Ten Podcasts for Car Trips with Kids
You’ll know, if you’ve been reading my musings for a while now, that I often talk about the wonders of audio books and podcasts – especially for car rides. For more on the power of audio books see Chapter 9 of my book ‘Raising Readers’.
As an educator, I’m going to tell you that words via podcasts and audio books, are the perfect way to add rich vocabulary to your child’s repertoire and one of the best ways to model pitch, tone and expression when reading aloud or delivery an oral assignment. As a parent? I’m going to tell you that they are the best flipping way I know to keep children SILENT on car trips and give your brain a (non guilty) break.
I was recently driving back from a local nursery with a friend and we had four children from 4 – 12 years old in the car with us – it would be fair to say it had been a big morning. ‘Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt’ came thundering through the car bluetooth and SILENCE DESCENDED like some magical cloak sent directly from a better parenting place. We could have been home in two minutes but instead we drove around and around and around in circles – just revelling in the silence.
I recounted to this same friend about the last time I took the girls to Noosa and we listened to ‘Coraline’ by Neil Gaiman. I did briefly ponder the age appropriateness of it for 8 year old ChickPea, but decided she’d be fine and, more importantly in my mind, it fit the hours we would be driving perfectly! Things were so quiet that at one point I turned around to check they were awake, to see tears streaming down ChickPea’s face and PudStar (12) staring blankly ahead, like she’d taken her mind to a less scary place. Oops.
Anyway we were too far in by this stage and I knew the story became less scary (sort of!) so I pushed on. When we arrived, both girls demanded the car be kept on so they could finish the story. I managed to unpack the entire car, lay down on a bed and drank a glass of champagne ALONE in the time it took them to finish. Thank you Neil Gaiman. Granted they had nightmares about button eyes but the silence was worth it.
Below are our ten favourite podcasts at the moment. You’ll note that most of them are ABC productions. I try super hard to not get political on my website – but I’m telling you – my blood is boiling at ABC funding cuts right now.
Let me know in the comments what you’re listening to!
Ten Podcasts for Car Trips with Kids
Storykids is a brand new podcast and we are loving it! Dual Helpmann Award winner Verity Hunt-Ballard joins forces with Amelia Christo (an actor and educator) on StoryKids. They interview a child author about their story and then produce a fully realised audio play with some of Australia’s best actors and sound designers – the production quality really does take this podcast to the next level!
Verity and Amelia were inspired to create an audio experience to fill a gap in the primary school audio market, while placing children and their voices front and centre in the creative process.
Bedtime Stories with R.A. Spratt is a weekly podcast of ludicrous, mind bending, stupid-funny stories for kids written by Australia’s answer to David Walliams, R.A. Spratt. We have listened to every single episode of these stories (dropping each Wednesday) at least four or five times over – and Rapunzel Bacon Hair is set to become a story that my kids will still be talking about in 30 years time.
There are side-splitting versions of Spratt’s own fractured fairy tales and short stories from some of her best-selling books, featuring characters from ‘The Adventures of Nanny Piggins’ and ‘Friday Barnes, Girl Detective’. The stories are perfect for bedtime, long car rides or even if you’re just stuck waiting a really long time at the doctor’s office. They’re written for 7-11 year olds but these are tales the whole family can enjoy. The silliness is ageless.
Mackaroy Uncovered is a new discovery for the girls and I – after we binged Mars Patel last year (and they had nightmares for a month – oops!) we needed something like Mackaroy Uncovered.
In the quiet Australian country town of Mackaroy, something really strange is happening. The School’s principal has disappeared, the whole town’s internet keeps crashing every night, and people are being watched. Someone, or something, is keeping tabs on everyone who lives there, and best friends Tang and Mitch are on the case. The 14-year-olds have an online show investigating conspiracies, but what they don’t realise is that someone really doesn’t want them to find out the truth. This will be their toughest investigation yet, and they’ll soon learn that what’s at stake is much more than uploading their next show. Join them over eight episodes as they try to uncover the secret of what’s really going on in Mackaroy.
Fierce Girls has been around for a while now but we’re on second and third repeats of some of our fav episodes like Bindi Irwin, Andrea Hah, Susan Alberti (I don’t even LIKE AFL but I cried in this one!), Ronni Kahn and Jackie French.
From skaters to singers, mountaineers to Mars mission-leaders. From the deep blue sea to the dark, black skies. Australia is full of girls who dare to do things differently. Adventurous girls. Girls with guts and spirit. Girls who stand-up and say, “watch out world, here I come!”. These are their stories and they are incredibly well written by talented children’s author Samantha Turnbull – the expert writing is what makes this series stand out. It’s one for ALL – boy and girl listeners and their adults!
Why did the dinosaurs die? Imagine a world where it’s all right to ask questions and have your voice heard. In each episode of Imagine This, we delve into a puzzling question from an inquisitive mind, examining the science behind it in a fun and engaging way. This podcast is suited to kids aged 4 and up, we’re all much older than this and still love it! Have just listened to ‘What is coronavirus?’ and ‘Why do shooting stars fall out of the sky?’.
Short and Curly is a fast-paced fun-filled ethics podcast for kids and their parents that asks those curly questions. From banning lollies to trusting robots, and from colonising other planets to eating pets, Short & Curly covers it all. Recent episodes we’ve loved include ‘Why is your room so messy?’ and ‘Did your brain make you do it?’
Wow in the World hosts Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz guide curious kids and their grown-ups on a journey into the wonders of the world around them. They go inside our brains, out into space and deep into the coolest new stories in science and technology.
Off Track, with Ann Jones, is an Australian radio show and podcast which combines the relaxing sounds of nature with awesome stories of wildlife and environmental science, all recorded in the outdoors. This podcast is not aimed at children but it’s totally wonderful for all ages and we recently really enjoyed the episode about the squirrel that glides like a magic carpet in the Himalayas.
But the VERY BEST thing Off Track has just started? A series called Nature Sounds – hours and hours of recorded outdoor sound – no music, no voices, no traffic. Just shore sounds (the sounds of Roebuck Bay mudflats near Broome in WA), water flow (the sounds of a stream and frogs calling in regional Victoria) and forest sounds (birds and breeze echoing backwards and forwards across a reservoir in Tasmania). I have had them on loop in the car, at night and just *all the time*. I am deeply in love with this series.
If Off Track is just a little above your children, then Noisy by Nature is (I think) by the same Ann. It’s an Ann anyway – and it’s SO DARNED GREAT – we love this one too and my little neighbours enjoy this one in my car. Australian nature is full of strange, surprising and sometimes silly sounds. From cicadas that sound like sprinklers to moaning mutton birds, there are heaps of weird noises to discover. Join host and nature lover, Ann, as we use our ears to listen to the different sounds that Australian nature makes. Along the way we’ll find out some fun facts and train little ears to listen to the chorus of calls that make up the natural world around us.
Squiz Kids is daily news for kids! If, like me, you want to know what is happening in the world but you don’t have time to watch the news and read all the papers, then you’re probably listening to adult podcasts like ABC’s The Briefing, MamaMia’s The Quicky (for a lighter take!) and The New York Times podcast The Daily.
I’ve been looking for something similar for kids and Squiz Kids is totally winning for me right now – in fact I’m using it as much for myself as for the kids! A short daily podcast, created here in Australia, that gives kids (and their adults) the rundown on the big news stories, delivered without opinion, and with positivity and humour.