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Utilizing the TV, DVR, or Roku in Homeschool

Utilizing the TV, DVR, or Roku in Homeschool

educational-tvSince we started using DVR  educational television has become a major part of our school day. Over the years we have tried to control the TV by various means (even getting rid of it) without much success. When the TiVo DVR (digital video recorder) become available I recognized it is a fantastic resource for doing unit studies.

Now there are many different DVR boxes (see DVR list here) connected to your computer that records television shows of your choice to a hard drive (anywhere from 30 hours to hundreds of hours). The DVR automatically tunes to the right channel at the right time and records your show. Then you can watch the show whenever you have the time.

Roku and Apple TV

Now  Roku and Apple TV offer small boxes that attach to your TV and allow you to stream video content through your wireless internet signal.

These devices  give you control of your television; you’re no longer at the mercy of scheduling (or even commercials). It insulates you from the undesirable features of TV and allows you to automatically record the programs you want for later viewing. Not only can you record TV shows or movies you can record entire series a season pass option where you can record all the telecasts of a series such as the Magic School Bus, Assignment Discovery, Charles Stanley’s program, In Touch, or programs like Mysteries of the Bible) with a click of a button.

National Geographic, PBS, the Discovery Channel, the Learning Channel, the Science Channel, and the History Channel produce shows such as NOVA, Assignment Discovery, Newton’s Apple, Hands On History, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Magic School Bus, but it’s been almost impossible to plan a schedule around the viewing times.

While  planning a horse unit study I went to my TV and typed in the key word “horse” (you can also search by title, actor or genre) and found the following shows available in the next ten days.

Educational Shows About Horses

  • That’s My Baby; documentary; a Clydesdale gives birth.
  • Saddle Club; series; horse information for kids, various topics.
  • Bend of the River; 1952 movie starring James Stewart; farmers travel by wagon train from Oregon to California during the Gold Rush.
  • Purchasing a Performance Horse; documentary.
  • Horse City; national equine events; health issues, training, etc.
  • Down Under Horsemanship With Clinton Anderson; documentary about working a cow horse ranch; Clinton teaches his horse, Scooter, his “head and poll” exercises.
  • Aiken: Much Ado About Horses; horse culture in the town of Aiken, S.C.
  • Animal Miracles; documentary; a horse helps a disabled girl.
  • My Friend Flicka; a classic movie

When we did an unscheduled mini-unit on Africa. A quick TV search of Africa revealed the shows below available for viewing in the next ten days.

banner2Education Shows About Africa

  • The History Channel: In Search of History: Dr. Livingstone, I Presume. A thrilling look at Stanley’s journey into Africa.
  • Africa, a Special Presentation of Nature; a father and his son travel through the Sahara Desert to trade salt.
  • Africa’s Deadly Dozen; the black mamba is the most deadly of a multitude of venomous snakes found in Africa
  • Communities Building Community: Journey to South Africa; Judy O’Bannon and other Indiana residents travel to South Africa to exchange ideas.
  • Discovery Channel: Nigel’s Wild, Wild World. Nigel Marven traveled to South Africa to meet some amazing and dangerous sharks.
  • Here is what I got from typing in “Egypt.” (Remember, this is only what’s showing in the next ten days.) You can see how this new technology can enhance any unit study.
  • Discovery Channel: Building the Great Pyramid.  
  • Curses of Ancient Egypt; about the “mystery” of the “Ten Plagues.”
  • Egypt’s Golden Empire; Egypt is united under Ahmose; Hatshepsut becomes the first female pharaoh; Thutmos III creates an empire.

I don’t have Netflix or Roku but you could easily utilize them in the same way

Worried about Foul Language?


The TV Guardian monitors the hidden closed-caption text in the background while you watch TV. Even though you usually do not see the closed-captions, they’re required by law on TV shows and movies. TVGuardian reads the closed captions ahead of the audio, and knows what’s going to be said, before it’s said.  Each word is checked against a dictionary of more than 150 offensive words and phrases. When a foul word or phrase is detected, TVG automatically mutes the offensive language. How well does it work? Depends on the movie.  Check out  TVGuardian Reviews Here



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