Some Recommendations for Movies With Educational Value

in #homeschool9 months ago (edited)

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Watching a movie can be a fun and effective way to learn about something and to inspire further curiosity and discussion. I thought I'd put together a list of some movies that my family has watched and some notes about their educational content as a resource for anyone interested, especially since so many schools are currently closed due to Covid-19.

Some of the movies teach history, others explore important topics, some are inspirational and/or promote positive character traits. This is obviously not an all-inclusive list—it's just a few that we have enjoyed. If you disagree with some of the movies that I've included, just ignore them and move on.

Please note that I live in the United States, so quite a few of the history movies reflect US history.

I have included links to each movie's listing on IMDB.com (International Movie Database) so you can watch the trailers and get more info. If you want to know about a movie's violence, nudity, language, etc, you can click on the “More” menu on the movie's IMDB page and then click “Parental Guide.”

For your convenience, I'm including if the movies are available on Netflix, Amazon or Disney Plus at the time of this writing. Since these websites change their movies regularly, you can search justwatch.com for updated info on where you can find these movies. You can also check your local library to see if they have the movies you want. I used to live in Nashville, TN, and the Nashville library has most of the movies included here.

Enjoy!

42

PG-13; 2013
rated 7.5/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

Biography of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball. Important for history and addressing racism.

A Christmas Carol

many different versions
many available on Amazon Video, many included with Prime

Classic literature by Charles Dickens turned into a movie. A story of redemption frequently referenced by other works.

A League of Their Own

PG; 1992
rated 7.2/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

Tells the story of a professional women's baseball league that existed from 1943-1954 while many men were off fighting in World War II. The details of the movie are fictional, but it gets across the general idea of the league.

Apollo 13

PG; 1995
rated 7.6/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

True story of NASA's Apollo 13 mission to the moon in 1970.

Ben Hur

G; 1959
rated 8.1/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

Historical drama set in the first century in the Roman Empire. Won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Cinematography. Important topics: slavery, first-century life and war, and moral character. This movie is long at 3.5 hours, but my kids love it, especially the chariot races.

Chasing Happiness

Not rated; 2019
rated 7.9/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video, included with Prime

Biography of the Jonas Brothers, a wildly successful pop group made up of three brothers. A story of inspiration, overcoming, and pursuing your dreams.

Dances With Wolves

PG-13; 1990
rated 8.0/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

A Civil War soldier interacts with a Sioux tribe. Historical fiction. Important topics: US Civil War, racism, history of American Indians. Won 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography.

Five Feet Apart

PG-13; 2019
rated 7.2/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

A story about two teenagers with cystic fibrosis. Educational regarding cystic fibrosis and generally dealing with chronic illness.

Gattaca

PG-13; 1997
rated 7.8/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

A good conversation-starter regarding the idea of eugenics (human genetic engineering).

Harriet

PG-13; 2019
rated 6.2/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

Biography of Harriet Tubman. Harriet escaped from slavery, went on to personally help another 70 slaves escape, and was the first woman to lead an armed expedition (US Civil War) which ultimately resulted in the freeing of over 700 slaves. A great American hero. This movie is good for all ages and can be a good way to introduce the topic of slavery and the US Civil War to younger viewers especially.

Hidden Figures

PG; 2016
rated 7.8/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

“The [true] story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.” (quoted from IMDB) Important topics: segregation, racism, women's empowerment.

I Can Only Imagine

PG; 2018
rated 7.3/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video, included with Prime

Biography of Bart Millard from the wildly successful Christian band MercyMe. A story of inspiration, overcoming, and redemption.

Little Women

PG; 1994
rated 7.3/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

Based on Louisa May Alcott's autobiography of her life during the US Civil War.

The Diary of Anne Frank

Not rated; 2009
rated 7.5/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video, included with Prime

Biography of a Jewish teenage girl named Anne Frank and her family as they go into hiding to escape the Nazis during the Holocaust (World War II). A true story from a very significant time in world history.

Miracle

PG; 2004
rated 7.5/10 on IMDB
available on Netflix, Amazon Video, and Disney Plus

True story about the 1980 US Olympic hockey team overcoming the seemingly unbeatable Soviet team. The hockey battle represents the political/ideological tension at the time between the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, before the Soviet Union collapsed.

Mr. Holland's Opus

PG; 1995
rated 7.3/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video, included with HBO

A (fictional) story about how one person can have a profound positive effect on the people around him, despite life not turning out how he had originally planned.

October Sky

PG; 1999
rated 7.8/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

Inspirational true story about the son of a coal miner who, against his father's wishes, pursues his passion of rocketry.

Pollyanna

Not rated; 1960
rated 7.4/10
available on Amazon Video and Disney Plus

A young girl's positivity touches a whole community.

Pride and Prejudice

PG; 2005
rated 7.8/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

There are many versions of this movie. I like this one and the 1995 BBC version with Colin Firth (which is 5 and a half hours long!). Based on Jane Austen's classic novel. Addresses class disparity and the accompanying prejudice in 1800s England.

