The 10 Best Educational Movies That Kids Will Enjoy

We all know how fun games and movies like Toy Story are but sometimes it is better to get kids interested in more educational movies. Teachers have the unique ability to harness the power of visual learning tools such as movies and educational films to bring about an array of intellectual stimuli that serve to engage, motivate, and, most importantly, inspire children.

Educational films are a highly effective means of delivering in-class subject material in a way that is powerfully thought-provoking and engaging. Through vibrant onscreen characters, rich dialogues, and interesting story lines, children’s films are able to add to educational environments in singularly unique ways.

Through careful assessment, teachers are able to assign artistic and contextual merit to particular films in determining their relative value to their classrooms. By considering class-specific curriculum, student ages, and historical elements within films, educational picks can be shown during class time that will serve to bolster learning through open discussion, question and answer sessions, relevant projects, and response reading.

In addition to the above, teachers might provide students with a handout to fill out during the film or after the film is over in order to reinforce what was learned and to further stimulate future classroom discussions.

While films geared towards children’s education convey classroom material in an interesting delivery, there are myriad other benefits that exist as well. Children’s films work to entice children into discovering newfound passions and cultivating those interests in academic and life pursuits

Read on below to learn about the ten best educational movies that kids will enjoy

The Men Who Built America

the men who built america image

Audience: 5th graders and up

The Men Who Built America is centered on the personal motivations and ambitions of famous industrial titans who rose to power during the late 1800s. Men such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, and J.P Morgan came to shape much of American history with their capitalist virtues. Coming together as an impossibly powerful elite group of associates, these men wielded power over presidential elections, economic and social policy, and many of the formative events that marked our nation’s history, including but not limited to the Civil War and World War I and the Great Depression.

Notes: This is a three-disc documentary that includes footage never before seen on TV, including special features such as:​

  • Completive Nature
  • The American Dream
  • From Richer to Rich
  • The Rise of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  • Monopoly
  • The Every Man
  • Carnegie
  • Traits of a Titan

America the Story of Us

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Audience: 5th graders and up​

Perfect for the teacher who wants to educate students on the making of America and the formations of American history, America the Story of Us takes a comprehensive look at the last 400 years in the U.S. and explores the formative events, innovative ideas, and trailblazing people that comprised the foundations of this country.

This educational film touches upon a multitude of vastly important subject matter, from history to business, to society and race relations. With in-depth interviews given by public figures such as Meryl Streep, Tom Brokaw, Colin Powell, Buzz Aldridge, Donald Trump, and Brian Williams, students learn in a highly visible and emotionally compelling way what it means to be an American.

This film is done in the documentary style and is student-friendly for grades 5th and up. Featuring 12 assorted chapters; this expansive documentary is just over nine hours long and delves into a wide breadth of subjects.

It commences one hundred years after Columbus’s arrival and finishes in the present time. Throughout the expansive amount of time, historical events, and societal developments that proved to be transformational to this nation are delved into.

Critically important subject matter included in this film:​

  • Early American transportation via covered wagon and wagon trails
  • The building of the transcontinental highway
  • The lives of abolitionists, slaves, frontiersmen, patriots, pioneers, immigrants, inventors, entrepreneurs, Native Americans and more.
  • The Japanese-American experience/internment camps
  • Engineering feats including buildings fabricated from steel
  • The landing on the moon
  • The Revolutionary War and its divisive impact

Bonus features:

  • George Washington
  • American Revolution
  • Declaration of Independence
  • Civil War
  • Transcontinental Railroad
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Henry Ford and the “Model T”

The Story of All of Us: Mankind

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Audience: 5th graders and up

The Story of All of Us: Mankind takes a unique and intriguing look at history through a global lens and beyond. Starting with the Big Bang 13.7 million years ago, this educational film encompasses a thematic approach to what defines that start of “our” story as humans.

This highly visual take on ancient history will enrapture students as they learn about the Homo sapiens struggle for sustainability on the parched African savannah. Utterly vulnerable, without essential physical elements such as teeth, jaws, speed, or dexterity, these early Homo sapiens were forced to become reliant on innovation and communication in order to adapt and survive. Those learned survival instincts enabled them to succeed in the face of uncertain extinction and pave the way for a precarious future marked by the creation of fire and farm crops.

As viewers, we are shown how the innovations of fire and crops were essential building blocks that would prove to shape the destiny of mankind as we know it.

Important topics covered include the following:​

  • The ways in which technology advanced the human race throughout the world
  • The transformation from hunter-gatherer societies to global citizenry
  • The Ice Age
  • Farming techniques
  • The significance of the movable type invention
  • Space exploration
  • The Industrial Revolution

Sid the Science Kid

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Audience: Preschool and Kindergarteners

Sid the Science Kid is a wonderful option for teachers looking for educational movies that cover the concept of Science. Starring Sid the Science Kid, this curious kiddo attempts answer the wide range of basic questions that young children have about why things work the way that they do.

Using simple scientific principles to answer the array of questions he has, Sid enlists the assistance of friends, family, and his friendly teacher, Susie. With his oversize magnifying glass and big, gregarious smile, Sid is a highly engaging figure that will enthrall and capture the attention of the youngest of viewers.

