Feel good about the screen time your kids get when they learn about science, history, foreign cultures, economics, and inequality.
There comes a moment in every parent’s life when putting their children in front of a screen is just part of life. It’s simply makes life easier to give our kids a tablet to play no wifi apps when waiting at the dentist office, or eating in a restaurant. Don’t feel bad about that, this is the new way of life.
Yes, experts do warn about the dangers of screen time, and I;m sure you are also well aware that limiting screen time is a good idea, but there are times when it is perfectly acceptable for kids to use screens.
We face enough guilt as parents are screen time already, the least we can do is make sure kids are watching shows that teach them good lessons, which is where the educational documentaries for kids come in! See also: 16 Educational Shows On Netflix For Kids.
Some of the best documentaries for kids convey life-changing insights. Their visual effect may take children’s to locations they may never visit, let them live a life different from their own, and teach them about the complexities of the animal kingdom.
Best Educational Documentaries For Kids
You generally don’t think of documentaries for kids when you think of movies for kids, but the greatest documentaries for kids are just as enjoyable — and often more fascinating and instructive — than most kids’ TV series and movies. (Paw Patrol, we’re looking at you.)
That is why we have created a list of the greatest documentaries for kids that are now available to stream on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and other streaming platforms, some of which are even free.
These films, categorised in this list by age appropriateness, may entertain, instruct, fascinate, and perhaps pique the interest of bored children in their subject matter.
Born to Be Wild
Born to be Wild is a brief (40-minute) nature documentary about conservationists who adopt and raise displaced orangutans and elephants in Borneo and Kenya, respectively, preparing the animals for re-entry into their natural habitats.
It is narrated — as all wonderful things in this world should be — by Morgan Freeman. The stories are captivating, imparting important lessons about environmental stewardship and empathy, and the animals themselves are amazing.
Although the film was initially released in IMAX 3D, the stories retain all of their impact — and ability to inspire — when seen on the tiny screen.
Even if your child isn’t interested in space, they’ll certainly find this documentary interesting. Apollo 11 captures the first moment a man stepped on the moon in stunning detail. The film follows the astronauts as they prepare for their trip, enter the shuttle, and finally lift off.
From there, we get a sense of what it’s like to travel around the world, venture into space, and walk on the moon’s surface.
This remarkable film brings history to life for children of all ages, but especially for older children’s.
Microcosmos was created more than 20 years ago, although it is hard to know. It’s a fantastic video about bugs, of all things, shot with microscopic cameras that magnify the bugs to make them look larger than life. It’s like Bugz Life, except it’s real.
In addition, with the exception of the score, the film is silent — no narrative, no words, no teachings. Just a few flaws.
This entertaining and informative video on the lives of penguins will appeal to children of all ages, as well as adults.
The film follows penguins on their yearly journey from the Antarctic coast to Antarctica. Be aware that a few situations could be upsetting to children. Some penguins, for example, perish on the voyage, while others freeze in an attempt to preserve pregnant females and, subsequently, their eggs and chicks.
Predators take the lives of other penguins. Overall, this film is a fun and fascinating examination of these fascinating birds.
Expedition China allows children to see some of the world’s most difficult-to-reach locations. They show the genuine, behind-the-scenes struggle to produce Born in China, as well as previously unseen video of young pandas, monkeys walking, and the amount of work that goes into creating nature documentaries.
Children may witness orphaned orangutans and elephants fighting for survival, as well as the individuals who work to keep these important animals alive.
If you’ve ever seen a Ken Burns documentary, you know how powerful they are. With each of his thirty films, Burns immerses the audience in a topic, allowing them to see and comprehend a piece of history that no one else can.
Although any of Burns’ films would be informative for children’s, some, such as those concerning war, are too gruesome for the majority of young viewers.
The National Parks, his most successful film, is the most innocuous and will likely appeal to children’s. This six-part series demonstrates how Americans from all walks of life — rich, poor, artists, and businesspeople – collaborated to preserve some of the country’s most magnificent landscapes for future generations.
