Netflix Summer School: our favorite educational kids’ shows

by | Jul 2, 2015 | Catholic Mom TV Review, Hey Watch This | 9 comments

Here in the San Fernando Valley part of LA, it’s been in the nineties pretty much every day for a month. I am a big fan of shutting kids outside to play (A BIG fan. Seriously.) but the blazing heat of the afternoons can melt even MY mean mommy heart. After all, people didn’t really live here before there was air conditioning.

My kids do a lot of reading and crafts (mostly thanks to Kiwi Crate) in the summertime, but they also get to watch TV in the summer. Because as much as I love an unplugged childhood, there really are some GREAT educational shows available. An hour or so of TV in the afternoon means my kids might just learn something while also not making a mess of the house. Hooray!

In case you also enjoy smart, tidy children, I figured I would share the list of Netflix shows from which my kids are allowed to choose for summer viewing. My kids range in age from one to thirteen, Lulu is a pretty bad TV watcher (so annoying). But (with the exception of one of these shows) the rest of the kids will pretty much all sit through any of them.

If you’re logged into Netflix, clicking on the title should take you right to the show.

1. The Magic School Bus

This is a goofy show, and if you let your newly-teenaged science-minded son watch it with the little kids, he will not be able to help but point out the many, many plot holes in each episode.

But it’s fun and informative and my little kids really remember facts and concepts from each episode.

Also available on DVD: The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series

2. Wild Kratts

When I did my first roundup of the kids’ favorite shows on Netflix, you guys could NOT believe we had never seen Wild Kratts. So we gave it a try.

And I’m really glad we did. It’s entertaining and original, and the relationship between the brothers is sweet, and they even use phrases like “was DESIGNED to” when talking about a particular creature. Yay!

I did have to ban the singing of the theme song in the house, though.

Also available on DVD: Wild Kratts: Wildest Animal Adventures

3. Bill Nye the Science Guy

I worry that parents these days hear the name Bill Nye and think that he’s an atheist anti-Christian zealot. But that’s not true. Mr. Nye considers himself an agnostic, and is well-known for his position that Biblical creationism is bad science and shouldn’t be taught in schools. He participated in a 2014 debate with the Kentucky Creation Museum CEO Ken Ham, arguing against a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis. But that position is absolutely compatible with Catholic teaching on creationism. (I wrote a whole post on that topic here.)

So, anyway, all that to say . . . I grew up watching and loving Bill Nye the Science Guy and I could not be more excited that they just got season one on Netflix. I think the show holds up really well. My kids don’t recognize the celebrity guests, but they probably wouldn’t recognize current celebrity guests either.

Mr. Nye has a great way of explaining complex concepts in a way kids can understand and retain, and there’s plenty of humor to go along with the science.

Also available on DVD: Bill Nye the Science Guy

4. Dear America

Remember when I told you there was one of these show that not ALL the kids are crazy about? Well, it’s this one. But Betty loves it, and I do think if I could get the boys to sit through it, they would appreciate the personal glimpse into a specific moment in history that each episode gives the viewer. But. The stories are very girl-centric, and there are hints of romance, and the boys all bailed out without waiting to see how it turned out.

The series is based on the book series of the same name, and was made in 1999 and 2000. I’ve only watched a couple of episodes with Betty, but so far I really recommend it for girls who like American Girl-type engagement with history. The stories are pretty intense and feature tragic experiences for the main characters, but that’s how history goes, right? No blood and guts, but just the intensity of the story lines may be too much for sensitive or younger kids.

Not available on DVD.

5. Modern Marvels

Some of the modern marvels are more, um, marvelous than others. There’s an entire episode, for instance, on food trucks . . . which I’m not sure deserve the title. But still, my oldest’s engineer brain loves learning about the inner working of just about anything. Even a food truck.

Also available on DVD: Modern Marvels: Top Ten (History Channel)

He also really enjoys the Nova Science series, which he recommended in this post:

The Very Best Shows on Netflix . . . according to my kids

And that’s my honest opinion. But this is a sponsored post.