​Go Diego Go: Animals Around the World

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Audience: Kindergarteners

Go Diego Go: Animals Around the World is an educational movie that centers around the adventures of Dora the Explorer’s eight-year-old cousin Diego.

Throughout his adventures, Diego rescues animals from perilous situations and helps them become safe and secure. Important concepts related to basic science, names of animals, simple geography, and environmental facts are abundant in this film that has garnered much acclaim for its bilingual Latino main character.

Since its inception in 2008, Go Diego Go has been nominated four times for NAACP Image Awards.​

Finding Nemo

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Audience: Kindergarteners

Finding Nemo is an internationally recognized film with highly relevant educational themes about fish and the underwater world. Based on a father’s journey across the Pacific Ocean as he searches for his son, viewers are treated to a delightful range of vibrantly colored visual stimuli in the form of brightly hued fish, turtles, coral reefs, and anemones.

Finding Nemo is an excellent choice for teachers looking to provide their students with messages about the importance of family, love, and devotion.​

School House Rock

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Audience: Kindergarteners

School House Rock is a classic educational film that has been popular in classroom settings for decades. Featuring a multitude of short animations and educational music chapters, this series provides an upbeat and engaging mode of learning.

In this series, children learn about topics such as science, grammar, reading, history, and society through popular songs like Round the World.” “The Shot Heard.” No More Kings,” “Fireworks,” and “Preamble.”

With its array of catchy tunes, School House Rock remains a classic even in modern times.​

A Little Princess

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Audience: 2nd grade and up

A Little Princess is a story beloved by schoolchildren far and wide. Based on the life of a little girl named Sara Crewe and her life at Miss Minchin’s boarding school, this movie covers themes of compassion, kindness, and empathy.

When Sara’s powerful father goes missing, she finds herself robbed of the privilege she once enjoyed as a result of her father’s status. With her possessions taken from her, Sara is forced to become accustomed to the life of a servant and experiences great poverty as a result. Despite her tragic circumstances, Sara maintains a positive outlook on life and continues to exhibit kindness and empathy to all those she encounters.

A Little Princess is a wonderful film with an engaging story line that will rivet 2nd graders and up. Providing critically important education elements on the themes of humanity and kindness, this movie is an integral part of classroom education and has withstood the test of time.​

The Incredibles

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Audience: 2nd graders and up

The Incredibles is a film that is based on the head of the family, Mr. Incredible. Mr. Incredible’s experience with the Superhero Relocation Program finds him making a career switch to a salesman, while his wife Elastigirl takes on the seemingly normal role of a stay-at-home mom and wife whose main roles are raising her children and preparing dinner. Their newfound “normal” personas are in stark contrast to their previous lives as superheroes.

However, the Incredible’s life of normalcy changes swiftly when a super villain named Syndrome comes on to the scene. Through a show of family unity, the Incredibles’ family teams up to fight the evil syndrome.​

Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

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Audience: 3rd graders and up

Roald Dahl’s famous “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” is a timeless favorite that even adults remember with fondness. The main character Charlie is one of the lucky recipients of a winning golden ticket and is awarded a trip to the awe-inspiring chocolate factory that is owned by Willie Wonka.

Charlie is but just one recipient of a golden ticket, as four other recipients happen to exhibit spoiled and obnoxious behavior that is often unethical and self-serving. The four obnoxious children find themselves experiencing many losses during their trip to the chocolate factory, with Charlie prevailing through his unrelenting honesty to ultimately win the grand prize.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been an enduring favorite amongst teachers for its themes of honesty and integrity and for the many lessons it imparts to student viewers.​

Educational films are immensely valuable learning tools that can be effectively used for all ages from preschool to 5th grade and beyond. By providing rich dialogue, captivating story lines, and intricately constructed characters, students are able to learn about important concepts, such as morality, honesty, hard work, and empathy for others. Moreover, students are able to learn educational concepts such as mathematics, language, reading, history, and social studies through these types of films.

Movies that serve to educate ultimately bolster and stimulate classroom-wide discussions and increase participation and interest levels. Pertinent materials can be used to augment the film experience, such as handouts, Internet activities, art projects, response papers, and collective class projects, in addition to vocabulary and spelling lists and “main idea and supporting detail” worksheets.

Educational films are also useful in terms of extending the class period in an effective way. By using engaging films that promote student engagement and interest, boredom is staved off, and children are not peering towards the clock. A strategically timed movie that coincides with the end of class time is a great tool a teacher can use to fill up any lapse in classroom time while ensuring that students remain on task and engaged.

In today’s day and age, teachers are well aware of the advancements in technology and increasing interest in digital media. By harnessing the power of media in conjunction with educational endeavors, teachers are able to create alternative educational experiences that serve to augment existing curriculum in incomparable ways.

Through careful assessment and creative inspiration, the sky is the limit in terms of educational films teachers can choose from and present to their students. The use of educational films as tools of instruction is a necessary component in today’s classroom education models that make use of technology to provide children with valuable learning experiences that will remain with them throughout their education.​