Films For The Classroom

Films can open our eyes to new ideas, take us to magical places, and make us question what we think we know. Like books, they can be used to teach many topics from science, literature, and history to kindness, empathy and life. 

There are some good websites and resources on how to use film in your classroom. lists films by topic and provides lesson plans for you to follow or adapt. The British Film Institute has a comprehensive teaching guide to using film and television with three to eleven year olds. has an article on using movies to enhance the learning of literature and includes a link to a list of children’s books that have been made into feature films. 

Common Sense Media is a great source of information for films as well as books, games and websites, which you can filter by age range. The site has reviews from parents on the appropriateness and entertainment factor, providing a good guide to the different types of media. Into Film gives children and young people a voice in film through their film club, providing them an opportunity to watch, discuss and review films. The film reviews from children and young people on the site can give you an idea of whether the film you have chosen will be engaging your class.

We have made a list of 10 great films either for teaching or for entertainment, especially during the summer term.

It’s a good idea to watch these films beforehand to make sure they are appropriate for your class. It's also useful to check and read up on the copyright information on using films in your school. 

1.      Interstellar

Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance and Reviews)

Length: 2 hrs 49 min

The Interstellar for Educators website includes lesson plans for different subject areas.

This is an incredible science fiction story about the survival of humanity. The Earth cannot sustain human life for much longer and a crew of astronauts travel through a wormhole to find a new home for humans. 


2.      Spare Parts

Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance and Reviews)

Length: 1 hr 23 min

The film is based on an inspirational true story of a group of disadvantaged Hispanic high school students who with no experience and a small budget, compete and win in a national robotics contest under the guidance and support of the school’s new teacher. 

3.      The Imitation Game

Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance and Reviews)                       

Length: 1 hr 54 min

The Imitation Game is a film about Alan Turing, mathematician and logician, and his team who build a machine to decipher Nazi coded messages. The machine becomes the forbear to nearly every computer and helped save many lives during WW2.

4.      Donald in Mathmagic Land

Rating: No Rating, suitable for ages 8+

Length: 27 minutes

This short animated film from 1959 became one of the most popular educational films made by Disney and the adventure takes us through the journey of mathematics and how it can be applied to real life.

5.      The Iron Giant

Rating: PG (Parental Guidance and Reviews)      

Length: 1 hr 26 min

This animated film is based on Ted Hughes’ Cold War novel in which a young boy discovers a giant robot that has fallen from space. They form a friendship and the boy must save the robot from the prejudiced townspeople and the government. 

6.      Fantastic Mr Fox

Rating: PG (Parental Guidance and Reviews)   

Length: 1 hr 30 min

A charming and fun stop-motion animated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s novel of the same name. The story follows the clever and comedic antics of a fox named Mr Fox who outwits three mean and wealthy farmers.

7.      Spirited Away

Rating: PG (Parental Guidance and Reviews)   

Length: 2 hr 5 min

This beautiful and spellbinding Japanese animation is the story of a young girl who gets trapped in a spirit world with her parents who have been turned into pigs. In order to gain freedom for herself and her parents she has to work hard at the spirits' bathhouse and through the experience she grows strong and kind. The dubbed version is presented by the Walt Disney Studio.

8.      Bears

Rating: G (Parental Guidance and Reviews)   

Length: 1 hr 18 min

Bears is a nature documentary film following a family of bears living in Alaska over a year. The story focuses on the lives of two young cubs and the struggles they face growing up in this wild unforgiving landscape.

9.      My Neighbour Totoro

Rating: G (Parental Guidance and Reviews) 

Length: 1 hr 26 min

My Neighbour Totoro is a charming Japanese animated tale of two sisters moving to the countryside to be near their mother in hospital. The forest provides an amazing background to their adventures where they meet the spirits of the forest. The dubbed version is presented by the Walt Disney Studio.  

10.   Wadjda

Rating: PG (Parental Guidance and Reviews) 

Length: 1 hr 38 min

Wadjda is the first Saudi Arabian movie directed by a woman and it follows the story of a girl who works hard to win a Quran recital competition so she can buy her dream bicycle. Despite being told by adults she shouldn't ride a bike and their disapproval of her actions, she never loses sight of who she is. This is a good introduction to foreign movies for children as it's in the original language with subtitles. 

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