Guide: The Best Big Kid Shows

Guide: The Best Big Kid Shows

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Screen time guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics are now more flexible for kids over 6. Your big kids are probably using a computer for homework and games both at home and school. They’re also spending more time on smartphones and tablets. When this screen time has educational value, it shouldn’t count against daily limits.

However, it is important to place a regular limit on how much TV your big kids are watching. Seven, 8 and 9 year olds should still be playing outside, reading, spending time with friends and taking part in family activities. Any time left after homework, playtime, dinner and family discussions can be used by big kids to watch TV. Limiting this screen time is up to you as a parent based on your family’s needs and lifestyle.

As your big kids spend more time in front of screens, watch for emotional and behavioral changes, weight issues and sleep issues as these can develop with excess TV use.

This list of big kid shows includes TV programs that won rave reviews from parent bloggers (and their kids), industry organizations like Common Sense Media and Parents’ Choice Foundation, and educators. All of the programs included are rated as appropriate TV shows for 7, 8 and 9 year olds. Keep in mind that what works for one family (or one kid within your family) may not always work for your entire family.

The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones

“[Because] Indy is also being tutored along every step of the… we, the audience, get to participate in his lessons right along with him, learning all sorts of things from physics to philosophy! But there are definitely parts in this show that families with sensitive children may want to skip or otherwise shield their kids from… it IS Indiana Jones, after all…” – Tina, Homeschool Realm
Available on: Amazon Prime

Beakman’s World

“‘Beakman’s World,’ with its hip humor and flash, has garnered a number of accolades for being both educational and entertaining.” – Renee Johnson, UCLA Newsroom
Available on: DVD

Brain Games

“Settle in with the family, turn on this show and get ready to be challenged, intrigued, stymied and fascinated. The ‘games’ involve exploring how the brain processes information. Host Jason Silva explains every step of the way.” – Ann Oldenburg, Parents’ Choice
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, National Geographic


“Waggishly promoting logical thinking, this visual blast of a show takes viewers inside a machine whose gothic innards are made of metallic junk–wires, nuts and bolts, gears and levers–where offbeat little patchwork robots access smart and creative games. The pacing allows viewers time to think, and a review of correct answers follows each game, and repeats at the end.” – Lynne Heffley, LA Times
Available on: HBO NOW/HBO GO

The Cosby Show

“Given that the show was derided for being overly tame and conventional when it was still on the air, it’s admirable that it still holds up as comedy, in spite of how coarse sitcoms have become since then.” – Joshua Alston, A.V. Club
Available on: Amazon Prime, Nickelodeon, TBS


“Math is the weapon of choice on this mission, and Cyberchase takes great care to make solid educational content the star of its storylines.” – Gina Catanzarite, Parents’ Choice
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, PBS Kids

The Deep

“A truly all-ages show, this unique and stunning underwater animated series drew in our 7 year old son and 5 year old daughter equally with its beautiful animation, daring and exciting adventures and its scares and thrills (that were not too scary for the little ones).” – Andrew Gill, Weekend Notes
Available on: Netflix


“[Kids] can’t help but be fascinated by ‘Dinotrux,’ a series of award-winning, visually stimulating bedtime stories that tell tales about dinosaur bulldozers and cement mixers that once roamed the Earth… The Dinotrux are very kind to each other; even in scenes that include danger, they work as a team to save the day.” – Larry Carroll, Screener
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix

Dragons: Race to the Edge

“Big kids are sure to be hooked on the TV spin-off of the successful movie series How to Train Your Dragon. Hiccup, Toothless and friends must solve a mystery about the dragons while battling a dark villain.” – Angela Arsenault, Deceider
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman

“The official synopsis of the show is that it focuses on ‘the trials and adventures of a female doctor in a small wild west town,’ but really, it was about more than that. The show looked into the lives of the characters and portrayed people trying to live their lives while wrestling with issues that still resonate today, particularly racism and sexism.” – Bailey Cavender, Silver Petticoat Review
Available on: Amazon Prime, INSP channel

Genius by Stephen Hawking

“‘Genius’ takes the extra step of encouraging participatory viewing; as the teams of three wrestle with puzzles, or consider objects and scenarios that stimulate their creative problem-solving abilities, the audience’s cognitive faculties spark and crackle right along with them.” – Melanie McFarland, GeekWire
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, PBS, VUDU

