The Best Kids’ Shows On Netflix, From Cocomelon to Buddy Thunderstruck

Keep the little ones entertained on rainy days with these Netflix children's TV treasures, from pre-school gems like Puffin Rock to fun-for-all-the-family hits like The Magic Schoolbus Rides Again

Kung Fu Panda The Dragon Knight
Photo: Netflix

We all like to think of ourselves as the world’s most active, attentive and award-worthy parents, but let’s face it: we sometimes rely on some good old-fashioned screentime to keep the children entertained while we, you know, Actually Get Stuff Done.

But if you’ve watched so much Hey Duggee and Bluey that you’ve started to get a complex that a cartoon dog is doing a better job of looking after the kids than you, maybe it’s time to look for some new kids’ TV shows over on Netflix.

The streaming giant is famous for classics like Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol, but what are the other best kid-friendly TV shows on the Children section? Let’s take a look:

For Pre-School Kids


Cocomelon is utterly terrifying, but thankfully not for the kids. This animated musical show started as a YouTube channel but now has a regular Top 10 slot on Netflix Children, with songs ranging from well-known favourites like “Old Macdonald” and “The Wheels on the Bus” to the uniquely catchy/horrifying Cocomelon classics like “Yes Yes Vegetables” and “Are We There Yet?” The colourful singing, dancing animations are so intense they’d make more than suitable sleep paralysis demons for us parents, but for pre-school kids they’re relentlessly entertaining.

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Word Party

For the littlest of the littles, Jim Henson production Word Party is all primary colors, baby animals that talk to the camera and a narrator asking simple questions like “What type of animal is this?” It also has some absolute lyrical gems – “clickety clock goes tickety tock” and others – as well as a congratulatory message at the end. Colourful and cute.

Cory Carson

Depending on what side of the pond you live on, this is either Go! Go! Cory Carson, the American original, or Toot! Toot! Cory Carson, which is dubbed with British voices. Both versions of this CGI kids’ show about a family of cars are fun, frenetic, and full of humour, much of which will be appreciated by the grownups more than the kids, so it’s a good show to watch together over a packet of Pom-Bears. There’s six seasons to enjoy on Netflix, and because it’s a Netflix Original there’s also plenty of special seasonal episodes for Christmas, Halloween and the like.

Puffin Rock

A sweet, simple cartoon narrated by the warm, soothing tones of Chris O’Dowd (The IT Crowd), Puffin Rock stars are two young puffins called Una and Baba. Each bitesize episode (usually ten minutes or less) mixes story with education, with Una show Baba things like a hatching seagull, a super moon and a fox helping the puffins track down a missing pygmy shrew. There are 20 episodes of this charming show, which will soothe littles and parents alike.

Fireman Sam

Brave Welsh firefighter Sam is a national treasure here in the UK and has been since 1987, when Fireman Sam began as a stop-motion children’s show with a theme tune so catchy it could easily have been number one. The revamped modern animated series has remixed the intro to an alternative rock beat (boo!) but it’s still set in the Welsh village of Pontypandy, with plenty of lightly perilous situations to allow Sam to save the day. There have also been some welcome modernisations: Sam’s fire truck has been upgraded to helicopters, speedboats and the like, and some of the firefighting heroes are actually women these days too.

For Early School Years Kids

The Magic Schoolbus Rides Again

There’s nothing like a dose of nostalgia to unite parents and kids with a shared love, and this revamped Magic Schoolbus series certainly lives up to its nineties original. Lily Tomlin reprises her role as Ms Frizzle long enough to retire and pass the schoolbus keys over to her younger sister (voiced by Kate McKinnon), and like the original series, she takes the kids on incredible adventures exploring school topics like ocean zones, space and magnetism. It also features guest appearances from the likes of Lin Manuel Miranda and Catherine O’Hara (Schitt’s Creek), so it’s an enjoyable watch for all ages.

Ask The Story Bots

There’s three seasons of Ask The Story Bots, each brimming with energy and ideas to spare. The five “Story Bots” are friendly coloured blobs; each episode answers a question asked by a real child, with the visuals including animation, live actors, puppetry and some very random songs. Expect learning (did you know that chicken’s heart beats four times as fast as a human? Well, you do now), science and glorious cameos from the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Snoop Dogg and Jennifer Garner, who pop up in various guises to help answer the questions. Another highlight is Hap, the big boss, who is usually frantically answering phonecalls, faxes and emails with questions we can’t see. This leads to him barking out random words like “mongoose!”, “steel cut oatmeal!” and “minivan!” which doesn’t get old for the grownups either. Bewitchingly barmy.

