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How to Teach with Movies

Walking with dinosaures

How often do you let your kids see a movie or TV show? What movies and shows do you like to watch together? There are many educational movies for kids. We particularly like to watch documentaries. Kids can learn so much from them. One great source of documentary movies and TV shows is Netflix. You can find many great movies for kids of all ages. At the bottom of this post, I listed some of the titles I like. What is good about Netflix, you can watch on almost any devices you have, computer, TV, tablets, even smart phones. All you need is to download the free app and sign in with your account information. Everything is synced among all the devices you have. For more information about Netflix, visit iGameMom’s review Netflix Offers Good Kids Movie Selections How to Teach with Movies

How do you make sure kids are learning from the movies and TV shows? Here is what I do:

1. Check on background knowledge needed. Sometimes it is historical background, sometimes it is scientific knowledge. Lacking background knowledge will make the learning impossible and the watching experience boring.

2. Be ready to pause and discuss on the spot. This is why I like to watch movies and TV shows at home, so we can pause, rewind, talk at our normal voice.

3. Ask questions along the way and at the end to check for understanding and comprehension. You can create questions yourself, you can also find many good discussion guides online. We recently watched Lewis & Clark: The Journey Out West. After I Googled the movie title, I find some very good study guides. I used the Lewis and Clark Worksheet from Teacherweb.

4. Have post-movie discussions and activities to reinforce and expand the learning. Once you know kids have good comprehension of the movie, you can add discussions and activities to expand the learning. You definitely want to do activities based on your child’s interest. However, you can always find great ideas if you search online, like this Lewis and Clark Family Activity Guide from National Geographic.

5. Follow the child’s lead. You don’t want to push through learnings when the child is not interested. I usually gather the materials I need (like those I found online), go through them, identify 1 to 3 topics I’d like to cover. Then I try to bring these topics up whenever I see an opportunity. Sometimes the talk is right after the movie, sometimes it is in the middle when we pause the movie, and sometimes it is at the dinner table.

Do you have tips on learning with movies?

Movies and TV shows for older kids:

1. Lewis & Clark: The Journey Out West: This documentary chronicles the Lewis and Clark expedition and the breathtaking landscape they crossed while searching for the Northwest Passage.
2. Walking with Dinosaurs: The Cretaceous, Triassic and Jurassic periods come to life in this Emmy-winning series that shows the Earth through the eyes of individual dinosaurs. There is a companion app. For iGameMom’s review, visit Walking with Dinosaurs App.
3. Secret Yellowstone: National Geographic cameras capture unseen aspects of magnificent Yellowstone — America’s oldest national park and among the most visited.
4. The Blue Planet: David Attenborough narrates this definitive exploration of the marine world, from the familiar to the unknown, revealing the sea and its communities.
5. When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions: Follow the 20th century’s space race all the way to the moon — and beyond — in this series that features eye-popping footage of various missions.

Movies and TV shows for younger kids:

1. The Great Mouse Detective: Based on the book series, Basil of Baker Street, this is essentially the story of Sherlock Holmes as a mouse.
2. Busytown Mysteries: Huckle Cat, his sister Sally and their friends investigate the mysteries in Busytown and find answers to life’s lessons along the way.
3. LeapFrog: Math Adventures to the Moon: Frog siblings Tad and Lily rely on counting, sorting, recognizing patterns and other basic math skills to navigate through space in a rocket ship.
4. Turtle: The Incredible Journey: A loggerhead turtle swims from a beach in Florida across the Atlantic Ocean, encountering stunning sea creatures as well as hazards created by man.
5. The Magic School Bus: Join Ms. Frizzle as the Magic School Bus travels to outer space, under the sea, through an anthill — and even inside the human body! There are a total of 50 episodes.

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