Adventurous Movies, Episodes, & Learning Shows for Little Boys

Adventurous Movies and Shows for Boys

I haven’t watched many Barbie movies in my life. After growing up with three brothers, I now find myself with three little boys of my own to raise. This means there’s a lot of “Can we watch a fighting movie?” and “Does it have superheroes?” questions that pop up when I pull my movie case out.

Speaking of my movie case… Here’s how I organize my DVDs. We have a case for adult movies and a case for children’s movies.


Nice and simple, and it takes up so much less space than having all the cases on a shelf somewhere.

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When I’m choosing a kids’ show, I don’t want it to be a waste of time. I want them to learn something. Sometimes that may be math or language skills, but other times, it may be character development or the reminder that good always conquers over evil. Boys, especially, thrive on action and adventure. So let’s give it to them, and use it to teach them wonderful things!

Save the princess! Protect the kingdom! Slay the dragon! Be kind to others. And maybe learn some math, history, or science while you’re at it.

What it takes for me to avoid a show? Usually, the primary reason is that the main character is a bad example to my children, but there can be other reasons too. Some common complaints of mine are when shows…

  1. Show the main characters disrespecting/disobeying their parents and getting away with it/Portray the kid characters as brilliant geniuses and the parents as bumbling fools.
  2. Show the siblings or friends constantly bickering. (I want my children to be friends with each other!) 
  3. Making thievery (Aladdin), laziness (Garfield) or other immorality look funny or admirable.
  4. Too much crude humor (There are enough farting jokes around here as it is, thank you. We need no additional inspiration)
  5. Any annoying cultural propaganda… Like when animal lives are portrayed as being of MORE value than humanity (cough, Brother Bear, cough).
  6. The presence of ghosts/spirits/using magic to contact the dead as being friendly or harmless.

Movies are our modern day Storytellings, and STORIES CHANGE PEOPLE. STORIES TEACH PEOPLE. I want to be sure that’s for the better.

Firstly, let’s hit the academics…

LEARNING SHOWS (for great preschool supplementation and some guilt-free movie time):

LeapFrog’s Letter Factory (how both my boys learned all their letters and letter sounds by Age 2)* The Letter Factory is unfortunately not on Netflix, but is totally worth buying.

LeapFrog’s Word Factory (for once they know their letters)

LeapFrog’s Numbers Ahoy! (pirates and math, yay!)

LeapFrog’s Math Adventure to the Moon (space ships and math, hurrah!)

LeapFrog’s Let’s Go to School! (basic counting, letter review, calendar skills, and telling time all in one place)

Those have been my favorite LeapFrog episodes. Some of the other LeapFrog ones on Netflix are kind of boring/repetitive, but these usually go over wonderfully!

Blue’s Clues: Shapes and Colors 

Boz: Thank You God for Colors and Shapes (Boz is basically a Christianized Barney character, so presents the Colors/Shapes as gifts from God)

Boz: Thank You God for Friends and Helpers (good episodes on working hard and helping others)

The Magic School Bus (Digestive system, Solar System, Eco System… you name it! This kids’ science show is awesome.)

The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That ( Similar to the book series and informative too! If you like the hatted cat, then this show’s for you!)

Octonauts (This show is just too much fun to seem like an educational show, but it really, really is! I’ve learned so much about real sea creatures myself from this show, and so have my kids! Science for the win!)

Special Agent Oso (Portrays necessary life skills like shoe-tying or bed-making in an adventurous way!)

Super Why (Super heroes and early reading.)


Phineas And Ferb (Such a delight to kids and parents. Part of what I love, is that the brothers have a good relationship and are kind to their sister throughout it all (even though she’s always trying to bust them). Both Phineas and Ferb are respectful of their parents too, though the same cannot be said for their sister.)

Dinotrux (Another recent discovery. It has dinosaurs and trucks involved at the same time. That’s a guaranteed little boy audience right there.)

Puss in Boots (Because of the quirky plot lines… And the sword fighting… And the Antonio Banderas. Okay, my kids don’t really care about Antonio, but it makes it more fun for me)

Animal Mechanicals (Kinda lame graphics, but my boys love this show. Corny, mechanical characters and how they strrreeeech, fly, race and build to get stuff done. Nice and short, nine-minute episodes, and all the characters work together nicely!)


The Penguins of Madagascar (A recent favorite. So funny. So charming. Totally worth YOUR time, as well as your child’s)

Phineas and Ferb the Movie (watch the episodes first!)

Epic (This movie didn’t get enough press when it came out, but my boys love it. It can be a little intense, but there’s a lot of gorgeous scenery, self-sacrificial love displayed, awesome elf-like warriors fighting ugly bad guys, and the main character learns to respect her father by the end, which counts as a good moral lesson in my book)

Peabody and Sherman (Punny, clever, and adventurous. Good moral lessons and lots of peeks into history! Great fun)

Aristocats (I grew up on this one, and it remains a family classic. Just good, clean animal fun with great music)

Peter Pan (Another classic. It’s hard to outgrow this one.)

Ice Age (A cute tale of a few animals helping a baby find his family. Very, very witty, clean, and… the squirrel!)

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (If the presence of a ‘goddess’ as the bad character doesn’t bother you too much, Sinbad is a great, Swashbuckling fairytale where a thief learns how to grow in character and lay down his life for others. My biggest complaint? Marina should have totally chosen to marry Proteus. I mean, what was she thinking?!)

Prince of Egypt (Because it’s a ‘mostly correct’ version of a great bible story, and then… THE MUSIC. Garsh, the music, people! You can’t have your child grow up without that soundtrack in their lives.)

