Instead of assigning your teen pages of reading, use early American history videos to accomplish the same goal. We’ve used a variety of them over the years in our history lessons and even created some of our own.
If you’re like me, you do what you can to make American history as interactive as possible for middle schoolers. That means adding as many American history activities into your homeschool as possible. It’s simply the best way to grab their attention when studying this subject. One way to get out of the textbook is to incorporate technology into your lesson plans.
Early American History Videos
As much as we love books, we also find it helpful to use videos to expand our understanding of a subject like history. They just bring the subject to life in ways textbooks don’t. These are some video/DVD series we have used over the years and often recommend to other families.
You can even check Netflix and your public library to see if they offer any of these titles for your use.
The Best American History Videos for Middle School
Schoolhouse Rock – yes, this is the series you remember from when you were a kid and it’s as awesome as you remember. So grab a copy and introduce your middle schooler to “I’m Just a Bill” and “The Preamble.”
America: The Story of Us – this in-depth series covers 400 years of history, telling the story of the people, events, and ideas that shaped our nation. Definitely a detailed look at early American history and beyond.
Liberty’s Kids – one thing that makes this animated video series unique is that the main characters are teenagers, making this the perfect fit for middle school lesson plans. See the Revolutionary War through the eyes of kids stationed on both sides of the battle and discover whether their friendship is stronger than the issues dividing them.
The States– a study of early American history wouldn’t be complete without understanding what makes each of our states unique. That’s where this fun series comes in. Now you can learn what makes each state special from the comfort of your own home.
Drive Thru History – this fast-paced series takes you on an adventure through each of the historical sites you encounter through your history studies. Note – this has a Christian worldview.
Disney Education: The American Presidents – offers a funny and memorable look at each person who has held our highest office. Each video includes an overview of the personal life of each president, some challenges faced, accomplishments achieved, and context for the time period in which the person served. Here’s a more detailed review of this American history video series.
Create Your Own American History Videos
One of the best strategies to test for understanding is to have your children repeat back to you what they have learned about a subject. When we talk about reading for understanding we often practice narration, which is simply having the child tell us in their own words what they read or heard.
Why not take this a step further and add in some fun by having your children create a video to demonstrate what they have learned about a specific event in early American history? With technology available through a digital camera, cell phone or computer, your children will most likely have the tools they need to complete this project.
Live Action Video – Children can act out a scene from American history such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence or recite a famous speech such as Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” and record their performance (the video setting on a digital camera will work for this). We have used iMovie on our iPad to easily create and edit this type of project.
Collection of Images – If your child is interested in a certain aspect of history you can have them collect images about that topic and use those to create a video. We have used Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple’s Keynote to build this type of presentation. Here is an example of a video a college student created using historical art to tell the story of the early Colonial American history.
Stop Motion – As LEGO fans my boys have also been big stop motion video fans – those LEGO Mini Figs are great props for stop motion videos. My children have been using the I Can Animate software for several years to make their own stop motion videos, but there are other free and simple stop motion movie making options available as well. Here is an example of a LEGO movie about the American Revolution Battles at Lexington and Concord.
Hopefully, you and your middle schooler have fun blending history lessons and technology.
Looking for even more early American history activities to do with your middle schooler?
- 6 Covered Wagon Learning Activities
- Benjamin Franklin: Inventions and Hands-on History
- Discover the 13 Colonies Notebooking and Activity Unit
- Hands-on History to Bring Early American History to Life
- Liberty Bell Timeline Scavenger Hunt
Which educational video are you going to add to your middle school history lesson plans?
This post is a part of the 10 day series, Early American History Activities for Kids, which is a part of iHN’s hopscotch.