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Media gets a bad rap, but it doesn't have to be bad. Here are some tips for using media to supplment education

How to Use Media to Supplement Education

Media gets a bad rap.

I don’t think it is all bad. But, I do think that too much of anything is never good. So when you’re thinking about your children’s relationship with media, do make sure it’s not the only activity they’re participating in.

So head outside, read some books, do a puzzle.

And as long as you’re doing all those real-world things, a little media can be a great supplement to your child’s education. And you don’t even have to feel guilty about it!

Here are some tips for using media.

Make It Active

Passively sitting in front of the television won’t offer many educational benefits. To use movies or episodes as a learning tool, you must engage the brain with some activity.

Here are some ideas for making that happen:

  • Encourage your child to draw while watching–they can draw:
    • The setting of the movie
    • A main character
    • Their favorite part
    • What they think will happen at the end
  • Talk about what you’re watching. Don’t be afraid to hit pause.
  • Work on a hobby while watching; crocheting, knitting, drawing
  • Do jumping jacks during one commercial break and sit ups on another

Tie it Into Your Schooling

Is your child studying pioneer life? Are they learning about ocean life?

No matter what your child is studying, there’s probably some form of entertainment you can use. Look for documentaries, child friendly films, or apps that reinforce the concepts.

Have your child read the words on the video games, look for patterns in the levels they play, and describe the characters with adjectives.

There are so many ways to tie media into learning!

Extend the Learning

Don’t just shut the television or tablet off and walk away. Spend a few minutes extending the learning, to help your child make connections. Try to find activities that activate different parts of the brain, and rely on your child’s learning strengths. You could:

  • Act out a favorite scene
  • Write a review
  • Do a craft project inspired by the media
  • Create a matching game with index cards inspired by the media
  • Share three facts you learned while watching
  • Draw a movie poster

How Do You Use Media to Enhance Learning?

I’d love to hear your best tips for enhancing learning with media. Do your kids have a favorite series, app, or game that reinforces what they’re learning about? Please share in the comments!

Looking for more ways to integrate media?”Check out this graphic from the Christian movie streaming service Pure Flix.



5 Expert Tips for Making TV Time More Educational. Who says TV time always has to be brain numbing? Click over to discover five fresh ways to wake up your brain during tube time.

5 Expert Tips to Make TV Time More Educational

We’ve been sick lately. Hacking up a lung, bronchitis kind of sick. We’re pretty miserable. And that means the TV has been on a whole lot more lately.

But excessive TV time isn’t good either. I was running out of ideas for making it more educational, so I turned to my family for help.

Teaching runs in the family, and my mom and my older sister are both teachers. They provided just the spark of inspiration I needed, and I wanted to share their ideas with you.

Keep reading for five tips for getting more out of TV time delivered straight from two expert teachers: Elementary Title Teacher and Special Education Director Sheryl Templeton, M.Ed, and high-school English teacher Mindy Jones.

The best part? None of these tips are complicated; they’re all simple! Which is just what my sick, foggy feeling brain needed.

Add Some Conversation

Both of the experts agree that talking to your kids about what they’re watching is essential. I concur.

The easiest way to make this happen is to know what they watch. I try to make sure I’ve seen at least one episode of each show they enjoy. That way we share a common vocabulary, and I at least have an idea of what they’re talking about.

Here are some questions the teachers suggested you try:

  • Who is your favorite character?
  • What did that character do in this episode?
  • Why did the writer decide the character should do that?
  • What might have happened if that character did something else instead?
  • Does that character remind you of anyone else?
  • What would you have done if you were that character?
  • Where does this show take place?
  • What would happen if it took place somewhere else?
  • What’s something that happened that couldn’t happen in real life?
  • What’s something that happened that could happen in real life?

The kids loved talking about their favorite shows. The younger kids struggled a bit with the idea that a writer had written the show, but it was a great introduction to that concept.

Sequence Events

Events happen in a particular sequence. My mom, Sheryl suggested having the kids pay attention to the sequence of events.

This strategy is also a good way to practice the concept of cause and effect. As we were talking about the show, I took a few minutes to ask some sequencing questions.

These got them thinking about the order of events.

  • What happened first?
  • What happened next?
  • What happened right before the commercial break?
  • What do you think will happen next?

These questions will help your child better understand the plot of the show. Just like in books, plots are an important part of television shows.

educational tv time

Analyze the Commercials

Don’t just fast forward those ads! Mindy suggested using commercial breaks to your advantage by having the kids analyze the content. Just a few pointed questions got everyone’s mind rolling:

  • What are they trying to sell?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • How do you know?
  • What appeals did they use?

Teaching kids to be aware of commercials—and the purpose behind them will help them be more-informed consumers in the future. Looking at commercials through an educational lens also increases critical thinking skills.

Listening for Specific Words

Sheryl recommends having kids listen for certain words during the show to keep their mind focused. Having a task to think about prevents the brain from passively watching. Your child will have a job to do, and will be listening closely for those words.

Having knowledge of the show is important for this activity. That way you give your child a word that’s more likely to be said.

For older children, you can give them even more listening challenges. Try listening for words that start with a certain letter. Or words that rhyme. They could listen for opposites.

Since I have two early readers, I created a Bingo style board for them to listen to while watching. They had to cross out each word on their board. When they were finished, they received a small treat. It was a fun way to practice their reading while they were sick.

Learn About the Craft of Film

Each scene in the show happens for a reason. The writers and directors put everything there for a particular purpose. Challenge your children to pay attention to angle of the shots, the composition of the scene, and how everything works together.

Mindy noted that children can, “start searching for product placement and basic framing.” Older kids can, “look at more advanced framing, camera angles, and editing.” They can analyze the show, which helps them pay attention to detail.

Jayme, my oldest, had the most fun with this one. She’s created mini-movies on her laptop before, and really got into the analysis process.

To Increase Learning, Don’t Just Watch TV

By using these expert tips, you’ll help keep your child’s brain turned on during tube time. They won’t be passively staring at the screen, but rather actively engaging their brain.

What tips do you have for making television time more educational? Since I’m beginning to think by the time we all make our way through this illness summer will be here, I’d love to try some more things.

Please share your tips in the comment section below, or connect with me on Twitter. You can find me @lisatannerwrite.