One of my favorite homeschool hacks is including some well-planned TV time to reinforce or introduce specific topics in our homeschool. That’s especially true when it comes to history.
There’s something amazing that happens when my kids see a historical event or era they’ve studied come to life on the screen in front of them. That’s why history TV shows will always have a place in our homeschool!
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Including history TV shows in your homeschool routine may be second nature for those following an eclectic, relaxed, or unschoolish educational plan, but what about the Charlotte Mason crowd, the classical homeschoolers, and the other families who follow a more structured or predetermined path? Is there room for history-inspired TV time in their days?
Absolutely so. Regardless of your chosen homeschooling philosophies, TV shows can be a great way to lay a foundation for topics and time periods that are coming up on your lesson plans. They can also help connect the dots on historical topics or help your students experience significant events through someone else’s eyes.
That said, using TV shows to help teach history is much easier when you know what to watch and why. That’s why I’m sharing some of great history TV show options with you today.
History TV Shows for Homeschooling
Before we jump into what to watch, remember that it’s always best to preview these things and watch alongside your kids. There’s no better way to be sure you’ve made a viewing selection that’s appropriate for your kids and personal educational goals.
Let’s get started now that all of that’s out of the way.
World History TV Shows
Crash Course World History
Have you discovered the amazing world of Crash Course? They cover a lot of ground on their YouTube channel, but all the videos are organized by topic. That’s where their World History Series comes into the picture. With more than 40 episodes to help you learn, these videos are informative, engaging, and are ideal for older kids and teens.
Once Upon a Time… The Explorers
I stumbled across this animated series while perusing my Amazon Prime Video suggestions. From ancient history to the 20th century, Once Upon a Time… The Explorers introduces kids to stories of exploration from all around the world and all over the timeline.
There’s no rating for this one, but it’s definitely appropriate for younger elementary and up.
The Simple History series can be a great compliment to your world history studies. It’s one of my favorite options because the videos are short, animated, and focused. That goes a long way when studying the more complicated parts of history!
You can check out these videos on the Simple History YouTube channel, but you’ll also want to stop by the Simple History website to see all of their offerings. They’ve got lots of resources available in their Timeline and Characters areas to help you make the most of the videos.
Torchlighters: Heroes of the Faith
We’re a Christian family and love watching the Torchlighters series to help us learn about church history. Produced by Voice of the Martyrs, this series highlights the life and sacrifices of heroes of the faith and helps kids understand their roles in a historical context.
While the series is aimed at kids, these true stories may be difficult for some children to watch. Torchlighters does a wonderful job in presenting the seriousness of these situations delicately, but it’s still something to be aware of before you watch.
You can buy the entire series on DVD, but it’s quite costly. It’s definitely a better deal to stream it through Prime Video. Also worth knowing, these episodes are listed individually through Prime Video, but you can find them easily by searching for Torchlighters once you’re on the platform.
This Netflix original is a good option to inspire an interest in history. It’s not history-themed in the same way as the others in this category, but it follows a boy named Justin and his friends as they adventure back in time to other places and points in history. It’s clean, appropriate for all kids, and a great way to encourage history-themed edutainment.
Animated History with Pipo
The main focus in the Animated History with Pipo series is ancient civilizations, so it’s a great addition to your homeschool history plans if you’re covering early history with your kids. While the presentation is ideal for elementary students, it can also be enjoyed by older students.
Alternate History Hub
Another history-filled YouTube series, Alternate History Hub is a fantastic way to include TV in your homeschool history lessons. It covers historical events by reviewing the actual happenings, then presenting an alternate outcome, and guessing how that different outcome would change the world as we know it today.
It’s a challenging series that covers lots of historical events and processes and would be an interesting addition to your history lessons with older kids and teens. That said, some of these projections stir up some rather unkind viewer comments. If you focus on the episodes themselves (and not how people reacted to them), Alternate History Hub could be a great resource.
American History TV Shows
The Liberty’s Kids series contains 40 episodes that start with the Boston Tea Party and end with the writing of the Constitution.
You’re not likely to find it airing on TV networks these days, but you can buy the entire series on DVD for less than $10.
Crash Course US History
Just like Crash Course World History, this is an awesome one to add to your homeschool history plans! Available through YouTube, this complete US History series contains more than 40 videos and would be especially useful for middle school and high school history lessons.
Peanuts and Charlie Brown
This series never specifically aimed to teach history through television, but there are several episodes or specials that make wonderful supplements to homeschool history lessons. Since these are no longer airing regularly, it’s easier to find them on DVD now.
This is America, Charlie Brown – This DVD collection includes 8 history-themed Peanuts specials: The Mayflower Voyagers, The Birth of the Constitution, The Building of the Transcontinental Railroad, and more.
- What Have We Learned Charlie Brown? – I loved this one as a child and recently watched it again with my kids as we covered World War I. You can find it and on the Peanuts: The EMMY Honored Collection. It’s not exclusively about American history, but it’s worth including nonetheless.
Ken Burns: America
Ken Burns: America is a PBS documentary series that’s a great way to dive deeper into specific times, places, and events in America’s past. Each episode is more than an hour long, so it’s probably better suited for older students. There are four seasons available on Prime Video, which makes it easy to glance through and add specific episodes to your homeschool history plans.
This series is probably best suited for older students simply because of its length and presentation style. That said, you can use your free PBS teacher account to access lots of lesson plans and teaching resources to go along with the series.
What about you? What history TV shows do you turn to in your homeschool? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
Looking for more ideas for learning through TV shows? You can find the rest of this series here.