140 Educational TV Shows + Films For Kids
Trying to educate your children, work from home, look after a home and have some semblance of a life is very, very difficult.
We’re all about making it easier on ourselves while we’re all indoors, so we’ve compiled a list of over 100 of the best educational films for kids of various ages.
You can plonk the kids in front of the TV/laptop and let them entertain and educate themselves for 90 or so minutes while you drink a warm beverage and try to get on with some semblance of a normal life.
Our list of the best educational films for kids isn’t definitive; new films and TV shows come out all the time so in the spirit of ‘it takes a village’, let us know in the comments if we’ve omitted an educational film or TV show and we’ll add it in.
As this list covers films and TV shows for nursey children right up to teenagers, have a think about the film’s ratings, themes, language and the maturity level of your child.
We’re put the ratings of films next to each title to give you an idea but you know your children the best and what they can and can’t handle entertainment wise.
Stay strong parents and carers!
140+ of the best educational TV shows and films for kids, tweens and teens:
A heart-wrenching look at the violence and brutality of war. The rating is a good indicator of the language and violence involved.
Use as the basis of a history lesson.
2012 – Rated 12 (available on Netflix)
A surprising number of characters die in this film and it’s a little depressing but it’s a look at the worst case scenario of global warming. Could be used in a geography lesson.
A fictional look at Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the New World.
The story of mathematician John Nash who had schizophrenia and won the Nobel prize. Features scenes of shock therapy and some rude language.
A wholesome family movie discussing how humans treat animals and nature.
A 1989 film based on Sir Thomas More’s refusal to accept Henry VIII’s split from the Roman Catholic Church.
A John Grisham adaptation about civil rights in southern America.
Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the documentary tells the tale of a family of lions on the African savanna.
An inspiring story of a black girl standing up for herself, being smart and facing her fears. Plus lots and lots of spelling.
Will Smith does a great job portraying Mohammad Ali’s journey from Cassius Clay to global superstar. Discusses racial tension in America and standing up for what you believe in.
Familiar faces Ant and Dec star in a silly take on what may or may not have happened in Roswell, New Mexico.
A retelling of the true story of a rugby team stranded in the Andes mountains after a plane crash. How far would and should you go to stay alive?
Not the most historically accurate film but an entertaining look at the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Could your kids try and compose their own piece of music afterwards?
The story of William Wilberforce and the parliamentary fight to bring slavery to an end. Use to discuss Wilberforce’s struggles with faith and politics.
The violence is intense and graphic but it’s an honest look at the inhumanity of slavery. Definitely stick to the age recommendation on this one.
An animated and gentle look at racism and immigration in 1800s America.
Any Roald Dahl Film
Choose your favourite Roald Dahl book and watch its corresponding film. The Roald Dahl website also has a list of activities to do related to the books.
Apollo 11 – Rated U (Available on Netflix)
A documentary about the first Moon landing, in July 1969, featuring those who went.
A fun way to teach your kids about space and the benefits of working together.
Nice way for very young children to learn a few facts about bees.
A graphic and violent look at the Bosnian war.
Almost three hours long, you could use Ben Hur as part of a RE lesson on Christianity.
A nice story about working together and brotherhood. A gentle look at grief.
A 1989 tale of time travel where kids will get to meet figures from the past.
Charlotte’s Web – Rated U (Available on Netflix)
Read the book together then watch the film and discuss the importance of friendship.
The film can be used as a good basis for starting a discussion on extraterrestrial life.
A slightly silly portrayal of Jamaican people and culture, but the film can be used to talk about sportsmanship and teamwork.
A good vehicle for secondary school age kids (year 9 and above) to discuss the horrors of apartheid.
Use the film in a geography lesson to discuss natural disasters.
Darkest Hour – Rated PG (Available on Netflix)
Use as a history lesson on Churchill.
A historical look at one day in the battle of Dunkirk.
Use in an English lesson on Jane Austen.
Don’t be fooled by the low rating, this film is best suited to secondary school kids due to the violence. Use in a history lesson on WW2.
A cartoon where kids can learn about the environment with magical creatures and catchy songs.
One for older kids to discuss the joys of writing and how using your imagination can improve your work.
The story of an aeroplane malfunction where the pilot tries to save the passengers by flying upside down. In the movie, he saves most of them but there were no survivors in the true story.
A look at the civil rights movement in the USA.
The Oscar-winning film does have some violence in it but can be used with older kids as a vehicle to discuss restraint, tolerance and history.
