Updated Post: I know it’s still summer and thinking about September and your next class of students might not be on the top of your to do list, but how about watching a movie? I know where I live it is so hot outside and it looks like the weekend will only get hotter. Not a great time to be outdoors. What better activity is there than eating some good food, popping some popcorn, eating some ice pops or ice cream and watching a bunch of movies? I agree, not one that I can think of at the moment.
Watching movies can do many things for us. They can bring about a state of wonder, spark our imaginations and send us on a path of discovery. Movies can transport us to exotic realms and adventures we long for. They can also just help us relax and unwind. As you also know, movies can be a powerful tool that can improve our craft as teachers because they provide perspectives and deep insights into our students throughout their school journey and beyond. The more we are able to understand the students in front of us and the workings of their inner lives, the more affective we will be when delivering our lessons and when helping to guide our students.
The following recommended movie selections are mine alone and based purely on my own thoughts, feelings, and nostalgia. The selections are arranged according to films that I feel capture early childhood, middle childhood, and then the teenage experience. Again, my intention for these selections is that you watch them for your enjoyment and to get ready for the coming school year. I am not to suggesting you watch them with your students. Happy viewing!
For the Kindergarten to Third Grade Teacher: I did my best to remember films that appealed to me as a child as well as films that my former students and nieces and nephews enjoyed. They speak to the imaginative reality that little children live in. They speak to the inner reality of each child who feels kinship with animals, with nature and to things grownups have lost the ability to see and understand. They also help children confront big issues such as mortality, being different and the need for real friendship and the importance of family and love. I can vividly recall sitting in a theater and crying my eyes out after a scene in The Land Before Time and when E.T. and Elliot fell ill. Might want to have some tissues handy.
- Charlotte’s Webb
- The Indian In The Cupboard
- Finding Nemo
- The Land Before Time
- The Iron Giant
For the Third to Fifth Grader and The Sixth Through Eighth Grader: There is so much transformation between third and eighth grade that it is difficult to find films that speak to each transitional phase. Although a third grader may experience rapid physical growth it is important to realize they are still very much a little child with their power of imagination and innocence very much intact. However, they are becoming more independent and aware that childhood is changing and this can bring about a rollercoaster of emotion. They are no longer “the little kids” even if they sometimes wish they were. Individual identity starts to emerge more and the need for friendship and acceptance increases as they reach those pre teen years. I think these following films capture some of the transitions, feelings, hopes and fears of this dynamic phase of life.
- Home Alone
- The Never Ending Story
- The Earthling
- The Sand Lot
- Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog
- School of Rock
For The Ninth to Twelfth Grader: It was difficult to pick just seven films to encapsulate the high school experience, but I did my best. I really think Stand By Me captures the transition from middle school to high school like no other film. The fear of the unknown, the fear of losing your friends and being alone, the fear that you won’t find your way, the fear that you might wont become the someone who hope to be and so much more. Steven King is a real master at capturing the inner landscape of all ages, but excels at the teen experience. I could have included his really scary film It on this list, but not enough space. The other films speak to the persistent and timeless themes high schooler’s encounter; bullying, raging hormones, the need to fit in, the desire to become something better, the need to question everything and to find truth. Those last two needs are perhaps best captured in Donnie Darko. If you haven’t scene it yet be ready for a wild ride and a potentially deep experience.
- Stand By Me
- My Bodyguard
- Three O’Clock High
- Better Off Dead
- Weird Science
- The Karate Kid
- Donnie Darko
I can’t end this movie post without mentioning The Goonies! I think this film covers middle school through high school pretty well and if you haven’t seen it yet, start with this one please. After all these years and countless viewings this movie is still one of my favorites.
Hope you get the chance to watch some of these movies and that the rest of your summer goes great. Please let me know what you think about my suggestions and what you think about these films and please share your top pics too in the comments below. Thanks for reading and for sharing!