Saturday, February 6, 2016

Using Netflix (and Hulu) in Homeschooling

One of our favorite ways to enhance our homeschool curriculum is to add videos.  I believe it is valuable to present information and lessons through a variety of formats, including text, discussions, pictures, charts and graphs, music and audio-visual presentations.  Most children learn best when all of their senses are engaged, and videos can especially help engage the auditory and visual learners.

That's why programs like Netflix and Hulu have been fabulous for us.  After we do a lesson, read a book or have a discussion and we want to explore a topic more, I like to find a video or movie to round out their learning experience.  We don't watch movies every week, but I do like to use them as an optional tool.  Here are some of the ways we've utilized streaming services in our homeschool:


Search by topic
Sometimes if I just want a general overview/review, I will put in a topic like "china" or "birds" or "ocean" and see what comes up.  {We watched an episode of Wild China when studying China and the Yangtze River.}


Search by category
If I have more time to browse, I'll just search through science and nature documentaries, the geography titles, or any educational category, and add things to our queue that fit an upcoming study, or that just look interesting.





Google
I've also googled "movies about XYZ for kids..." or something along those lines to get specific suggestions.


Check with Other Homeschoolers
Other homeschoolers with children approximately the same age, or who are covering the same general topics, or who use the same curriculum--they are valuable troves of useful information!  When it comes to educational movies, ask for recommendations.  There's a Homeschooling with Netflix group on Facebook which offers info on all major streaming services, and I specifically browse the Five in a Row forums/Facebook group, for ideas to go along with our curriculum.


Search a Series
Netflix has many educational series that cover a variety of topics.  You can usually find an episode/topical list for a series on Wikepedia, which is a quick way to get an overview to see if a favorite series has a relevant episode.  An educational series is also a great option for "screen time" when we're taking a break between morning and afternoon subjects, because they get to learn about unique animals (Wild Kratts) or varied science topics (The Magic School Bus) or math (Odd Squad) or the list goes on.  It's kind of like when we were in public school and our teachers would pop in a short video at the end of the day when work was finished so she could grade papers.  It may or may not have been relevant to our current studies, but it's interesting and educational nonetheless, especially for the auditory learner to listen to in the background while he's drawing or building LEGO or something.


Literature
So many books--children's literature and novels--have been turned into movies, or even into television series.  It's a great exercise to allow children to compare and contrast the characters, dialogue and overall plot of the original book with the movie.



Once I find a single episode, documentary or movie that fits our needs, I just choose a time to show it!  If it's a short video, only a few minutes, (like a YouTube clip of a cultural dance) we might just watch it quickly on the computer or iPad right there during the lesson.  Anything else, I will usually cast it to the Chromecast so we can all watch it comfortably on our break between morning and afternoon subjects.  If it's a longer movie, we might watch as a "movie night" in the evening or over the weekend to wrap up our studies.




Do you use Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime or other services to enhance your homeschool?  What are your favorite educational movies or series for elementary ages?  I'm always looking for family-friendly suggestions.



This post is part of the Blogging through the Alphabet series.  I blogged about Netflix, but check out the Nature Study, Notes, Nachos and many other "N" posts!
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