Best Educational and Inspirational Family Night Movies [A Complete List]

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Best Educational + Inspirational Family Movies

[A Complete List]

Finding family movies can be hard after months of social distancing. Additionally, it’s time hit “pause” on overplayed classics. Moreover, families should make the most of screen time. Let’s enjoy flicks that inspire and teach as they entertain. Here you can find a complete list of educational and inspirational family movies. At the end of this post, find the link to claim your FREE printable Ultimate Family Movie Checklist.

Additionally. check out out our 9 [Virtual] Places You Need to Visit During the COVID-19 Quarantine.

Best Family Movies on Netflix

Nature + Animals

72 Cutest Animals 

Cuteness saves lives. This series shows you how. Learn how being adorable helps some animals not only survive, but thrive in their environments.

Absurd Planet

Common sense media calls it “potty humor.” On the other hand, others just call it funny. This brand new family-friendly educational series will keep you entertained as you learn about…well, our absurd planet. With twelve 20-minute episodes, anyone can fit a a quick, educational laugh into their day.

Expedition China

Disneynature’s adventure through China is pieced together to tell an amazing story through this all-inclusive movie. As a result, viewers get to experience this beautiful documentary. Follow film crews as they work to capture footage of rare animals.

Ghost of the Mountains

Part of the Expedition China series, this Disneynature film tops the charts for grownups, I think. In fact, Disney filmmakers call it their “most ambitious film.” And, early in the movie, you can see why. The crew risks their lives as they climb high into the mountains of Sanjuangyuah. Northwest China is where they find and film an elusive family of snow leopards. Be that as it may, you won’t see too many creatures. However, the humans’ stories are pretty remarkable. This exciting film does have mild peril.

If I were an Animal

At 20 minutes each, these 13 episodes are easy to enjoy.  Narrated by children, this short series is both relatable and fun. More importantly, it’s an educational journey all kids can enjoy.

Dancing with the Birds

If you are looking for a traditional documentary, you’ve found it. Complete with a sophisticated British accented narration. Visit New Guinea. Find exotic species of birds. Watch as males build, dance, and sing their way into the hearts of picky females. Moreover, prepare to be surprised by the King of Saxony’s incredibly long head feathers or the Twelve-wires’ funky tail!

Growing Up Wild

Disney never disappoints. Consequently, this masterpiece depicts five species of cute, albeit not-so-cuddly creatures. Watch as they grow up in the wild. Take an intimate look at bear cubs. Visit with cheetah cubs. Spy on lion cubs. And, learn about toque macaque babies (baby monkeys) as well as baby chimpanzees. Mostly,  the premise of this film is to reveal the struggles little ones face to survive in nature. As a result, there is some violence and peril.

National Parks Adventure

A bit slow to start, but chock full of impressive facts and breathtaking images, National Parks Adventure is worth the watch. Narrated by Robert Redford, this beautiful movie celebrates “America’s best idea.” 

Chasing Coral

Appropriately narrated with an Australian accent, Chasing Coral is an awe-inspiring and poignant. It tracks the decline of coral reefs.

Into the Inferno

This fascinating documentary explores volcanoes and scientific passion. However, it wasn’t one of my favorites. Subsequently, I kept it on the list because, “different strokes for different folks” – your family may love it. 

Our Planet

Families can experience how climate change impacts all living creatures. In the meantime, viewers get to explore our planet’s natural beauty in this riveting documentary. There are ten episodes. Each are approximately 50 minutes each. It’s rated PG for fear.

Night on Earth

Learn how creatures all over the world survive, migrate, and thrive through moonlight nights in the wild. The series consists of six shows. Each is about 50 minutes long. This is a great go-to series that will keep family movie night going for almost a week. It’s rated PG for fear. 

Watch this video on YouTube.

Science + Technology

Dream Big Engineering our World : Ages: 7+

Jeff Bridges narrates this STEM-themed documentary. First, it will inspire your kids to become engineers. Then, demonstrate how imagination and ingenuity unite. Most importantly, watch dreamers accomplish massive feats.

Brainchild: Rated G

Grow your family’s brains with this quirky and fun learning experience. This one season series has 13 episodes around 20 minutes each. Each episode asks and attempts to answer some burning questions. Such as, “Why is social media so addictive?” and  “What’s the difference between god and bad germs?” and “Whose in charge, you or your emotions?”

