If you’re feeling like you’re in a slump, especially on a cold gray day, or if the kids are out of school with “nothing to do,” watching a movie might be just the thing. Pop some popcorn and spend the afternoon taking a break from the books. Movies can add another elements to your studies, especially if you read the book version first. Discuss the similarities and differences, how seeing the story visually adds or detracts from it, and which version you like better. Check out your kids’ reading list and see what has a movie version — and don’t forget to see what’s available at your library.
Here are some of our favorite “school” movies:
The Help. Lots of discussion afterwards. I found a teacher’s guide that gave us some things to talk about and think about.
Empire of the Sun, directed by Steven Spielberg, starring a young Christian Bale, in what I think is one of his best performances. Set during WWII, this movie shows the harsh realities and horror of war through the eyes of a child. I dare you not to cry at the end.
Our Real Teens Read group watched Empire of the Sun after we read The House of Sixty Fathers and Farewell to Manzanar. Click here to see these in my shop, under Favorite Reads.
Shane, directed by George Stevens, starring Alan Ladd. A homestead family at the mercy of a wealthy cattleman. Retired gunfighter Shane shows up and you’ll have to watch to see what happens. Great western classic.
Apollo 13, directed by Ron Howard, starring Tom Hanks. “Houston, we have a problem.” Studying space, rockets, and flight in science made my boys want to see what it might be like to go into space. Now my middle son is even more convinced that duct tape is a necessity for life.
Dolphin Tale, based on a true story. Favorable portrayal of a homeschool family. Read Dolphin Adventure, Dolphin Freedom, and Dolphin Treasure by Wayne Grover. Click here to see these in my shop, under Favorite Reads.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1939 version), starring Mickey Rooney. Campy, but fun. We discussed how certain aspects of the movie were so different from the book and how the movie might be made differently today. My oldest was inspired to look at how society influences film as a research paper topic after seeing how Twain’s biting satire was handled in this early film.