Teaching Children Through Film

The worldwide COVID-19 outbreak has forced schools to transfer to online classes or extend their spring break, leaving many at-home parents with the taxing job of monitoring their children’s schoolwork or keeping them preoccupied during the day with educational activities. Film is a mind-stimulating and convenient educational tool that parents can use during this period of confinement. Many streaming sites offer intriguing documentaries or hundreds of instructional videos that can keep children engaged with the outside world and expose them to a myriad of subjects they may not have necessarily explored in school.

Kanopy offers an incredible resource called “The Great Courses,” a series of videos on virtually any subject. One of them is “How to Become a SuperStar Student” series, which would be perfect for children currently out of school to brush up on before returning to school. The series features helpful videos to improve classroom and learning skills such as “Thinking Critically” and “Writing Well.” There are literature courses about folklore and fairy tales, history lessons on Aborigine Art, or a “Your Body” class geared to kindergartners through third graders. The choices are endless in this incredible online resource.

Another engrossing documentary is Spellbound, available to watch on Tubi. The film follows the Olympic-level pressures put on eight kids from disparate ethnic, class, and regional backgrounds who travel to Washington D.C. for the National Spelling Bee Finals. A simple story about something that may be considered dull is actually utterly gripping and often humorous. Plus, children can learn a host of new vocabulary words. Read our Video Librarian review here

Dream Big: Engineering Our World is a fascinating peek into the incredible world of engineers and the marvels they make—big and small—from the Great Wall of China to underwater robots, the world’s tallest buildings, solar cars, and sustainable cities. These rousing stories reveal STEM-workers’ grit and intelligence, and the hard work it takes to create better lives. The documentary motivates future generations to change the world. This film offers real world examples of science put into action so parents can plan their next science class around this film on Netflix. Read our Video Librarian review here

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Documentary Educational Resources Offering Free Streaming of Curated Collection Through June 1, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Documentary Educational Resources (DER) is offering free unlimited streaming access through June 1, 2020 to a curated selection of films—a mix of new releases and classic titles from their collection. The 24 titles available include An Autobiography of Michelle Maren (VL-3/17), Live from UB: Rock & Freedom in the New Mongolia (VL-3/18), Tashi’s Turbine (VL Online-11/17), Tender (VL-9/16), and Visible Silence (VL-7/17). A Vimeo account is required (it is free to sign up). To watch any film, click on “Rent” in the top right corner of the video player and log in to your Vimeo account. On checkout, click “Apply promo code” and enter: WFH2020. For a listing of films and more information, please visit DER’s “Watch From Home” page at https://www.der.org/watch-from-home/?mc_cid=f9b3f9b7d4&mc_eid=eab7694120.

Video Distributors Respond to COVID-19 with Special Streaming Deals

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, many video distributors are offering reduced digital streaming costs as well as lower prices or free streaming for titles owned by libraries on physical media. Gisèle Tanasse, Film & Media Services Librarian for UC Berkeley, has put together a continually expanding list of distributors (currently 30) with information on special streaming offers. Here’s the link to the Google doc: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1A2bJoWFHLj_ZVS2Dh1LC40uUupMsl7C99M8c7NvEY8g/edit#gid=0.