Teach History with Movies
What is great way to eat popcorn, curl up with a pillow, and do school at the same time?
Watch a movie. Movies can enrich our homeschooling experience! Movies are fun!
Our first experience with using movies for school was Gidget Goes Hawaiian when we did a unit study on Hawaii. Since then, we have expanded to including monthly movies for history and geography.
Different scenes come to my mind from movies I've seen over the years. My idea of the Sahara desert comes from watching movies where the hero is trekking across the Sahara. The image I have of a Middle Eastern Bazaar comes from watching Indiana Jones. So many movies I've seen are set in New York City that I feel like I know that city though I've only been there three times in my life. Likewise, the Anne movies make me feel that Prince Edward Island is my second home. Movies draw you in and if they do a good job of making ancient, or more modern times, come alive, they will benefit your children.
In our house, we often start our study of a time period by working on a timeline while we watch a movie. When we studied the 20th Century decade by decade, we would work on a timeline and watch a movie.
As we pasted photos of President Wilson, Russia's Stalin, and Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm, we watched the exciting story of Sergeant York, a godly hero of World War I. Our next step was to learn about the Balkans, the step-by-step unfolding of World War I, the War to End All Wars, heroes like Nurse Cavell, and dog fighting. For us, it's been a fun way to introduce a new season of study.
Other times, we have used movies as a treat when we finish a unit study.
Whether we watch movies in the beginning, middle, or end of a history study, movies are a hit in our house!
Here are some of our favorites.
Here are some movies we have enjoyed for American history:
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (great look at the Pilgrims)
Liberty Kids series of cartoon shows (American Revolution)
The Alamo starring John Wayne
Gone with the Wind (Civil War)
Time Changer (Golden Age)
Pollyanna (Turn of the Century)
Disney's The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1960's)
Here are some movies we have enjoyed studying world history:
The Ten Commandments (Israel/Egypt)
One Night with the King (Ancient Persia)
Gospel of John (Time of Jesus)
The Nativity Story (Time of Jesus)
Risen (Time of Jesus)
Ben Hur (Time of Jesus)
Peter & Paul (Time of Jesus)
Polycarp (Early Church)
Sword in the Stone (Early Middle Ages)
Lion in Winter (Middle Ages)
Robin Hood (Middle Ages)
God's Outlaw (William Tyndale 16th Century England)
Three Musketeers (1600s/15th Century France)
Amazing Grace (John Newton 1700s/18th Century England)
Pride & Prejudice (1800s/19th Century England)
Lawrence of Arabia (Early 1900s/20th Century England/Middle East)
Chariots of Fire (1930s/Scotland)
We also love geography movies. Here are some of our favorites:
Faith Like Potatoes (Africa)
Hotel Rwanda (Africa) watch with ClearPlay
Disney's Queen of Katwe (Africa)
The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (China, Asia)
Disney's Jungle Book (India)
Disney's Monkeys Go Home (France, Europe)
Disney's Pinocchio (Italy, Europe)
Disney's Winnie the Pooh (England, Europe)
Roman Holiday (Italy, Europe)
Princess Diaries II (Europe)
Anne of Green Gables (Canada, North America)
Disney's Cars (USA, Route 66, North America)
Snow Dogs (Alaska, North America)
Emperor's New Groove (Peru, South America)
Up (Venezuela, South America)
Disney's Finding Nemo (Australia, Coral Reef, Pipeline)
The Man From Snowy River (Australia)
Crocodile Dundee (Australia)
Movies give my children a taste of life in another time and place. They are especially wonderful for visual learners. It's one thing to read about something and see a photograph/painting, but it's another to see it acted out.
When I teach history to my children, I want them to feel that they are traveling back in time to another place and era where they can investigate the people, the food, the transportation, the customs, the culture. Movies gives us a visual. Along with historical fiction, biographies, audios, paintings, artwork, music, recipes, and toys, they bring a time and place in history alive.
If you would like to learn more about teaching history the fun way, check out our resources at Powerline Productions here. We offer unit studies, textbooks, cookbooks, event planning books, and lapbooks to make it easy to teach history the fun way!
Until next time, Happy Homeschooling!
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