Summerschooling the Movies

We’re going to continue with several “school” things over the summer.  In particular, there’s summer reading through the DC library.  Last year, when BalletBoy was just beginning to sound out words, he scored a large number of special trinkets through the DC Library’s program.  However, with trips and summer camps interspersing our days, we’re taking a break from most of our normal routine beginning right about now.  I’m pretty happy to have that break and I’m sure the kids are too.  Not to mention all the extra awesome writing time I’ll get during summer camp time!

But I thought we needed a summerschooling topic, so I suggested a few to the kids and they picked film as something they’d like to learn more about.  So whenever we have a little time, here’s what I’ve designed for us.

We’re starting off by going to the Helios exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery.  This exhibit explores the work of Eadweard Muybridge, who was a very early pioneer photographer in moving images.  He’s most famous for the series of photos below of how a horse moves.

Drawing from that, I’m hoping we’ll make flipbooks and maybe take photos to make a photo-based flipbook.  Speaking of which, I just ordered the book Movie Science: 40 Mind-Expanding, Reality-Bending, Star-Struck Activities for Kids by Jim Wiese, so I’m hoping that will have even more fun activities for us to do when thinking about movies over the next couple months.  And speaking of books, there’s also the book Lights, Camera, Action by Gail Gibbons.  I’m hoping to find a few more fun titles to read about movies for summerschooling.

I hope that this will be a little bit of the science of movies, a little bit of art and a little bit of culture.  Classic films are cultural reference points the same way that plays, music, and other works of art are.  However, I’m also hoping this unit will add a little more media literacy to my kids’ lives.  We already talk about commercials and the way that things are sold.  However, I think there’s more to media literacy than that.  I’m hoping to work on Mushroom and BalletBoy’s ability to talk about how moving images, music and story can make us feel certain ways and how that works.

Last, but not least, the movies themselves!  I think watching movies will be perfect for lazy, hot summer afternoons.  Here’s what I’ve got in mind so far:

  • Some of the first films, such as Georges Melies’s A Trip to the Moon
  • Safety Last with Harold Lloyd
  • Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights
  • The Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Fantasia
  • Singing in the Rain

I’d also like to add a western.  You always have to have a western!  Plus, we may jump ahead and do some more recent classics, like E.T. and The Princess Bride.  I’d love to do this again in a few years, when they’d be old enough to appreciate a whole different level of storytelling and dramatic tension.  Right now, I think movies like To Kill a Mockingbird will be a little too complex and Raiders of the Lost Ark a little too scary.  But in a couple of years…

3 thoughts on “Summerschooling the Movies

  1. This is a very dorky thing to admit, but I was about your boys’ age when I first watched the musical 1776 — as a live play performed at my dad’s college and then over and over and OVER again as a movie — and it’s still one of my favorites. History! Drama! True love! Ben Franklin making bawdy jokes about Thomas Jefferson… what’s not to love? 🙂

  2. This is such a great idea! A perfect summer project that doesn’t feel like school at all! Older movies are such a treasure, aren’t they?!

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