Homeschooling With Movies

© Johanna Goodyear

© Johanna Goodyear

A movie is a great way to bring a subject your child has been studying to life. Integrating a movie into your lesson plan can be a little more complicated though. You want to make sure your child is really learning from the experience and gaining a greater understanding of the subject and its context. We’re going to explore this today by focusing on one movie in particular, The Great Gatsby. Here are our tips for incorporating this classic into your child’s studies:

  • The Great Gatsby is a fantastic novel about life in the 1920’s in the United States. As such, it’s a great way to explore what life was like for Americans between World War I and the Great Depression. So, first and foremost, we think it is important to discuss the historical context of the novel/movie. Explain how the end of the war led to the carefree materialism of the ‘20s, what race relations were like at the time, and how F. Scott Fitzgerald and the movie break down a lot of the big issues of the time.
  • If you’d like to combine studying history and classic American literature, we highly recommend having your child read the novel itself. It’s a short one, but a fantastic way to practice analyzing symbolism and exploring themes. It will also provide a great foundation for watching the movie. We find that prior knowledge really helps when it comes to learning more and picking up on subtleties from the movie.
  • Of course, the final tip is watch the movie! Adjusting for your child’s learning style, feel free to pause it every so often to discuss what has happened so far. If you don’t like interrupting, ask your child to write down any thoughts they have during the movie, this can be a great jumping off point for a discussion when the movie is over.

The important thing to remember is to keep making connections. How the time period in the movie lead to the one after it? How did the ideals and issues present at that point in history come about? Don’t focus too much on the movie itself, but on how the movie can lead to bigger questions about US History.

You can check out The Great Gatsby here. Be sure to also take a look at SD Accelerate’s US History and AP US History sections. Our six months free promo is still going, so sign up here!