A Beautiful Planet
Do you have a space-obsessed child? They’ll like Jennifer Lawrence’s narration of A Beautiful Planet. Astronauts on the International Space Station shot fifteen months of film of Earth; the documentary covers our little blue dot, the astronauts’ daily life, space technology, and international collaboration among astronauts.
Most people have heard of Jane Goodall, a chimp researcher and environmental campaigner. But most of us have no clue how she got started, how she pursued her study, or what she discovered along the way.
This video recounts how Jane, who had no formal scientific background, spent years behavioring research in the Tanzanian forest. Parents should be aware that some parts in the film could be upsetting to children, such as raw footage of predators attacking and murdering prey and chimps fighting each other.
A short clip of chimps mating is also included.
The Biggest Little Farm follows a couple as they build and run an organic, biodynamic farm north of Los Angeles.
Soon after starting their farm, the couple is confronted with the ups and downs of farming and animal husbandry.
Some potentially distressing moments for children include dead animals, the risk of wildfire, a farmer loading a gun to chase a coyote, the loss of the family dog, and the discussion of a human friend’s cancer death.
Paper Clips is an excellent approach to teach children about the Holocaust as well as the value of tolerance and diversity.
The video follows children in Whitwell, Tennessee, as they attempt to gather six million paper clips to commemorate the six million Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust. While the Holocaust is addressed and depicted, there are few unpleasant or gory facts about the tragedy, making it appropriate for audiences of all ages.
Wings of Life
This Disneynature documentary for children gives a bug’s-eye-view of the world, concentrating on butterflies, bees, bats, birds, and other flying species, and giving insight into their relevance to the wheel of life via pollination.
It’s chock-full of wonderful lessons, especially for children’s who appear to despise bugs for no apparent reason. It’s also narrated by Meryl Streep.
On the Way to School gives viewers a glimpse into our varied world by focusing on a topic that most children can relate to: getting to and from school.
The video follows four children from Kenya, Argentina, Morocco, and India on their lengthy and often difficult school journeys. One goes horseback riding with his sister, while another encounters wild creatures.
This film will broaden children’s perspectives as they discover that not all children’s commute to school by bus, vehicle, or public transportation. It also features children’s who are motivated to advance in their studies and are willing to go to tremendous measures to do so.
Growing Up Wild
Children may observe newborn animals’ first steps, their adolescent years, and their first steps out into the world as young adults.
Five juvenile animals, including a newborn chimp and a cheetah, are subjected to the bildungsroman treatment. It’s adorable, touching, and keeps you on the edge of your seat at moments.
Living on One Dollar
Living on One Dollar gives visitors a glimpse into the lives of almost 700 million individuals across the world.
The film is set in Guatemala and follows four American college students as they try to make ends meet on one dollar a day.
Throughout the video, the kids face starvation, parasites, and significant financial hardships, highlighting the difficulties of living in great poverty. While the video is eye-opening for all viewers, some parts of surviving severe poverty could be upsetting to younger viewers.
Underwater Dreams is the tale of a robotics team from Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, which has a substantial population of low-income illegal Mexican immigrants.
In 2004, the team competed in an underwater robotics competition against M.I.T. and other prominent institutions. Carl Hayden High School exceeded everyone’s expectations and motivated future generations of students to seek careers in engineering. In addition to the competition, the film focuses on immigration reform and what high school alumni are doing to solve it.
Be aware that there are only a few occasions when expletives are used, and even when they are hushed, it is clear which ones they are.
He gave me a name. Malala is the cinematic adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name. It features Malala Yousafzai, a teenage Pakistani girl who received the Nobel Peace Prize for her human rights advocacy.
Malala’s advocacy began immediately after she was shot by the Taliban for advocating for girls’ right to attend school. The video is candid about the shooting and the political environment in Pakistan that led to the assassination attempt.
