One of my favorite things about using a literature-based approach to homeschooling is that there is so much flexibility! Beyond having your kids read books they’re more likely to find interesting for their learning, you can springboard that so easily into watching movies, too – which is great for sick days, hot days, or any other days when you just need an “easy out” for some reason. Here are some ways to incorporate movies into your literature based homeschool.
Compare and Contrast
The easiest thing to do is obviously to compare and contrast the book and movie, if a matching set exists. There are so many fantastic children’s books with equally fantastic movies. One of my favorite examples of this is Charlotte’s Web. It’s a classic children’s book, and for good reason. It teaches strong lessons, but isn’t preachy. It wasn’t written with the intent of teaching those lessons, which is why it works so well. A lot of modern books are “lesson first, story second,” and that’s the wrong way to write. It’s much better when authors write a compelling story that kids will be interested in, and there are some lessons that can be organically gleaned from the story. (Pushing those lessons after the fact is also unideal. Let children make the jumps for themselves when possible.) Not only is Charlotte’s Web an amazing early novel for kids to read, but there are quite a few good film adaptations. The best one is the 2006 version starring Dakota Fanning as Fern and an all-star voice cast for the animals. Holes is another great example. Or the entire Harry Potter series. So if your kids are old enough for some serious critical thinking, have them do a compare and contrast between the books and movies they read. Ask specific questions: why do you think the filmmakers chose to change that from the book? Would you have made that change? What do you think was better in the book? Better about the movie? Which did you like better?
Use the Movie as Incentive to Read the Book
We’ve done this before with our kids. We don’t have a strict “you have to read the book before you’re allowed to see the movie” policy, but I know some parents do, and that works well. But even in a familiar story (a movie your child saw as a young child, for example), giving them the motivation of not being allowed to watch the movie (again) until they’re read the book can be a great motivator.
Let the movie help you explain parts of the book that may have been confusing (or vice versa)
In 2015, I saw the movie The Martian for the first time. It had been on my list for a long time, and I was so excited to finally see it. It was only upon seeing the opening credits that I realized it was based on a book, and I was really interested in then reading the book too. I found both to be fascinating – in fact, The Martian is now one of my favorite movies. I watch it about once a year, even now. But there were parts of the movie that I didn’t fully understand. I read the book, and it was even more complicated than the movie – but in different ways. What I found most interesting about that story in particular was how well the book and movie complimented each other. The parts of the book that were more confusing were clarified by the movie; the parts of the movie that were confusing were clarified in the book. They really do work hand in hand. So next time your student is struggling through a specific part in a book, see if there’s a movie counterpart that might help them to get a better visual on what the story is trying to say.
Do you use movies in your homeschool, or just as fun?