In our homeschool, we enjoy a good movie to round out certain periods of history. It really helps the times, the culture, the era to come alive. And if you’ve done your study before you watch the movie, you’ll hear your children exclaim that they recognize this person or that place. Plus, it’s lots of fun!
Either before or just after we’ve read a story, or about a historic time, seeing that portrayed on screen with costumes, music, customs, and live action is the absolute best review of any subject, and it also acts as a great reward.
I found this list of historical movies in chronological order. For a Type A homeschooling, list-obsessed mom, it was like winning the jackpot! Click here for the full list.
Obviously, parents need to filter this information for their families. Some are not appropriate for children, but there are a couple of ways to verify their content.
Internet Movie Database or IMDB is an exhaustive list of movies that you can search, by title, producer, actors, and almost anything else. It even tells you where to stream it (Amazon, Netflix, etc.). It is pretty good about giving you the breakdown of what’s included, like language, themes, violence, etc. It’s a secular site, but I still find that it gives lots of helpful information. And, if you’re searching for a particular topic, you can do a search right in IMDB.
Plugged In Online by Focus on the Family is a great resource for Christian parents for all things media. The only drawback is that it’s mostly current movies (meaning this generation) that they review. Okay, two drawbacks: I find that Focus on the Family is not nearly conservative as I used to think they were, or that I am more conservative than I used to be. So, again, you’ll need to filter it yourself.
One of my standards for judging movies is the older the better. You almost can’t go wrong if it was made in the 60’s or before (I say almost, because there are always exceptions.)
Some examples of movies we’ve enjoyed this year: Shennandoah and Gone With the Wind (Civil War), The Alamo (Texas History), Alone Yet Not Alone (French and Indian War), The Hiding Place and Flying Tigers (World War 2) and the list goes on.
We also love to watch a movie based on a book we read. Some great examples: Johnny Tremain, The Narnia movies, Run Baby Run, Ol’ Yeller, Anne of Green Gables…you get the idea!
In all of my posts on studying history, you will find movie recommendations to add to the mix! (See my Curriculum Page for all of that, and don’t forget to sign up for my email list to stay on top of the latest posts!)
Well-done documentaries are also high on my list. America: The Story of Us is a great series that devotes an hour do about 10 different major time periods in American history. I found it when we used Sonlight American history, and it followed our scope and sequence almost perfectly, focusing on the very events we focused on. There’s a similar series devoted to World History. (These are available for a subscription to History Vault on Amazon if you don’t have the History Channel.)
We also LOVE Drive Thru History. I recently reviewed the latest series The Gospels, and we are simultaneously enjoying episodes from the American History series.
2021 update: In this new era of censorship, I am recommending more people purchase a hard copy or purchase a download of favorite movies, instead of relying on streaming services. As Disney + has begun limiting which of their old classics are shown on certain profiles, I believe more and more “politically incorrect” movies will be hard to find.
So, what movies have you added to your homeschool curriculum? Please share in the comments below!