The 20 Best Educational Movies for Kids

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Your kids are home from school, and you desperately need some time to do laundry/pay bills/chill out. The fix? Plunk ‘em down in front of the TV for a couple of hours. But if you’re feeling sheepish about screen time, we’ve got you covered. Here, the best educational movies for kids so you can press play without a pang of guilt.

The 75 Best Family Movies of All Time

1. Wall-e (2008)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 5+
  • Run time: 103 minutes

This artsy Pixar gem is about Wall-E—a hopelessly charming robot who lives on Earth, centuries into the future when humans have trashed the planet and then left it to live unhealthy lives on a spaceship instead. If it sounds a bit dystopian, that’s because it is at first. However, the narrative takes a turn for the hopeful when Wall-E encounters another robot on Earth and falls in love. The object of his affection, Eve, is scooped up by the human spaceship and a romantic rescue mission ensues—one that has an unexpectedly positive impact on mankind. This eco-conscious film is heavy-handed, to be sure, but it’s also poignant and visually beautiful. Turn it on and prepare to have your heart strings tugged and your conscience stirred.

2. Coco (2017)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 7+
  • Run time: 109 minutes

Kids of all ages can get a dose of culture from this moving tribute to Mexican traditions, which features an impressive Latino cast (Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt), vibrant animation and a stellar soundtrack. As for the storyline, Coco is ultimately a coming-of-age film about a young boy named Miguel, who is torn between following his passion for music and honoring his family’s rich history. The takeaway? This kid-friendly number serves up a resounding celebration of cultural heritage, alongside positive messages about family, unconditional love and ambition.

3. Wings Of Life (2013)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 6+
  • Run Time: 77 minutes

This Disney nature doc, a special Earth Day release, is all about the birds and the bees…literally. Narrated by Meryl Streep, this fascinating flick takes a deep dive into the important work done by pollinators. It’s also blessedly light on wildlife violence: There’s some squabbling between birds and a couple insect-related predator-prey scenes, but none of the carnage that could make a sensitive kid feel terrified of nature.

4. Inside Out (2005)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 6+
  • Run Time: 94 minutes

This quirky and incredibly original animated film follows a tween girl, Riley, as she tries to navigate her daily struggles and the flood of emotions that adolescence has introduced. The twist is that it’s those very feelings, personified, that tell the story (and pull the strings) from inside her brain. The plot of this one has plenty of excitement and moderate peril, but what really stands out is the positive and emotionally evolved message it sends that all feelings are OK, even anger and sadness, and what matters most is how you express them.

5. Sound Of Music (1965)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 6+
  • Run Time: 224 minutes

This beloved classic has stood the test of time for a reason, friends. As the title suggests, the film is replete with amazing tunes. In fact, the wholesome narrative revolves around Maria, a nun-turned-nanny who wins over her reluctant charges (and their father) with song. Ultimately, this musical is full of romance and brimming with positive messages about kindness and integrity. That said, parents should know that the story takes place during the Nazi invasion of Austria—a historical context that plays a significant role in the film and may inspire questions from inquisitive kids.

6. March Of The Penguins (2005)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 6+
  • Run Time: 80 minutes

March of the Penguins is a visually stunning nature documentary that follows—you guessed it—penguins as they make their yearly, perilous trek across Antarctica. The film is moving—tragic, at times—and ultimately serves up a display of empathy and community among the migrating birds that’s so beautiful you’ll want to have a box of tissues on hand.

7. Akeelah And The Bee (2006)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 8+
  • Run Time: 112 minutes

This poignant drama revolves around the struggles and triumphs of a young black girl, Akeelah, as she navigates her relationships with family and friends, whilst pursuing her talent as a champion speller. The story unfolds around a National Spelling Bee competition, but you definitely don’t have to be a bookworm to appreciate the complexity of the narrative and the empowering conclusion to the story.

8. The Mitchells Vs. The Machines (2021)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 8+
  • Run Time: 109 minutes

In The Mitchells vs. the Machines, a family road trip turns into an action-packed adventure when an AI robot released by a tech company turns on mankind. Needless to say, the film explores the pros and cons of technology and the growing role it plays in our lives. File under ‘screen time conversation starter.’

9. What’s On Your Plate?

  • Suitable for: kids ages 8+
  • Run Time: 76 minutes

There’s a pro-vegetarian message in this informative and engaging documentary about food, which covers everything from the global impact of consumption and waste to basic nutrition. It’s basically a kid-friendly version of Fast Food Nation and an educational watch, to be sure. That said, parents who choose this one for family movie night should be prepared to field some difficult questions about their own eating habits.

10. Science Fair (2018)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 8+
  • Run Time: 90 minutes

Young innovators steal the show in this documentary about teen participants in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The film follows an impressively diverse group of contestants from a variety of economic and ethnic backgrounds, and the content is plenty engaging. Overall, it’s a compelling watch that will surely inspire science-minded tweens and teens to pursue their STEM goals.

