And now for something completely different…
We continue the “month of fun” by bringing you something completely different that doesn’t require screens. You can listen on road trips, to and from school, and sitting in the comfort of your own home.
Yes, in case you are looking for something else to entertain you and yours, I give you a whole new world of podcasts. (Remember the days of six TV channels and calling the theater to find out what movies were playing?)
It might require a little pre-screening of episodes, and not all of these are for younger teens (I will tell you in my reviews which ones are), but I have combed the world of podcasts to bring you a few of my favorites. Not all teens will like all of them – some of them are related to specific interests – but there is something for everyone. And even better, YOU might actually enjoy them as well! Let me know if you find a good one – my youngest and I have really been enjoying them on the way home from school and are always open for new ideas!
APPROPRIATE FOR YOUNGER TEENS
The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel AND Six Minutes
I put these two together because they are both brought to you by Gen Z Media and are similar. They are serial stories that will have you spellbound as you wait for the next installment. You may have to listen to the first series on Youtube as they are into further series now. Mars Patel is all about the (surprise!) disappearance of Mars Patel, a student of HG Wells Middle School, as told by his friends. It is a great production with a superb cast of characters. Six Minutes is a quick listen – hence, the name – about Holiday, who is pulled out of the Alaskan waters with no memory of who she is, where she came from, or why she has these amazing superpowers. You can listen to them one at a time, or binge-listen to the first series. Another positive side effect of podcasts – teaching our kids delayed gratification! Just like we had in the days before Netflix and Prime Video…
The Naked Scientists Series
You’ll find these by searching for “Naked Scientists” in your podcast library. There is the flagship show, but there are also “spinoffs”, if you will, that are more specific – archeology, astronomy, and genetics, as examples. This is a show recorded in the UK, so you will hear the British accents in the narrators. These are great conversation starters, in some cases, due to the nature of some of the material. How much genetic manipulation is ethical? How do you think the universe began? Although it is very age-appropriate for younger teens, it does not talk down to them. They use technical terms, but explain them in an age-appropriate way. This is a great podcast for the science lovers!
Stuff You Missed in History Class
Holly and Tracy are history nerds who bring you interesting, obscure history facts in a fun, silly format. They cover all sorts of topics, not only about events, but also about places and people. A few examples are the catacombs of Paris, Elizabeth Blackwell ( America’s first female physician), the sinking of submarine S-5 and how the crew survived while awaiting rescue, and the Port Chicago disaster. Never heard of them? Well, that’s the point!
As the description on the podcast website says, this podcast isn’t for foodies, it’s for eaters. And who loves food more than preteens and teens?! Dan, a host on the Cooking Channel, discusses spotting a fake chef, food allergies (I know, but they make it fun!), pigs in blankets, and scrambling eggs. I only found one episode that might’ve been a little questionable for this age range, due to the language of the chef. (Not Gordon Ramsey level, but still!)
Do you wish your kids had a cool uncle who has been a Navy seal, who is a fitness/nutrition fanatic, knows lots of interesting facts about various things, and is very inspirational and motivational about reaching goals? Well, now they can ask Uncle Jake of Warrior Kid podcast. Although it is aimed at preteens, even older teens may enjoy the various topics covered. Uncle Jake knows how to engage kids without sounding like a lecturing teacher.
Appropriate for older teens
Serial follows, in season one and two, individual stories about a specific crime. The story is told in segments each week as the defendant is arrested and moves through the criminal justice system. Series Three follows the whole of the criminal justice system in Cleveland. As the wife of an attorney, I recognize the cynical view of the narrator, a journalist, but it is still a fascinating look into how it all unfolds. The material matter is mature, so listener beware.
Father Knows Worst
I love this one – father Phil and daughter Mari shoot the breeze about anything and everything. Some exchanges are funny and some are poignant. They discuss everything from movies to annoying habits to restaurants. You can tell that they have a great relationship and it is sure to be a starter for your own conversation. If it weren’t for some of the subject matter, it could be included in the list for younger teens, so use your own judgement, if you want to listen with them.
The SSR Podcast
Have you ever gone back and reread books that you hated in school, or even books you loved, and had a whole different view of them? Alli Hoff Kosick, a twenty-something, jams each week with guests about famous books and how they view them on future reads. They don’t just discuss traditional classics – think Babysitters Club, Bridge to Terabithia, and The Boxcar Children, mixed in with To Kill a Mockingbird, The Outsiders, and A Wrinkle in Time. The language in it can be “mature”, (the elementary acronym “silent sustained reading” is translated to “sh-t she read” in this podcast) but, for the most part, it is age-appropriate. It is for book lovers, but also may pull non-readers in by giving them a new perspective on “literary throwbacks”, as they call them.
Appropriate for all ages
Bore You to Sleep
Do you have an insomniac child? or are you? Teddy, the narrator, was, also, and found that listening to dull stories helped him to drift off easier. Not only are the stories completely dull, they are also told in a monotone British voice. (Another option is to read a Dale Carnegie book or pathophysiology book – always worked for me in nursing school!)
Are you a word nerd like me, or do you have a high schooler who needs to prep for the English section of the SAT or ACT? This podcast uses sentence context, dictionary definitions, spelling, and repetition to teach vocabulary. It is quick and easy to get through, so you can listen to several at a time, or just one. Previous examples are also reviewed, to help with retention. Not quite as much fun for our month of fun, but necessary.