You don’t need to splash out on expensive streaming subscriptions and Blu-rays to keep your kids entertained on long journeys.
Instead, check out YouTube. Many of the most popular kids shows of the last three decades have official YouTube channels. The channels offer both on-demand episodes and exclusive content.
So, if you’re looking for a way to keep your little darlings out of trouble, keep reading…
Sesame Street has been on our TV screens since the late 1960s. It was the first children’s show to use a curriculum to structure its content. There are almost 5,000 episodes in the show’s back catalog.
The YouTube channel offers new shorts, songs, games, classic clips, and some full episodes.
Masha and the Bear is a Russian animated show that follows the lives of Masha (a young girl) and an old bear who tries to keep her out of harm’s way. The show has been translated into several other languages, including English.
Perhaps surprisingly, a Russian-language Masha and the Bear episode is one of the most-watched videos on YouTube of all time. It’s the only non-music video in the top 20.
3. Peppa Pig
The official Peppa Pig channel offers hours of old episodes, as well as a 24/7 live TV channel that plays continuous Peppa Pig episodes back-to-back.
The channel is easy to navigate. Content is divided into sections such as nursery rhymes, Halloween, reading month, and “When I Grow Up”.
Arthur started in the mid-1990s. It was an instant hit with kids and adults alike. Although the show is aimed at children aged between four and eight, the storylines have some sitcom elements which give the grown-ups something to chuckle at.
The show is now in its 21st season. The YouTube channel offers a mix of old episodes and exclusive shorts.
Powerpuff Girls is a Cartoon Network classic. It features three kindergarten girls each of whom has a superpower. The show ran for six seasons between 1998 and 2005.
The show won lots of praise for its hidden pop culture references. As an adult, the references make the show fun to re-watch.
Thomas the Tank Engine needs little introduction. Based on a 1946 book, the British show is a worldwide cultural phenomenon.
The early episodes deployed Beatles drummer Ringo Starr as the narrator, further adding to the show’s appeal.
Another British show that became globally popular is Teletubbies. Aimed at pre-school children, the show features four alien-like creatures playing games and participating in directed learning tasks.
The show proved to be controversial after its release. Some parents said the creatures’ “goo-goo” way of talking could negatively affect young children’s ability to learn languages.
Since its release in the mid-1990s, Power Rangers has been staple viewing for youngsters. Each of the 24 seasons features a new team of rangers who need to overcome their various antagonists.
The channel offers a mix of full episodes, exclusive content, and shorts. There’s even some Spanish-language footage.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch was a 1990s TV show featuring Melissa Joan Hart that was based on the comics of the same name.
The YouTube channel shows the animated show rather than the live show. Purists will enjoy it; the animated series is much closer to the original comic’s canon.
Pingu is a Swiss stop-motion clay animated show. Thanks to the show’s lack of a real language (Pingu and his family speak “Pinguish”), the show became a worldwide hit.
The channel offers a mix of short episodes and old clips.
Garfield holds the world record for being the world’s most syndicated comic strip. The TV show follows the same story premise as the comics, as the world’s laziest cat gets up to endless hijinks with Odie the dog.
12. Fireman Sam
Fireman Sam originally ran from 1987-1994 and featured 32 10-minute episodes. It was rebooted in 2003 and again in 2008. The visuals were modernized each time.
Most stories revolve around Sam trying to save local lad Norman from various perilous situations.
The YouTube channel receives a new episode every Thursday.
13. Postman Pat
Postman Pat targets a slightly younger crowd than Fireman Sam. It is written for preschoolers. A typical storyline sees Pat start his daily deliveries, only to be distracted by the issues of one of the villagers. More often than not, he ends up saving the day.
There’s even a spinoff movie. It hit American and British theatres in 2014.
14. Bob the Builder
Sticking with the theme of jobs, next up is Bob the Builder. The preschoolers’ show started life in the U.K. in the late-1990s. Since then, it has been exported to more than 30 countries. In the U.S., the show was dubbed with American actors’ voices.
Bob the Builder is also the only show on this list to have a hit song. The single—called Can We Fix It? after the series’ catchphrase—was the U.K. Christmas number one in 2000 and became the country’s biggest-selling single of the year.
15. Danger Mouse
Danger Mouse is a parody of popular spy fiction like James Bond. The show, which features a secret agent mouse, ran from 1981 to 1992.
The YouTube channel offers content from the rebooted 2015 series. It has modern visuals and tweaked storylines.
16. Count Duckula
Fans of Danger Mouse will instantly recognize Count Duckula. He regularly appears as a villain in the Danger Mouse series, but his character was so popular that a spinoff series was launched.
As vampires go, Duckula is a pretty poor example. He has no fangs and is a vegetarian. His nemesis in the series is Dr. Von Goosewing; the name is a parody of Dracula’s Abraham Van Helsing.
17. Care Bears
The Care Bears started life as artwork for American Greetings to use on its greeting cards. Such was the popularity of the figures, however, that they quickly morphed into the stars of a kids’ TV series.
The bears live in the clouds and travel around the world to perform “missions in caring.” The series has run in various guises since 1985.
18. The Muppets
The Muppets play a key role in Sesame Street, but they also have their own TV series and YouTube channel.
The channel predominantly features short videos with a single Muppet doing the talking.
19. Curious George
Curious George has its roots in Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys, a book published in France in 1939. As such, it’s the oldest franchise on this list.
The first animated TV series went live in 1980. It ran until the mid-90s. In 2006, PBS rebooted the show; it lasted until 2015.
Noddy ran for two seasons and 66 episodes between 1998 and 2000. The show focuses on Noah the NODDY Shop (Notions, Oddities, Doodads, and Delights of Yesterday). Each story carries a moral message and a healthy dose of comedy.
The was made in Canada but was a hit in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and much of Latin America.
A YouTube Video for Every Occasion
It’s not just kids who can benefit from the massive amount of content on YouTube. If you’d like a taste of what else is available, check out our articles on the best legal live TV channels on YouTube and the best YouTube Originals.
Worried that YouTube isn’t safe for your children? Then try these Android- and iPhone-based YouTube alternatives for kids. And if you want more content to keep your kids entertained, try these top podcasts for kids: