Turn a Movie Into a Unit Study. Already have a movie in mind? Great! You are already ahead of the game. If not, think about something that you will enjoy as a family so you can make a night of it together watching the movie. Make a list of some others you want to do in the future and brainstorm, write down ideas as you think of them.
The trick to turning a movie into a unit study is to keep it fun and build layers from a central theme in the movie, expanding on a simple idea to give it some depth. These 8 ideas are how I use a movie as my base for a unit study, the length of time is totally up to you and even if you are teaching a variety of ages you can adapt it to each child’s level.
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8 Ideas to Turn A Movie Into A Unit Study
Pull themes from your movie- Dig deep to pull themes from the movie to expand and make it a full unit study. It doesn’t always have to be a movie with a deep hidden meaning either. Here are a few examples to get you started:
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid Long Haul – Travel and maps
- Ratatouille– Cooking
- Moana– Hawaii, customs, oceans
- Hidden Figures– Space, women’s and minority rights, Stem
- Swiss Family Robinson– Self sufficiency,
- The Greatest Showman– The history of the circus
- Charlotte’s Web– Agriculture, farm life, food chain
- Brave-Scotland, archery, bears
Gather supporting books- Get books that go along with the movie for research and entertainment. Use the library, your own collections, and the bookstore.
If there is a book version of the movie have your child read it and draw comparisons between the two, which was better? If Brave is your choice you might grab books on Scotland and bears to beef it up.
Look for ways to incorporate various subjects- Geography/history can be as simple as studying the location of the movie, or the history behind the story. Science could be creating rafts from various craft materials to see if they sink or float like Huck Finn or studying any animal or culture in a movie. Make up math word problems using characters or scenes as inspiration.
Plan a field trip that goes along with your movie- Ratatouille is a great excuse to take a cooking class or learn to cook at home, head to an archery range to supplement Brave, or ride a sailboat to feel what Moana experienced on her adventure.
Plan some simple activities- Why not go outdoors and try to build a shelter with materials on hand a la Swiss Family Robinson? Come up with a recipe from scratch for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Pinterest is your friend when looking for ideas!
Get creative- Plan out some crafts that go along with the movie- make puppets of the characters and have the kids recreate a favorite scene, get a diorama going or have them write the start of the “next” movie.
Jump into the theme- Go all out when you watch the movie and immerse yourselves in it, make a day of it with themed activities, foods, worksheets, homemade costumes, and plenty of hands-on projects!
Let your students help plan- Kids are naturally creative and probably have tons of ideas of their own to contribute. Let them have a say in projects, they might even make up simple math problems for each other or think of an angle that might never have occurred to you.