10 Awesome Nature Documentaries for Kids and Families

Kids absolutely love watching shows about nature and animals, so high-quality documentaries offer parents a great way to entertain and educate their children at the same time. The following documentaries are fun and interesting for the whole family.

However, the movies are not aimed solely at children, so very young kids may not be able to sit all the way through them. Still, school-aged children and adults will be awed by the beauty and fascinated by the creatures shown in the real live footage from all over our world. 

of 10

IMAX: Born to Be Wild (2011)

Imax Born to Be Wild

"Born to Be Wild" is a family-friendly documentary about two dedicated people who are doing amazing things for animals.

Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas and her team rescue orphaned orangutans in the wild rainforests of Borneo. The babies are raised with love and care until they are ready to be released into the wild.

Also, in the rugged Kenyan savannah, Dr. Dame Daphne M. Sheldrick and her dedicated team rescue baby elephants. The elephants are given love, affection and 24-hour care in order to help them survive the trauma of losing their mothers. Unbelievably, an equally dedicated pack of adult elephants come to check on the young elephants every now and then before helping them adjust to life in the wild.

Narrated by Morgan Freeman, this nature documentary is sure to be an instant favorite.

of 10

African Cats (2011)

"​African Cats" portrays the remarkable lives of Mara, a lion cub who must learn and grow despite challenges her mother faces; Sita, a strong cheetah struggling to keep her five mischievous newborns safe; and Fang, a proud leader of the pride who is forced to defend his family from rival lions.

Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the documentary exposes the fascinating habits of these big cats and their sometimes startling relationships with each other and their enemies.

In conjunction with this film, Disneynature's "See African Cats, Save the Savanna" campaign donated money to the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) for each ticket sold during the opening week. Find out more about the AWF and download educational materials and more at the African Cats website.

of 10

Oceans (2010)

Narrated by Pierce Brosnan, "Oceans" dives into the depths to bring audiences fascinating footage of ocean life.

As home to some of the world's most fascinating creatures, the ocean is certainly worth exploration and worth preserving. Without the hard work of filmmakers who create documentaries such as these, we would never know what goes on beneath the oceans' often seemingly barren surface.

Disneynature donated money to preserve marine life with the initiative "See Oceans, Save Oceans" in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy. Materials for parents and educators can be downloaded on the Oceans website.

of 10


"Life," narrated by Oprah Winfrey, is an 11-part series that aired on the Discovery Channel. The series presents amazing footage of animals and nature from around the world categorized in a way that is educational and interesting for families.

The first episode, called "The Challenges of Life," is an overview of the series. Other episodes include:  "Reptiles and Amphibians," "Mammals," "Fish," "Birds," and "Insects."

The narration by Oprah often times sounds like it is narrated for kids, but there are a couple of mating scenes in which Oprah uses words like "sex" and "sexy," which may throw parents for a loop. Also, the series presents some footage of animals attacking or eating other animals that could be disturbing to young kids.

of 10

Earth (2009)

"Earth" was the first film under the Disneynature label. The documentary provides a stunning look at the planet we call home. Narrated by James Earl Jones, it features creatures and landscapes from the top of the globe to the bottom of the sea and highlights the majestic cycles of transformation the earth undergoes as the seasons change each year.

In its portrayal of wildlife and discussion of climates, the film follows three animal families closely: a mother Polar bear and her two cubs, a mother elephant and her son, and mother Humpback whale and her daughter. 

of 10

Nature's Most Amazing Events

Each episode of ​"Nature's ​Most Amazing Events" ​depicts an immense natural event that happens over a vast area of the world and affects various wildlife communities.

The unparalleled images shot using high-definition cameras and cutting-edge filming techniques create a natural masterpiece that will fascinate the whole family. Children may be disturbed by some images of predators hunting, catching, and eating their prey, but the series is highly educational and inspiring.

of 10

Under the Sea (2009)

This IMAX adventure transports moviegoers to some of the most exotic and isolated undersea locations on Earth. It includes Southern Australia, New Guinea and others in the Indo-Pacific region, allowing us to experience face-to-face encounters with some of the most mysterious and stunning creatures of the sea.

The movie, narrated by Jim Carrey, is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. Special features on the Blu-ray disc allow viewers to see the incredible lengths filmmakers went to in order to show audiences the fantastic aspects of life under the sea. 

of 10

Deep Sea (2006)

Narrated by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, "Deep Sea" takes viewers into the deep sea for a look at some of the ocean's most exotic creatures.

Oceanic filmmaker Howard Hall ("Into the Deep") captures on film the wonders that most people would otherwise never see, or even conceive of. As viewers travel through the deep, the narrators point out the fascinating ways in which the creatures of the deep are dependent on each other, and how our destiny is tied to theirs.

Some younger viewers may be frightened by some of the deep oceans' more alien-like creatures, but the light narration more than makes up for the slight terror of seeing these mysterious fish. 

of 10

Arctic Tale

"Arctic Tale" explores life in the Arctic for Nanu the polar bear cub and Seela the walrus cub. Nanu and Seela may be different links in the long and connected food chain, but as they grow, they both face challenges that are new and difficult for all Arctic creatures.

The film posits that changing global climate is greatly affecting life in the icy kingdom, making it more difficult to find food and places to live. It shows how survival has become more difficult for Nanu and Seela than it was for their parents, and it required them to sacrifice and adapt in astounding ways.

of 10

March of the Penguins

Morgan Freeman narrates this real-life story about the emperor penguins’ journey to create and sustain new life.

The cameras follow the arduous trek the penguins make to their breeding grounds each year — as far as 70 miles — in order to find a mate and create a child. Enduring exhausting travel, starvation and danger from predators, the male and female take turns guarding the egg and baby chick for a period of several months.

The film beautifully captures the funny, sad, scary and endearing moments that occur in the remote Arctic, where we would never otherwise be able to travel. Although quite long and likely to lose the interest of younger viewers, if you stick with it, the story is beautiful to behold.