Thursday, October 15, 2009

Homeschooling with the Movies!

One of the things that I love about homeschooling is that I am able to make up the rules as I go. For a control freak like me, that can be a good thing. But, even someone like me needs a little help now and again...okay, I need it WAY more than I ask for it, and when I find it, I like to tell people about it!

When we first started our homeschooling journey, I felt the need to "stick with what I know". (Of course, it wasn't much!) In the public schools (which I was an unwilling participant of, back in the "olden days"), we had textbooks that we read, followed by workbooks or tedious writing projects to show off what we learned. Blah, blah, blah... Needless to say, I was not a fan. Don't get me wrong, I LOVED science and history, but to read about Christopher Columbus EVERY SINGLE YEAR from kindergarten through 11th or 12th grade, well, let's just say repetition didn't make it any more exciting. In fact, by the time high school arrived, I had NO interest in history. To me, it was dull. I even tried to change things up a bit by writing a "rap" poem about old Columbus! My teacher was NOT amused. In high school, any late arrivals to U.S. history class (It was after lunch...clearly not my fault.), would be "punished" by having to write The Gettysburg Address. Other than Columbus, that was the most I took away from history. After all, I did have it memorized by the end of the semester!

So how does a parent make sure that history does not get monotonous? Try adding some movies to the curriculum! I found a wonderful book, Learning with the Movies, that does all of the work for me. The author lists movies by category, such as; Ancient Greece, The Renaissance, 1800's, and 1900's. There are sub-categories that dig deeper into the different wars. Besides that, there are categories for Biographies, Science/Nature, Holidays, Literature and Family Films. (Just to name a few!) The really nice part of this book is that the author, Beth Holland, rates the movies with stars and lets you know which age group the movie is more geared to. I have found a lot of the movies on Netflix and at our local public library. Some of the movies we really enjoyed, so they are now a part of our home video library! (Really, can a family have too many John Wayne movies?) One of our favorite studies was on the Civil War, using movies such as, "Gone with the Wind", "Gettysburg" and "Gods and Generals". We also found a Ken Burns documentary at our library that was a nice addition to our study.

If history is getting a little tiresome at your house, have a movie day! Add some pajamas and popcorn and sit back for some fun learning!

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