Written by: Wesley Normington, Executive Director
Life has been disrupted, altered, stalled. Work is more stressful. Schooling for my kids is intermittent.
But, my family is safe and healthy. I consider myself very lucky.
These days I try to focus on the positives. For example, more time with the kids inevitably means more time watching movies which has, thankfully, catapulted us beyond animated films and shows.
I’ve been able to introduce them to Indiana/Dr. Jones, Frodo, Peter Venkman, and the McFlys.
When it comes to school work, we try to enforce it as much as I can, but it’s tough. So, when I’m exhausted but want something stimulating for the kids – I switch off the lights and put on a movie (even in the middle of the day!).
Thinking back to my youth, we watched movies in school related to topics being explored in the classroom – Romeo and Juliet or To Kill a Mockingbird or…Encino Man (not sure why we got to watch that one).
So, I’ve taken this opportunity to watch some great films and shows that also share lessons and themes related to the environment. The following list is what I and my kids found interesting, entertaining and sometimes inspiring.
Hope this helps!
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Netflix)
I have to lead off with the movie based on the individual and achievements that inspired so much of what Relay does!
The film centres on the story of William Kamkwamba, a young boy growing up in Malawi. Despite his family struggling with poverty and the insecurity of farming, William retains a desire to go to school and express his scientific ingenuity. A severe famine inspires William to build a wind turbine out of parts he finds in a junkyard.
The film does contain some mature themes related to the social upheaval and desperation in Malawi at the time and could be upsetting for some younger viewers. But my kids were really engaged and we still talk about it weeks after watching.
Big Little Farm (Netflix)
Now, my 6 year old son was able to deal with and process the tougher scenes in The Boy who Harnessed the Wind, but when a baby goat has to be put down in Big Little Farm, he just couldn’t and only watched the first half. However, my 9 year old watched it all and really enjoyed it.
What kid doesn’t love a farm story? The doc does a good job of keeping a swift pace and the camera’s eye on adorable animals while showing the trials and challenges of running a big farm.
Kids will be engaged and definitely learn a thing or two.
Absurd Planet (Netflix)
Simultaneously celebrating and poking fun at the wild and strange that nature has to offer, it’s a light take on the Planet Earth and Our Planet format.
The sense of humour is pretty much perfect for 8 – 12 years olds but still entertaining for adults. Lots of fun.
Disney Nature (Disney+)
This is cheating a bit as it includes multiple titles. Be it “Chimpanzees”, “Bears”, or “Monkey Kingdom”, our kids have watched them all multiple times. We’ve found these especially of interest for the under 9 crowd. They all follow a similar formula – focusing on a young animal in a group and anthropomorphizing them the way a Disney animated film typically would. They build a narrative around the central characters filled with humour, tension and closure. A familiar framework kids will find comforting and keep them engaged.