We all know the feeling of excitement when you hear the first notes of that iconic John Williams theme song, transporting us from our daily lives to a galaxy far, far away. The Star Wars films had a significant impact on many of us as kids, and now that you’re a little older, you want your kids to experience the magic just like you did when you were young. You have loved this movie from your early childhood – but things were a bit looser back then.
What Could Go Wrong?
Since Disney bought the franchise, the movie and spin-off series has boomed to the point where practically everyone on the planet has heard of Star Wars. Next thing you know, your kids somehow know more characters than you.
Yet, you might find yourself wondering if every Star Wars property is appropriate to enjoy as a family. If the force is strong with you and yours, then here is my guide to the best ways to introduce your kids to Star Wars.
We’ve been dressing our girls as Princess Leia, Amidala, and Rey for Halloweens since they were babies. We have a life-size inflatable R2-D2, three lightsabers (that I know of), mugs, t-shirts, all the movies on DVD and now on Disney+, even some old VHS, all the retro toys (well, it feels like all), our dog even has a Jedi symbol on his tag – you get the picture.
So, our girls have grown up with Star Wars, and of course, we are desperate to watch the movies they have heard so much about; well, one of them, the others, can take it or leave it.
Based on our family experiences, we hope that sharing with you can help you create unforgettable and age-appropriate ways to enjoy Star Wars with your kids.
Star Wars Movies
As it turns out, this is a profoundly serious topic amongst Star Wars fans. After asking my husband (that is an hour of my life I will not get back) which movie was the best for kids to start watching Star Wars, I was finally able to get a recommendation.
As a reference, here are the name and release years of Star Wars episodes:
- Episode I – The Phantom Menace, 1999
- Episode II – Attack of the Clones, 2002
- Episode III – Revenge of the Sith 2005
- Episode IV – A New Hope, 1977
- Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, 1980
- Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, 1983
- Episode VII – The Force Awakens, 2015
- Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, 2017
- Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, 2019
When it comes to what is the correct order of Star Wars movies to watch, there are two leading schools of thought:
1- Release order, meaning you start at Episode IV, followed by V and VI, then go to I, II, III, then move to VII, VII, and IX.
The theory here is Episode IV explains a lot about Star Wars, the Force, the Dark Side, Good vs. Evil, Lightsabers, The Millennium Falcon, X-wings. The essential base knowledge allows you to understand the other movies. You also get the big cinematic surprises – “I am your father,” “sister,” “strike me down, and I will become more powerful…”
2 -Numerical order (George Lucas endorsed) where you start at I and blast your way through to IX, with some side detours for Rogue 1 and Solo, followed by the newer series of The Mandalorian and Book of Boba Fett.
The catch here is, by the time you get to IV, V, and VI, you already know Luke and Leia are siblings, Anakin is their dad, The Emperor is a bad guy…
There is no wrong way to go, and either route has some watchouts for you and your family, depending on the age of your children. The main issue is the age ratings, and of course, they come from the content, which I will come to.
The Originals were all released as U (the tamest rating you can give) but later moved to Parental Guidance PG. From what I know now, my suggestion of an appropriate age to watch is 7-10.
- Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
- Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
- Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
Episode I -The Phantom Menace (1999) & II – Attack of the Clones (2002) is also PG, so the age to watch for the first time is 7-10.
Episode III (2005) is where the problem starts. This was the first movie rated PG-13 – with some of the darkest moments in Star Wars.
- The emperor ages rapidly after using his power to kill Mace – scary face!
- Anakin killing a classroom full of ‘younglings’ kids (a fast forward part)
Episodes VII – The Force Awakens (2015), VIII – The Last Jedi (2017), and IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019) continued with the PG-13 (10+).
These scary part insights come directly from my daughter, who needs to punch a life-size Lego model of Darth Vader in the nuts to get over fearing him.
- Darth Vader
- Darth Maul (no specifics, just scary)
- Luke removes Vader’s helmet in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi before he dies.
- Emperor (wrinkly version after killing Mace in Episode III)
In other scenes, you may consider the fast forward button ready (but not validated by my daughter).
- Heavily burned Uncle Owen and Aunt Veru (IV)
- Forest-dwelling teddy bears bludgeon their enemies to death with rocks (VI)
- Siblings kiss passionately (not knowingly) (V)
- A classroom full of ‘younglings’ kids die by Anakin’s lightsaber (III)
- Parents trying to kill their grandkids and kids (every movie)
- Kids needing to kill their parents (VI)
- Various characters lose limbs (every movie)
- Ewoks getting killed in Episode VI – I knew this would be a problem scene after one daughter cried her eyes out at Marmaduke, the dog falling in a sinkhole. So, seeing cute bears getting killed was always going to be tough.
Are the Movies the Best Place to Start?
So, after that quick rundown, you may be questioning why anyone would let their kids watch these movies.
Only you should decide and consider doing these two things first:
- Watch the movie without the kids first
- Discuss with your kids before they watch
If it still does not feel right, consider other ways until they are ready.
Introduce Your Kids to Star Wars Without the Movies
There are many non-movie ways for your kids to enjoy Star Wars – the Lego partnership with the franchise helps. You will see several Lego Star Wars recommendations, including console games, app games, and animated series.
I highly recommend all of these for younger children, and if you have not played or seen them yourself, they are not just for kids and are enjoyable for everyone. Who doesn’t want to see Darth Vader doing the conga with Storm Troopers?
