ABC’s of Homeschooling ~ Documentaries

Oh, Netflix. I adore Netflix (even after the price hike – we use it enough we’re still getting a good deal.)

One of the many things we watch on Netflix are documentaries. I adore documentaries. So do my kids. Mostly.

We use documentaries to supplement in areas we’re already learning about, learn about new things we’re just curious about, or my favorite-for educational “entertainment” on teacher sick days. Yes. You heard that right. Having a sick day? Pick out a documentary. Everyone find a cushion, open your ears, clothes your mouths and enjoy!

Documentaries can be a bit tricky though… you never know when you’re going to end up with a total dud. But mostly they’re good. We’re only on Week 8 of school but we’ve already watched many this year. Here’s a list of some of the things we’ve watched (or have in our queue, I’ll mark them.)

Science & Nature Documentaries

Saving the Ocean: Shark Reef

Secrets Beneath the Ice: Nova

National Geographic: Seas Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure

Deadly Dozen (A series of episodes about the deadliest animals on each continent.)

The Vanishing of the Bees (I’ve watched it, it’s in our queue for the kids to watch.)

Tornado Intercept (In the queue.)

National Geographic: Incredible Human Machine (I’ve watched it, it’s in the queue for the kids.)

Coral Reef Adventure (In the queue.)

400 Years of the Telescope (In the queue.)

Disney Nature: Oceans (In the queue.)

God of Wonders (In the queue.)


Historical Documentaries

National Geographic: Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West

America: The Story of  Us

National Geographic: Jamestown

The Great Ships: The Pirate Ships

China’s Terracotta Warriors

Greeks: Crucible of Civilization (In the queue.)

National Geographic: Alexander the Great (In the queue.)

Wild China (In the queue.)

Discover Atlas: China Revealed (In the queue.)

Ancient Mysteries: Forbidden City -Dynasty & Destiny (In the queue.)

The Revolution (In the queue.)


Biographical Documentaries

George Washington: American Revolutionary

In Search of Beethoven (In the queue.)

Marco Polo (In the queue.)

Here I Stand: Martin Luther (In the queue.)

History’s Mysteries: Lincoln: The Untold Stories (In the queue.)

The Lincoln Assassination (In the queue.)

Paul Revere: The Midnight Rider (In the queue.)


Previously Watched in 2011:

National Geographic: Secret Yosemite

The March of the Penguins

National Geographic: Ultimate Cat

The Blue Planet: Seas of Life: Ocean World/Frozen Seas

The Blue Planet: Seas of Life: Open Oceans/The Deep

The Blue Planet: Seas of Life: Seasonal Seas/ Coral Seas

The Blue Planet: Seas of Life: Tidal Seas/Coasts

The Natural History of the Chicken

Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution

Science of Dogs

Atlas: Uncovering Earth: Atlantis

Esther: The Bible

National Geographic: Great Pyramid

National Geographic: Egypt: Pharoahs


As you can see, we really use Netflix to our advantage. Our favorites are clearly science and nature related – Little Prince will choose shows about animals without any prompting whatsoever – Deadly Dozen is one of his favorites! We also do like some history (though the kids are generally more skeptical of those because we’ve seen a few dry and boring ones!) We also like to watch shows that show you how things are made or work or done, like How It’s Made, Storm Chasers or Dirty Jobs. We’re either very curious over here or we just like to know many things to be know-it-alls. 😉


Don’t knock’em ’til you’ve tried’em. ; )

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This is a part of the ABC’s of Homeschooling series by Dawn @ The Momma Knows. You can find all of my ABC posts here.

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November 3, 2011 6:08 am

Sounds like a great variety of documentaries. My daughters and I like watching them as well. We have satellite tv as well and some of the educational channels have excellent programs that enrich our science, history, and general knowledge subject areas.

November 3, 2011 8:39 am
Reply to  Ann

One of the things I like about Netflix is that we can watch things that came on channels we didn’t get (Animal Planet) back when we DID have Dish Network Satellite. I always wanted to have those channels but never wanted to pay for the higher plan so I did without and now I get to watch some of those shows. =)

Michelle @ Changed By The Maker
Michelle @ Changed By The Maker
November 3, 2011 12:08 pm

Great list! I’m going to look up that Jamestown one right now! Thanks!

November 4, 2011 10:18 pm

We used the Jamestown documentary to supplement what we’d learned in the “Story of Us” documentary. We’ve done that several times along the way.. “I think I’d like us to learn a little bit more about that before moving on.. let’s see what we can find.” =) We watched the Lewis and Clark one for the same reason. =)

November 3, 2011 11:47 pm

We are great fans of documentaries, too! I find that my kids (like most homeschool kids) learn better with a more adult approach that is present in documentaries. Of course, my kids will watching almost anything science or history based…

November 4, 2011 10:20 pm
Reply to  Naomi

We definitely prefer science but I’m trying to foster an enjoyment for history, too. My oldest actually enjoyed the segment of “Story of Us” that we watched today.. she said, “There’s no war or killing in this one.” 😉

November 4, 2011 6:50 pm

Amber, I love documentaries too! We’ve also watched a number of the ones in your list (gotta LOVE Netflix). And thank you, because I plan on using your list for future reference! LOL

November 4, 2011 10:21 pm
Reply to  Dawn

Go for it!!
We are so spoiled with Netflix and the internet… what would we do without it? =p

April 6, 2013 8:35 pm

Thank you so much for this post. I found your website by putting “netflix documentaries for kids” in my search engine. Two years ago, I discovered one of America’s most forgotten heroes and I have to share about him because there is a netflix documentary about him and his life serves as such a role model for young people. The documentary will be too slow for young children; however, if the parents watch it, you can then teach the basics about him to your kids. There are children’s books about him on and he is also in the excellent… Read more »

April 29, 2013 2:12 pm

Thank you so much for this list! My little mister is home sick from school today and too pitiful to do anything but lie on the couch. I found this while I was trying to make sure he was getting something a little more educational than “Dinosaur Train,” and I will be referring to it often.

Amber Oliver
Amber Oliver
April 30, 2013 4:30 pm
Reply to  Meghan

You’re welcome. =)

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