A singing and dancing romp through 1960s America. Can be used to discuss race relations and the portrayal of women in film.
A realistic look at Harriet Tubman’s life during the slave trade. The N word is used so be prepared for discussions about race, slavery and history. Better suited to mature teens.
An inspiring look at the role black women played in getting men on the moon.
An interesting look at the treatment of a mentally ill father and his battle for custody of his daughter.
A great way to discuss emotions with young children.
An inspiring tale of Mandela and rugby.
Joan Of Arc – Rated 12
A historical drama based on the life and death of Joan of Arc.
If your child is doing History at secondary school, this film could be a nice supplement to what they’re learning.
Controversial when it was released, the film is a bittersweet comedy set during the Holocaust.
A multiple award-winning film about the life and politics of American president Abraham Lincoln. A great film to base an American history lesson on.
Lion – Rated PG (Available on Netflix)
Don’t let the low rating make you think this is child friendly; it’s emotional (and excellent) but better suited to teens ready to discuss mature themes like child abuse/trafficking.
The book is a classic and the film is just as good, clean and wholesome.
We prefer the old black and white version (less violence) and we suggest getting the kids to read the book then watch the film.
A story based on the last mission of an American Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, the Memphis Belle, based in England during World War II.
An action heavy drama based on a WW2 battle.
A biblically inaccurate and slightly violent retelling of the story of Noah and his ark.
A brilliant adaptation of the famous book your child is bound to study at some point during secondary school.
It’s a classic, but young children might be disturbed by the slightly violent scenes.
An American war film that also looks at politics and animal welfare.
An animated film looking at what happens when a virus enters the human body.
Animated and usually accurate time travel adventures.
Bring the GCSE text to life.
The Pursuit Of Happyness – Rated 12 (Available on Netflix)
Will Smith is on fine form in this sometimes sad tale of perseverance, family, love and loss.
A gruesome yet accurate look at Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne.
A heart breaking look at the treatment of Aboriginal Australians.
A historically accurate look at sport and racism in 1970s America.
Ride Like A Girl – Rated PG
The true story of the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup.
Baz Luhrmann’s sparkly remake of the Bard’s classic tale.
Pay attention to the rating; this film is a masterpiece but it’s incredibly sad.
A masterpiece of a film looking at Martin Luther King’s fight for civil right.
An animated film about the true story of a stray dog that joins the U.S. Army during World War 1.
The true story of a young surfer’s battles after being attacked by a shark.
A true story retelling the life of an autistic young woman. Better for tweens and up.
Historic drama set in Victorian London where Eddie Redmayne tries to predict weather in his hot air balloon.
The Big Short – Rated 15 – Available on Netflix
A look at economics (for older teens) and the financial crisis of 2008.
Based on the best-selling novel, the film is a historical drama set in Germany during World War 2.
Heartbreaking, excellent film about the Holocaust told through the eyes of an 8 year old boy. Your kids may read this in school.
The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind – Rated PG (Available on Netflix)
An outstanding film telling the true story of an African boy who creates a device to help his community. A must-see.
A funny look at NASA’s attempt to get hold of the world’s biggest satellite dish sitting in a sheep paddock in Australia.
Oscar winning movie telling the story of two black maids in 1960s America.
Historical drama looking at the role of cryptologists and mathematicians in World War 2. Good to show kids how maths applies in the real world.
A heart-breaking and violent look at the Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia.
The King – Rated 15 (Available on Netflix)
Violent story about the reign of Henry V.
An excellent story about King George VI and his speech ailments.
A historical drama based on the mental health struggles of King George III.
The Social Network – Rated 12 (Available on Netflix)
Older kids might enjoy a look at the origins of Facebook.
Glorious songs and a non-scary look into war. Plus, Julie Andrews.
The Story Of 1
BBC documentary about the history of numbers.
The Theory Of Everything – Rated 12 (Available on Netflix)
A riveting Stephen Hawking biopic.
Documentary from Peter Jackson about World War I as told by the men who were there.
A 3 hour film about the Titanic’s final journey.
An absolute classic based on Harper Lee’s excellent book.
Troy – Rated 15 (Available on Netflix)
Brad Pitt stars in this Iliad based, battle scene movie.
Meteorology, tornadoes and storm chasing. A loose and free geography lesson?
Animated story about a WW2 pigeon.
Learn about saving the planet
Based on the brilliant Michael Morpurgo book, younger children may be frightened by the scenes of death and animal cruelty.
