Have you ever considered teaching with movies? Did you know they can be a great educational tool? Teaching with movies can enhance any curriculum or topic by bringing words and pictures to life.
We all know I am largely in favor of using historical fiction as a means of teaching and enriching our children’s education. While I have been hesitant to add movies into our repertoire (with all the screen time debates), I am now doing so as another means of enriching our studies.
A year or so ago we sat down over a period of days and watched Roots with our teenage daughter. I chose this instead of the book because the mere size of the book can be intimidating, and because I thought this would be something we could do together and easily discuss along the way.
To this day our daughter (and my husband) still talk about Roots. From the actors to the story line, they even quote the movie! So for me taking the “screen time” to watch the movie not only enhanced our daughter’s grasp of the time period, it gave her a visual she remembers and an experience we all shared and can talk about.
Resources for Teaching with Movies
1. Learning with the Movies: A Guide for Education and Fun
I recently purchased the book Learning with the Movies. This book is written in the form of a film/video guide, but with a couple of major differences:
- Beth has a Christian perspective and has reviewed these films with children’s viewing in mind and has used these view-points in her reviews.
- The categories are divided into time periods and subjects to accompany the need to find a film pertaining to a chosen area of study.
What I love about this book is how easy it makes it to come up with a children appropriate movie to accompany your current topic of study.
2. Teach with Movies Website
Teach with Movies is a website that has resources and lessons plans based on movies! You can search by age or subject with categories in English, Social Studies, Science and more!
As an example I pulled up The Great Gatsby.
The Great Gatsby was written in 1925 by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.
It has spurred several movie adaptations:
- The Great Gatsby (1949) with Alan Ladd and Betty Field
- The Great Gatsby (1974) with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow
- The Great Gatsby (2013) with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire
The Teach with Movies site offers links to order and/or stream the movie (and even suggests the book version be read), as well as features things like:
- a description of the movie
- benefits and drawbacks to the movie
- Parenting Points,
- a Compare/Contrast between movie and book
- Discussion Questions with suggested answers
- Suggested projects and activities
- Essay Topics
3. Compare/Contrast Movies with Books
It has become increasingly trendy that books be turned into movies. In fact there are whole book lists dedicated to books that have been turned into movies.
One big thing we do in our house is insist that our kids read the books before they see the movies. Then when it comes to extending their critical thinking and thought processes, we use this FREE Printable Compare/Contrast Movie vs. Book. It gives us a chance to talk about both items as well as their subject matter, hashing out the similarities and differences as well as driving home the theme or meaning.
4. The Super Mega List of Family Friendly Movies
While this is not strictly an educational list, it is a list of family friendly movies to consider checking out with your kids! (As always be sure to pre-screen for your level of appropriateness)
5. How to Effectively Use Movies to Teach
I love this article, How to Effectively Teach History with Movies. It offers many teaching suggestions for you to try out with your children. I love her suggestion of movie being Discussion Generation Tool. Movies can spur a discussion on so many topics. For instance, Newsies offers such topics as child labor, union/labor/strikes, social equality, civil and personal rights, and so much more!