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It frustrates my youngest son that he’s still too young to watch Jurassic Park while his older brother has now seen it twice and watches the Netflix spin-off Camp Cretaceous regularly. However, the future paleontologist/astronaut/doctor/first responder (he likes jobs) can watch plenty of dino-centric content appropriate for his age, with much of it falling into the educational realm.

We’re Back: A Dinosaur Story (1993)

It’s a plot similar to Jurassic Park: A scientist wants modern children to experience dinosaurs, so he makes them friendly and intelligent and sends them to ’90s New York City, where they befriend two kids. But the scientist has an evil brother who wants to turn the creatures into their true, monstrous selves. Marketed as a family-friendly animated alternative to Spielberg’s PG-13 scare fest, it has a lot for kids to like, but adults may find it lacking.

Where to stream: Digital rental

Dinosaur Train (2009)

A family of Pteranodons adopts a young T-rex named Buddy. When the curious creature wants to learn about other dinosaurs, he and his family hop aboard the titular train. Produced by The Jim Henson Company and PBS, this delightful animated show is educational without alienating its young audience. Parents will learn some new things, too!

Where to stream: PBS Kids, Prime Video, Digital rental

Walking With Dinosaurs (2013)

Like Jurassic Park, this film, about a dinosaur who overcomes adversity to become the leader of his herd, features realistic-looking CGI characters. However, the movie takes its title from the excellent BBC documentary series of the same name, making its depictions of dinosaurs (mostly) scientifically accurate for the time. 

Where to stream: Digital rental

Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend (1985)

Young kids won’t care that the titular brontosaurus, brought to life by stop-motion, doesn’t hold a candle to today’s special effects. On the other hand, parents will get lost in the nostalgia of this ’80s classic about a paleontologist couple trying to protect the young dino from an evil scientist.  

Where to stream: Digital rental

Andy’s Prehistoric Adventures (2016)

This British TV series, in which a museum worker goes back in time and gets into misadventures with dinosaurs and mammoths, is aimed toward the preschool set with its 15-minute episodes and fun, goofy tone. 

Where to stream: Pluto TV

Dinosaur Island (2014)

There’s lots of fun for the entire family in this British adventure film about a mysterious crystal that teleports items from different periods on an island. However, the big draw is it might be the first to show feathers on a Tyrannosaurus, something seemingly unheard-of in movies in which the big-headed lizard with tiny arms is supposed to look and be menacing.

Where to stream: Pluto TV, Tubi, Freevee, Roku Channel, YouTube, Digital rental

Dino Dan/Dino Dana (2010, 2017)

Dan—and, in the sequel series, Dana—are young paleontologists-to-be who can see the creatures they are studying in the modern world. What sets these two Canadian television programs apart from other dino-centric shows is their focus on how scientific thinking plays a role in helping the main characters learn more about prehistoric creatures. 

Where to stream: Prime Video

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)

As it was the first film in the Ice Age series in 3D, the producers decided to up the game for the mammoth Manny, sabre tooth Diego, and Sid the sloth by mixing up time periods and throwing dinos into the mix. Your kids will learn very little about the prehistoric or ice ages by watching this film, but at least they’ll have some fun.

Where to stream: Disney+, Digital rental

Dino Ranch (2021)

This award-winning animated children’s show released its third season last September. It has become so popular among its preschool audience that a stage show chronicling the adventures of the Cassidy family’s dino sanctuary toured across America last year. 

Where to stream: Disney+, The Roku Channel, Digital rental

Lego Jurassic World: The Secret Exhibit (2018)

Is pairing Lego with the Jurassic World franchise a clever way to sell toys to children? Yes. Is it also a fun way to introduce kids to a series of movies that they aren’t old enough to watch yet? Also yes. Plus, there are plenty of Easter eggs and in-jokes referencing the previous films in the series to keep parents entertained, too.

Where to stream: Peacock, Digital rental

Amazing Dinoworld (2019)

This documentary series, which premiered on the educational streaming service Curiosity Stream, focuses on the latest discoveries that paleontologists have made about creatures in the prehistoric age, many of which contradict what we’ve become accustomed to in the movies. 

Where to stream: Fubo TV, The Roku Channel, Tubi, Curiosity Stream 

The Land Before Time (1988)

We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t include this ’80s animated classic. At times tragic and heartwarming, the film, produced by Spielberg and George Lucas and directed by Don Bluth, follows a young Apatosaurus and his friends searching for greener pastures, but a hungry T-rex is on their tails. The film inspired 13 sequels and a television show, but the original is the best by far. Try not to cry.

Where to stream: YouTube, Digital rental

Prehistoric Planet (2022)

Dinosaur documentaries get the David Attenborough treatment in this eye-popping five-part series that uses up-to-date research and photorealistic effects similar to those used in the remakes of The Jungle Book and The Lion King. A second season premiered the following year.

Where to stream: Apple TV+

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