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U.S.A. Popcorn Adventure #65
September 10, 2008

Bringing History To Life

Movies That Teach + Family Movie Night

As our children have moved from Preschool through their elementary years, we have relied upon movies to add another dimension to their education. To kick off the school year, we have compiled a list of elementary school history time periods and matched each with our favorite movies that explore  that curriculum -- a fun way to give family time and education a boost! We like to keep a few of these films on hand when opportunities for family time sprout up.  As you might expect, we have reviewed many of the movies we have included (they appear in blue below -- if you click on the movie title you will be linked to directly to our review). We hope you enjoy our selections, and would love you to click here to send us movie titles that you have used to connect your kids to history.    

Here are our favorite movies for bringing history to life:

Film Title: Movies That Teach History
Directed By: Various
Many, Rated U, varied

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about these Films:

  • What Worked for Us: We use Netflix to research and stash our Queues, and keep a few films at home at any time. We have learned that it is often hard to find a few hours to watch a movie --we grab screen time when we have it and are content to watch a film in two sittings if we can't squeeze it into one!  For additional KOTC Tips on how to get your kids to watch movies that they have not heard of, click here.
  • Books To Leave Around:  It is helpful to leave books around the house that relate to your child's school work.  There is plenty of fiction that takes place in historical time periods.  We also like books like Egyptology and DK publications to make ancient time periods come alive  -- often, these books show what types of clothing, games and food people ate during the time they are studying (interesting detail that most history books really do not cover).  See kernels below for ideas on discovering historical fiction from teachers, librarians and a great resource guide on kid lit.

Our Tips for Talking with your Kids about these Films:

  • Open Channels: Watching something together opens avenues for conversation about every topic; if you are searching for a way to find out what is happening at school, sitting together in front of a screen often spurs conversation.
  • Our KOTC Tips: Click here to read our tips for watching films with your family.

Family Movie Night with Movies That Teach History

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom for Choosing Movies with An Educational Twist:

  • Teachers Are Excellent Sources:  Talk to your child's teacher, or librarian, to flesh out other film and literature choices that connect to school curriculum. Our favorite resource for literary suggestions on a variety of history topics is How To Get Your Child To Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell.  Check out our bookstore to order a copy for your home library.  Or, click here to visit Esme's website.
  •  Connect To Culture:  We know, if you are a KOTC subscriber you already enjoy taking cultural excursions with your kids and snuggling together to watch worthy films.  We just want to remind you that if your child becomes really interested in a school topic, connecting them to a cultural outing really deepens their understanding.  We have panned gold when our children got excited about the gold rush, visited The Mission at San Juan Capistrano when our daughters studied California history and visited the Museum of Tolerance's Point of View Diner exhibit when our teens discussed intolerance and the LA Riots in History Class. 

Our Tips for Extending your Experience:

  • Teach with Movies is a wonderful website run by two parents in LA who have created curriculum around good movies. The site costs about $12.00 per year, but is worth it! Click here to visit their home page.
  • Common Sense Media is a non-profit organization that reviews media for families. It is a great first stop to review a movie or video that your child wants to see, but that you have yet to preview. Click here to visit their site.


Want more? Here are KOTC's picks of films, books, music, and websites that connect your family to more culture.

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