Showing thought-provoking films at home or during class can be a super-effective way to teach children about animal rights issues – not to mention give you a little break! Whether you plan a full-fledged lesson around one of these films or just need to fill an hour or two, the following options are sure to get kids thinking and inspire them to have compassion and take action for animals.
For children in kindergarten through to sixth standard, check out the following kid-friendly options:
Finding Nemo: Disney+ Hotstar
Fish belong in the ocean where they can swim freely – not in a tank or on someone’s plate. This fun animated adventure film follows a father fish on a mission to find his son, Nemo, who has been “fishnapped” by divers who want to display him in a tank. The film illustrates how fish feel pain, want to be free, and love their families – just like all other animals do. It even includes one of our favourite phrases: “Fish are friends, not food.”
Charlotte’s Web: Prime Video (Rent)
Wilbur the pig is in danger of being slaughtered until his friend Charlotte the spider steps in to show everyone just how remarkable he really is. Charlotte’s Web is a classic story that has inspired millions of people around the world to make like Charlotte and take a closer look at the animals they consider to be “food”.
The Fox and the Hound: Disney+ Hotstar
The Fox and the Hound tackles the cruel issue of hunting and shows that it’s no fun for the animals involved. Follow Tod the fox and Copper the dog as they form a friendship, despite the fact that society tries to make them enemies.
Babe: Apple iTunes (Rent) YouTube (Rent)
This is a classic animal rights movie. Babe is a heartwarming tale of a pig who proves that his life is worth more than a holiday meal. Taken away from his mother on a factory farm when he is only a tiny piglet, Babe is adopted into a family of dogs who are used to herd sheep on a farm. He shows everyone on the farm just how smart and sweet pigs can be when they’re only given the chance – and this film is sure to show young viewers the same.
Shark Tale: Prime Video (Rent)
Shark Tale shows us that all animals have feelings – even those humans tend to be afraid of! It features a vegetarian character: a shark named Lenny, who refuses to be a killer and teaches his fellow sharks to be compassionate.
Marmaduke: Prime Video
The “purebred” dogs in this movie keep the dog park segregated – that is, until lovable mutt pup Marmaduke steps in to show them just how remarkable adopted dogs can be. Spark a discussion about the importance of adopting animals with this fun film.
Free Birds: YouTube (Rent)
This Thanksgiving-themed flick tells the story of two spunky turkeys who travel back in time to the very first Thanksgiving to get turkeys OFF the menu. Free Birds draws attention to the plight of turkeys used for food and presents a wonderful opportunity to talk to kids about turkey-free holiday meals.
Finding Dory – Disney+ Hotstar
This story teaches how fish suffer when confined to tanks. Dory is a wide-eyed, blue tang fish who experiences memory loss every 10 seconds or so. Having been separated from her parents as a child, she embarks upon a journey to find her family and save her mom and dad from captivity.
Rio – Disney+ Hotstar
Nothing is more essential to a bird than freedom of flight, and Rio teaches children how caged birds lose the ability to fly. Unlike the stars of this movie, however, most caged birds will never know freedom. For them, lockdown is for life.
Bee Movie – Netflix
Watch this movie to find out what’s wrong with consuming honey. Barry the Bee learns that humans have been stealing and eating honey for centuries, and he soon realises that his true calling is to get justice for his kind by suing humanity for theft.
Madagascar – Netflix
This movie tells us how zoos make animals’ lives miserable. The story is about a group of friends who have spent all their life in a New York zoo but end up in the jungles of Madagascar and must adjust to living in nature.