Thankfully, there is no explicit picture of the event, however gory photographs of the car Malala was travelling in are presented.
There are also scenes of Malala getting ready for surgery and television videos showing how nearly everyone expected her to die.
Pick of the Litter
Who does not adore dogs? Pick of the Litter follows five puppies from birth to training as guide dogs for the blind. It’s adorable, lovely, and serves as a reminder that dogs are, well, the greatest.
The Short Game
Eight 7-year-old golf prodigies travel to participate in the World Championships of Junior Golf. These children’s are the best of the best — and they could make your child appreciate all those golf events on ESPN a little more.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Ladies in Portland, Oregon is a renowned Pacific Northwest tradition where rockers teach young girls the exquisite skill of shredding on stage.
This kid-friendly documentary follows four initially hesitant young girls during their experience at camp. Feelings are expressed throughout the film, but as the storey progresses, the girls — and the audience — gain self-esteem via the assistance of grownups.
By the time they approach the stage, the film has erupted into a feel-good success that will have all spectators on their feet, especially small girls.
Sure, it’s in Turkish with subtitles, but given that this latest documentary is all about providing a “cat’s eye perspective” of Istanbul, anything humans say is secondary.
It follows seven street cats as they go about their daily lives, visiting marketplaces, roaming the streets, and seeking love among the families they meet along the way.
Any cat lover will find plenty to love while also experiencing a culture half a globe away, and parents will be captivated by the narratives told by the people the cats meet.
Every year, the Scripps National Spelling Bee provides some of the most gripping television. This documentary, which was filmed over a decade ago, follows eight contestants in the 1999 tournament, demonstrating how much children’s practise to participate and how much families give for their wunderkind spellers.
Mad Hot Ballroom
Mad Hot Ballroom follows the life of a group of New York City teenagers competing in a dance competition hosted by the American Ballroom Theatre.
The children learn to dance and share their life with the audience. The film has received a few accolades and is hilarious, touching, and very spectacular.
Imba Means Sing
Imba Means Sing, on the other hand, is a lovely, touching, and joyful film about an African children’s choir on an 18-month tour of the United States.
Kids can see the choir enjoy some of the Western world’s joys, such as a bowling alley or snowfall, while also listening to their magnificent singing voices.
Walking with Dinosaurs
This six-part BBC series is a nature documentary on the Mesozoic Era, replete with computer-generated recreations of dinosaur activity and narration by Sir Kenneth Branagh.
Some of the mayhem (re: eating) is included in the theatrical recreations, and some of the material has been proved obsolete in the intervening two decades.
However, in terms of instructional material for dinosaur-obsessed children, it is difficult to top.
I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story
This documentary takes a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of Sesame Street, focusing on national treasure Caroll Spinney, the man who has spoken and performed Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch from their early days.
While some of Spinney’s narrative is tragic – abuse, Vietnam, and death are themes that come up honestly in Spinney’s asides, and some profanities are said — older children’s interested in a behind-the-scenes look at television’s most renowned children’s institution will enjoy his inspirational storey.
I Am Eleven
Similarly aged children would enjoy this video, which features children from throughout the world giving their perspectives on issues that touch them and those that do not.
From a child in an Indian orphanage to a child in Melbourne to a child in Thailand, children may see into worlds that aren’t their own — and learn what other children their age are experiencing and thinking.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is one of the year’s greatest films, following Jiro Ono, one of Japan’s most successful sushi chefs, and his kids who work with him.
A pleasant video with a family twist in the end, children’s will enjoy getting a glimpse into Jiro’s life and Japanese culture in general.
Educational Documentaries For Kids bottom Line
You can feel good about screen time knowing your kids are watching educational content with these educational documentaries!
My kids enjoy watching the shows about planets such as ” a beautiful planet” and on animals such as “penguin march”. If you don’t have access to these documentaries I suggest you check out these Absolute Best Educational YouTube Channels For Toddlers And Kids.