Discover this beautifully filmed series that continues the Disney tradition of promoting the wonders of the natural world.
This is an updated article, originally posted in April 2020
In the 1950s, Walt Disney produced thirteen nature documentaries collectively known as the True-Life Adventure series, with eight of them winning Academy Awards. Walt loved the natural world and sought to bring it to life for movie-goers in ways that had never been seen before. Films such as The Living Desert, The Vanishing Prairie, and The African Lion not only thrilled audiences but also inspired countless numbers of young viewers to pursue careers in wildlife-related industries. In 1960, the series ended with Jungle Cat, but the films lived on for the next several decades as they were show in classrooms, often as reel-to-reel shorts, throughout the world.
In 2008, Walt Disney Studios returned to nature documentaries with the launch of the independent film unit, Disneynature. Since then, the Disneynature series has picked up where True-Life Adventures left off, bringing to life for a new generation the beauty and majesty of nature. After having successful runs in theaters, as of this moment, seven of these critically-acclaimed films are now available on Disney+ for you and your family to enjoy. On April 22nd, Disneynature launches its next installment in this critically-acclaimed series with the world premier of Polar Bear.
To help celebrate Earth Day and bring attention to the importance of being wise stewards of the world in which we live, we encourage you to take a look at what Disneynature has to offer. Each film comes with an Educator's Guide, Activity Pack, or both, that are easy to follow and contain age-appropriate activities to support each of the following films currently available on Disney+: Elephant, Dolphin Reef, Wings of Life, Monkey Kingdom, African Cats, Chimpanzee, and Bears.
While we understand that not everyone has the means to access Disney+, for those who do, we highly recommend that you add these beautiful, educational films to your at-home learning activities. To discover more about each, and access the terrific educator and activity guides that you can use with your children, take a moment to review the following links.
"Narrated by Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, Disneynature’s “Elephant” follows African elephant Shani and her spirited son Jomo as their herd make an epic journey hundreds of miles across the vast Kalahari Desert, from the Okavango delta to the Zambezi river, just as countless generations of their ancestors have done before."
The Disneynature ELEPHANT Educator’s Guide includes multiple standards-aligned lessons and activities targeted to grades 2 through 6. The guide introduces students to a variety of topics, including: Animal Behavior and Natural History, Biodiversity, Culture and the Arts, Earth’s Systems, Habitat and Ecosystems, and Making a Positive Difference for Wildlife Worldwide. Content provided by education experts at Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment.
"Narrated by Oscar®- and Golden Globe®-winning actress Natalie Portman, Disneynature’s “Dolphin Reef” tells the spectacular story of Echo, a young Pacific bottlenose dolphin who seems far more interested in exploring the coral reef, and its intriguing inhabitants, than learning to survive in it."
The Disneynature DOLPHIN REEF Educator’s Guide includes multiple standards-aligned lessons and activities targeted to grades 2 through 6. The guide introduces students to a variety of topics, including: Animal Behavior and Natural History, Habitat and Ecosystems, Biodiversity, Earth’s Systems, Culture and the Arts, Making a Positive Difference for Wildlife Worldwide
"From Disneynature, the studio that brought you "Earth", "Oceans", "African Cats" and "Chimpanzee", comes "Wings of Life" – a stunning adventure full of intrigue, drama and mesmerizing beauty. Narrated by Meryl Streep, this intimate and unprecedented look at butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, bats and flowers is a celebration of life, as a third of the world’s food supply depends on these incredible – and increasingly threatened – creatures."
The Disneynature WINGS OF LIFE Educator's Guide includes over 25 pages of lessons and activities targeting grades 2-4. The guide can be used to teach students about the pollinators and technology presented in the Disneynature film WINGS OF LIFE. Accompanying film clips showcasing incredible cinematography, high-speed, time-lapse and micro filmmaking can be utilized to showcase in spectacular detail the unsung heroes of our planet.
"Monkey Kingdom is a spectacular tale set among ancient ruins in the storied jungles of South Asia. Maya, a clever and resourceful monkey, finds her world forever changed when she welcomes her son Kip into her colorful extended family. As Maya strives to keep Kip safe through unexpected and sometimes perilous adventures, amazing footage captures all the magic and surprises of their magnificent world. Maya and her family will make you laugh and warm your heart as she realizes her dreams for her son’s future."
The MONKEY KINGDOM Educator’s Guide includes nearly 100 pages of lessons and activities targeted to grades 2 through 6 and introduces students to a variety of topics including habitat and ecosystems, biodiversity, life cycles, cultures and art, and more.
