Documentaries for a 5 year old. Help!
June 29, 2020 12:59 PM   Subscribe

My 5 year old son gets up earlier than his brother and we have been watching “the planets” with Brian Fox. We LOVED it. It had a lot of images and scenes of planetary events and worlds and Brian Cox explained things very well. There were hardly any professors speaking in their office. I would love to know any ideas you all might have. Is there something like this about trains or dinosaurs? Any other interesting subjects? Any more about planets? Any animal ones that tell more of a story?
posted by pairofshades to Education (11 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
We really enjoy the monkey and penguin documentaries on Disney+. They are very engaging and take place out in the field.
posted by melodykramer at 1:05 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]

I don’t know how readily available they are to stream anymore, but David Tenant narrated a series of penguin documentaries (maybe for the BBC?) a few years ago that were *so much fun*! No dry science, just the stories of penguins as they go about their day. I think one was called “Penguins: Spy in the Huddle”?
posted by okayokayigive at 1:07 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]

Spy in the Wild is a great nature series, where each episode tells a story.
posted by statsgirl at 1:16 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]

You might like Walking with Dinosaurs (David Attenborough, 2013) if you can get hold of it. Pretty much anything Attenborough from the last decade is good on wildlife, Blue Planet and Blue Planet 2 are outstanding if you are at all interested in the ocean, Planet Earth II has an infamous chase sequence involving snakes and iguanas which is nightmare fuel for me.

Brian Cox has made a number of documentaries similar-ish to The Planets. The best are Wonders of the Solar System, Wonders of the Universe, Wonders of Life.
posted by plonkee at 1:18 PM on June 29

There's also a 5-episode series called The Planets (from NOVA) which is available on Amazon Prime video. Had really great graphics, good voiceover, not too many talking heads. And the talking head people they did have were mostly really engaging. My four-year-old son loved it!
posted by number9dream at 1:21 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]

My friend’s six-year-old is obsessed with David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 1:35 PM on June 29

My four-year-old loves the Youtube series "Blue World" which is about a diver exploring various parts of the ocean. She has learned so much from it!
posted by chaiminda at 1:41 PM on June 29

PBS EONS DINOSAURS You may find this series helpful.
posted by effluvia at 2:21 PM on June 29

These are a bit more along the lines of engineering:

How It's Made (Science Channel / Discovery) which has the spectacular quality of being short five minute segments about how various things are made

Extreme Trains (History Channel) was a short-lived series that talks about different kinds of trains

World's Toughest Fixes (Nat Geo) was a short-lived series that shows how various immense structures are fixed

Modern Marvels (A&E Networks) has a massive catalog of interesting shows

Not all of these will be captivating to a five year old for the entire show, but they are good brain food.
posted by jgreco at 2:36 PM on June 29

PBS has a three part series (two episodes are out) called Prehistoric Road Trip. I don't know how much it'll appeal to a five year old but Emily Grasslie has a fun TV presence and there's a lot more footage of her climbing around in dig sites than talking to people in offices. It's available on PBS and apparently Prime. It's also got great footage of the scenery in Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas for those of us who've had to settle for traveling via TV.

The documentary Babies is an interesting film about four babies born around the same time in San Francisco, Namibia, Mongolia, and Toyko and how they grow up.

PBS Eons is also available on YouTube.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 2:40 PM on June 29 [3 favorites]

Would informative adventure series also work? I had a class of 7-8 year olds whose dinosaur knowledge was super impressive and they watched Dino Dan and Dino Dana. They *really* knew their dinosaurs. I fondly remember one of my kiddies having a quiet word after we made up sentences describing a dinosaur that totally looked like a T-Rex to me. "I didn't want to embarrass the other kids but this isn't a T-Rex," he said. He proceeded to explain how the tail length and some other features didn't match up to the description and explaining which dinosaur our picture actually showed.
posted by mkdirusername at 4:54 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]

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