Movies for young children
November 13, 2012 1:08 PM   Subscribe

What are some great movies for preschoolers and kindergartners?

I previously asked for suggestions about nature documentaries for young children and really appreciated the good suggestions. This new question is about other types of movies (but feel free to include additional nature/science ones not previously mentioned) that would be excellent choices for young children, especially if the movies have some educational component. Thank you!
posted by Dansaman to Education (26 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
The only movie my preschooler currently likes is Mary Poppins, which she has to watch in sections because it is really long. Otherwise, she prefers television shows.

Actually, she also likes some of the barbie movies, which I find pretty non-offensive, but they are not particularly educational.
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:10 PM on November 13, 2012

One of the great children's movies: My Neighbor Tototro
posted by shothotbot at 1:12 PM on November 13, 2012 [6 favorites]

I've been quietly recommending Nativity! It features kindergarteners, but it deals with adult relationships so you won't die if you watch it with her.

It's British, and really cute and perfect for the holidays. The songs and nativity at the end are so sweet and lovely.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:20 PM on November 13, 2012

Warriors of Virtue. Because the kiddies love them kung-fu kangaroos with a positive message.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:27 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Both of my kids watched Brave Little Toaster pretty-much non-stop from preschool through middle school. They loved that thing.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:27 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Omgoodness, Thylababy would love Brave Little Toaster!

Otherwise the films on high rotation are:
Beauty and the Beast (Princess and the Monster)
How to Train Your Dragon
The Cat Returns (we're a Totoro watching family too).
posted by thylacinthine at 1:39 PM on November 13, 2012

My kids (3 and 6) have always loved the various Pixar films of course, and all things Muppet. They have also had a ball with the entire Scholastic series - not a movie of course, but a big set of DVDs featuring animated, narrated presentations of all the classic stories: Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Gorilla, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight, Pete's a Pizza, etc. I like trying to identify the narrators by voice (Chevy Chase, Billy Crystal, Susan Sarandon...). There's a DVD of classic Sendak stories, too, that's pretty great.
posted by justonegirl at 2:14 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

My sons love My Neighbor Totoro, so I will strongly second that, along with Kiki's Delivery Service. They are not educational in the didactic sense of teaching about classroom subjects, but they are incredibly imaginative and magical, and inspirational. I think cultivating imagination in young kids is fantastically important, so I really recommend you try those two. I will eventually show them other Miyazaki movies, but I think some of the others have frightening themes that can be too much for certain kids (like my delicate flowers!).

We like almost everything that Pixar releases, and everything Wallace and Gromit (W&G are mostly shorts not full-length movies).

If you want more educational and nature content, I really strongly recommend you check out The Kid Should See This which collects youtube and vimeo clips of nature, science and how stuff works. Its a fantastic resource.
posted by Joh at 2:18 PM on November 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

I realize this doesn't add anything to what has already been said but: Totoro, Totoro, Totoro. I have yet to meet a child (or adult) that hasn't been captivated by that movie.
posted by oclipa at 2:18 PM on November 13, 2012

The Land Before Time - my (now adult) kids loved that one.

Don't know what to make of the fact that Mom dies at the hands (well, technically, jaws) of a T-rex in one of the early scenes.
posted by she's not there at 2:29 PM on November 13, 2012

This brings back memories!
Homeward Bound (talking animals find their way home)
Milo and Otis (unlikely animal friends)
Sing Yourself Silly - Sesame Street (I got caught at work singing 'Ladybug Picnic')
posted by Breav at 2:36 PM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

I second the Pixar comment! A Bugs Life, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, The Incredibles - this studio really knows how to tell a good story; and the best part is the films are funny on multiple levels, so you'll enjoy it too!
posted by mariisoul at 2:49 PM on November 13, 2012

My favorite movie when I was a kid was Follow That Bird. I show it to my first graders and it totally stands the test of time.

Also, the Snowman is a really nice, arty sort of movie for kids.

One more - There is this claymation series of the Wind in the Willows that was made a few decades ago. It is hilarious!
posted by mermily at 3:00 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'll avoid the Disney/Pixar and Aardman classics, and just list some of the other absolute best/favourites (from a euro-centric perspective):

Animation movies:
Azur et Asmar
Kirikou and the Sorceress
Raining Cats and Frogs
The Dog, the General, and the Birds
Princes and Princesses
James and the Giant Peach
Laura's Star
The Snowman
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Watership Down
The Wind in the Willows
The little Polar Bear (the series)
La linea (the series)
Heidi (the series)
Little Mole (the series)

Myazaki & Co:
Kiki's Delivery Service
The Secret World of Arrietty

Mary Poppins
Stuart Little
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Pippi Longstocking (the series)

