Learning History through Documentaries

Learning History through DocumentariesThis coming school year I’m going to be using a textbook for a spine for reading and as a topical guide to documentaries.  At the end of last school year I met with each child and both of my boys made requests about history.  My 4th grader told me how much he learned by watching documentaries or movies.  My 6th grader enjoyed the Teaching Company lectures this past year on ancient Rome and wanted to continue to use them.  When I sat down to plan our history this year, the library didn’t have the right combination of Teaching Company lectures and it was going to be a little difficult to piece things together with what they had.  When I asked him if he preferred Teaching Company lectures or documentaries, he quickly said documentaries.  Because they are both on the same page, I am pretty much having them do history together this year.  With the amount of documentaries on this list, I’m doubting we will finish this list in one school year.

Our spine will be the McDougal Littell World History: Patterns of Interaction: Ancient World History textbook.  The page numbers correspond with the 2005 edition.  We ended the last school year learning about the end of the Roman Empire.  We are just doing a little bit more to finish up before we transition to other times and places.

Because my boys may be younger than the suggested age for the documentaries, I will likely preview them all beforehand.  I put in parenthesis the time each video should take to help me know how much to cover in a time period.  The Barbarians videos are also on Youtube, but I know my library has a copy as well so I didn’t need the link for them.  Each bolded area refers to a section of the textbook with the exception of the Celts and the Vikings.  We hadn’t covered them previously so I added in those two topics using living books instead of my spine.

End of Roman Empire
  1. Watch The Roman Empire – First Christian Emperor (60) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALlmUubRtmI
  2. Read Ancient World History pg175
  3. Watch Barbarians: The Goths (45)
  4. Watch Barbarians: The Huns (45)
  5. Watch Barbarians:  The Franks (45)
  6. Watch Barbarians: The Vandals (45)
  7. Watch Barbarians:  The Saxons (45)


  1. Read Everyday Life of the Celts by Grant (4th grader)
  2. Read The Ancient Celts by Calvert (6th grader)
  3. Read Step Into: The Celtic World(4th grader)
  4. Read The Celtic Art Source Book– copy and color Celtic design(both)
  5. Read Life of the Ancient Celts(4th grader)
  6. Genealogy Niadh O Halil child of Cu Cork Mac Morha  – group sheet/pedigree sheet/or just explore (6th grader)
  7. Watch The Celts: A Journey Back in Time (50)
  8. Watch Ancient Warriors The Celts (20) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdE1wKUtrGE

African Civilizations

  1. Read Ancient World History pg 210-231
  2. Watch Engineering an Empire – Carthage (60) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HetYXwtCCho
  3. Watch Nubian/Kushite Burial Rituals (50) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M71kXaxbZwk
  4. Watch Lost Kingdoms of Africa – Ethiopia (60) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivy91iqHtKY

Ancient Americas

  1. Read Ancient World History pg 232-251
  2. Watch Secrets of the Ancients- The Olmecs (60) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVKGQAjiug8

Muslim World

  1. Read Ancient World History pg 260-297
  2. Watch Islam Empire of Faith part 1 The Prophet Muhammed and the Rise of Islam (60) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yX3UHNhQ1Zk
  3. Watch Islam Empire of Faith part 2 The Awakening (60) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1PxJomypQE
  4. Watch Islam Empire of Faith part 3 The Ottomans (60) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI7Qkcyz3tM

Byzantines, Russians, and Turks Interact

  1. Read Ancient World History pg 298-306
  2. Watch Byzantine Empire http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N238vCzUMv4
  3. Read Ancient World History pg 307-313
  4. Watch the Varangians http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4_r-IySNKM&list=PLD257969E1362D2B6(30)
  5. Watch Barbarians Vikings http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1yAxo94ClU(45)
  6. Read Ancient World History pg 314-319
  7. Watch the Ottomans https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnIvxXnFPnI(60)


  1. Read Viking (DK Eyewitness Books)
  2. Read The Vikings: Dress, Eat, Write and Play Just Like the Vikingsby MacDonald
  3. Read The Vikings (Technology of the Ancients)by Trueit
  4. Read Vikingsby Bedford
  5. Watch Vikings Who Were the Vikings (60) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhYVHlEnZPU
  6. Watch Vikings the Trading Empire (60) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKHgo8RzgG4
  7. Watch Vikings The End of a Viking Age (60) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSunpvXQMuI

