30 Great Movies That Teach Kids About Climate Change & the Environment

Arctic Tale is the story of a polar bear cub and a baby walrus surviving in the face of climate change. Photo courtesy of National Geographic Films
Arctic Tale is the story of a polar bear cub and a baby walrus surviving in the face of climate change. Photo courtesy of National Geographic Films
3/12/24 - By Amelia Eigerman

Climate anxiety is real! Climate change and environmental disasters have become part of the world our kids are growing up in, and a pretty scary part. One way to help kids understand both the issues and how they can actually affect change is to start a conversation in an entertaining way.

From flicks with nature themes to climate change documentaries, these environmental films will get kids thinking, talking, and interested. Grab some popcorn, cozy up on the couch, and dive into a world of eco-friendly entertainment.

If you’re looking for even more movies to watch with your budding cinephile, why not check out our list of the 75 best movies for kids? Or, if these movies and shows inspire them to take action, check out our Earth Kids Guide, packed with ways kids can help save the planet.


Best Movies with Environmental Themes for Kids

1. Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth

Recommended Age: 4 & up
This beautifully animated short film, available on Apple TV, is based on Oliver Jeffers' book of the same name. It gently introduces young viewers to the wonders of the Earth and the importance of caring for our home.

2. Happy Feet (2006)

Recommended Age: 4 & up
A jukebox musical with environmental themes and adorable dancing penguins: What’s not to love? Happy Feet follows the journey of Mumble, a tap-dancing penguin. Amidst the lively dance sequences, the film subtly addresses the impact of overfishing on penguin populations.

3. Moana (2016)

Recommended Age: 4 & up
Moana's journey across the ocean teaches children about the delicate balance between humans and nature, emphasizing the importance of respecting and protecting our oceans. Just get ready for “Shiny” to be the soundtrack of your life for about a month after watching.

4. Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (2012)

Recommended Age: 5 & up
Enter the world of Dr. Suess in this whimsical yet powerful exploration of environmental conservation. From iconic musical numbers to a hopeful and empowering resolution, The Lorax has it all. (The book is on our list of banned children's books you should read today!)

5. Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)

Recommended Age: 6 & up
Join Manny, Sid, and Diego in this entertaining sequel as they embark on a journey to escape the melting Ice Age. While not technically about modern-day climate change, this goofy animated film provides a lighthearted approach to discussing climate change and its effects on our planet.


Great Movies That Teach Kids About Climate Change & the Environment: WALL-E
WALL-E draws a parallel between consumerism and climate change. Photo courtesy of Pixar

6. WALL-E (2008)

Recommended Age: 7 & up
You’re guaranteed to fall in love with WALL-E, the cutest waste-collecting robot you’ve ever seen. The little robot raises questions about the consequences of overconsumption and pollution—and looks good doing it.

7. FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)

Recommended Age: 7 & up
Set in a magical rainforest, this animated film educates kids about deforestation and the importance of preserving biodiversity. 

8. Hoot (2006)

Recommended Age: 8 & up
Embark on a heartwarming journey with Hoot, where three young friends take a stand to save endangered owls from habitat destruction. This family-friendly film encourages young viewers to discover the joys of friendship and the importance of protecting our planet.

9. Pom Poko (1995)

Recommended Age: 8 & up
This Studio Ghibli film follows a group of shapeshifting raccoons as they try to save their habitat from urban development. It's a unique and culturally rich exploration of environmentalism and a must-watch for fans of animated films.

10. The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021)

Recommended Age: 9 & up
This heartwarming family comedy addresses serious questions about the impact of technology on the environment, encouraging kids to think about the consequences of a tech-dominated world.

11. Princess Mononoke (1997)

Recommended Age: 10 & up
Studio Ghibli films often explore themes of nature, pollution, and balance, and Princess Mononoke is no exception. The film’s fantastic setting provides a stunning backdrop for very real conversations about coexistence and the impact of industrialization on the environment.

