Eco-friendly children's programming is important, but kids can also get a lot out of shows that were not made specifically for them. After all, kids are eager to learn! Green documentaries, which focus on everything from the lives of scientists to those of animals, can open children's eyes to the world, and challenge them with new information, which will encourage them to ask new questions.
Finding great documentaries is easy: in fact, there is an abundance of them on Netflix right now! Here are five eco-focused documentaries on Netflix to watch with your kids so you can learn about the environment and world around us together.
Tales by Light is a deeply touching nature documentary series with an unusual human element. It's about the lives of nature photographers and videographers. The documentary focuses not on nature itself, but on what it takes to capture images of nature: the perseverance, tenacity and dedication of those behind the camera. It should be an eye-opening journey for kids, and may open the door to discussions about other wildlife-centered professions.
The show is also unique in that it will shape the way children view other nature documentaries in the future. After watching Tales by Light, it is much harder to forget that there is a human being behind every frame, who often had to sacrifice a lot for the footage we enjoy.
Teaching kids about the lives of those in developing countries can be an important part of fostering an eco-conscious, charitable and empathetic worldview. The idea that helping one another is part of helping the planet is worth instilling at a young age. To that end, look no further than Living On One Dollar. This award-winning documentary stars four American friends, who travel to remote Guatamala to live on just one dollar per day, as 1.1 billion people on the planet must do. The result is a mind-expanding journey through poverty from the perspective of those who have never before had to face it.
Kids will likely relate to the kind, hopeful American friends, and find themselves wondering what they themselves would do in the situations that arise. Despite it's heavy content, the documentary has a hopeful enough tone to make it a kid-appropriate must-see.
This classic, BBC-produced documentary has everything we've come to expect of a modern nature documentary series, from the stunning visuals to the informative narration. But what makes Life such a treat, even more so than the gorgeous time-lapse footage of monarchs awakening from hibernation or tadpoles sprouting new limbs, is the witty, often humorous narration of David Attenborough.
If something looks funny (think male giraffes fighting by slapping their necks against one another) there is always an audible chuckle in his tone. His narration brings a vitally important element of human relatability to the series--one that will keep kids smiling, perhaps even laughing, and always wanting more.
A fantastic documentary that touches on several interrelated environmental topics, from food production to conservation is the 2012 documentary, More Than Honey. This award-winner focuses on the declining number of bees throughout the world, the possible causes of what scientists call "colony collapse syndrome" and how all of this effects mankind, as we depend on the bees pollination for food. Teaching kids the importance of an eco-conscious approach to cleaning, gardening and more will be far easier after they watch this documentary.
As an added bonus, it may well help to eradicate the fear of bees (a very common phobia in children) or at least help them to see that just because an animal is small or not "cute" doesn't mean that it isn't vitally important.
Hidden Kingdoms, a three-part series, narrated by Stephen Fry, is a unique take on animal-focused nature documentaries. It focuses on the lives of some of earth's smaller creatures, such as shrews, mice, and chipmunks. The most kid friendly element of the series, other than the adorable animals themselves, is the intensely story-focused narrative.
For example, the first episode, "Under Open Skies", is the story of one particular elephant shrew and one particular grasshopper mouse, each facing obstacles as they grow up. This unusual structure makes the documentary a bit like a real-life cartoon with animal protagonists, minus the talking.