Bill Nye: Science Guy:  Ages: 10+ 

A more mature series, but still kid-friendly. Bill Nye inspires inquisitive minds.

Lego House: Home of the Bricks

See Kjeld Kirk Kristensen’s dream comes life. Now, everyone’s invited to his  130,000 square foot home built with Legos. First, take a trip to Billund, Denmark. Then, see how the 3rd generation Lego owner’s vision became a reality in this 45- minute documentary.

Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World: Ages: 12+ 

Certainly, this one won’t keep the young ones entertained. However, it serves as a great history lesson for older children and as well as adults. Moreover, this fantastic internet documentary is full of compassion and curiosity.

Sports

Ultimate Beastmaster: Rated PG

This is a family show at it’s finest. To begin with, choose your champion and root them on. Then, watch all three seasons of this competition reality TV show. It’s a lot like American Ninja Warrior. Rated PG for language and gore.  

The Short Game: Ages: 7+

Enjoy this Fabulous, kid-friendly documentary about the world’s youngest golfers.

Inspirational

Jiro Dreams of Sushi: Ages 11+ 

Be prepared to read this subtitled documentary about a sushi chef. Worth the watch, it inspires and enlightens viewers.

From One Second to the Next: Ages 13+

Chilling tales hammer home the dangers of texting and driving.

Undefeated: Ages: 11+ 

Enjoy this inspiring football documentary about the power of teamwork.

Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable: Ages: 8+

Inspirational docu has themes of perseverance, gratitude.

Harry & Snowman: Ages 10+

A man and a horse save one another. 

The Last Man on the Moon: Ages: 10+

Watch this awe-inspiring, insightful documentary that spotlights American astronauts. 

Magnus: Ages: 10+

An inspirational documentary that details the life of the “Mozart of Chess.” There is some bullying.

Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of ApolloAges: 10+

Be riveted as you watch this documentary about NASA pioneers in the ’60s and ’70s.

Mountain: Ages: 10+ 

This ecology documentary will sparks senses with awe-inspiring cinematography.

20 Feet From Stardom: Ages: 11+ 

A smart, thoughtful documentary which shines a little light on background singers.

Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made: Ages: 12+ 

Experience the fun and moving story of kids’ labor-of-love Indy remake. 

Best Family Movie on Disney + 

So, I don’t know if it’s because I was an elementary school teacher for so long, or if I’m just a child at heart. Either way, Disney+ is my favorite streaming service for family movies. To begin with, they specialize in entertaining young people. Although, grown-ups also love settling in for these wholesome stories. Next, Disney offers an impressive variety of National Geographic and Disneynature features. Both are filled with exquisitely shot images. As a result, viewers are left awestruck. Certainly, the entertaining commentary and  interesting information will keep the whole family captivated.

Currently, on Disney+ you can find 29 educational and engaging nature movies.

Monkey Kingdom : Ages 6+

This insatiably funny and heartwarming movie follows a troop of monkeys. To begin with, root them on as they fight to take their home back from outside invaders. Also, prepare to be enchanted by the location since this saga unfolds in a forest just outside of Sri Lanka. More importantly, the film is wonderfully narrated by Tina Fey. 

America’s National Parks

To begin with, this collection includes eight parts. Further, each 45-minute episode explores the wonder and marvel of our treasured natural sanctuaries.  Since you can watch them in whatever order you like, I recommend starting  with Olympic National Park. Watch to learn about the three enormous parks and wild inhabitants that make up this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Jane (2017)Ages: 8+

This delightful documentary shows the “newly” discovered footage of Jane Goodall. First of all, she inserts herself into the never before explored world of chimps. Then, with unmatched patience and unwavering determination, she accomplishes more than she could have imagined. 

Be Our Chef 

Hosted by Angela Kinsey, this is a fun family cooking competition show. It takes place at Walt Disney World. First, selected families of four are hosted at Disney World. Then, they’re introduced to a Disney character. Then, this character  tasks them with creating a yummy dish. Most significantly, the meal must align with the character’s story brand. In between cooking and preparing the meal, families are faced with other challenges. For example, a few, quick team events are tossed in to keep the excitement going. Watch the competition and root for your favorite foodie family.