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Beat Bugs

This show has a unique selling point unparalleled in the genre that is children’s television: The Beatles. Each episode, which follows a group of brightly coloured bug friends on bug-like adventures, is themed around a different Beatles song. For instance the opening episode is called “Help!, and features a character getting stuck inside a glass bottle, and another episode called “Ticket To Ride” sees the bugs turn an abandoned broken wheel into a thrill ride. Each installment of Beat Bugs’s three seasons includes a cover version of the episode’s song which, while not exactly true to the original, is pretty wonderful for both the grownups and the kids. A kids’ show full of songs from one of the best bands of all time? Magic.

Julie’s Greenroom

A Brit School for puppets taught by Hollywood legend Julie Andrews? I’d love to have been at that pitch meeting. A love letter to theatre, this series teaches children about the various aspects of putting on a show, from writing, composing songs, acting and more. While the puppet characters are a little bit bland and won’t be giving Kermit or Big Bird a run for their Muppet money any time soon, who could stand out with Julie frickin’ Andrews as the show’s star and co-creator? Andrews gamely plays along with the puppets and occasional human cast members, plus theatrical guest stars including the cast of Stomp, Hollywood giant Alec Baldwin and Frozen megastar Idina Menzel.

Trolls: The Beat Goes On

Following on from the hit film, this Netflix Original has all the same colourful fun, just with an almost entirely new cast of voices. There are a whopping 8 series (52 episodes) to enjoy, with shows ranging from fluffy fun like a juice competition or a pillow fight to more touching life lessons, like friendships being put to the test, and trolls teaching each other important skills like how to apologise. Harmless fun.

For Older Kids


DreamWorks’ Dinotrux is for older kids, but also appeals to “big kids” aka parents, because it’s about METAL DINOSAURS. The dinosaur-machine hybrids include Ty-Rux, who is part-excavator and has a wrecking ball for a tail, and Revvit, who is half-lizard and half-rotary drill, with a tape measure for a tongue. The dinotrux friends battle the evil D-Structs, learning all about teamwork and friendship along the way, which are central themes for kids to take in. Well, that and how cool dinosaur robots are.

Spirit: Riding Free

Packed full of horsey fun, this long-running animated series is a spin-off from the 2002 film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, and the Spirit franchise now spans multiple series and specials. It stars 12-year-old Lucky, who moves from the city to a small frontier town, and begins training a wild horse called Spirit, making friends with other horse-loving girls and going on lots of horsey adventures. Light-hearted and full of warm, fuzzy moments, yes – but don’t blame us when your kids start asking Santa for a pony for Christmas.


And now we’re getting to the big names. Guillermo Del Toro is behind the (virtual) camera this time with a show featuring Frasier‘s Kelsey Grammer as a four armed, many-eyed troll and Hellboy himself (Ron Perlman) as the villainous Bular. The story is a classic ‘Chosen One’ hero fantasy where the lead character – Jim, played by the sorely missed Anton Yelchin – is chosen by a magic amulet to be the new Trollhunter. He is the first human to have held this role and is treated with a great deal of dislike by the ‘good’ trolls he is supposed to protect. He has his own Samwise Gamgee called Toby for additional comic relief but he also anchors our hero in both the troll and human worlds.

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This programme really is the line where TV and film productions blur. It’s beautiful enough to happily sit beside How To Train Your Dragon, has a voice cast to rival most Pixar films and a world of its own that, whilst not quite at Hogwarts-levels, feels utterly unique. Jim is a very relatable hero for children what with his school troubles, crush on another pupil and dizzying home life. Apart from those who might disparagingly write it off as simply a children’s TV show I can’t think of an age group that wouldn’t be entertained by Trollhunters. And isn’t that what it’s all about? 

Buddy Thunderstruck

Firmly for the older children (and definitely the grown-ups) Buddy Thunderstruck is epically, wonderfully, hilariously stupid. These ten-minute bursts of crazy stop motion are from the Robot Chicken studio but – to steal the tagline literally included in the trailer – are “from the creators of Care Bears – yes, really”. The show centres around the titular egotistical truck racer/delivery man/town celebrity, and each episode tends to have a truck race with another plot alongside it, from an imposter pretending to be Buddy to ruin his reputation to a pizza-delivering beaver company. The rival racer’s catchphrase upon defeat is “Fart Nugget.” There’s random little chats about going to the aquarium to stack penguins and dynamite fishing. It’s the most ridiculous thing ever, and we love it.

Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight

Unlike Trolls, above, this Kung Fu Panda spin-off series keeps its lead voice talent, namely School of Rock‘s Jack Black as Po the Panda. The series picks up a few years after the events of the films, when Po is sent on a quest across China, alongside a no-nonsense knight called Sir Luthera (voiced by Rita Ora). They have to find four special weapons that broke the world up a long time ago, and on their travels they meet with various characters voiced by familiar names like Ed Weeks (The Mindy Project) and Richard Ayoade (The IT Crowd). Is it as good as the films? Hmm, not quite. But it’s still lots of fun to watch. There’s two series so far, and a third on the way later this year.