A sweet film about kindness, friendship, and acceptance.
Fact based drama focusing on events that took place in Northern Ireland during World War 2.
Animated film teaching tolerance and teamwork.
The Best Educational TV Shows For Kids
Absolute Genius With Dick & Dom
Learn about the geniuses whose ideas, creations and discoveries have shaped the modern world.
A humorous look at Mother Nature and some of the planet’s most silly animals.
An excellent way to learn essential phonics skills.
CBeebies favourite Andy takes you on a series of adventures covering prehistoric times, dinosaurs, safari, sounds and more.
Any David Attenborough Series
Pretty much any and everything Sir David produces will teach your kids about, and how to respect, the natural world.
Art lessons with a fun and engaging host.
A powerful documentary about the treatment – and death – of orcas in captivity. One for tweens/teens.
Blaze And The Monster Machines
A cartoon where the two main characters solve problems using science and maths.
Science show presenting easy to understand facts for kids.
One for older kids, use it as a history lesson on Chernobyl.
Steve Backshall talks dinosaurs.
Kids can learn about natural science, natural history and palaeontology.
Maddie’s Do You Know
A fab show where kids get to find out how things are made or how they work.
Dora The Explorer
A great theme song and a way to learn teamwork and a little bit of Spanish.
Down On The Farm
An informative look at life on a farm for small children.
Drain The Oceans
Disney+ show exploring the treasures at the bottom of the sea.
A series looking into the truth of various myths and legends.
Early geography lessons for very young children.
Grace’s Amazing Machines
A look at the biggest and fastest machines in the world
A brilliant and hilarious look at History; the songs are catchy and we reckon you as the parent will learn a thing or two also!
If I Were An Animal
Nature series looking at the life and habits of various animals.
Kevin Hart’s Guide To Black History
A wonderful series showing black people accomplished so much more than history gives them credit for.
A wonderful theme song and a wonderful show all about science.
A brilliant BBC adaptation based on the Enid Blyton books.
Messy Goes To Okido
Young children can learn more about the world around them.
Noughts And Crosses
An excellent BBC adaption of the excellent Malorie Blackman book.
Preschool children can learn to count and add.
Learn about life under the sea.
A group of kids use maths to solve problems.
An outstanding show featuring Doctors the kids will love as they explain all there is to know about the human body. Lots of humour and gross bits.
Tech-savvy teens should enjoy this series.
An absolute gem of a show. All kids should watch it!
Spy In The Wild
Brilliant nature doc from the BBC.
Kids can learn about counting, measurement, shapes and patterns.
Kids can learn about topics including outer space, dinosaurs and shapes.
Action and adventure cartoon about life under the sea.
Science documentary about the secrets of the universe.
The Who Was Show
Funny and educational show for kids on Netflix looking at famous characters from the past.
Learn how things work.
Walking With Dinosaurs
A must see for dinosaur fans.
What’s The Big Idea?
All about discovery and learning.
Where In The World
Geography for the very young.
Learn about wild animals.
In each five-minute episode, lessons are taught through the lens of fun and familiar pre-school relevant topics, live action films, and interactive thinking games such as matching, sorting, and counting.
You can watch Elmo’s World on Tiny Pop – Freeview 207, Virgin 737, Freesat 605 and Sky 617.
Even if a film isn’t particularly educational, you can always turn it into a learning opportunity.
For example, here’s how to have a Marvel-inspired home school session:
- Create your own comic with original characters.
- Do a research project on the spider that bit Peter Parker
- History – how does Marvel’s Thor relate to actual Norse mythology?
- Physics – build a robot, based on Iron Man.
- Make a Captain America inspired snack mix.
- Make green Rice Krispy treats inspired by Hulk.
- Make pizza dough and cut/form into I am Groot – use olives as eyes.
- Make a Marvel menu: chicken shawarma (Avengers), tacos (Avengers Endgame) etc
- There is an official marvel cookbook being released in July called Marvel Eat The Universe.
- Do some work around alliteration as a lot of the names are examples of alliteration such as Peter Parker and Bruce Banner.
- Use stop motion animation to create a scene from one of the movies or make a flipbook movie.
- Search YouTube for superhero-themed workouts.
- Download free printables from Disney and ask your child to spend 30-60 minutes (depending on their age) working through the booklet WITHOUT bothering you!
What do you think are the best educational films and TV shows for kids?