At this point with a full month of staying at home under our belts-I was going to lose my last good marble if I heard my 9-year-old daughter cue up the Jessie theme song one more time. She was too young to watch the show when it was on-air live and she’s now watched it (over and over) approximately 582 times.
It was time for a change.
I wanted us to get a little education under our belts (even though she’s currently on spring break), so I proposed a documentary. Knowing my child, I knew it would need to be a doc that covered a subject matter she liked. In steps DisneyNature to the rescue.
We started with Penguins (2019). Following the hijinks of Adélie penguin Steve, the film is narrated by Ed Helms and shows the incredibly harsh and hardy lives of penguins in Antarctica. Steve the penguin is a bit of a goofball and Helms’s narration is totally perfect for the antics of the Adélie colony.
Penguins covers Steve’s foray into finding a mate, helping to raise 2 chicks and avoiding predators like leopard seals and orcas. It’s surprisingly touching, has breathtakingly beautiful cinematography and an absolute star in Steve the penguin. The kid and I were enthralled.
Dear daughter and I travelled from the snowy, windswept barren of Antarctica to the varied landscapes of Asia in Born in China (2016). Covering multiple seasons and following 3 families, the direction jumps from the high, cold steppes, to the lush interior forests. In the forests, YaYa and MeiMei (mother-daughter panda) were a comedic duo; MeiMei determined to climb a tree and persistently rolling down hills, kept us on stitches.
On the steppes, Dawa the snow leopard and her 2 cubs were an emotional watch for us. After interlopers hoarded in her territory, Dawa was forced to hunt on the hills themselves. Chasing after a herd of yak, she was gored by a mother protecting her calf. Fatally injured, the final shot of Dawa is her figure partially buried in the snow. On a somewhat happier note, her 2 cubs appeared to survive and grow. They were seen during the end credits and had filled out considerably.
The final furry family profiled were TaoTao the golden monkey and his troop. As a 2 year old juvenile, TaoTao was somewhat pushed aside for his newborn sister. Fleeing to a group of all male monkeys dubbed “The Lost Boys,” TaoTao ends up on the outside with his bio-family. In trying to get back in with his father Rooster, nothing works until he saves his baby sister from a goshawk. The power of family overcomes pride (and testosterone) and the troop huddles together to stave off the freezing winter snows.
The challenges of quarantine with kids can be a bit easier with these educational (and sometimes emotional) documentaries. Add in a bit more learning opportunities and discover facts about the total population of snow leopards or the diet of golden monkeys. Keep your kids engaged and their minds active and we’ll through this without our last good nerve being stepped on.
Or at least not having to listen to the opening sounds of Jessie for the 876th time.
All DisneyNature documentaries can be found on Disney+.