Sick of Frozen and Ben & Holly? Want some peace and quiet without the guilt of using the TV as a babysitter? Here are 5 of the best factual programs for younger kids on Netflix that will keep them entertained while learning something in the process.
Not got Netflix? Watched all these and want more? See our list of more kids factual programmes on Amazon Instant.
The Short Game (PG: 90 minutes)
This award-winning family documentary follows the lives of eight of the best young golfers in the world as they train for – and compete in – the Junior Golf World Championships. From Anna Kournikova’s little brother who already plays Donald Trump’s course in Palm Beach, to working-class Amari ‘Tigress’ Avery, these little elite athletes come from a wide spectrum of backgrounds. Through interviews with the kids, their parents and coaches, it provides a fascinating but fun insight into the world of elite junior sport, the quest to be the next Tiger Woods and what really drives true sporting greatness.
Walking with Dinosaurs (PG: 30 minute episodes)
Not to be confused with the recent film of the same name, this BBC masterpiece took two years to make and, even though first screened back in 1999, remains the definitive dino-documentary. A series of six short episodes it shows the Earth through the eyes of the dinosaurs and teaches kids everything they could ever want to know about our Jurassic (and Cretaceous and Triassic) predecessors.
Age 6+ (theoretically suitable for younger kids too, but does contain violent and moderately bloody scenes of the dinosaurs attacking and eating each other, which may upset younger or more sensitive viewers).
Planet Earth (Unclassified: 50 minute episodes)
The stuff that every good winter Sunday afternoon should be made of, it was almost impossible to pick just one of these groundbreaking BBC natural history programs to include. (The equally brilliant Blue Planet, Life and Frozen Planet are also available on Netflix). With stunning HD footage of polar bears on melting ice caps, elephants migrating to Okavango Delta, prancing birds of paradise in Papua New Guinea and emperor penguins in Antartica, it’s an absolute must-watch for kids with even a passing interest in the natural world.
Age 3+ (although the scenes of animals hunting and killing their prey may call for some hiding behind cushions).
The story of Kevin Clash, the puppeteer and voice of Sesame Street’s legendary Elmo. Inspired by the Muppets, Clash decided at high school to pursue his dream as a puppeteer (despite teasing and opposition) and eventually caught the attention of his hero, Jim Henson. While its core messages are never far from the surface – follow your dreams and all the hard work will pay off – Clash is a great role model and the film is brilliantly light-hearted, warm and inspiring.
First Position (U: 94 minutes)
A must watch for families with budding dance stars, First Position chronicles six young ballet dancers training for Youth America Grand Prix, one of the world’s most prestigious ballet competitions where they stand to gain sought-after scholarships and places at top dance schools. Visually stunning with, of course, superb dance scenes, it won loads of awards at the film festivals when released in 2011 and manages to create such a bond between the viewer and the dancer that you’ll be clapping and cheering as if you know them by the end.