11. Wadjda (2013)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 9+
  • Run Time: 97 minutes

Wadjda is an empowering and beautiful film about a spirited, sneaker-wearing Saudi girl who wants to learn how to ride a bicycle, despite the fact that such activities are forbidden for women in the conservative Muslim tradition to which she belongs. Thought-provoking and full of charm, this one serves up a subtle and complex perspective on oppression, culture and religion. Parents should know that the movie is relatively free of violence and other explicitly disturbing elements, but it is subtitled and also sophisticated compared to other kid’s movies. In other words, this one is best-suited to tween and teen audiences.

12. Turning Red (2022)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 10+
  • Run Time: 100 minutes

Don’t ask us why some parents have their panties in a bunch over this heartwarming story about a young girl reaching puberty. As far as we’re concerned, Pixar’s first ever women-only project is a winner. The animation is lively, the characters are likable, and the sweet coming-of-age narrative perfectly captures the highs and lows of adolescence, while highlighting the importance of friends and family alike. Plus, the “red panda” metaphor is so much better than the tired “it’s that time of the month” business. (Right?)

13. Paper Clips (2004)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 8+
  • Run Time: 82 minutes

When it comes to age-appropriate Holocaust education, Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars is a classic; and then there’s “Paper Clips,” a documentary about a group of students and a remarkable teacher who introduced the subject in a way that adequately captures the profound injustice of the historic event without all the violent details. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more family-friendly movie for teaching tweens about tolerance, diversity and the horror that was the Holocaust.

14. Jane (2014)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 8+
  • Run Time: 90 minutes

Jane Goodall, the famous primatologist and chimp whisperer, is the subject of this engaging documentary, which explores both her pioneering work and the fascinating primates she studied. Most importantly, though, this heartfelt biopic boasts a powerful and far-reaching message about perseverance and compassion that’s sure to make an impact on animal-lovers, budding scientists and pretty much everybody else.

15. Woman In Motion (2019)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 8+
  • Run Time: 105 minutes

Here, another empowering documentary about a strong female role model. This time the subject is the life and work of Nichelle Nichols—the Star Trek actress who, at the series’ end, passionately devoted herself to a NASA special project that focused on the recruitment of female and minority astronauts. Her poignant story is a lesson in the importance of diversity, as well as the impressive progress that a single person can bring about by simply using their voice to champion a worthy cause.

16. Night At The Museum (2006)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 7+
  • Run Time: 100 minutes

New York’s Museum of Natural History has a new night watchman—and he’s wholly unprepared for the fantastical adventure that his first shift turns into. Ben Stiller, Dick Van Dyke and Bill Cobb are just a few names on the all-star cast of this action-packed movie, which brings history to life in ways that are slightly terrifying but mighty entertaining. (Psst: Considerable peril and occasional bad language make this one best for the tween and up crowd.)

17. Fantasia (1940)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 6+
  • Run Time: 125 minutes

Give your kid an education in classical music with a timeless Disney favorite. This entirely dialogue-free animated film is best described as a compilation of visually enchanting short stories that unfold to the tune of the greatest compositions from the 18th and 19th century. There’s nothing flashy or objectionable about this one, friends, so you needn’t worry about overstimulation. In fact, Fantasia is one of the best ways for kids of all ages to experience screen time and discover a love of music in the process.

18. Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (1992)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 6+
  • Run Time: 75 minutes

Long before Wall-E hit the theaters, there was Ferngully—an animated gem from the 90s with a similarly powerful environmental message. There’s a deranged but charming bat (voiced by Robin Williams), a courageous fairy apprentice (Samantha Mathis), and an evil spirit (Tim Curry) that they must stop from destroying the rainforest. Spoiler: Humans are responsible for said evil spirit, and your kid will become a veritable treehugger after just one watch.

19. The Land Before Time (1988)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 6+
  • Run Time: 70 minutes

You might remember this popular film (and the many, many sequels) from your own youth. Our suggestion? Start from the beginning with the original animated movie about a courageous and diverse band of dinosaur babies who overcome their differences so they can overcome the adversity of parental separation in the aftermath of the legendary (and continent-creating) giant earthquake that broke up Pangaea.

20. Up (2009)

  • Suitable for: kids ages 6+
  • Run Time: 98 minutes

Pixar tackles old age, illness and death in this surprisingly uplifting film. The unlikely protagonist is a curmudgeonly old man who aches for his deceased wife and decides to honor her memory by departing on a grand adventure with the help of a whole bunch of helium balloons…and the (unwanted) company of a boy scout on board. Humorous and touching, this kid-friendly flick will have viewers of all ages pondering the meaning of life, love and friendship.

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Emma Singer

Freelance PureWow Editor

Emma Singer is a freelance contributing editor and writer at PureWow who has over 7 years of professional proofreading, copyediting and writing experience. At PureWow, she covers...
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