10 Great Documentary Movies for Kids

Films to Inspire and Educate Kids of All Ages

Documentary films are great for people of all ages and many are perfect for kids and families. These documentaries are entertaining, educational, and enlightening films that can set excellent standards for a life filled with meaningful movie watching.

The subjects of these films are appropriate for kids. However, they don't gloss over hardships and problems. You might want to consider screening them yourself to determine if they are appropriate for your kids. For example, some may include suffering animals, which may be too disturbing for some children.

Dream Big: Engineering Our World

Happy siblings having popcorn while watching TV in living room at home.
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An IMAX movie, this film is one of the first to explain the role engineers play in transforming the world. It's an ideal flick for planting seeds in a child's mind that STEM—short for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—is actually pretty cool.

The topic may seem dry, but the approach the filmmakers took makes it absolutely entertaining. Kids will awe at the projects the engineers undertake and the diversity of the men and women behind the scenes. It's definitely an inspiration for the future and an interesting one at that.

For a documentary that can come to life in your own backyard, few can beat "Wings of Life." It explores the importance of pollinators in nature and demonstrates that flowers are more than just pretty things.

With cinematic wonder, the film follows a bat, hummingbird, butterfly, and bee as they work to pollinate plants. The story comes around to how these small creatures affect human life. As we hear today that pollinators are endangered pollinators, it is more important than ever for kids to understand the vital roles they play.

This environmentally conscious documentary introduces you to the polar bear cub Nanu and the seal pup Seela. It tells their stories as they struggle to survive in the Arctic while the ice cap melts due to global warming.

The movie is harsh at times due to the realities of nature. Yet, it can also give children a keen and convincing awareness of the importance of caring for the environment. 

This entertaining documentary follows four girls through one remarkable week of Rock 'n' Roll camp. During their adventure, they learn to play instruments, form bands, and perform for hundreds of people.

The Portland, Oregon-based Rock Camp for Girls teaches more than music. It provides a positive environment in which hard work and determination pay off.

You'll also find that it empowers campers with life-affirming self-esteem and confidence that transforms their young lives. It's sure to be a lesson your girls will pick up on.

"In The Shadow of the Moon" is a documentary film about NASA's moon missions. It includes live interviews with the extraordinary astronauts who manned them, so it intertwines both history and science.

This captivating flick is filled with magnificent footage from the most famous space journeys. Even if you think you've seen it all about the moon missions, this one will show you something new. It's sure to fascinate both you and your science-loving kids.

One of the more famous films on the list, "March of the Penguins" is a timeless and wonderfully intimate film. Its sole purpose is to trace the life cycle of Emperor penguins.

In it, you'll see the tuxedo-clad seabirds mate for life, care for their young, and struggle to survive in an extremely harsh environment. The film presents many lessons for children and adults alike. It is a remarkable travelog to an extremely remote and beautiful part of the world.

Some content is as challenging as the environment the penguins live in. Parents should watch before their kids do.

"Quantum Hoops" is a stirring documentary about Caltech's basketball team. This dedicated group of young scholars play their games with the same sort of persistence they apply to their studies. All of this despite the fact that they hold the record for the most games lost.

David Duchovny narrates this smart and charming documentary. You have to respect the smart young men who learned that the game isn't the only important thing in life and that winning isn't the ultimate goal.

Kids from across the nation compete in the National Spelling Bee. This entertaining documentary is an inspiration for everyone and it's actually quite riveting.

You can't help but root for all eight finalists while following them as they rise through the ranks of spellers. It's surprisingly competitive and the kids are beyond determined to do their best and be the best.

As a bonus, you'll enhance your vocabulary and learn to spell some incredibly challenging words. See kids, spelling is cool!

Kids love to play like they're playing musical instruments. This documentary follows a group of talented imaginary instrumentalists through rollicking good times.

You get to enjoy great music and exuberant sportive fun as they engage in the heated competition to win the title of world champion air guitarist. Who knows, it may even encourage one of your kids to pick up a real guitar and learn to play it.

Filming this documentary was a feat in itself and it captures images we would never be able to experience otherwise. It took directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud and their crew of 500 people four years to complete it and the result is fantastic.

"Winged Migration" captures the amazing and startling scenes of migrating birds. The flights span the globe as the various species fly thousands of miles twice each year in search of food. Many reviewers use the word mesmerizing and that is what it will do to your family.