A look at ten of the best documentaries for kids that teach kids about science, history, world cultures, economics, and inequality.
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There comes a time in every parent’s journey when plopping kids in front of a screen is unavoidable.
Maybe there’s an urgent work project due or we simply have a dire need for a mental health break.
And, yes, we know that experts tell us too much screen time isn’t great for kids.
But we’re desperate.
When these moments of desperation come, instead of having kids watch hours of mindless YouTube channels or fluffy kids shows, why not instead make screen time educational?
Some of the best documentaries for kids teach incredible lessons. Their visual impact can transport children to countries they may never visit or experience a life that’s different from their own or teach lessons about the intricacies of the animal kingdom.
I’ve recently come across a number of documentaries that are not only educational but also engaging. Here’s my list:
The Best Educational Documentaries for Kids
The following are some of the best current documentaries for kids I’ve come across.
Common Sense Media suggested age: 5+
Even if your child doesn’t have an interest in outer space, they’ll likely still find this documentary fascinating. Apollo 11 provides crystal clear footage of the first time a man walked on the moon. The film takes us through the astronauts’ preparation for their mission, entering the shuttle and then the shuttle’s take off. From there we see what it must feel like to travel around the globe, head off into outer space, and walk the moon’s surface. History really comes alive in this extraordinary film that children of any age, but especially older kids, are likely to enjoy.
Common Sense Media suggested age: 6+
This delightful and intriguing film about the life of penguins is one that kids of all ages – including adults – will enjoy. The footage follows penguins as they make their annual trek from the Antarctic shore in Antarctica. Beware that a few scenes could be disturbing for kids. For example, some penguins die during the journey, and others freeze while they try to protect pregnant females and later their eggs and babies. Other penguins are killed by predators. But all in all, this film is a fun and a wonderful exploration of these interesting birds.