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Ode to 5 Great Educational TV Shows

The end of Reading Rainbow (no pot of gold in sight) got us thinking about educational TV shows.  Reading Rainbow didn’t teach kids how to read;  it taught them why to read.  It’s an important distinction and according to this article by NPR, one that many educational TV shows lack these days.

DreamBox Learning’s math game for kindergartners to second-graders is based on a similar premise.  Kids learn more when they’re having fun.  We want kids to like math, not just learn math.

We’ll greatly miss Reading Rainbow, our butterfly in the sky,  but for fun let’s “take a look” at 5 other great educational TV shows:

5. Sesame Street

sesame street

Can you tell me how to get… how to get to Sesame Street? We could not mention educational TV shows without beloved-by-all Sesame Street.  Characters with funny names like “Telly Monster” and “Mr. Noodle” made us laugh, but serious learning happens everywhere on the city street.  Remember learning to count with Count von Count? Or to share with best buds Bert and Ernie? When it comes to edutainment, Sesame Street has major street cred.  Fun Factoid: 95 percent of American preschoolers have watched Sesame Street by the time they turn three.

4. Mister Rogers

mister rogers neighborhood

First, we’d like to dispel any rumors that cardigan-clad Fred Rogers was a marine sniper in the Vietnam War.  He graduated from Rollins College in Florida with a degree in music and went on to a career in broadcasting. Fred Rogers devoted his entire adult life to educating children; his passion and puppets made the show one of the greatest of its kind.  Fun Factoid: Mister Rogers Neighborhood is the second-longest running series on PBS, after Sesame Street.

3. Mr. Wizard

mr wizard

Don Herbert (Mr. Wizard) might be the reason parents consistently run out of baking soda (volcano anyone?) .  Reading Rainbow taught kids why to read and Mr. Wizard showed kids why to study science.  He had the formula down pat:  Show kids the “cool” part of science.  Let them see static electricity and chemical reactions;  there are some things a textbook can’t explain.  Fun Factoid: The show was famous for its brilliant “Ask Mr. Wizard” segment, and episodes re-aired in 2005-2006 on the Science Channel.

2.Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

where in the world is carmen sandiego

This early ’90s series is touted as the second-longest running U.S. children’s game show behind Double Dare.  The catchy theme song isn’t the only thing that got stuck in our heads.  Who could forget those intense geography lessons? Or the scheming villainess and her red hat? It was educational, entertaining, and when you got an answer right,  very rewarding.  Fun Factoid: The theme song is one of the most well-known in television history.

1. Schoolhouse Rock


Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?/Hooking up words and phrases and clauses.  Schoolhouse Rock interrupted Saturday morning cartoons with grammar, history, math lessons, and more, but kids didn’t mind.  It rocked! The idea came to creator David McCall when he noticed that his son had trouble remembering multiplication tables but could remember lyrics to rock songs.  Fun Factoid:  The last four segments of the original series were about the personal computer — a novel technology back then.

We hope you enjoyed our top five educational TV shows.  Comment below with your favorite childhood educational shows!

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