Family movie night happens a lot around here, (mostly because we don't have cable or satellite) and we are suckers for a great comedy but I love when I can combine my passion for our planet with a great family friendly movie!
When we know better we can do better, and there is no greater place to start than with our children!
Here are my top movie picks for teaching our kids about important environmental issues:
1) The Lorax has to be our favourite on this list, we've watched it so many times and it never gets old. It's great for little ones, with lots of bright colours, fun music and action to keep their little eyes glued to the screen. I love that it helps kids to understand the difference between need & greed. This movie touches on consumerism, marketing, fast fashion, deforestation, pollution, air quality and bravery when young Ted stands up for what's right. Who doesn't love Dr. Seuss? When you combine that whimsy with Zac Efron and a catchy song & dance, it's a win-win scenario! Just a little Cat in the Hat humor for you ;)
2) Wall-E is such a great movie for the whole family, especially for older kids. The beginning is a little bit slow, showing a devasted post-apocalyptic earth, with Wall-E set to clean it up. The world has been deemed inhabitable for more than 700 years and the human race has lost bone density, living off of nutrition shakes while being entertained by screens and everyone has forgotten how to communicate with each other. It gets really interesting once Wall-E boards the Axiom and joins up with Eve and the two set out on a mission to bring people back to Earth. Covering topics like waste & recycling, plant life, obesity, fitness & nutrition, marketing, relationships & communication, this movie is a great conversation starter for your older children!
3) Yogi Bear has a classic family movie vibe, and we just love Anna Faris, plus Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake are in this movie! Only Yogi Bear & Boo Boo are animated in this family movie so it's much easier to spot the environmental lessons here. Deforestation, greed and protecting wildlife are the main topics and they do everything they can, including bringing the community together, to create awareness and help save the national park.
4) Rio 1 & 2 are really fun to watch, with vibrant colours and great music, the little ones will love these movies! Protecting endangered species seemed to be a more popular topic in the 90's, while now we're more focused on waste reduction, it's much easier for kids to understand the cause and effect by our garbage, pollution, deforestation, & water use when you discuss the animals that live in our world and the places they call home. They'll fall in love with Blu & Jewel and their story of protecting their species and the land they are from.
5) Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 1 & 2 are very entertaining family movies! While not initially focused on environmental issues these movies bring up great topics to discuss with your children, like how pollution can affect our weather patterns, what food supply issues we face today, what buying and supporting local means to towns who rely on a specific industry (like fishing) and how technology (and greed) can not only shape our careers & our futures but our planet too, for good or bad.
6) Finding Nemo, of course! Who doesn't love this movie! This is a great one for discussing the state of our oceans, the mass fishing industries, how garbage & pollution affects sea life and it definitely has an emphasis on friendships & family. The next time you watch Finding Nemo, ask your little ones how they feel about the plastic & garbage that ends up in our Oceans, what that means for fish & other ocean life and what ways you can reduce your waste at home, how you can learn more about where your food comes from and how you can help educate others in your community.
You can also watch Hoot, Over the Hedge, Fly Away Home (who remember this one? I loved it!) Free Willy, Fern Gully, Mr. Popper's Penguins, there are so many great movies with environmental lessons!