How to Turn Movies into Homeschool Records Notes


Our kids are watching movies. Of course, they’re not wasting time. They’re busy learning. But will the education authorities agree when it comes to homeschool registration time? How do we turn movies into acceptable homeschool records notes?

This is how I do it:

Label the Movie with a School Subject.

Some movies appear to be more ‘educational’ than others. Pride and Prejudice is definitely English. This is easy to see. It could also be History. And how about Creative Arts? We could discuss the movie setting, the casting, how the movie was adapted from the novel. What about fashions and architecture? Could we also label it PDHPE (Personal Development, Health, and Physical Education.) The book contains a wealth of things to ponder: the role of women, marriage and love, virtues and values, class and wealth. Maybe Pride and Prejudice is Geography as well. I’ve only quickly touched on some possibilities. I bet there are endless notes we could make after watching this movie.

But what about movies such as Finding Nemo or Frozen? Even though I think everything is ‘educational’, surely those in authority aren’t going to accept these animated movies as ‘school work’? Or will they? My husband Andy is a school teacher and I’ve been watching over his shoulder. I’ve observed the movies he borrows from our family’s collection to share with his class. And Finding Nemo and similar movies are indeed used in schools as part of the curriculum.

So Finding Nemo can be ‘school work’. (Don’t you hate those words? My girls refuse to say them!) It’s Science and PDHPE.  It’s also English, Geography, and Creative Arts. How did I work this out? I guess I’ve got used to classifying movies, but if you’re not so confident at doing this, I have a suggestion:

Consult a Study Guide

If you google the movie title and the words ‘study guide’, you might end up on a website such as Film Education. That’s how I found a study guide for Finding Nemo. (There’s also one for Pride and Prejudice if you need it.) The Finding Nemo guide gives us the Key Learning Areas or school subjects that this movie might cover. Easy! The Shmoops website also has a movie section. Of course, you might not be able to find a study guide for every movie you watch, but after reading a few of the available study guides, you’ll get the idea. It won’t be difficult to work things out for any movie.

Find the Themes of the Movie

Next, I make a list of the themes of each movie. How do I find these? Usually, they emerge as my children and I are discussing the movie. But if you don’t discover the main ideas this way, you could take a look at a study guide to see what themes someone else has assigned to the movie. Or you might like to google the movie title and the word ‘themes’. Here’s an article I found after googling ‘Frozen themes’: Deep Freeze: Themes in Frozen. Of course, you might disagree with certain people’s analysis, but their words might be a starting point.

List Any Topics That Were Discussed After Watching the Movie

In our house, a movie generates all kinds of interesting conversations. Yes, we might ponder the movie themes, but it’s just as likely we’ll talk about something completely different. One thought leads to another, taking us far and wide from the original idea. Don’t you love how that happens?

Note Down Any Additional Articles, Links, Activities or Other Information

The movie study guides (and online lesson plans) contain lots of suggested activities and further research for extending learning. But we’re very unlikely to take any notice of them. I guess we don’t like to be told what to do! I don’t even show the guides to my children. But this doesn’t mean we won’t do additional research and activities of our own. Our activities will happen quite naturally. For example, after watching the BBC miniseries, Pride and Prejudice, we wanted to know more about the actors. We ended up on Youtube watching the cast interviews. After watching Finding Nemo, I wanted to know if there is really such a thing as an East Australian current, so I did some googling. Frozen led to some retold fairy tale novels.

So one movie may lead to a great deal of visible learning. They’ll be lots to record in our homeschool records books.

But what if a child watches a movie and that’s it? It doesn’t lead to other things. Nothing else happens. You can still list the ‘school’ subjects and the themes associated with the movie. Our kids take in so much without us being aware of it. Even if they’re not willing to discuss a movie, it doesn’t mean they’re not thinking about it and absorbing lots of new ideas and information.

Related Post and a Podcast

I spoke about movies and record-keeping in my podcast, Episode 63: Wasting Time Watching Too Many Movies?

I tell the story of how Frozen led to lots of additional learning experiences in my blog post, Everything is Educational Even Disney Princesses

Now I’ve finished writing this post, I think it’s time to relax and watch a movie.

“Hey, girls, what movie shall we watch?”

Beauty and the Beast?”

Is that educational? Will I be able to make some homeschool records notes about it after we’ve seen it?

Of course!

So what’s the last movie you watched together as a family? What would you like to see? We plan to watch the original Star Trek movies next. They’re Science, Creative Arts, English…!

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  1. Reply

    This past week we watched "To Kill a Mockingbird" and then "Guns of Navarone". I'd say both were definitely educational!

    1. Reply


      I want to read "To Kill a Mockingbird". I read it many years ago, probaby at school. And then after I've read the book again, I'm going to watch the movie. I just googled 'The Guns of Navarone'. A World War 2 movie based on an Alistair MacLean novel. That sounds good. So many great movies to watch. And all definitely educational! Thanks for your comment!

    2. Reply

      We're on a bit of a Gregory Peck thing at the moment, he stars in both movies 🙂

    3. Reply


      I didn't realise Gregory Peck stars in both of those movies. I found a number of Gregory Peck movies on Youtube. There is also a video of Gregory Peck talking about his role in To Kill a Mockingbird. I wonder if you've seen it. I shall have to bookmark it for future viewing!

  2. Reply

    Sue, even though we don't have to submit homeschool records I always love reading these kind of posts of yours. It reminds me how much my children are always learning. Here in the UK we have an annual film festival where schools and home educators can see films for free in the cinema. Cordie is very pleased because we saw Finding Dory while she was in Canada but it's on – on her birthday! – as part of the festival in November. The festival's website has some interesting resources.

    You might also like a book we listened to recently – 'Creativity Inc: Understanding The Forces That Stand In The Way of True Inspiration' by Ed Catmull, one of the co-founders of Pixar. Very interesting and inspiring.

    By the way, I've been wanting to thank you for weeks now (months?!) for your kind offer to share podcasting resources with me. I was reading a book about why we procrastinate at the time, and have been acutely aware of not replying to your question about whether I've considered podcasting! (sorry) The answer is that I would love to podcast but I seem to be awfully slow at even creating blog content, so I'm not sure where I'd find the time. I'm doing a presentation skills course in a couple of weeks, though, so I'm hoping that might inspire me. I also wondered whether you've ever considered interviewing / chatting with other mums on your podcast? If so, I'd love to join you. 🙂 (No idea how we'd make the technology work but I'm sure we could figure it out!)

    1. Reply


      We all loved 'Finding Dory'! How lovely that Cordie will be able to see it on her birthday.

      Thank you for the film site and book recommendations. You obviously know how much I love following up recommendations and exploring new resources!

      I think you'd be a wonderful podcaster, but I totally understand your concern that you wouldn't find time to record episodes. It's so easy to get overloaded. I know! Thank you for your offer to join me on my podcast. I feel stuck at the moment. I need new ideas so perhaps chatting with other mothers could be the way to go. I have a lot I want to talk about with you if you have time to listen. I'll send you a Facebook message!

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