One Day at Disney Shorts

This series  introduces us to the creative minds working behind the scenes of our favorite magic kingdom. As a result, we get a rare peek behind the curtain of the happiest place on Earth. To begin with, each of the 52 shorts are about 7-10 minutes apiece. More importantly, each short focuses on a different Walt Disney employee’s job. By the way, these episodes are a great tool for kids still exploring what they’d like to be when they grow up. Moreover,  audiences are captivated by the inspiring stories and fun facts. In fact, I particularly love the story about Jose Zelaya, a character designer for Disney Television Animation. So, be sure to start with that one.

Brain Games

Another National Geographic wonder, Brain Games is fairly new to Disney+.  Most significantly, this Emmy award-nominated series is designed to mess with the ultimate supercomputer – the human brain. Therefore, viewers get to see how the human brain works. Learn how they process information related to stress, addiction, competition, food, trust and language. Interactive games and hidden-camera experiments capture hilarious and surprising results. As a result, viewers get real-world takeaways . For example viewers learn how to improve memory, get a better night’s sleep, and make more money. 

The World According to Jeff Goldblum

Most notably, this docu-series explores the science and history behind things we would probably never think much about. For example, who would have guessed the history of things like sneakers, pools, jewelry, bikes, denim, ice cream, or cosmetics could be interesting? Jeff Goldblum, I guess. For instance, this first season is made up of a whopping twelve 30-minute episodes.

Ghost of the Mountains: Ages: 6+                                                                   

Another Disneynature film, this one tops the charts for grownups, I think. Accordingly, Disney filmmakers call it their “most ambitious film.” Early in the movie, you can see why. First, the film takes viewers on a treacherous journey alongside the film crew. Next, stare wide-eyed at the screen as they risks their lives climbing high into the mountains of Sanjuangyuah in northwest China. Finally, tag along as they prepare for the complicated task of filming an elusive family of snow leopards. You won’t see too many creatures. However, the humans’ stories are pretty remarkable. All things considered, this exciting documentary does have mild peril.

Collections on Disney+

Disney+ uses Collections to help viewers find shows, movies and entertainment based on personal interests with ease. As a result,  Disney+ has several Collections to choose from.

How To Browse Disney Collections

First, you’ll want to click the “search” icon at the top of the screen. After, the screen will display two things.

  1. First you’ll find a new search box. Here, users can enter specific titles, character names, or even search by film genre.
  2. Additionally, users will see a list of 20 Collections. These include favorites like, Disneynature (just watch them all – my all time favorite Collection). Also included are Earth Month, Forkey Asks a Question, Star Wars, Marvel Animation, Toy Story, and Darth Vader. Since each Collection is set up a bit different, select the collection which interests you. After you choose individual collections, further explore included feature films. Some have tons of options within, while others have only five or six choices

Best Family Movie on Hulu

America’s Cutest

Are you obsessed with cute puppy videos on YouTube?  If so, this series was made for you. Obviously, these are the clips that will bring ear-to-ear smiles and laughter to your home. First, countdown the most adorable animal videos online. Then, find out which dog, cat, or other critter is crowned America’s Cutest!

Jane (2017)Ages: 8+

This delightful film reveals some “newly” discovered footage. Jane Goodall inserts herself into the never before explored world of chimps. In the end, with unmatched patience and unwavering determination, she accomplishes more than she could have imagined. 

Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World: Ages: 12+ 

This one certainly won’t keep the young ones entertained. However, it serves as a great history lesson for older kids and adults. Ultimately, this fantastic internet documentary is full of compassion and curiosity.

Pick of the Litter

This inspiring and heartwarming film will teach us all a little something. Follow these pups on this remarkable life-journey. To begin with, watch their birth at the vet. Next, watch as they win the hearts of their puppy-raisers. Then, accompany them through their rigorous training. Finally, see the ultimate a prize for those who make the cut.

The Brady Bunch 

Yes, your kids can watch the original Brady Bunch. This is an epic series that every kid must experience. Let them delight in the playful anecdotes and cheesy humor of this 1969 series. Further, in true Brady fashion, each episode airs with a free life-lesson. Escape with them to the happier, wholesome times of childhoods past. All five seasons are available to watch on Hulu.