Empires in East Asia

  1. Read Ancient World History pg 320-329
  2. Watch Tang Dynasty (60) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQsZe-wNN8Q
  3. Watch Song Dynasty (60) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5LzyOAWVfo
  4. Read Ancient World History pg 330-338
  5. Watch Barbarians The Mongols (45)
  6. Watch The Secret History of Genghis Khan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1Jq-C3Q3Z4(45)
  7. Watch The Mongol Empire http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elK86uOHdXE(50)
  8. Watch Marco Polo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4D96iA3OQN8(45)
  9. Read Ancient World History pg 339-343
  10. Watch Lost Treasures of the Ancient World – Japan (50) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9ObeuCWhiE
  11. Read Ancient World History pg 344-349
  12. Watch Angkor Wat from Khmer Empire https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VgFVb7S1l0(50)

European Middle Ages

  1. Read Ancient World History pg 353-357
  2. Watch The Dark Ages (90) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsHSbBxjAOk
  3. Read Ancient World History pg 358-375
  4. Watch Medieval Lives Peasant http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yg3YDN5gTX0#at=329(30)
  5. Watch Medieval Lives Monk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7kixg7E3Pk(30)
  6. Watch Medieval Lives  The Damsel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wL5CviNAhnk(30)
  7. Watch Medieval Lives  The Minstrel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LyuIVZk5FM(30)
  8. Watch Medieval Lives The Knight http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhWFQtzM4r0(30)
  9. Watch Medieval Lives The Philosopher http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTf2EzTd1TE(30)
  10. Watch Medieval Lives The Outlaw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9GsccLoLvY(30)
  11. Watch Medieval Lives The King http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYLXlbE6Ly4(30)

The Formation of Western Europe

  1. Read pg 376-386 Ancient World Hisotry
  2. Watch Crusades – Holy War (60) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQZqhUmVx-c
  3. Watch Crusades – The Clash of Titans (60) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4tSks-R7QQ
  4. Watch Crusades – Victory and Defeat (60) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkMR0ENNMLQ
  5. Watch Crusades – Destruction (60) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYkfbY0d90s
  6. Read Ancient World History pg 387-397
  7. Watch 1066: Battle for Middle Earth part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnC6l6_TaMA(75)
  8. Watch 1066: Battle for Middle Earth part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPnCt0IktfQ(75) (Skip 37:00-38:00)
  9. Watch Monarchy- Medieval Monarchs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyQsBAng4_0(60)
  10. A History of Scotland:  The Hammer of the Scots http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNRevRRiALg
  11. Read Ancient World History pg 398-405
  12. 100 Years War Battle of Agincourt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHghxvCYRv8
  13. Joan of Arc movie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFWX0gQ5zTs
  14. Watch Medieval Apocalypse – The Black Death http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDIgFeMbnIc(50)

Societies and Empires of Africa

  1. Read Ancient World History pg 408-412 Watch Lost Kingdoms of Africa – The Berber People of Moracco (60) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYo8FEYkfFs
  2. Read Ancient World History pg 413-421
  3. Watch Lost Kingdoms of Africa – West Africa (60) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Je0K0BAJ1hY
  4. Read Ancient World History pg 422-435
  5. Watch Lost Kingdoms of Africa – Great Zimbabwe (60)
  6. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTVShn1vKV0

People and Empires in the Americas

  1. Read Ancient World History pg 438-445
  2. Watch Who Were the Mound Builders https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itCWu-m-23E(35)
  3. Read Ancient World History pg 446-451
  4. Watch Cracking the Maya Code https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yTC23Zyefs(55)
  5. Read Ancient World History pg 452-458
  6. Watch In Search of History – The Aztec Empire http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tP2HHYQjN7E(45)
  7. Read Ancient World History pg 459-467
  8. Watch Secrets of Lost Empires – Inca http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcYDwWRG9IY(55)


  1. Battle for Middle Earth has two sex scenes without nudity, and rape scene, no nudity. just so you know.

  2. The child I am home schooling has severe learning disabilities, along with health issues. What are your suggestions in modified programs that you are using now?

    • Eclectic Homeschooling

      It would be difficult to know what to recommend without knowing your child. Much of what we have discovered is by trial and error. Also, psychoeducational testing really helped me understand how my children learn best. I hope that helps.

  3. I noticed that this list starts part way into the book you are using for a spine; do you have a post that describes what you did for the previous year? Thank you very much for your help!

    • Eclectic Homeschooling

      We used unit studies prior to this year. You can see our history studies under the Free Unit Studies tab.

  4. When you talk about the Teaching Company lectures; what exactly are you referring to? This is an amazing list, thank you for sharing it with us!

  5. Pingback: Top 10 Post of 2013 - Eclectic Homeschooling

  6. Thankyou so much for sharing this list and compiling so many links! My son is very keen to use these alongside his reading/ study/ obsession with medieval history 🙂

  7. We watched the Barbarians series, and my boys found them to be very violent. They referred to some of them as disturbing, but my boys may be a little more sensitive to violence than some others. You may want to preview that series ahead of time just to be sure though.

  8. This is great! I will bookmark this for next year. We are doing 3rd grade this year.

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