"An epic true story set against the backdrop of one of the wildest places on Earth, "African Cats" captures the real-life love, humor, and determination of the majestic kings of the savanna. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the story features Mara, an endearing lion cub who strives to grow up with her mother's strength, sprit, and wisdom; Sita, a fearless cheetah and single mother of five mischievous newborns; and Fang, a proud leader of the pride who must defend his family from a rival lion and his sons."
This 100-Page Educator's Guide presents additional curriculum ideas for teachers to incorporate additional elements form AFRICAN CATS into student' learning plans. Interactive lessons and outdoor activities are integrated into the Expanded Educator's Guide, allowing you to immerse students into the world of AFRICAN CATS and bring the savanna to your classroom or home.
This 8-Page Activity Guide can be used to teach students about the science and geography themes presented in the Disneynature film AFRICAN CATS. The guide will increase student's knowledge of the African savanna habitat and the animals that live there, help students develop an understanding as to how living things are connected and why these connections are important, and enrich students viewing of AFRICAN CATS by inspiring appreciation for the animals and ecosystems of the African savanna.
"Journey deep into the African rainforest and meet Oscar, an adorable young chimp with an entertaining approach to life, and a remarkable story of individual triumph and family bonds. The world is a playground for little Oscar and his fellow young chimps who love creating mayhem. Full of curiosity, a zest for discovery, joy and a love for mimicking others, Oscar -- and his family -- navigate navigate the complex territory of the forest. It's an inspiring and life-changing adventure, narrated by Tim Allen, that overflows with courage and charm that will capture your heart."
Further Explore The Wonderful World Of CHIMPANZEE! The CHIMPANZEE Educator’s Guide includes over 100 pages of lessons and activities targeted to grades 2 through 6. The lessons are aligned to National Science Education Standards and integrate interactive elements, including ready-to-go PowerPoint presentations to help engage your class.
"From Disneynature, comes an epic story on a breathtaking scale. Showcasing a year in the life of a bear family — mother Sky teaches her two impressionable cubs, Amber and Scout, about life’s most important lessons. Set against a majestic Alaskan backdrop, their journey begins as winter ends. Emerging from hibernation, the three face the bitter cold and an exciting but very risky outside world. Astonishing footage captures the fast-moving action and suspense of an endearing family learning to live life to its fullest in one of the planet’s last great wildernesses.
The Disneynature BEARS Educator's Guide includes nearly 100 pages of lessons and activities targeted to grades 2 through 6. The lessons are aligned to Next Generation Science Standards, National Science Standards, and common core Language Art and Math Standards.
"Journey in to the depths of a wonderland filled with mystery, beauty and power. Oceans is a spectacular story, narrated by Pierce Brosnan, about remarkable creatures under the sea. It's an unprecedented look at the lives of these elusive deepwater creatures through their own eyes. Incredible state-of-the-art-underwater filmmaking will take your breath away as you migrate with whales, swim alongside a great white shark and race with dolphins at play."
This 42-page Educator’s Guide introduces your students to the science and geography of the oceans. The guide presents the following topics: what are the oceans physical characteristics and ocean habitats, what are the threats harming the oceans today and how are species adapting to survive in the oceans.
Disneynature, in its ongoing quest to bring the natural world to the big screen as never before, presents its most ambitious project to date, taking moviegoers on a grand journey into the wilds of China. BORN IN CHINA follows the adventures of three animal families — the majestic panda, the savvy golden monkey and the elusive snow leopard. Featuring stunning imagery, the film navigates the vast terrain—from the frigid mountains to the heart of the bamboo forest—on the wings of a red-crowned crane, showcasing remarkably intimate family moments captured on film for the first time ever.
This 72-Page Educator's Guide presents lessons and activities targeted at grade 2 through 6 and introduces students to a variety of topics including habitat and ecosystems, biodiversity, learned behaviors, Earth's systems, culture and the arts, and more.
This activity guide has multiple one-page sheets that can be used to take an interactive, hands-on exploration of the world of the animals portrayed in the film.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
That's a lot of films! Yet that's not all of the nature-loving goodness you can discover on Disney+. After exploring the world of these amazing animals, you can take a trip back in time to where it all began by watching the True-Life Adventure films that are also available. While not all of them are currently in the Disney+ lineup, the following films are waiting for you and your kids to enjoy:
The Living Desert (Academy Award Winner)
The Vanishing Prairie (Academy Award Winner)
Secrets of Life
The African Lion
While all of these films are an exciting way to learn about the natural world, there still is no substitute for experiencing it for yourself. Of course, very few of us will ever travel to the plains of Africa or the mountains of China, yet each of us can have our own true life adventures by venturing into our local communities to discover all that they have to offer. If possible, and whenever possible, get out, be observant, be curious, and look for ways to compare the nature that surrounds you to that which you've learned about.
So what are you waiting on? Let's go exploring!