Winged Migration
Blue Planet
Two Brothers
March of the Penguins
The Story of the Weeping Camel
The Fox and the Child

A little further on:
The Triplets of Belleville
Corpse Bride
Nightmare Before Christmas
The Dark Crystal
The King and the Mockingbird
posted by progosk at 3:26 PM on November 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

Cars. The first one. I only watched it with my kid about seven hundred billion times, starting when he was about four.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:34 PM on November 13, 2012

Don't Eat the Pictures: Sesame Street at the Metropolitan Museum of Art 
posted by ocherdraco at 3:53 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, you people are all amazing. Thanks so much! I'm sure other parents will benefit from these suggestions too, so these suggestions and other suggestions people will continue to post will certainly go to good use. I'm in awe of all you generous, helpful, thoughtful, and knowledgeable people.
posted by Dansaman at 3:58 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Yellow Submarine
Doctor Doolittle (I prefer the Rex Harrison version to the Eddie Murphy one)
Wizard of Oz
Lots of old musicals, like Singing in the Rain; the kids might not get the plotline yet, but they'll love the singing and dancing.
posted by easily confused at 4:48 PM on November 13, 2012

Do you use Common Sense Media? Their reviews can be filtered by age and media and are very well done.
posted by Cuke at 5:54 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, and Ponyo.

We also love The Snowman, but it should be noted that the ending is sad sad sad, and my daughter sobbed and sobbed (at about age three, and then six, and seven, and eight, and... I'll admit that my husband and I watch it once a year, and then we both cry for ages.) After a while, she taught herself to work the remote and would stop it when they return home so that she didn't have to see the end. Screen that one first, and be prepared for potential waterworks.

Not a movie, but we loved loved loved both Charlie and Lola (very sweet, older brother and younger sister, and he teaches her lots of basic being-friends types of skills--it's a delightful change from the bog-standard hilariously precocious child who's always right, even when they do everything that they're told not to) and Pingu, which isn't at all educational but is unbelievably cute and charming, and, astonishingly, almost never pings my oh god this is so annoying I'm going to scream buttons.
posted by MeghanC at 6:50 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

On the nontraditional end of the spectrum, we've been surprised and delighted that our nearly 3 year old loves a few of the films of Charles and Ray Eames, namely "Tops" and "Toccata for Toy Trains." Also, a friend with a child the same age introduced us to Martha Graham's "Appalachian Spring" and my daughter watched the whole thing, start to finish, enraptured. While these certainly verge into hipster parenting territory, it's nice to be able to watch something together that we all enjoy.
posted by thenewbrunette at 7:24 PM on November 13, 2012

Seconding some that have already been mentioned:
Homeward Bound (I saw this at about five and loved it.)
Any Pixar movie, but especially the great ones:
Toy Story
Toy Story 2
A Bug's Life
The Thief and the Cobbler
Fievel Goes West
The Wizard of Oz
The Sound of Music
Mary Poppins
Babes in Toyland
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1970's version)

Fantastic Disney films:
Robin Hood
Peter Pan (one of the best fantasy films I saw as a kid, still love it)
The Lion King
The Jungle Book
The Rescuers Down Under (I'm 25 and this is still one of my favorite movies)
Beauty and the Beast
101 Dalmatians
Lady and the Tramp
The Emperor's New Groove (one of Disney's most unique films)
Home on the Range (lots of comedy)

Warriors of Virtue has a few frightening scenes and may have a little too much violence for preschoolers.

Since they are still really young, give a few episodes of The Magic School Bus a try and see if they're engaged.
posted by mtphoto at 12:19 AM on November 14, 2012

Some great suggestions I was aware of and others I'm checking out right now!

Going through the 'movie night' list, one favorite was Hugo. It's a movie that works on several different levels. One that my five year-old (a boy) asked to see again was Puss in Boots. And the Iron Giant had been recommended here before, and everyone enjoyed it (although our three year-old doesn't like movies in general).
posted by scooterdog at 3:39 AM on November 14, 2012

Although it's somewhat faith-based (Christian), preschoolers will watch Veggie Tales for hours on end.
posted by kuanes at 3:52 AM on November 14, 2012

A couple I forgot:
- the 1967, double-Oscar'ed Doctor Doolittle
- the collective DVD Masters Of Russian Animation, Vol 1
- the somewhat more rare DVD of Te Wei's Chinese Classical Animation

and: Disney's Aristocats and Fantasia (and even Fantasia 2000).
posted by progosk at 6:28 AM on November 14, 2012

Harry Nilsson's The Point, lots of great world play and catchy songs.
Here's a preview on youTube
posted by at at 7:15 AM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

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