Movies have come to be an effective and engaging way to teach history across all school-going age groups. They innocuously trigger discussions on historical events, and kindle interest in delving deeper. Whether a mainstream Hollywood movie, a documentary or an enactment (authentic recreations of a period through sets and costumes), films almost always create more a powerful “story” of a people or a time, than printed words in a history textbook.
Thankfully for our kids, and us, we have access to a goldmine that goes by the name of YouTube.
For almost every topic covered in the social studies and history curriculum in K-12, chances are YouTube has a video created by a reasonably credible source (although that itself may be the subject of a healthy debate, perhaps as part of a social studies unit on biases and points of view) such as BBC, History Channel, Discovery Channel, and others. The newly launched Youtube Movies channel with its ever-growing collection is also an asset for educators of any ilk.
These videos serve as an excellent supplement to – and in some cases a reasonable substitute for – the traditional history textbook. The audio-visual medium of films and movies almost always guarantees a higher level of of engagement in the learner, and as such, creates the perfect backdrop for better learning and understanding of a topic.
Here is a sampling of some videos in no particular order (Note that (1) many are links to the first of a multi-part series of videos, and (2) Some may be in violation of copyright and may end up being removed by YouTube)–
- Civilizations: Mesopotamia (1 of 6)
- Secrets of Ancient Egypt
- The Holy Crusades
- Ancient Rome: Rise and Fall of an Empire (Part 1)
- The Last Stand of the 300 Spartans (1 of 10)
- Ancient Warriors: The Spartans (1 of 3)
- The First Emperor: The Man Who Made China (Part 1)
- Lost Treasures of the Ancient World – India (1 of 5)
- Origins of civilization – India: Empire of Spirit (1 of 6)
- Engineering an Empire: The Aztecs
- Engineering an Empire: The Byzantine Greeks (1 of 5)
- Lost civilization: The Incas (1 of 6)
- Biography – Muhammad the Prophet (1 of 6)
- Bayeaux Tapestry
- Gettysburg Reenactment
- The First World War: War Without End (1 of 6)
- Assassination of JFK – Zapruder Film
- Oliver Cromwell & the English Civil War (1 of 4)
- Surviving the Holocaust – Yaakov Hollander’s Story
- The Last Days of the Raj: End of British India (1 of 9)
- Tryst With Destiny: Nehru’s Independence Day Speech
- Peter Jennings of ABC News reports on the fall of the Berlin Wall
- Youtube Movies
If you are a homeschooling parent, YouTube is probably already a handy site and constant companion in your efforts, and we’d love for you to share your comments and/or links to other great videos on YouTube.