The Emperor’s New Groove (Because it’s hilarious. And because the main character learns how to think of others above himself. Also, it’s hilarious.)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (This is a very dramatic movie that can be intense at times, but so worth watching if your child can handle it. The main villain says he’s hunting down gypsies to ‘smite the wicked’ in the name of God, so that’s a downer, but you can point out to your child how hypocritical he’s being and how he’s definitely not acting like a Christian at all. It’s important to note that there is also a GOOD priest character in the movie, that saves Quasimodo’s life in the beginning (also in the name of God) and fights for his protection until the end. Also, the MUSIC IS AMAZZZZZING)

The Swan Princess (A classic prince-saves-the-princess tale, with wonderful music and witty dialogue)

Hoodwinked (Good music, clean fun)

The Incredibles (A family who bickers together quite a bit in the beginning, but learns to get along together by the end. Also, with super powers)

Finding Nemo (It’s bad to disobey your Daddy, boys. When Nemo did, he got kidnapped by a deep sea diver and his Dad had to go through a whoooole lotta work to get him back.)

So now it’s your turn… Any favorite shows or movies your family has been watching?

10 thoughts on “Adventurous Movies, Episodes, & Learning Shows for Little Boys

  1. Jen says:

    Yes!!! Haha my boys love all those shows/movies! And I’m right there with you about wanting what they watch to be educational, and the meaningless or just for fun movies to be watched less often. I feel like my boys watch too much TV as it is and I am trying to cut back a lot on that! Trying to get them to watch better shows. We also love veggie tales! 🙂 but otherwise you lists everything they love to watch and I love for them to watch 🙂

  2. Lydia F says:

    Wild Kratts had my kids pretending to be all kinds of exotic animals, and spouting facts about them too! and I find the Kratt brothers a likeable sort. It becomes animated after the intro. Love these recommendations! For oldies movies as our oldest hit 6 and could follow the slower paced story line, old yeller and a couple of the lassie movies have caught his attention and inspired his imagination. And he might be getting a dog for
    Christmas because of it. 😉

  3. AthenaC says:

    Another thing I love about Blue’s Clues is that the main human is a guy – women are already featured pretty prominently in shows geared toward little kids (almost a mother, aunt, or SAHM neighbor-type) so it’s good to see a guy in that role.

    As for our house, we had a lot of Food Network on for a while, mainly because my husband loved the background noise, and you don’t really have to worry about what your kids will see on that channel. (Ex. Oh no! Alton Brown is filleting a salmon! Rachael Ray is sauteeing vegetables! Avert your eyes, kids!)

    Favorite movies lately –

    – Turbo. Because “that snail is fast.” Cute story where persistence and encouragement save the day.

    – Home. Some good lessons to be compassionate and keep promises, but it’s pretty silly. Also, catchy music.

    – Pocoyo. TV series with an animated little boy and his friends (a duck, an elephant, a dog, an octopus, an alien, and a baby spider). What I like about the show is that it’s an all-white background and all the drama is in the characters’ faces – their emotional reactions and how Pocoyo learns to think about and help others.

  4. Amy says:

    Did you save the dvd cases or toss them?

  5. Courtney W says:

    I’m so excited that you are back to posting, Kelsey! I am a mother to 2 little girls and grew up in a family with 5 sister and 2 brothers, so I am on the opposite end of the gender spectrum.
    I love the movies/shows that you listed and really want to check out the leapfrog ones!
    I am right on board with on the criteria you set for what your kids consume via TV; as a mom to girls there are a couple more things that cause me to take a show or movie off my list:
    1. If it will encourage my daughters to develop an unhealthy body image (Little Mermaid is at the top of my list for this reason, but many of the other Disney movies fall into that category too. Aladdin definitely strikes out again on this account.)
    2. If the show teaches that divorce or alternative lifestyles are normal and good (sesame street for example)
    3. If it will awaken love in the hearts of my girls before the proper time. I have not decided exactly what movies this will mean I don’t show them, but I do think that growing up on a Disney movie diet got me longing for romance much too early.

    Shows that I like:
    Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
    My 2 year old LOVES this show and I really like that Daniel is respectful to his parents and kind to his friends

    Dora’s cousin Diego has his own series of shows and they are super educational about animals. I also love that he and his sister work together and treat each other like friends.

    Thanks for posting, Kelsey!

  6. Heidi says:

    Love this list! We do enjoy the Curious George movie (the first one, with Will Ferrell, where George actually behaves like a monkey and not a person and is just cute).
    Callan loves Despicable Me, also: while he may learn a little rough housing from the Minions, I love the adoption theme and portrayal of parenthood as a desirable, sacrificial, good thing.
    Lastly, YES to the Letter Factory! Our library has at least 3 copies, so if you can’t afford to buy it just yet, renting it is the next best thing. 😉

  7. Jody says:

    My girls love Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Doc McStuffins, Curious George ( the episodes at the farm) Cat in the Hat Knows, Wild Kratts, Super Why, Turbo, Boz. There are other shows they want to watch but I limit it because I don’t like something about it. Both my girls like Sofia the First but the sister Amber acts spoiled and rude plus a lot of magic. It is harder to find cartoons that are good for older kids. My 12 yr old son has been made fun of because he doesn’t watch most cartoons/ shows for his ago group. He understand that I still expect him to reminded of a life lesson or learn something in an TV he watches. He has learned to pick and choose wisely.

  8. Love the Leap Frog movies/shows. We got lots of them out of the library and really enjoyed them. My son loved Curious George so we have lots of those DVDs and it seems that even now that he is almost 7, we are still pulling up things that George taught us. He doesn’t really like movies but we have watched the George movies and Cars and Planes. The other one that has a lot of friendship and difference between pretend and reality is Bolt. He took to that quickly. My son liked most of the PBS shows like Wild Kratts and Peg +Cat.

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