Films can be an amazing way to add depth to a curriculum unit or thematic study. Often times, I found I didn’t even have to show the entire film–just a few clips could get my students interested and engaged. One of my 3rd grade students’ favorite films was Balseros. If you’re familiar with the film, you may be thinking (and rightly so) that it’s not necessarily appropriate for 9 year-olds. But, I didn’t need the entire documentary to make my point. All I needed was for my students to get some sort of sensory connection to Cuba: to see the people, to understand what an the island and an ocean look like, to feel the beat of the Cuban music, and most especially to hear the language. I had a large number of Spanish speaking students in my class, but many of their families were from Mexico, and that was the only Spanish dialect or accent they were familiar with. I wanted them to see and hear another piece of the cultural diversity of Latin America. The film did all of that for me in a way that I never could have. That’s the power of a good film. Often times, it can be difficult to get the films that we’d like for our classrooms, but there are some amazing free resources out there created especially for teachers. I’ve highlighted two below that will lend movies to teachers free of charge, many of which have materials to support their use in the classroom.
- The Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University has an incredible Lending Library. It is “the most comprehensive lending collection of educational materials about Latin American topics available for classroom use. They library holds over 3,000 videos, slide packets, culture kits, curriculum units, games, and miscellaneous print items.” Films comprise a large part of their resources and they will ship the films to teachers nationwide free of charge.
- The Institute for the Study of the Americas at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has extensive Film Resources that they, too, freely lend to educators nationwide. They also have a section devoted to films applicable to K-12 classrooms with education guides accompanying the majority of the films.
Hope these are helpful to you! I’d love to hear about your favorite movies that you use in your classrooms!