The Champion Within

Watch the powerful and inspiring stories of successful athletes who exemplify what it means to be a champion. Further, meet athletes who have overcome obstacles. Ultimately, they achieve transcendent moments in the world of sports. Further, this motivational series proves that a champion is not defined by their speed, strength and agility, but also by their grit, resilience and heart.

Best Family Movies on Amazon 

Nature + Animals 

Antarctica: A Year on Ice 

Although this isn’t great for little ones,  this documentary lets you see life from a new perspective. As you’ll see, tolerance, patience, a strong work-ethic and a love of our natural world are required. Surely, this film shot by a man who lived there for many years, this film will certainly teach you a thing or two about life.

First, learn what it’s really like to live on the bottom of the planet. 123-mile an hour winds, aren’t necessarily the hardest part of this adventure. Then, see what it’s like to work in McMurdo Station and Scott Base. Coincidentally, the two research posts sit 30 km apart beside the sea. Also, towering nearby, is Mt. Erebus, the southernmost active volcano in the world. Also, you do get to spy a few stinky arctic penguins, along with a charming wedding. However, the most impactful, for me, was the brilliance of a night sky most have never seen before.

Dino Dana – Ages 5+

A young girls loves dinosaurs. So, she spends all of her time learning about them. Now, you can learn about them, too! (28 episodes, 22 minutes each)

Dino Dan – Ages 5+

A 10 year-old  paleontologist explores dinosaurs. As a result, you can, too!

Annedroids

A tween science genius loves to solve problems.  So, she shares her expertise in engineering and computer programming. Ultimately, the purpose is to inspire viewers’ interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects. Moreover, viewers find many scientific concepts in each story. Additionally, you’ll find strong themes about friendship and positive self-esteem. Although this one may be aimed at a slightly younger crowd,  parents have reported that even their older kids find this show fun.

Our Planet

Where the Red Fern Grows 

Each year, I’d play this movie for my fourth grade class. First, we’d read the book. So, I highly recommend you start there, too. Specifically, it’s best to read aloud as a family. It’s sad. For this reason, focus on older children. Next, read and watch Summer of Monkeys.

Summer of Monkeys (Audio Book) – Free on YouTube

Summer of Monkeys Movie (Part 1)  – Free on YouTube

 Adventures of the Penguin King 

Since this film is narrated by Tim Allen, you can expect a few laughs.However, you’ll also learn a lot about the life of penguins on the South Georgia Island.

(South Georgia Island is a sub-Antarctic island administered by the United Kingdom as part of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. It is located 1390 km southeast of the Falkland Islands and 2150 km from South America.)

PBS Nature: Snow Monkeys

Since, Liam Neeson narrates this PBS special, you can expect some drama. In the frigid valleys of Japan’s Shiga Highlands, a troop of snow monkeys live freely. Most importantly, they raise their families in a complex society of rank and privilege. However, their leader is still new to the job, and kind of a solitary grouch. But one little monkey, innocently unaware of his own lowly social rank, reaches out to this lonely leader. As a result, their bond that warm this monarchs less than sunny disposition. Consequently, this rare and remarkable gesture alters both their lives.

Dogs with Jobs  (2019), Ages: 5+

While watching, kids will develop an increased respect for dogs’ intelligence. After watching the animals’ skill at jobs which humans can’t do. Additionally, this series is a great way to introduce kids to the idea of a “working dog”. As a result, they will recognize and respect those they might meet in everyday life. More importantly, the show celebrates the emotional connection between humans and companion animals.

History + Politics 

Walking with Dinosaurs (1999), Ages 9+

Inspirational

The Best of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood 

As you know, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood is more than a show.Mostly, it’s a visit with a trusted friend. Moreover, it’s a safe place to explore feelings and have questions and concerns answered.

Little Red Wagon

Based on a true story, this movie will inspire you.

Expedition China

Experience this gentle documentary about how crews capture footage of rare animals.

