Teaching with Movies

popcorn-707364_1280Are you tired, Mom? Wake up to an effortless way to make a lasting educational impact on your children!

We all know how powerful and convenient the “electronic baby-sitter” is! (I don’t think I’d ever get a nap without it.) The “electronic baby-sitter” can be an “electronic educator”—if videos are carefully selected. It can ease our teaching load in a very productive, meaningful way.

We all use resources to help us teach our children, and those supplies vary in their effectiveness; depending on how gripping the read-aloud story is, or how amazing the color photographs in a book on animals really are, for example. Wisely and very judiciously used, I think the television can be the best resource of all. Because so many stimuli hit the brain at once, both audio and visual, it makes a powerful, lasting impression.

ZPlease understand that I don’t allow much television in my home at all. But in an effort to make our history studies more real, my daughter Julianna and I discovered that many good movies can be as effective as literature in teaching history. Although I always like the book better, there is an unforgettable visual impact that is created by watching a movie. Things we can only imagine when reading, are before us in living color on the television­, such as historical costuming, artifacts from other time periods, manner of speech, and more. For example, “Johnny Tremain” is one movie that dramatically recreates the scene and emotions experienced during those early Revolutionary War times. I found Les Miserables, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Tale of Two Cities  incomparable for understanding the French Revolution. Some subject matter in history is not for young viewers, and I think the French Revolution would be one such topic.

2Q==One drawback in using movies to teach with is that often the story is not portrayed true to the book it was based on, or true to history.  Squanto, a non-animated film produced by Disney, was much enjoyed by our whole family at the conclusion of studying the life of Squanto and the Pilgrim period. Since we had studied in depth, I heard many remarks during the movie from my children, “That isn’t how it happened!”  We still liked it, and found it to be beneficial to our understanding of Squanto. The drawback here, though, is that without a study of Squanto’s life before viewing the movie, a person would get a lot of misinformation.

Another tricky matter is finding quality viewing material. On many occasions, we have brought a video home only to discover 10 minutes into the movie that it was less than excellent and disappointedly had to shut it off. Trying to find a wholesome movie can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Finding a movie set in a particular historical time period is even more challenging.

We have been delighted to stumble upon a fabulous website that can make using movies a breeze. This unique website, Teaching with Movies, has categorized movies according to their historical time period. Usually movie screening is not up to my finicky liking, but theirs was outstanding. They even have an index of movies that you should not use for educational purposes! I found that the creators of this homey website were almost as picky as I am.

The movies are indexed in several convenient ways: according to minimum age, character development value, alphabetical, and cultural heritage. As well, you can search by title or keyword to find the movie you are wondering about. Each movie is imagedescribed and it’s negative points detailed. Teaching Guides are available right there, ready to print out, for several very good movies, and include discussion questions, background information, and a convenient way to purchase the movie over the internet. This is especially helpful as many of those dear old valuable movies are not easy to find anymore.

Another good resource is the book Learning with the MoviesWritten especially for homeschoolers who want to use movies to enrich their studies, this informative book will guide you through each period of history, from Bible times through ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Greece, Rome, Mayans, Vikings, on to the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Reformation, and right through the centuries into modern history with its multitude of war movies. Other educational or family appropriate movies are included too. I appreciate the author’s objections, which she notes next to the movie entry, keeping negative surprises from coming on your screen unawares. She even notes well-known historical movies that she recommends that you don’t view! A unique and useful book that will make your homeschool much more fun (and educational)!

You’ll be amazed at how useful your television can really be in helping you homeschool!


May I recommend:

Need a Homeschool Break?

Homeschooling on the Cheap

A More Perfect Union

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