26 Movies for Kids Based on Wars and the Military

Published:
December 9, 2019

Annette Breedlove

Contributor:
Annette Breedlove

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

My oldest loves history, but more specifically he loves learning about the World Wars – both of them. He has watched Midway about a dozen times and The Alamo just for fun.

When we travel, he always wants to seek out military and war memorials, museums, and battlefield national parks to learn even more. Finding quality movies for kids based on wars and the military can be difficult, but no worries, we’ve taken care of that for you!

This next month, we are traveling through Texas and he has already mapped out some major sites he wants to see. The Alamo is top on his list since he’s seen the movie and read about it in his studies. He is looking into a few others that might be near where we’re traveling, so it should be a fun month. 

military men in a group with text overlay 26 movies for kids based on wars and the military

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Watching War Movies for History

That being said, I know not everyone can travel around seeing historical sites firsthand. So whether you have a history buff in the making or you are studying different wars, movies are a great alternative, and we have listed out some great war movies for kids below. Learning about the world wars doesn’t have to be dull and boring. There is so much fascinating history to experience. Watching good war movies can help your kids really remember the details. 

Many of the war movies listed below are based on not only personal stories of survivors, but also the battles that lead to or turned the war around for a country. 

If you missed our two other posts to help you add movies to your homeschool, you’ll want to check them out. We have already covered science and historical movies. But there were so many history movies, I separated the war and military movies from general history. 

War Movies for Kids

You may be wondering “What war movies are based on true stories?” Many of the kid-friendly war movies below are based on true stories, so there are elements of some of the movies that are true, but there are also some that are first-hand accounts of survivors of war.

Normally, if a war movie (or any move at that) is based on a true story, it will indicate that in the screen credits before the movie starts. 

Movie Response Pack

When you incorporate movies (whether war or military movies or any other type), you can turn it into school using our free Movie Response Template Pack. 

This simple, but fun Movie Response Template Pack is the perfect print-and-go resource for kids of all ages. It offers printables for noting information about the movie, character highlights, illustrations, and more. There is also a book and movie comparison just in case you want to send your kids on a journey of highlighting similarities and differences between the movie and book (if there is a book too!). Scroll to the end of this post to get the printable.

Movie Response Template Pack

Best War Movies for Kids

Inspire your children to dive into History with these amazing war movies and shows for kids. Whether you are looking for general military movies, army movies, ww1 movies, or war movies based on true stories, you will find a great list below – complete with summaries and ratings. Many of the titles are free war movies available to stream or watch on Youtube.

War Movies for Kids

NOTE: Movies should always be reviewed by a parent first. We do not make any claims to know what is appropriate for your child(ren), that is totally your call. Please review these movies to make sure they align with your family values.

World War 1 Movies

Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero (PG) – I wasn’t convinced when we first bought it, but it has quickly become a favorite among my kids. And the best part? I love that it is based on a true story about a loveable dog that helped the army during WWI ( World War I) by finding wounded soldiers over the course of his 18 months in service. He served in 17 battles and ended his service as a decorated vet. Kids will love this heart-warming story about an unlikely hero.

A Little Princess (G) – Based on the novel by the same name, this movie is not a true story. However, it does take place during World War I when Sara, a young girl, is sent to boarding school as her father heads off to war. To keep her mind off of things, she entertains her friends with elaborate tales and breaking rules from the headmistress, Miss Minchin. Sadly, she receives devastating news and she is forced to work in service and learn some hard lessons, but ones that could change her dreary fate.

World War 2 Movies

The World War II D-Day invasion of Normandy, France occurred on June 6, 1944 . Learn more about D-Day.

Miracle of the White Stallions (G) – This movie is based on the true account of the evacuation of the Lipizzaner stallions from The Spanish Riding School of Vienna during World War II. This movie is also based on the book, “The Dancing White Horses of Vienna” by Alois Podhajsky.

D Day Movies

Valiant (G) – This is not a true story, but it does tell the story of D-Day in a kid-friendly way. Valient, a carrier pigeon, is the name of the main character who survives training and is given a risky rescue to save a messenger bird who was taken captive by the Nazis.

Miracle at Midnight (NR) – If you’re studying World War II, this is a wonderful movie based on the true story of the Danish people rescuing Jews before they were deported to the Nazi concentration camps. This movie follows the heroic efforts of one family, the Kosters, and their children as they help the Jewish people navigate through Denmark to Sweden.

26 Movies for Kids Based on Wars and the Military

Other Favorite Movies About Wars for Kids

The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (NR) – This is a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie based on the true life story of Irena Sendler. During World War II, Irena helped save over 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw ghetto in Poland. While this is a Hallmark movie and no “questionable” content will be shown, the subject matter may be too sensitive and upsetting for some children. Please use caution when viewing.

Johnny Tremain (NR) – Although this movie contains both fictional and non-fictional characters, this movie is not based on a true story, but rather falls under the historical fiction category. However, this movie will show children the Boston Tea Party and other points during the Revolutionary War from a more personal viewpoint.

The Last Emperor (NR) – “This sweeping account of the life of Pu-Yi, the last emperor of China, follows the leader’s tumultuous reign. After being captured by the Red Army as a war criminal in 1950, Pu-Yi recalls his childhood from prison. He remembers his lavish youth in the Forbidden City, where he was afforded every luxury but unfortunately sheltered from the outside world and complex political situation surrounding him. As revolution sweeps through China, the world Pu-Yi knew is dramatically upended.” -Amazon Description

War & Military Musicals

NOTE: Although these are musicals, some of them may contain material you and your family do not deem appropriate. Please use caution when viewing with children.