Queen of Katwe

PG; 2016
rated 7.4/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video and Disney Plus

The inspirational true story of a young girl living in poverty in Uganda who learns to play chess and ultimately becomes a chess champion.

Remember the Titans

PG; 2000
rated 7.8/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video and Disney Plus

The true inspirational story of an African-American coach leading a high school football team after the school has just been racially integrated in 1971. As the football team learns to work together, they bring their community together.

Romeo and Juliet

PG; 1968
rated 7.6/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

Shakespeare's classic story of two young lovers from warring families. This story is referenced frequently by other works. This version is much more appropriate for younger audiences than other versions I have seen. I also like the more modern adaptation Romeo + Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio for a little bit older audience.

Ruby Bridges

PG; 1998
rated 7.2/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video and Disney Plus

True story of a 6-year-old girl who is the first African-American child enrolled at a previously all-white elementary school in 1960 New Orleans.

Rudy

PG; 1993
rated 7.5/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

True inspirational story about a guy with bad grades, small stature, and low athletic skill who has a dream of playing football for Notre Dame. His energy and passion inspire everyone around him. A story of overcoming, perseverance, and pursuing your dreams.

Schindler's List

R; 1993
rated 8.9/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

True story about a man named Oskar Schindler that goes from opportunistic businessman to saving the lives of hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust. Very powerful movie to illustrate this significant piece of world history. I strongly recommend parental supervision for this movie.

Seabiscuit

PG-13; 2003
rated 7.3/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

True inspirational story about a small racehorse during the Depression who surprised everyone with his success and became a source of hope to the nation.

Secretariat

PG; 2010
rated 7.2/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video and Disney Plus

True story of a housewife with little knowledge of horseracing leading her horse to win the Triple Crown in 1973, a feat only achieved by eight other horses previously (and only four more after him). Important topics: women in male-dominated industries and overcoming incredible odds.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

PG-13; 2008
rated 7.8/10 on IMDB
available on Netflix and Amazon Video

Fictional story about the young son of a German commander in charge of a concentration camp for Jews during the Holocaust. This young boy befriends a boy inside of the concentration camp (through the barbed-wire fence) but is completely ignorant of what the concentration camp is for. The movie addresses the Holocaust from the innocent viewpoint of a child.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

PG; 2019
rated 7.6/10 on IMDB
available on Netflix

True story of an African boy who creates an invention that saves his family and village from a famine.

The Grapes of Wrath

Not rated; 1940
rated 8.0/10
available on Amazon Video

A black-and-white movie about a poor family during the Great Depression who loses their land and goes West in search of better fortune. They encounter all sorts of trials along the way. Based on John Steinbeck's classic novel. Key topics: the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.

The Miracle Worker

Not rated; 2019
rated 7.3/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video, included with Prime

True story of Anne Sullivan trying to teach Helen Keller, who was both deaf and blind, how to communicate.

The Pursuit of Happyness

PG-13; 2006
rated 8.0/10 on IMDB
available on Netflix and Amazon Video

True story of a struggling salesman who winds up living on the streets with his son as he does a highly-competitive unpaid internship in pursuit of a better career and life. Overcoming immense struggles to achieve one's dreams.

The Ten Commandments

G; 1956
rated 7.8/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

Biblical epic about Moses who leads the Hebrew people out of Egyptian slavery. Although this movie is 3 hours and 40 minutes long, my kids absolutely love it.

Titanic

PG-13; 1997
rated 7.8/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

Fictional love story wrapped in the true story of the Titanic, a massive steamship which sank on its maiden voyage in April of 1912. Won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography.

Unplanned

R; 2019
rated 5.8/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

True story of Abby Johnson who became one of the youngest Planned Parenthood clinic directors in the country but then experienced something which completely changed her view on abortion. I strongly recommend parental supervision for this one.

Walk Ride Rodeo

PG; 2019
rated 6.4/10 on IMDB
available on Netflix

The inspirational true story of a girl in competitive rodeo who gets paralyzed in an accident but is determined to get back into rodeo. Theme: Overcoming the seemingly impossible.

West Side Story

Not rated; 1961
rated 7.5/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

A musical adaptation of Shakespeare's classic Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story tells the story of Tony and Maria falling in love from two rival gangs in New York City. Won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Music.

Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken

G; 1991
rated 7.2/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video

Very loosely based on the true story of Sonora Webster Carver who dove horses off a high tower into a pool of water below in 1920s Atlantic City. Tragedy struck and she had to grapple with a huge challenge. (I'll refrain from spoilers.) The movie is really good but does change quite a few things about her story. I highly recommend you read the book also and note the differences between her actual life and how they chose to portray her in the movie version. The book is called A Girl and Five Brave Horses.

Wonder

PG; 2017
rated 8.0/10 on IMDB
available on Amazon Video, included with Prime

Fictional story based on a New York Times bestseller. A story about a boy with cranio-facial deformities and the challenges he faces on entering school. A movie that teaches compassion and acceptance of people that are different from you.

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Very good idea. Some great talking points, even with those movies that might be more fictional than accurate.

Yes, definitely. Thanks for reading and sharing :)

Great list, thanks.

You're welcome!