In this post: Looking for entertaining yet thoughtful Spanish media for your kids? Here, we share 3 principles we use when selecting content, along with a list of 25+ suggested Spanish kids shows, movies, and cartoons - organized across language ability and streaming platform (e.g. Netflix, Youtube, PBS Kids, Disney Plus, and more).
Screen time is a very personal decision for each family. Our family’s approach is - when used sparingly and intentionally, media can be an effective tool in language development - providing information about subjects we aren’t familiar with at home, exposure to different accents, augmented vocabulary, and cultural content.
Table of contents
- Selection: 3 principles to choose Spanish cartoons, movies and other media for kids (Audio, Creator, Content)
- Spanish shows for early language learners (bite-sized, song based)
- Spanish shows for novice language learners (e.g. preschool)
- Spanish shows for intermediate learners (beyond labelling)
- Spanish shows for advanced learners (topic focused)
- Spanish movies for families
3 principles I use to select Spanish cartoons, movies, and other media for my kids
Audio settings: I try to find kids shows and movies with audio in Latin American Spanish and/or European Spanish
When choosing language settings, some platforms allow you to be really specific. In my case, having the ability to choose between Latin American Spanish and European Spanish gives me the ability to expose my child to regional accents, idioms, and slang. It also allows for conversations about the fluidity of language and how different words can have different meanings depending on the context. This can also spark conversations about being culturally informed and respectful of the customs of different countries.
Creator: I look for kids shows / movies developed in Spanish speaking countries or by Spanish speaking creators
Stories rooted in the experience of Spanish-speaking content creators often have an additional depth that is not always present in the direct translations of more popular western shows. Watching Disney’s Coco or Encanto in Spanish, for instance, creates a deeper connection with the country and characters. In my family’s case, it also acts as a source of ethnic and cultural pride to experience the movie in a way that is both visually and auditorily congruent. Watching Frozen in Spanish, while still good, just doesn’t land the same way.
Content: I appreciate non-fiction and documentaries
Watching Bluey can be great, but watching something slightly more sophisticated with your children can lead to vocabulary growth, curiosity, and opportunities for continued learning. Documentaries are a great source for this, but it is always a good idea to preview them or watch them together to avoid any uncomfortable surprises. Additional options for older children might be competition-based shows where you will be exposed to language about the process of creating and industry specific terms – think Nailed it! Mexico.
Favorite Spanish shows for early language learners (e.g. toddlers)
In this category, I include bite-sized, song-based shows that label and identify objects.
- Cocomelon (YouTube)- simple songs about routines, social learning, and common nursery rhymes.
- YouTube (or Canticos app): Canticos - bilingual variations of classic early childhood songs from Spanish speaking countries. Canticos showcases stories that are rooted in Latin American nursery rhymes (e.g. Los Pollitos and Pin Pon) which gives it that extra cultural edge.
- Youtube: Habbi Habbi - short videos that cover first words and basic vocabulary, helpful bite-sized videos (2-3 minutes), especially for beginners and non-native speakers.
Spanish shows for novice language learners (e.g. preschool)
In this category, I include shows that are basic enough for kids in early stages of language development - but also provide exposure to new vocabulary.
- Pocoyo (Spanish creator) - a young boy and his animal friends interact with their immediate environment and solve problems with the help of a narrator.
- Cleo y Coquin (Spanish creator) - brother and sister pair solve problems and go on adventures.
- Kazoops - a young boy takes a creative and inventive approach to problem solving.
- Ask the Storybots - a good show to introduce younger kids to non-fiction shows and get exposure to a wide variety of topics; each episode covers a different topic from planets, to dinosaurs, to historical events.
- Super Monsters - Preschool aged monsters of different varieties help each other navigate friendships, emotions, and developmental milestones.
- Octonauts - a group of animal rescuers help other aquatic animals resolve problems.
PBS Kids (via Amazon Video)
- Sesame Street - skit based show with plot lines following different puppet characters, songs, and spotlighting specific numbers and letters.
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood - Characters from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood are reimagined as animated characters and address social, emotional, and development challenges faced by young children.
Spanish shows for intermediate learners
In this category, I include shows for early elementary learners - who have basic Spanish comprehension - and who are starting to explore interpersonal processes, self-expression, and advanced communication rather than simple labeling. These shows - focused on relational conflict, self-expression, and compassion/empathy - are going to help learners navigate these new and challenging situations in the target language.
- Karma’s World - a young girl learns how to navigate friendships, assert herself in challenging situations, and communicate with her friends and community.
- The Magic School Bus - information-based show with a narrative twist; a teacher with special abilities takes a non-traditional approach to teaching by providing her classroom with hands-on learning across various subject matters.
- Motown Magic - a boy and his friends learn socio-emotional lessons through music and magic.
- Tiny Creatures - a day in the life of small animals is paired with thrilling narration; information-based show with a narrative twist
- Oh, Noah - an English speaking boy is immersed in a Spanish speaking country and has to learn the language to interact with people in his new community.
Spanish shows for advanced learners
In this category, I include shows that go deeper on specific topics. For older kids with more advanced language development, they may be more opinionated about the content they are watching. I believe in following kids and nurturing their interest. I also enjoy picking things that we can enjoy together as a family. For example, watching nature-based documentaries together can be an entertaining way to expand vocabulary.
- Pokemon (various series) - a young boy sets out to capture and train various fictionalized creatures.
- Maya and the Three - a warrior princess goes on a mission to fulfill a prophecy.
- Our Planet - documentary series featuring different landscapes, habitats, plants, and animals.
- Welcome to Earth - documentary series featuring explorers who study/explore extreme habitats on earth.
Favorite Spanish movies for families
In this category, I wanted to add a few of my favorite Spanish movies. These options showcase stories rooted in the culture, folklore, and experiences of creators from Latin American countries. These titles check all the boxes for me when it comes to using movies as a language-building tool!
- Pachamama - a boy goes on a mission to retrieve a sacred statue taken from his village.
- Vivo - a kinkajou travels from Cuba to Florida (with the help of a spirited young girl) to deliver a letter to the love of his deceased owner.
- Xico’s Journey - a girl and her dog travel to save a mountain and the people who inhabit it.
- Book of Life - two figures from the underworld wager on the outcome of a love triangle between three friends - a narrative rooted in the Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
- Coco - a boy travels to the world of the dead and needs to get his ancestor’s blessing to return to the world of the living and pursue his passion - a narrative rooted in the Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
- Encanto - a young girl goes on a quest to maintain her family’s blessings that are threatened by fractured family dynamics.
In summary, the best shows to watch in the target language are . . . the shows your child will actually be interested in watching! You know your child best, and you will be the best judge of what works for their social-emotional maturity, attention span, and interests. In our house, realistic (and sometimes graphic) dinosaur documentaries are okay to watch, but shows with any kind of gun violence are not. The goal of using media as a language-development tool is to have your kids be engaged, invested in the characters/story, and have fun with language. Anything that accomplishes those tasks should work well!
If you liked this, you might also appreciate the following articles about Spanish learning
- Tips on working with your bilingual nanny (caretaker) to increase immersion
- My bilingual toddler's Spanish vocabulary is better than mine. What next?
- 5 ways for kids to practice Spanish for non-native families
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