Good Luck Charlie

“The show gets so many things right, down to the minute details of the home décor. The Duncan house features pillows and wall drawings of insects; the chalkboard on the refrigerator lists kids’ chores or jobs around the house for the dad to do… The show also accomplishes the truly rare trick of establishing what feels like genuine familial chemistry.” – Gwen Ihnat, A.V. Club
Available on: Amazon Prime, Disney Channel, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix

Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street

“It has everything you want in a show: excellent writing; great actors who portray characters with solid friendships; whimsical story lines; a bit of fairy tale and sci-fi to keep you on your toes. It truly gives you all the feels.” – Georgette, Cool Mom Picks
Available on: Amazon Prime

Gravity Falls

“It’s neither vulgar nor stupid, and while it’s a show about weird things happening in a very strange little town, it’s not the sort of super bizarre adult comedy we often get with cartoons directed at adults. There’s nothing polarizing or negative, and yet the show’s writers never play it safe, either.” – Erik Kain, Forbes
Available on: Amazon Prime, Disney XD, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes

How It’s Made

“It is a world of ceaselessly turning cogs, oscillating screens (sieving cocoa beans or corn kernels), robotic lasers (shaving off wafers of natural diamonds to grow new ones in labs), blenders, grinders, coagulation units (get your crumbs of synthetic rubber here! …It is both profoundly exciting and deeply soothing.” – Lucy Mangan, The Guardian
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes

Lab Rats

“Parents need to know that Lab Rats is a fun-filled show that has cross-generational appeal thanks to a talented cast, clever writing, and a unique storyline that’s as much about the adults as it is the kids. The series is a comedy at heart, but it also mixes in some worthwhile themes about relationships, responsibility, and coping with change.” – Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Available on: Amazon Prime, Disney XD, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix

Life with Boys

“Because Life with Boys puts so much emphasis on the lessons Tess learns from her mistakes and gives her imperfect but loyal family members an integral role in her positive self-image, it’s a great choice for the tween set.” – Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Available on: Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes

Little House on the Prairie

“Some might see the hard topics addressed as a turn off. I see these as a great teaching opportunity. The world is a hard and challenging place.” – Jodi Durr, Meaningful Mama
Available on: Amazon Prime, Hallmark Channel, iTunes

Mr. Young

“Showing teen life through the eyes of a barely post-pubescent teacher highlights its ups and downs in a unique way… the show does a surprisingly good job of incorporating solid aspects of history, science, and literature into many of the stories, all in a manner that makes the content more fun than forced learning.” – Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Available on: Amazon Prime, Disney XD, iTunes, Netflix

Project Mc2

“The show encourages STEM studies in young girls. Also, rather than relying on the old “ditzy girl” cliche that always seems to find its way into something like this, all four main characters are highly intelligent. As the show’s tagline reads: Smart is the new cool.” – Larry Carroll, Screener
Available on: Netflix


“This girl-centered science and nature show is sure to encourage your kid to at least occasionally opt for test tubes over tiaras. Izzie, the star of the show, is likable and relatable as she explores the world of math and science through female eyes.” – Roberta Munoz,
Available on: Amazon Prime, PBS Kids

Star Trek: The Next Generation

“Despite taking place in the boundaries of space — where no man had gone before —TNG drew allegories to our earthbound cultural issues that took place during its televised run.” – Digital Trends
Available on: Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, VUDU

Thunderbirds are Go

“Some scenes might be a little intense for smaller (or more sensitive) space-travelers—the first episode features a powerful underwater earthquake; another has the heroic family scrambling to stop a catastrophic asteroid collision with the sun.” – Melissa Heckscher, Red Tricycle
Available on: Amazon Prime

Trading Spaces

“Part of the fun is in seeing all of the clever ways a room can be made dramatically different with just $1,000. Perhaps even more fun are all the crazy antics, minor mistakes, and major fiascos that sometimes happen, especially when designers Hildi Santo Tomas or Doug Wilson really let loose.” – Brenda Kienan, Common Sense Media
Available on: DVD

The Universe

“The combination of real-world examples and beautiful shots — both real and computerized — makes this good educational viewing… Anyone with a particular interest in the planets and the cosmos (or with a school project about space) will find it fascinating viewing.” – Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
Available on: Amazon Prime, iTunes

We Bare Bears

“It’s not a must-watch show by any means, but it’s charming and breezy enough to enjoy within its brief run-time. If anything, it’s the show’s voice actors that really bring its characters to life…” – Kevin Johnson, A.V. Club
Available on: Amazon Prime, Cartoon Network, Google Play, iTunes, VUDU

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