Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Middle Grade Monday – YouTube for the Tween Crowd

Several years ago, the school district where I work finally unblocked YouTube, and a whole world of opportunity was opened. There is so much educational content available on YouTube, and much of it is useful to the tween crowd. I’d like to start by highlighting several channels that have incredibly useful educational content (with the caveat that, like all useful content, you need to view it through the lens of your community.)

First, there is Crash Course. Originally featuring science and history content, Crash Course has branched out to cover a multitude of topics. We originally began using it with our students studying world history, then American history. They have multiple playlists featuring the topics they have covered, including psychology, chemistry, ecology, etc. Some of the videos will be beyond the interest or comprehension levels of some tweens, though, so it is important to check out their content before using them with students. Most recently, they have begun to offer some really helpful explanatory content covering government. I find the astronomy content especially useful for our sixth grade students. For younger middle grade students, there is also the new Crash Course Kids channel, which has been active a month and so far features more elementary science topics.

SciShow is a science specific channel with a number of good playlists, as well as some more ‘fun’ content – although all of the content is designed to be entertaining as well as educational. About a year ago, they spun off a series, SciShow Space, which has some really excellent content for students studying the solar system and space content in general. More recently, they have launched SciShow Kids, which features content more applicable to younger tweens. If it seems that SciShow and Crash Course are following similar trajectories, it’s because they are both produced by Hank and John Green (the vlog brothers.)

Minute Earth and Minute Physics are channels that offer short, entertaining content on a wealth of topics. Both channels feature quickly drawn images with an engaging voice-over. Much of the content is relevant to the Common Core science standards, and most of it is highly entertaining and engaging for tweens. Another channel that produces fast paced videos with voice-overs and a combination of drawings and images is CGP Grey. The videos on this channel feature mostly social science topics. I found the explanation of the difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and England very helpful. The channel has a similar video explaining what is really meant by the term Scandinavia.

Finally, for some of my more advanced students, I’ve found a number of useful videos on PBS Idea Channel. This channel has a very useful playlist – a guide to common logical fallacies, however, much of the content is pop culture related and might be slightly beyond the comprehension of many tweens. Many of the videos would be good for initiating group discussions, though.

What content have you found on YouTube that you think is useful for tweens? Leave a comment and share!

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