As I continue to surf around online, there are so many resources out there that we can use to educate our kids. I used to have hangups about using some of them, in all reality. I felt guilty because they weren’t books – they were absolutely incredible resources but I felt like I “shouldn’t” use them because they weren’t living books. So, for the longest time; I didn’t.
My extremely visual eight year old has needed things presented visually more than any of my kids. Sticking solely to books – as lovely and wonderful as they are – would not really help him in the long run. He could give me a better narration from a well-made documentary than from a living book about the same topic.
I decided to utilize amazing non-book resources to teach my kids and called them (jokingly at first) “living media”. This isn’t endless Youtube twaddle (like kids opening boxes of toys WHAT IS UP WITH THOSE VIDEOS?) but things like Ken Burns documentaries.
You need to be extra discerning with living media because videos and games can be more addicting. And an engrossed child does not mean something is living. But, living media has helped immensely. I watch it with them, and just like with living books, I require narrations afterwards, or recording items in notebooks, on timelines, etc.
Here’s a list of what we use and what I tend to call living media.
TV Shows, Videos, and Documentaries
- Bill Nye the Science Guy
- The Magic School Bus
- Brain Games
- Odd Squad
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
- Mr. Rogers
- Mr. Wizard
- Crash Course [insert subject here, my ten year old is working through Crash Course Biology, for example]
- Simple History
- Anything by Ken Burns
- Anything narrated by Sir David Attenborough
- Anything from BBC Earth (lots of overlap with the last bullet point)
- Animal Airport
- The Bionic Vet
- Edge of the Universe
- The Great British Baking Show
- Anything with Bob Ross
- Most TED talks
- The Last Man on the Moon
Movies with an actual message
- Lilo and Stitch
- The Incredibles & The Incredibles 2
Computer Software and Websites
- Celestia – Free 3D real time visualization of space (for Windows, Mac, and Linux)
- If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel “A tediously accurate scale model of the solar system”
- The Scale of the Universe 2
- News in Slow German
I can’t emphasize this enough: PLAY THE GAMES WITH YOUR KIDS. Really. Really, really. I have an account on Minecraft, Animal Jam, etc. I type for my autistic kid on Autcraft. I play the games with the kids and they absolutely love it (and I can see how the whole game runs as well!).
- Autcraft (a whitelist only server for autistic folks, siblings of autistic kids, etc)
- Animal Jam (set it to bubble chat if you want to minimize chatting)
- Stardew Valley
As we continue into other special studies and new resources come out; I’ll do my best to update this list!