If you're gearing up for your Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move, you might be looking for some distracting road entertainment.
These days, Pinterest is full of "screen-free road trip ideas for kids" that, honestly, look like they take up too much space, cost too much and require too much effort. (When did parents become entertainers?)
If you're facing a PCS and are looking for ideas on entertainment, look no further than some of these wonderful podcasts.
Podcasts are awesome for several reasons, some of which I've only recently discovered. One big positive is that you can download a ton of episodes at once, so you don't have to rely on your internet connection while driving through Texas. Another is that there is literally something for every single interest or idea available. And since they're shorter than an audiobook, you can listen to several different ones in a day.
Here are our suggestions for family-friendly podcasts that you can play at top volume in the car while traversing the country with your kiddos.
1. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls -- These 20-minute podcasts share the stories of amazing women from around the world. The women are featured in the best-selling books "Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls," and the podcast dives deeper into those short snippets. Each episode is narrated by real-life women who are pioneers in their fields and extraordinary themselves.
2. The Past and the Curious - Another wonderful history podcast that takes the story of lesser-known historical figures and presents them in a fun and educational way. When was the last time you learned about the Oyster Pirates? At the end of the podcast, a little quiz will test your listening skills -- and give you a chance to show your kids if you were listening, too.
3. This American Life -- Yes, the same one you may have listened to on the NPR radio station with your parents or grandparents. There are literally hundreds of episodes since the radio show is 25 years old. Do a quick double-check on episodes for younger listeners and check the topics like "Funny Stories" or "Stories Kids Seem to Like."
4. Book Club for Kids -- If your family loves to read, or you want them to read, consider this podcast that dives into the world of middle-grade books like Kwame Alexander's "The Crossover" or Roald Dahl's "James and the Giant Peach." All genres are discussed, and the host interviews kids about what they liked and didn't like about the books.
5. Wow in the World -- Kids are into science, even if they don't know it. So listening to these hosts talk about silly science is a great way to pass a quick road trip or a bit of time on a longer trip. With discussions on the organizational habits of squirrels and the reasons recess is good for your brains, kids are going to love listening to this podcast.
6. Story Time -- If you're traveling with toddlers or cranky tweens who need a nap, try the Story Time podcast. Recommended for the littles, start this one after you've grabbed a coffee and watch as they listen intently to these 20-minute stories that hopefully will end in a nap, or at least a quiet request for another episode.
7. Stuff You Missed in History Class -- A relative of the How Stuff Works podcast -- which we also recommend -- history comes alive with these podcast episodes, geared toward kids 8 and older. Learn how peanut butter was discovered and how Disneyland's Haunted Mansion was built. Your family will be very prepared to beat Grandma in "Jeopardy!'' the next time you visit.
8. The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian -- For kids and tweens who are interested in hearing a story start to finish, the serialized podcast tells a story of a young boy living on a space station, who passes his time exploring and solving mysteries. It's a sci-fi adventure with no violence or questionable content, and is great for that cross-country trek.
9. But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids -- Do you want to discover the secret to parenting? We all do. This podcast helps answer some of the "but, why?" questions our kids ask all the time. Each episode answers a few questions -- submitted by kids -- and provides expert answers. Maybe they can do one episode on why kids ask, "Why?"
10. All Songs Considered -- This podcast is another great idea put forth by the NPR team and designed for families with older kids. New music is the focus of this podcast, especially new artists and musicians, and the episodes often include live performances and interviews. Some of the songs discussed have adult themes or explicit language, so keep this in mind when in the car with younger kids.
11. Left of Boom -- Military kids may find this podcast riveting, or they may end up asking a ton of questions. Either way, the Military.com Left of Boom podcast talks about U.S. military history, rumors and legends and features information on some of the most interesting people in the military.
Podcasts may not be your thing yet, but they can be. Trying a new podcast is free and really quite easy to stop. If you don't like it, move on to the next one, and all you lost was a few minutes.
-- Rebecca Alwine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @rebecca_alwine.
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