Sound of Music (G) – Another favorite in our house, this musical is loved by my oldest for sure. Right now it’s a little slow for the younger ones, but they do enjoy the music. Based on the true story of Captain Von Trapp and his family, it shows how they he not only fell in love with his Au Pair, but also his children all over again. Then he does everything in his power to get them out of the country as they flee the Nazi’s during WWII.

The Civil War – While this is not available on DVD, you can listen to the music combined in this Broadway musical. It is unique in the fact that there is no plot, but rather contributions of different personal stories based on the letters, words and speeches of Abraham Lincoln and his peers, F. Douglass and W. Whitman, that shared the same point of view.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks (G) – This musical revolves around the Battle of Britain during World War II, when along comes Miss Eglantine Prince, a crafty witch-in-training finds three kids who evacuated during the London Blitz, to help her stop German troops from intruding.

Movies About Wars for Older Kids

Some of these titles are old war movies, but don’t let that stop you – you’ll enjoy them just the same. It’s not too difficult to find good military movies, but it is hard to determine if they are age-appropriate sometimes. 

NOTE: Movies should always be reviewed by a parent first. We do not make any claims to know what is appropriate for your child(ren), that is totally your call. Please review these movies to make sure they align with your family values. 

Midway (PG) – Based on the Battle of Midway during WWII, this movie is a good depiction of the naval battle that turned the war in the Pacific in favor of the allies. It is a rough movie, but it is also one of our oldest son’s favorite movie.

Civil War Movie for Kids

Gettysburg (PG) – Based on the famous Battle of Gettysburg during American Civil War, this movie is quite accurate. Many of the extras were unpaid reenactors who only agreed to do the movie if it was portrayed accurately. So while some liberties may have been taken, they didn’t ever stray far from the actual facts and events.

More War Movies for Kids

The World Wars (TV-14) – This is a made-for-TV mini-series created by the History Channel. It follows the lives of seven legendary men who fought in the first world war as they fought in the trenches before they became leaders during World War II.

Run, Boy, Run (NR) – Similar to Island on Bird Street, this movie follows the life of a young boy who evades the Nazis for three years, most often alone. However, unlike Island on Bird Street, this movie is based on the life of Yoram Fridman and was first released in Poland in 2013.

PG 13 War Movies

K19 The Widowmaker (PG-13) – This movie is not based on U.S. military, but rather the very first Soviet Nuclear Ballistic Submarine on its maiden voyage. During their time out, the submarine’s reactor malfunctioned and much of the crew suffered radiation poisoning.

Island on Bird Street (PG-13) – Originally released as a Danish film, this movie is based on a book by the same name. The may not be a true story, but it does give a real depiction of what life might have been like while a child (or family) evaded the Nazi’s in Poland during World War II.

Great Civil War Movie 

Glory (R) – I remember getting a permission slip signed to watch this during history class in high school. It is a very rough and gory movie, but the truthfulness about the first black regiment in the Union army during the Civil War. It does have language in it, but it is one of the best movies I have seen on the Civil War.

More Movies About Wars Appropriate for Older Students

This list of titles covers WWI, WWII, The Alamo, Texas Revolution, the Miracle of Dunkirk, and more. 

WW1 Movie

War Horse (PG-13) – Directed by Steven Spielberg, you know this has to be an amazing film. It is a war drama based on the true story of the British war horses during World War I.

World War 2 Movies

The Book Thief (PG-13) – This movie is set in Germany during World War II and based a novel by the same name. It tells the fictional story of a young girl who is placed in a foster home where they discover she can’t read. Her foster dad finds out and teachers her to read, which inspires her to smuggle books to the Jewish refugee hiding in her foster parents’ home.

Dunkirk (PG-13) – Based on the Dunkirk evacuation in World War II. Code-named Operation Dynamo, the evacuation was also known as the Miracle of Dunkirk that took place between May 26th and June 4th, 1940. During the Battle of France, a large number of Belgian, British and French troops were surrounded and cut off by German troops, which led to the evacuation of Allied soldiers.

Empire of the Sun (PG) – Based on the semiautobiographical book of the same name, this movie retells parts of the authors childhood story of life in China during World War II.

Hope and Glory (PG-13) – Based on the childhood of John Boorman, this movie is centered around his life and coming-of-age story as he grows up in London during World War II. While the nightly bombings are frightening to him and his friends, but in the morning, they go out to find hidden treasures in the rubble. But his playtime somewhat overshadowed by the losses and pains his family endures during the war.

Movie About The Alamo

The Alamo (1960) (NR) – This movie is all about the 1836 battle at The Alamo. This battle is thought by many to be the pivotal point in the Texas Revolution that inspired the rest of Texas to join the work together to defeat Santa Anna and the Mexican Army.

Movie About Concentration Camps During the Holocaust

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (PG-13) – While not based on a true story, this movie is based on life in concentration camps during the Holocaust. Based on the book of the same name, but spelled The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, the story looks at life from two 8-year-old boys perspective.

Lawrence of Arabia (PG) – Historians have long debated this may not be based on a true story but the man, British Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence, is a real person. Nevertheless this movie is based on a true fight between the British and the Turks.

YouTube Channels for Wars & Military for Kids

Wars & Military YouTube Channels for Kids – You can find great YouTube channels with shows about the wars and military, broken up just like this list of movies.

Free Printables Based on Wars:

Movie Response Template Pack 

Grab our movie response template pack to use in your homeschool. It would be a great way to document the educational journey you take as you dive into moves about wars and documentaries about military excursions. 

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Movie Response Template Pack

Do you like to use movies to enhance your homeschooling lessons?  This 8 page response template pack is an easy way to add comprehension and opinion writing for any movie.

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