Star Wars Mobile Games on Tablets or Phones
Star Wars Games on Apple Arcade:
So, you have a list of subscriptions already for Netflix, Prime, Disney+, but there is one more that you might want to look at. Again, those clever people at Apple and Disney have collaborated to bring you two great Lego Star Wars games exclusively to Apple Arcade.
As any parent knows, there is always some anxiety when letting your kids play a game on a mobile or tablet due to the ads and in-app purchases that constantly pop up. Apple Arcade is a subscription service with over two hundred games with no ads and no in-app purchases giving you peace of mind to let your kids play on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV.
The cost is $4.99/m or $49.99/y ($4/m)
Lego Star Wars Castaways – Not based on any of the movies, the game takes place on a mysterious new planet. Characters are customizable so that you can create your perfect dream Star Wars player.
Lego Star Wars Battles – As the title suggests, you can select your favorite characters and battle in the iconic scenes from the movies – getting to try out AT-ATs, AT-RTs, Y-wings, and TIE fighters.
Star Wars Games for iOS and Android:
If you are not ready for the Apple Arcade subscription, you can check these other Star Wars games for your mobile device.
Angry Birds: Star Wars – Many people think Disney discontinued this classic game after removing it from the app and play stores. Not accurate; you must get it directly from starwars.com. You can lead your rebel birds against the evil Empire Pig troopers once more.
Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga – Includes gameplay from Episodes I-VI, including thirty-six levels and 120 characters. Episode I Story Mode is free for a limited time; the remaining content Episodes II to VI, require in-app purchases.
Lego Star Wars – TFA – Includes gameplay from the Force Awakens, bringing Rey and Kylo into the gaming world. Again, the first chapter is free; the remaining chapters need an in-app purchase.
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes – Developed by EA games, is for the older kids, with characters that depict the actual movie characters. The gameplay revolves around the more recent PG13 rated movies. Available on both iOS and Android.
Constantly playing with your mobile, check out these 30+ best money-making apps to get paid using your phone.
Star Wars Games for Consoles and PC:
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (Arriving April 5th, 2022) – The latest Lego Star Wars came is here! The game includes all the characters, planets, and systems that players unlock along the way. It will be available on the Xbox One family of devices, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (2007) – This is the game we have for our Wii, which makes the lightsaber parts awesome, and everyone loves it; it covers Episodes I to VI and includes over 120 characters.
For now, this game gets my vote as the best, as it extensively covers six movie themes, the original three and the three prequels.
Other Lego Star Wars games are:
- Lego Star Wars: The Video Game (2005) – based on the prequels
- Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (2006)
- Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (2011)
- Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2016)
For older kids, you can look at Star Wars Battlefront or Jedi: Fallen Order.
Animated Star Wars
This is where Lego Star Wars excels, and I love watching these with the kids. Most of this list is available on Disney+.
Lego Star Wars – The Yoda Chronicles, first shown on the Cartoon Network and Disney Plus. 7 (22min) Episodes and eleven mini-movies (2-3mins). In these hilarious shows, Yoda leads a group of Padawans to defeat Darth Sidious.
Lego Star Wars – Droid Tales – 5 (22mins) Episodes that have hilarious moments taking you from Episode I through to Episode VI.
Lego Star Wars – The Freemaker Adventures – 26 (22mins) Episodes are set over two seasons. Set around Episodes V and VI, the series focuses on a family of scavengers cruising the galaxy collecting space junk and fixing up spaceships. They eventually fought against the empire – lookout for R0-GR (Roger the droid)?
There are also one-off short and seasonal specials at Christmas and Halloween.
There are also non-Lego Star Wars options, all available in Disney+.
The Clones Wars – 7 seasons of pure entertainment; I have lost count of how many times our 8-year-old has watched these. This series is also great for girls, with heroes like Ashoka taking leading roles.
The series takes place after Episode II – The Clones Wars, continuing with the story of the fight between the Galactic Republic (the Jedi side) and the Confederate Sith Lord Count Dooku. Neither side knows that Darth Sidious is pulling the strings of both!
Star Wars Rebels – 4 series, set 14 years after Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, a group of rebels take on missions against the powerful Imperial forces.
Again, an excellent show for the girls with two strong female characters, Sabine and Hera. My 8-year-old cried at the end, as it was so emotional – but she describes the tears as good tears.
Star Wars Resistance – 2 series set before Episode VII – The Force Awakens, following Kaz, a young resistance pilot recruited to spy on the ever-growing threat of the First Order.
Star Wars the Bad Batch – 2 series so far, following Clone Force 99, a small elite group from the clone army. They all have individual genetic upgrades, giving them enhanced abilities and binding them together.
The plot centers around how to order sixty-six split the team on if they should follow the Empire order and kill Jedi or disobey the order.
Forces of Destiny – these are short 2–3-minute Episodes focusing on the female characters from Star Wars (Leia, Sabine, Jyn, Rose, Ashoka, Amidala, Hera, and Rey. My girls watched these, but they were not too bothered and enjoyed the more extended programs.
Star Wars Visions is best for slightly older kids; this series is in the Japanese style of Anime. It consists of nine short films created by some of the leading Anime creators, but it gives a diverse view of Star Wars from their perspectives.
Star Wars Books
As we are in the digital age, it is easy to forget that you can still buy books with excellent early learner access to Star Wars.
Check out these sets that cover Episodes I to VI.
- Star Wars Little Golden Books
- World of Reading Star Wars Boxed Set (Pre-K-Grade 1)
So, there you have it, my comprehensive list of the best ways to introduce your kids to Star Wars. How you choose to do it is totally up to you as you know your child the best. The Lego Star Wars games and series are a great introduction if you have any doubts.
May the force be with you!