance because mums and dads will shedding a tear at the end of nearly every episode.

Apple and Onion Cartoon Network

Rusty Rivets from Nick Jr is perfect for any young engineers who love all things robots, diggers and big machines.

Meanwhile, music lovers will adore Cartoon Network’s Apple and Onion, which is a delicious mixture of surreal silliness and catchy singalong hip-hop. Voiced by Richard Ayoade, the series is all about children learning to fit in and growing up in a strange world.

And if your older kids just want some colourful escapism, Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time and Amazing World of Gumball remain the pinnacle of candy-coloured, fantastical escapism.

Amazon Prime Video

Tumbeleaf Amazon Prime Video

If you’re lucky enough to have Amazon Prime Video in your BT TV package, they’ve got a colourful collection of Originals perfect for kids of all ages.

Pre-schoolers can’t get enough of the mucky action in Stinky & Dirty. Early years kids will fall in love with the dazzling worlds of Tumbleleaf and Creative Galaxy – which are soothing with warmth, brimming with imagination and gorgeously animated.

Older kids, meanwhile, can be whisked away to new worlds in Emmy-winning Lost in Oz featuring some characters you will remember from your own childhood, the magical fantasy of Just Add Magic is perfect for Harry Potter lovers and soccer team drama The Kicks is a classic uplifting high school drama.

Get Prime Video on BT TV

Don’t miss Hunters, Outlander and Star Trek: Picard on Amazon Prime Video.

Netflix

Ask the Story Bots Netflix

All those true crime documentaries you watch might have skewed your algorithm, but venture into the Kids area of Netflix and you’ll find an array of Netflix Original series that will have your kids demanding ‘just one more!’ at the end of every episode.

A whole series of Shaun the Sheep: Adventures from Mossy Bottom has just landed – another work of comedy genius from the clever folk at Aardman – which promises hours of laughter and fun.

Ask the Story Bots is a pre-school life saver for parents of curious children who love to ask ‘why?’ The whole series is designed around inquisitive youngsters, it’s been nominated for tons of awards and it has the all-important answers to questions like ‘why is the sky blue?’ and ‘why do I need to brush my teeth?’

Beat Bugs is an animation series built around a Beatles soundtrack, which is perfect for youngsters who have a passion for the theatrical or who just like making loads of noise.

And if you want to reward your kids with some animated action and adventure, movie spin-off series including Dragons: Race to the Edge and The Adventures of Pussy in Boots are streaming as well.

Project Mc2 Netflix

Finally, Project Mc2 is an inspirational drama series for older kids which rips up the stereotypes about science, engineering and maths for an empowering story about a group of school girls who use their intelligence to work as secret agents. It’s won critical acclaim and has been lauded by parents and teachers in the US.

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