What We’re Watching–Documentaries and Other Educational Films

I have shared a lot of different reading lists over the years, so I thought it was about time I shared a different kind of list…this time of the documentaries and educational and fine arts films we’ve watched, either to coordinate with our school work, or to learn something entirely new! (I didn’t include Doctor Who, even though it was originally created as an educational program to teach history, but it is also something we regularly watch!)


The British Monarchy

Other British Documentaries

The Space Program



Miscellaneous (Including travel, fine arts, and American history.)

Animated Shows

Over the years, I have found it really helpful to have some trusted films covering various topics and suitable for different grade levels that we can watch to supplement what we’re learning in school, or to give me a break from teaching school on the rare occasion that I’m sick. A lot of the time, we even end up watching something from this list just for the fun of it in the evening or during the weekend! What educational films do you like to watch?

2012-13 School Year–Week Seventeen

This week we got back to work after our vacation. For the most part, things fell right into place. I say “for the most part” because it appears Turkey and Bunny forgot almost everything they had learned about division over our break. As we are laying the groundwork for long division right now, you can imagine what kind of problem this was! There were a few days where it took close to two hours for them to complete their lessons. This was due in  part to the distraction that is Chickadee, but it was also due to what appeared to be a genuine lack of comprehension on their parts. I worked through a lot of problems with them, so hopefully, next week, we’ll find that math is less of a struggle!

We’re continuing to learn about the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era in history, and we’ve started a new read-aloud to go with that time period: Cheaper by the Dozen. This was a last-minute addition to our curriculum  because I wasn’t excited about the book I had previously chosen to read at this point. For those unfamiliar with the book, it’s nothing like the new Cheaper by the Dozen movie, but very much like the original 1950 production. I really like the book/movie, because it shows what family life was like in the early 1900s, but be warned, there is some language in it.

Science was the one area where I allowed a bit of slacking this week…we watched Magic School Bus videos. I’m so glad that I was able to find the DVDs on sale last year…like Liberty’s Kids, they’re a great resource, and are helpful for supplementing in school, or just watching for fun. I’m always amazed by how much the children pick up and remember from shows like this. I wouldn’t use TV all the time for learning, but it definitely does have its place!

Next week, we’ll be fully back to our regular schedule, including our regular science curriculum. School always feels a little boring after the Thanksgiving/Christmas rush, but it is nice not to have to plan out crafts and other fun activities for a bit!

Blast Off!

I’m working on a “summer school” unit for Turkey and Bunny.  We’re kind of doing year round schooling, but I don’t want to start our regular curriculum earlier and earlier every year (at least not until they’re older), so in addition to the special units I do during the regular school year, I’m tyring to come up with some summer units as well.  Right now, my main focus is on outer space, as it’s something that they’re both interested in, and something that has a lot of available resources, and resources that can go beyond science (history, reading, math, biographies, etc.).

We already have quite a few books about space, courtesy of Turkey’s interest, so I have a starting point for my lessons.  We have three DK Readers, which will be useful both for reading practice and learning: Rockets and Spaceships; Starry Sky; and Astronaut Living in Space.  We will also re-read one of our favorites–There’s No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System.  Although this is written in the style of Dr. Seuss, and stars the Cat in the Hat, it actually teaches quite a lot about outer space, and is just a fun book to read.

We also have two encyclopedia-type books: My Book of Space and the DK First Space Encyclopedia.  These books (especially the latter) have to be read with some care, to avoid the topic of the “Big Bang,” which I do not feel is an appropriate subject at this young age.  When Turkey and Bunny are older, we’ll discuss the theory, as well as why it’s incorrect, but for now, until they can process more fully, we are avoiding the subject altogether.

We’ll also be reading some Magic School Bus titles (The Magic School Bus Takes a Moonwalk and The Magic School Bus: Sees Stars, but not The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System, as that will be a Sonlight book down the road), and I’m hoping to get the Magic School Bus: Secrets of Space science kit, which will provide us with lots of science experiments and projects, including making a telescope (although we’ll be using Turkey’s real telescope in the evenings to hopefully look at some of the things we’re learning about) and  a model of the solar system.secrets-of-space-boxsecrets-of-space-contents

I want Turkey and Bunny to also learn about a person more in-depth, and after seeing an age-appropriate book about him at Moose’s school’s recent book fair, I decided on Neil Armstrong.  Who is Neil Armstrong? (part of Scholastic’s Who Was…? series) is a child-friendly biography of Neil Armstrong’s life, including his famous journey to the moon.

I found a cool book at the library recently that I’m also hoping to use (as long as someone else hasn’t checked it out!): the DK/Google e.guide–Space Travel.  I can’t believe I’ve never come across any of these books before, especially since this particular one is almost five years old, but I find them very interesting.  All of these e.guides have Internet links written into the book for further study.  This will be helpful in learning about space, and in learning a little more about using the computer.

I’m hoping to find The Best Book of Spaceships at the library, as well.  This book was supposed to be a birthday present for Turkey, but it’s “temporarily unavailable.”  I don’t know if it’s going out of print, or maybe is just going through a new printing, but I’m hoping one of the libraries in our system has it. I may also try to find the Usborne First Encyclopedia of Space at the library.  We’ve used several Usborne books in school this year, and I’ve been impressed with them overall, but if this title is too repetitive of what we already have, or focuses too much on the “Big Bang,” I won’t bother checking it out.

I’ve seen some children’s books out there about individual planets (or pairs of planets), but the titles are escaping me at the moment.  If I can ever remember what they were called, I may try to find those at the library, too.  I’d like to learn about a different planet each day for nine days (yes, I’m still counting Pluto), in addition to the sun, other stars, space travel, and all the other things I have planned, and that would be an easy way to go about it, *if* I can find them.

I’m sure we’ll also do the puzzle Turkey received as a Christmas present at least once.  It’s a big Melissa and Doug floor puzzle of the solar system, and even though he and Bunny have pretty much memorized it, it’s a helpful tool for remembering the names of the planets, where they’re located in relation to Earth, and what they look like.

I have a lot of stuff planned for this unit–right now, I’m planning on it lasting two weeks, but I’m sure I could easily turn it into three (maybe even four) weeks of instruction.  It will be something to keep little brains busy in between Sonlight cores this summer, anyway–it’s just too bad they’re not old enough to watch Apollo 13!  Maybe we can sneak an episode of Star Trek in there–even though it’s fiction, it has shaped a lot of the way we view space travel!