What are we missing out on? What are YOUR kids’ favorite educational-ish shows?

p.s. I’m at Blessed is She today, talking about bodies free from faults vs. souls free from sin . . . 
So many of us struggle with broken bodies: be it infertility, sub fertility or miscarriages, or mental illness, or cancer, or an achin’ back. We struggle against an inclination to overeating, or laziness, or concupiscence. We watch our loved ones suffer from illnesses or infirmities.
We pray and pray and pray that God would heal our bodies, or take away our temptations, or remove the pain from those we love.
And it is GOOD that we do. We should never stop. Sometimes, as Jesus did for the paralytic, our bodies will be healed.
But, very often, that is not what happens. Very often, our sins are forgiven, but our infirmities remain. And that is when we need to fight to remember our priorities. That is when we need to rejoice that our sins are forgiven and the gates of heaven are opened to us, despite the imperfection of our bodies.

Read the rest here. 


  1. K

    Have you ever watched (on Netflix) How the States Got Their Shapes? …maybe for the oldest kids?

    • Charlotte (WaltzingM)

      We've watched most of the How The States Got Their Shapes episodes, but my oldest is 17. There are a few episodes that we skip. I can let you know which ones and why if you're interested, Kendra.

  2. Deltaflute

    One that my kids like is Justin Time. It's about a very imaginative kid, Justin, who imagines his two pals going to different places. They experience ancient Egypt, Inuckshuck building, etc. in a fun way.

  3. Amanda

    Good list, I didn't realize Bill Nye was on Netflix, I loved those shows as a kid!

    Deep Question of the Day: do you give your kids a short list of movies/shows they may watch on netflix or do you allow them to choose more? Just wondering because my 13 year old has TERRIBLE taste in shows and while they're not *bad* in a moral sense they're very bad in a taste sense 😉 For example, I've been treated to several rounds of Camp Rock and High School Musical 3 this summer and I kinda want to stab my eyeballs out just so I no longer have to see them ever again. And her taste is contagious, now my 7 year old boy likes those shows too, ugh. But is bad taste enough reason to disallow them?

    • Kendra

      The kids are only allowed to watch shows off of an approved list. These five shows are what they are allowed to choose between for this summer. I've watched at least two episodes of each, so I'm pretty comfortable that they aren't inappropriate/super annoying. Then we also watch movies together as a family, but the kids aren't allowed to watch anything on their own that isn't on the list. It cuts down on unnecessary "discussions" about what's allowed.

      And general lameness is absolutely a good enough reason to get something banned in my house. I think I have a responsibility to try to help my kids learn good taste.

  4. Anonymous

    Sid the Science Kid for the younger set!

  5. Lauren

    I concur that lameness/dumb/annoying are valid reasons for banning a show. Auntie Leila (everyone knows her, right?) says that if you expose your children to beauty (or quality in the case of TV programming), they will, in time, learn to seek it out themselves…preferring to avoid those lame shows on their own accord. She wrote this in the context of book selections, but I think it applies to TV as well.

  6. Anonymous

    Whoa, so I'm sitting here with my laptop catching up on some blogs while my daughter is watching Mr. Rogers on Amazon Prime. I see that you mention Bill Nye the Science Guy and I think, oh yeah, I used to watch his show all the time as a kid…

    I suddenly notice an oddly familiar voice coming from the tv screen and look up to see what Mr. Rogers is up to – he's sitting at his table doing a science experience with – you'll never believe it – BILL NYE!!! Did you know that Bill Nye shows up on an episode of Mr. Rogers?? I had no idea. And talk about odd, creepy timing to suddenly stumble on this episode…ha ha ha.

    Oh, and Mr. Rogers is another good show option out there too. 🙂

Submit a Comment

Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

If you’d like to learn more about what Catholics believe and why, and to be inspired by saints from every era all over the world, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of how to teach your kids about the faith in a way that’s true, engaging, and lasts a lifetime, we can help!

➡️ Get my liturgical living checklist for free when you join my weekly newsletter. Sign up here.

This blog contains affiliate links and sponsored posts, for which I receive a commission. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.