Friday, August 26, 2016

Podcasts for Growing Minds - Part 1

Podcasts (audio shows you can pre-load onto a smartphone or play through a website) have become the hottest thing since sliced bread. They even have the power to potentially get someone out of jail or connect strangers who are tied to each other in a way you could never imagine. They’ve even made it possible to enjoy emptying the dishwasher and doing laundry! Since the number and types of podcasts have proliferated so much in recent years, it seems like a good time to pick out the best of the best to recommend to families. 

Below are reviews some of your blogger's favorite podcasts for kids.  In subsequent posts we'll look at our favorites for teens and adults. These audio programs are a great way to learn about the world, about ourselves, and about some things we never even realized we wanted to learn about in the first place. In addition to acting as valuable learning resources, podcasts can help kids and teens kick off their mindful relaxation time. They’re also superb conversation starters for families looking to engage in some tough critical thinking or debate. 

1. How to do Everything (20-30 minutes)
This is “half advice show, half survival guide.” It’s guaranteed to entertain both kids and adults – one of the best episodes features Patrick Stewart demonstrating what a cow would sound like depending on the region of England it was raised in. Other recent episodes include talking to scientists about what dinosaurs probably sounded like and why we really do the pee dance (and does it work!?). The hosts bring in consultants to answer these and other extremely important questions, like the “World’s Greatest Extra” who can teach you how to blend into the background on any television or movie set.

2. Brains On! (15-25 minutes)

The host of this podcast and her guests, both kids and adults, answer some of science’s most interesting questions in a very fun way. They’re “serious about being curious.” A recent episode, for example, explored why humans get allergies by interviewing an 11-year-old who has a few allergies and an allergist who can answer her questions. Other episode have explored farts (are they good for you?), the science of baking, and how to translate your dog’s barks or cat’s meows.

3. Can I Pet Your Dog? (45-55 minutes)

Yup, you guessed it. This is a show about dogs and all things dog-related. The first episode features an interview with Hamilton-creator Lin-Manuel Miranda all about his dog Tobi. The hosts discuss dogs they’ve met, dog news, dog care tips, and funny stories from their lives (with dogs, of course). It also has a pretty awesome theme song. This is one of the few podcasts out there for kids that isn’t directly trying to teach them something, but it offers plenty of life lessons without even trying.

The premise behind this podcast is pretty simple. Kids ask questions and the hosts get answers from athletes, engineers, scientists, novelists, artists and others from all across the career spectrum. Recent episodes have looked into why bikes don’t fall over, how it feels when families grow and change, how cheese is made, and why people have different religions.

5. The Adventures of Eleanor Amplified (10-15 minutes)
This one is pure fun. Each episode follows fictional journalist Eleanor Amplified on her “pursuit of truth.” She works hard to defend quality journalism and access to information in the face of evil scientists and politicians who try to stop her. The stories find Eleanor all over the globe in all sorts of sticky situations. If you have a child who is having trouble transitioning from watching too much television to becoming a lover of books, this could be a good first step to help her engage in the art of the story without the provided visuals.

6. Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child (50 minutes)
This is a weekly playlist that helps “kids and their grownups” connect over new and classic music, with songs from awesome artists like They Might Be Giants, Beck, REM, Apples in Stereo, and Kermit Ruffins. Finding intersections between your interests and your kids’ can be hard, so it’s nice to see a podcast that the whole family really can enjoy together.

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