8 nature documentaries to stream with your kids
There’s no better way to share a taste for the wonderfully strange world we live in with the next generation than by bingeing these beautiful David Attenborough and other nature doccies as a family.
This six-episode series is an overview of how four essential systems – weather, ocean currents, solar energy and volcanoes – drive, shape and support all life on Earth. The fifth episode focuses on the human impact on the natural world, and how we can restore its balance. Four years in the making, A Perfect Planet features beautifully shot scenes of animals and nature, backed up with natural history and earth sciences, as explained by Sir David Attenborough.
Our Planet (Netflix)
It is fun hearing the great David Attenborough say “tits and boobies”. But it’s not the beautifully shot birds swooping into the waves, expertly catching fish that makes this doccie special. It’s the way it shows how climate change is impacting the world we live in, and all its interconnected beauty is the focus.
This is not the love letter to Mother Nature that Planet Earth is. It’s a call to arms – it’s inspiration to do something to save our home.
The imagery is absolutely breathtaking – for more, go to this photo gallery.
Night on Earth (Netflix)
Narrated by Samira Wiley, who plays Moira in The Handmaid’s Tale, this somewhat unsettling but truly eye-opening documentary reveals what goes on among nocturnal animals under cover of night.
Did you know that one of the greatest threats to sea lion pups in Peru are the vampire bats that swoop down in the pitch dark to feast on their blood?
While this may be one of the more disturbing scenes (which you’ll find in episode 1 – perhaps it’s best to skip this part if you’re watching with sensitive types, children and adults alike), others are breathtakingly beautiful, even with little natural light, such as the shots of bright pink flamingoes captured at midnight. The techniques and equipment needed for this kind of project, filmed entirely at night, are fascinating – read more about them here.
Superfish: Bluefin Tuna (Prime Video)
Did you know that the Atlantic bluefin tuna can live up to 40 years? This massive predator is fascinating, but it’s sadly been fished to the brink of extinction.
This film follows marine biologist and wildlife cameraman Rick Rosenthal as he searches for the elusive giant of the deep. Attenborough’s narration adds the right tone to this sad journey of exploration.
Dancing with the Birds (Netflix)
I am not a bird person – well, at least, I didn’t think that I was. Until I watched this. Stephen Fry narrates this series and really is a master at imbuing drama into something as seemingly simple as a bird’s mating dance.
Who thought that birds of paradise would have developed such an intricate and unique way of luring a mate? This is the type of reality show drama we need more of.
Africa’s Hidden Kingdoms (Showmax)
Discover the countless wonders that can be found within Africa’s fertile ecosystems in this six-episode series that will lead you to appreciate afresh how incredible our continent really is.
Life in Colour with David Attenborough (Netflix)
Discover how animals use colour to survive and thrive in the wild in this innovative docuseries.
Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet (Netflix)
An essential watch to educate yourself and your kids on the measures we need to put into place to secure the future of our planet and the future of humanity, based on scientific discoveries that show how far we, as humans, have pushed Earth’s boundaries.
Bonus pick: Attenborough’s Journey (DStv)
In this 2010 film, we follows David Attenborough’s life through the decades, starting with his boyhood adventures as a fossil hunter and giving insight into his pioneering work in 50 years’ experience in broadcasting. It was shot while he filmed his series First Life.