12. Avatar (2009)

Recommended Age: 10 & up
While your kids may not appreciate the groundbreaking special effects, they’re sure to be drawn into the magical world of James Cameron’s Avatar. The lush world of Pandora is sure to spark discussions about the interconnectedness of all living things and the consequences of human actions.

March of the Penguins: :Great Movies That Teach Kids About Climate Change & the Environment:March of the Penguins
March of the Penguins chronicles the journey that emperor penguins make to mate.  Photo courtesy of Warner Home Video

Documentaries about Climate Change

13. To The Arctic (2012)

Recommended Age: 7 & up
Immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes of the Arctic and witness the challenges faced by its inhabitants due to climate change. Narrated by Meryl Streep, this IMAX documentary is a visual feast.

14. Arctic Tale (2007)

Recommended Age: 7 & up
Follow the journeys of a walrus and a polar bear in this heartwarming documentary that sheds light on the impact of climate change on Arctic wildlife.

15. March of the Penguins (2005)

Recommended Age: 8 & up
Narrated by Morgan Freeman, this documentary offers an intimate look at the lives of emperor penguins and the challenges they face due to climate change.

16. I am Greta (2020)

Recommended Age: 10 & up
Follow the inspiring journey of Greta Thunberg, a young environmental activist, as she takes on world leaders to address the urgent issue of climate change. This documentary is sure to fire up your little activist.

17. Jane (2017)

Recommended Age: 10 & up
Learn all about the life and work of primatologist Jane Goodall. The documentary highlights her dedication to wildlife conservation and the importance of protecting the natural world. 

18. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

Recommended Age: 10 & up
Former Vice President Al Gore presents a compelling argument about the impact of global warming, urging viewers to take action to mitigate climate change. While not the most modern climate documentary, An Inconvenient Truth is a part of climate-activism history.

19. YOUTH v GOV The Film

Recommended Age: 12 & up
This documentary follows the landmark lawsuit where young people sue the US government for failing to address the environmental crisis, showcasing the power of youth activism.

20. Fantastic Fungi (2019)

Recommended Age: 12 & up
Explore the fascinating world of fungi and their crucial role in the ecosystem. This documentary encourages a deeper understanding of nature's interconnected web.

21. Before the Flood (2016)

Recommended Age: 12 & up
Leonardo DiCaprio travels the globe to explore the effects of climate change and advocates for sustainable solutions, making it an informative and engaging documentary for young viewers.

22. Time to Choose (2016)

Recommended Age: 12 & up
This documentary examines the critical choices facing our planet in the face of climate change, offering hope and solutions for a sustainable future.

23. Tomorrow (2017)

Recommended Age: 12 & up
This optimistic documentary explores various initiatives around the world addressing environmental challenges, inspiring viewers to take positive action.

Environmental TV Shows & Series

24. Hey Duggee!

Recommended Age: 3 & up
Duggee, a lovable dog, leads a group of enthusiastic animal friends in various activities that encourage teamwork and an understanding of the natural world.

25. Scout & The Gumboot Kids

Recommended Age: 3 & up
This delightful series follows Scout, a curious mouse, and the Gumboot Kids as they solve nature mysteries, fostering a love for the outdoors and environmental awareness.

26. Wonder Pets

Recommended Age: 4 & up
Join the Wonder Pets on their rescue missions to save animals in trouble, promoting empathy and care for the wellbeing of animals

27. Octonauts

Recommended Age: 4 & up
Join the Octonauts on exciting underwater adventures as they explore the oceans, introducing young audiences to marine life and the importance of ocean conservation.

28. Nature Cat

Recommended Age: 5 & up
Follow Nature Cat and his friends as they embark on outdoor adventures, promoting an appreciation for nature and wildlife.

29. Penguin Town

Recommended Age: 6 & up
This heartwarming series on Netflix follows the lives of penguins in a South African town, offering a glimpse into their daily challenges and highlighting the importance of conservation.

30. David Attenborough’s Wild City

Recommended Age: 7 & up
Renowned naturalist David Attenborough explores the unique wildlife found in urban environments, teaching kids about the resilience of nature in cities.

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