Now that we’ve moved into the 20th Century there are many movies you can watch to gain a feeling for the eras we’re studying. As a family we love to watch movies together, and it’s fun to watch movies to learn about the Great Depression. I’ve got some real favorites from that time period, and it was fun to share the ones the Great Depression movies they were old enough for with the kids.
Great Depression Movies for all ages
- Kit Kittredge: An American Girl – This is based off the American Girl doll books, and Jeff gave this to me a few years ago. There’s a few tense scenes, but no swearing, no real violence, no sex, and it gives a good idea of what life was like for a kid in that time period.
- Shirley Temple, America’s Sweetheart Collection: Volume One (Heidi / Curly Top / Little Miss Broadway)– I don’t know about you, but I loved Shirley Temple movies as a kid.
- Most of them are not period specific, but you can pretend you’re in the Depression and you’ve saved your money to go see a “Talkie.”
- Cartoon Rarities of the 1930s– Watch some cartoons from the time period. After all this is when Mickey Mouse first came out. I love the classic Mickey Mouse cartoons.
Great Depression Movies for elementary age
- Seabiscuit- This is a great movie because it actually happened, and Seabiscuit really did give hope to everyone at that time. The movie (and the book) do a great job of interweaving historical facts into the story so they parallel each other. When we watched there was one scene in Mexico we fast-forwarded through where Tobey Maguire’s character saw a prostitute. Other than that, there is very little language and no violence.
- Radioland Murders– This is quite solidly an upper elementary movie because of some sexual innuendo, and some of the implied violence (not shown), but it’s a great look into a radio station during the time. The comedy is great in this movie.
- It Happened One Night– A great situation comedy about traveling during the time period, will give you some great quotes and insight into slang of the time period. Some mild sexual innuendo, but your kids will need to have some attention span because it’s in black and white and isn’t non-stop action like other movies.
- It’s A Wonderful Life – A Christmas classic, but it shows in a very real way some of the troubles people went through during this time.
- Singin’ In the Rain– A musical classic. I love this movie, and have ever since I saw it in college. This shows the transition of new technology and how it changes people’s job and lives. Admittedly, it’s about the introduction of talking movies, but it’s still a great example of people not being able to adapt to the times. And besides singing, and puns…… So much fun.
Great Depression Movies for older kids
- Cinderella Man – Another movie that actually happened, and like Seabiscuit gave great hope to the people that the common man could overcome. This is rated R for violence, some language, may be sexual content between a husband and wife.
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Special Edition)– This could be for elementary kids (we let our kids watch it), but it’s right no the edge, so I moved it up to here. This more gives the flavor of the time period, and also lets them see some of the backdrop leading up to World War 2.
- Swing Kids– Watch this one if you’re studying world history, set in pre-World War 2 Germany, it lets you see what it was like for the youth of the day. It deals with very heavy issues (Nazism, start of the Holocaust, persecution of handicapped), and I do not recommend it for anyone younger than 13.
- Grapes of Wrath– In terms of content, you could probably watch this with all of your kids, but I don’t think elementary kids will really understand all of the issues brought up in Grapes of Wrath.
Did we watch all of these? Not by a long shot, we watched: Kit Kittredge, Seabiscuit, Indiana Jones (Jeff’s eagerly been waiting to show it to the kids), and some silent movies that were really more for the 20s. It worked great. I should probably go back at some point and write a post on movies to watch for the 20s, but there weren’t as many we could watch because most I know of are geared for older kids.
Check out some more Great Depression ideas:
And then head on over to All Things Beautiful to check out her history linkie.
Head over to iHomeschool Network’s a Movie and a Big Idea