Now is a brilliant time to get small children interested in natural history. New TV series Planet Earth II and Andy’s Baby Animals combined with museum visits get my 3-year-old daughter Tilly hooked.

Planet Earth II

I’ve been bowled over by the breathtaking footage in the new BBC series Planet Earth II and it turns out it can even impress our normally hard to impress three-year-old. Before you ask, no, we’ve not shown Tilly the terrifying snakes episode. We have enough issues with nightmares without visions of pursuit by multiple slithering would-be assailants adding to the mix.

The snakes clip from Planet Earth 2, which we won’t be showing to our daughter.

Happily the other episodes have been pretty worry-free. One involved several ibex successful avoiding a hapless fox whose lunch plans were ultimately foiled. Contains scenes of mild peril at worst. There is a (unrelated) dead fox corpse being picked over by Eagles but Tilly simply found it “disgusting” without being unduly bothered otherwise. In contrast the boogeying bears have been a great hit.

Andy’s Baby Animals

The new CBeebies series Andy’s Baby Animals also draws on some footage from Planet Earth II and provides an easily accessible entry point for young children to understand the animal world. Tilly loves baby animals and also enjoys Andy’s various programmes on CBeebies, so this new series was always going to be a winner. Andy’s programme also featured the ibex along with many other cute animals not seen in Planet Earth II.

Attenborough on demand

Just when we feared we were going to run out of episodes to watch, we discovered a double-treasure trove of David Attenborough goodness. Streaming services feature several series including the original Planet Earth, while Galapagos and other series are currently showing on various channels and are available on demand too.

Making the most of this newly discovered interest in the natural world, we’ve recently visited the Natural History Museum in London and found Tilly full of questions on everything from dung beetles to diplodocus. Rather than dragging a bored small child around galleries, this was suddenly a lot of fun and brilliantly rewarding for both of us. I’m already planning a visit to our location branch of the Natural History Museum in Tring, Hertfordshire.

Given some of the ‘choice’ programming Tilly chooses to watch on YouTube and TV (think surprise eggs and pink ponies), this sudden interest in quality natural history programmes is more than a little welcome. Hopefully soon she’ll be wowing her preschool class with some of her new-found knowledge!

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One thought on “Natural history for preschoolers

  • 11 December 2016 at 9:02 am

    We’ve been watching it too. The funny thing is that these BBC nature docs are much more likely to give the kid nightmares than any of the age inappropriate movies I show her.


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