Kedi (2017), Ages: 8+

Are you a cat lover? Check out this beautifully-shot documentary that tracks the stories of seven cats who live on Istanbul’s streets. Kedi unveils a city’s heartwarming humanity and the unique relationship between humans and cats. It is a love letter to cats and their city. Serene and relaxing, watch it before a nap or as a tool for de-stressing. 

Spellbound (2003), Ages: 8+

Eight youthful competitors travel with their families to Washington, D.C., to compete in the 1999 Scripps National Spelling Bee. In the national spotlight, they feel the weighty pressure to perform from parents, teachers, and their audience. They approach this competitive spelling bee with a focus and intensity that rivals Olympic athletes. And rightly so, as champions earn highly coveted scholarships and cash prizes. 

Mad Hot Ballroom (2005), Ages: 8+

Watch as kids ranging in age from 10 to 11 and coming from both poor and affluent neighborhoods hone their rug-cutting skills. These New York natives make their transformation from reticent novices to confident contestants versed in the Latin styles of foxtrot, merengue, and rumba.

Best Family Movies on
Curiosity Stream

Curiosity Stream is a fantastic new (to me, anyway) streaming service.

Some fantastic features included in the service include a low annual fee and “Kids Mode” for child-friendly viewing. For younger viewers, ‘Kids’ Mode’ is a feature now available across all CuriosityStream subscriptions and devices. Currently, CuriosityStream is offering 40% off their annual membership. As a result, my total price for the whole year was only $11.99.

Science

David Attenborough’s Light On Earth

Sir David Attenborough delights viewers with the beauty and science of bioluminescence during this award-winning series. (60 minutes)

Quarx

Kids will love this teen trio doing science as it’s never been done before – with superpowers that defy the laws of physics. (26 short-form episodes)

Ocean Mysteries With Jeff Corwin

Jeff takes young explorers around the world while they learn about life under the sea. (3 seasons, 26 episodes each)

Nature and Wildlife

Going Nuts: Tales From The Squirrel World

This series unveils the enchanting world of one of the planet’s most-watched mammals. But, don’t let their cuteness fool you! Although they may be small,  squirrels are one of the most successful species in our eco-system. (60 minutes)

Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown

Follow along as this famously fun wildlife expert shares his adventures. At the same time, join him on his search for rare and fascinating creatures. (4 seasons, 22 episodes each)

 PREHISTORIC WORLDS

And of course, we need some dinosaurs! Without question, the incredible CGI animations paired with latest science about ancient life will thrill children of all ages. (60 minutes)

History

American Icons

Hear the often unknown stories of the men and women who have defined America and its place in the world. Learn about Eleanor Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Abe Lincoln, and more. (7 episodes, less than 15 minutes each)

HI$TORY 

Go on an irreverent romp through American history. At the same time, learn how money makes the world go ‘round. Hosted by NPR’s Peter Sagal. (4 episodes)

Unsinkable: Japan’s Lost Battleship

Most importantly, this visual adventure commemorated the 75th anniversary (May 8, 2020)  of the end of WWII. Certainly, discover the history, technology, and adventure wrapped up in this thrilling story. (60 minutes)

Geography

Big Picture Earth

This series takes viewers on an extraordinary tour of 20 of the most spectacular places around the world. Specifically, journey from Iceland’s Glacier Lagoon to Utah’s Slot Canyons. (20 episodes, 30 minutes each)

Rock The Park

Join adventure-seekers as they explore America’s greatest treasures, specifically, her awe-inspiring national parks. For Instance, explore California’s Channel Islands. Eventually travel to Washington, D.C.’s national monuments. As a result, confidently plan your next road trip when the time is right!  (3 seasons, 26 episodes each) 

S. EAST COAST

Travel Florida’s beautiful beaches to Maine’s Indian summers. Equally important, avoid battling traffic on Interstate 95. (Five 60-minute episodes)

Additionally, to learn more or subscribe to each streaming service, click the links below:

 Hulu

 Disney+

 Netflix

Amazon Prime

Find other things to do with your family in our other posts:

Take a Virtual Trip During the COVID-19 Quarantine: The Mob Museum, Las Vegas, NV

9 [Virtual] Places You Need to Visit During the COVID-19 Quarantine

**Also, for additional help choosing family-friendly media, check out the family toolkits on Commonsense Media **

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