The Best Kids Science Documentaries Streaming in March
Disney turns its lens on the filmmakers, while the Penguins March again to the dulcet tones of Morgan Freeman.
All of the popular streaming services are packed with documentaries about space, nature, and engineering. That kind of doc-variety is a boon for parents of science-loving kids (or parents who’d like to make screen time just a tad more educational). That said, weeding out the programs that are too dry, bloody, or adult for kids can be a laborious task. In an effort to make the search easier, here are the kid friendly science documentaries newly streaming this month (and an old-standby to watch afterward).
Where to Watch: Netflix, Now StreamingPerfect for: Kids who dig the Wild KrattsRun time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Disneynature’s 2017 documentary Born in China was a fantastic look at the youngest years of some of the East’s most iconic beasts, including the elusive panda and the irascible golden monkey. However, while those filmmakers were recording the animals, another team was filming the filmmakers. Expedition China is the second “making of” doc to come out of the Disneynature effort. The first, Ghosts Of The Mountains, was a grand adventure chronicling filmmakers’ attempts to catch footage of snow leopards in a high altitude wasteland with ferocious weather. Expedition China includes some of that footage, but also captures how these filmmakers were able to track pandas and get much closer to golden monkeys than was probably comfortable. Unlike the occasionally grim Born in China, Expedition China adds a human element to the animal saga that lingers less on mammalian survival and more on pure adventure.
March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step
Where to Watch: Hulu, March 23Perfect for: Kids who loved Happy FeetRun Time: 83 minutes
The original March of the Penguins won an Academy Award for best documentary feature in 2005. That’s not particularly surprising, considering everything the film had going for it. Along with the voice of God, Morgan Freeman, as narrator, the film told the compelling story of the Emperor penguin’s life on the arctic fringe. The original film captured the amazing trek Emperors make twice yearly to the sea to fish, as well as their year-long monogamous couple-hood and their stellar fathering. The sequel remains in familiar territory while splitting the narrative between the doings of an older, experienced Emperor and a chick who has to learn the skills of being one of the planet’s most extreme sea birds. Happily, the film is again graced with the soothing, affable narration of Freeman.
Where to Watch: Netflix, Now Streaming
Perfect for: Fans of the Nut JobRunning Time: 59 minutes
The three-part BBC series Hidden Kingdoms places viewers in the unseen landscapes of some of the earth’s most diminutive creatures. Each episode follows two animals, ranging from elephant shrews and dung beetles to Brazilian marmoset monkeys, but the stand-out is the second episode of the series, which chronicles the life of a North American chipmunk and a rainforest tree shrew. Getting up close and personal with these critters is absolutely breathtaking, particularly as filmmakers are able to slow down high speed chipmunk chases and capture night-glowing fungus in the Amazon rainforest.
Admittedly, the BBC used some creative editing to piece together their animal narratives as revealed in frank, post-episode “making of” shorts. But the artifice does little to dim the magic, and both kids and adults will be transfixed by the goings on that are close to home, but rarely glimpsed.