Homeschooling tips: best documentaries for kids of all ages
Updated: Jan 11, 2021
Has it really been just a few days since schools closed once again to most students throughout the UK? We've been trying our mum-turned-teacher best to get on with some homeschooling, and there have been some definite successes, but also a fair few fails along the way, so next week we're shaking up our 'class timetable' and whacking a load of cool edutainment on the schedule. From street cats to kindness, dinosaurs to real life heroes, we give you 12 of the best documentaries for kids of all ages...
1. Serengeti (BBC iPlayer)
This beautifully shot docuseries follows the interconnected stories of savannah residents over the course of a year. Expect love, loss, jealousy, tragedy, triumph and rivalry: not too unlike a day homeschooling the kiddos at the moment... Narrated by award-winning actor, John Boyega, you'll be rooting for Bakari the baboon who loses his love interest to another, feeling the awws for Tembo the teenage elephant who gets a new sibling, and wanting to adopt Kiki the cheetah as she becomes a new mum to triplet cubs.
2. One Day at Disney (Disney +)
Step behind the scenes and immerse the whole fam in an 'ordinary day' at Walt Disney. This will def have the kids wanting to all work for Disney when they grow up, and we loved 'meeting' the people behind the magic, from all around the globe.
3. Pick of the Litter (Amazon Prime)
Got a dog-mad human pup of your own? Then Pick of the Litter will be right up their dog-walking street. Following five off-the-scale-cute puppies from birth right through their training to become guide dogs for the blind, this is a feel-good documentary the whole fam will love. Good luck with NOT getting a puppy of your own once you've watched it though...
4. Marvel's Hero Project (Disney +)
Calling all super heroes to the docuseries table! Marvel's Hero Project follows real life, young heroes who are making a real difference in their communities. From acts of bravery to kindness, these cool kids are tackling issues including the environment, ending hunger, inclusivity and a whole heap more. These are mini heroes that definitely deserve our admiration.
5. Kedi (Amazon Prime)
Here's one that combines a language, geography and reading lesson all in one purr-fect hit. Kedi hails from Turkey (it's subtitled, so kids need to be able to read for this one), and gives a literal cat's eye view of Istanbul. It follows seven street cats as they roam markets, explore neighbourhoods and make human friends on their adventures.
6. Living on One Dollar (Amazon Video)
One best suited to slightly older kids (we watched it with our teens: it's pretty hard hitting), this follows the compelling journey of four college students who decided to set off on a quest to live on $1 a day for two months in Guatemala. Battling hunger, parasites and bucketloads of financial stress, generosity and strength are their saving grace thanks to the poverty stricken locals they live amongst.
7. Jane (Disney +)
Jane follows conservationist and renowned primatologist, Jane Goodall, who spent five years living alongside wild chimps in Tanzania. This is a story of overcoming challenges, following your dreams and going above and beyond to make positive changes in the world: lessons we're well on board with our own kiddos picking up.
8. Walking With Dinosaurs (Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube)
With all our fave museums in London currently closed, we're missing our dinosaur fix at the Natural History Museum right now. Thankfully there's plenty of dino-fun to be had for our wannabe palaeontologists thanks to the roar-some Walking With Dinosaurs documentaries. Once you're done with T-Rex and his mates, move on to the equally fantastic Walking With Beasts.
9. Planet Earth (BBC iPlayer/Netflix)
Stalwart of the documentary world, Sir David Attenborough, narrates this epic series which celebrates the natural world across 64 different countries. From mountains to caves, fresh water lakes to the tundra, this stunning programme is a huge hit for kids of all ages. Grown ups too.
10. The Kindness Diaries (Netflix)
Travel around the world on a yellow motorbike with Leon Logothetis, who does the entire journey relying on the kindness of people to get him from place to place. We all know how important kindness is, and this heartwarming series has it in spades. Sharing is definitely caring in the case of The Kindness Diaries.
11. Kings of Pain (History Channel / Prime Video)
Full disclosure: this one has some swearing in it so best suited to older children, but this is a HUGE hit in our house. It follows wildlife biologist Adam Thorn and professional animal handler Rob “Caveman” Alleva as they get bitten and stung - on purpose - by some of the most dangerous animals and vicious stinging insects in the world in order to create a complete and comprehensive pain index in the name of science. These two are BARMY and we love them. The episode with the python is not for the faint hearted...
12. Operation Ouch! (BBC iPlayer / Netflix)
Zany twin doctors Chris and Xand explore the weirdest and most wonderful bits of medicine in a way that's a big hit for kids and parents alike. From sneezes and snot to pimples and poo, nothing is too icky for their crazy experiments!
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Top image credit: BBC