19 shows to keep teens learning this Summer (without them even noticing)

Posted July 13, 2021 By Tamara at MyTutor

We’ve made it to the Summer holidays! After another disrupted academic year, homeschooling and all, parents and teens can finally let their hair down. With so much disruption to their education over the past 18 months though, continuing some light-touch learning through the holidays will make stepping back into school a lot easier when the time comes. But if working through textbooks is the last thing your teen wants to do right now, keeping them learning without feeling like they’re studying might be what you need.

To help you out, we’ve put together a list of awesome TV series, films and videos that they’ll love – and that’ll expand their minds from the comfort of the couch. You can stream all of the shows below online, and they all support the GCSE and A Level curriculums, so they’ll be getting ready for school whether they mean to or not.

Top 19 films and TV shows to keep your teen learning all Summer

1. Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet

 Breaking-Boundaries-The-Science-of-Our-Planet.

Available on: Netflix
What? Docu-film
Relevant to: Geography

The Science of Our Planet is a riveting docu-film that discusses the impact of global warming on our planet and what we as humans can do to improve the crisis. For aspiring GCSE and A Level geography students who have a keen interest in physical geography and the environment, this show offers a great insight into what’s happening across the world in a fascinating way- so learning doesn’t feel like a chore (hooray!). Also, who doesn’t love the soothing dulcet tones of David Attenborough?

2. Money Heist

Available on: Netflix
What? 4-part series
Relevant to: Spanish

money-heist

A mysterious, highly intelligent man recruits a group of 8 criminals to carry out an extreme money heist in the Royal Mint of Spain. As a highly talked about series, not only does this show have a whirlwind of plot twists that keeps you on the edge of your seat in nearly every episode, it’s a great way to practice your spanish by leaving the original audio on. As you’re likely to get hooked into the storyline in no time, you may start to pick up phrases and get an understanding of how words are pronounced, helping with both the speaking, and listening aspects of GCSE Spanish. If you want to challenge yourself further, why not put the subtitles in Spanish too!

3. Human: The World Within

human-the-world-within

Available on: Netflix
What? Docuseries
Relevant to: Biology

This docu-series discusses what goes on within the human body in a captivating way. Discussing things such as our different types of organs, muscles and why we feel the way we do in certain situations. With 6 episodes in total exploring aspects of the human body such as the brain, our immune system and our different senses, this may appeal to Biology students who also will explore some of these areas in their core modules.

4. The Handmaid’s Tale

Available on: 4oD
What? 4 part drama series
Relevant to: English Literature

the-handmaids-tale

A television adaption of the best-selling, highly acclaimed novel by Margaret Atwood- The Handmaid’s Tale is a drama series about a dystopian society set in what was previously the USA but in the future. The plot centres around the fertility crisis in the area and the women who have to withstand this patriarchal community. Not only has the show won many awards for how great it is, the topic of Dystopia is one in section 2 of OCR A-Level English Literature- comparative and contextual study- and the original novel is actually a key text in this area. Why not watch the series to get your brain versed in the main themes of the book and to see things from a different perspective?

5. The Apprentice

the-apprentice

Available on: BBC iPlayer
What? Television Series
Relevant to: Business Studies

The Apprentice is a long running, business-focused reality show where a number of aspiring entrepreneurs battle it out in a range of different tasks in order to win a large sum of money for their own business venture and a partnership with highly established businessman- Lord Alan Sugar. What’s good about this show is that each task the contestants take part in are real business situations such as creating an advertising campaign and designing and pricing their own products. Those choosing to study A Level Business will probably find this super useful as not only as the show touches on areas in the course such as leadership and decision making. Not only is it beneficial for students, but the show is also incredibly entertaining and one you’ll get easily hooked into.

6. Call my Agent

call-my-agent

Available on: Netflix
What? 4 part comedy/drama series
Relevant to: French

Call my Agent is a lighthearted, comical series about colleagues in one of the top talent agencies in Paris and the lengths they go to keep their celebrity clients happy. The show is a huge hit in France where it is based, with millions of viewers watching each episode that airs. It has been defined as one of the most popular french television shows amongst french teachers and learners due to how hilarious and enjoyable it is to watch. What better way to learn french than by sitting back and putting on some cheesy, funny tv!

7. The Social Dilemma

the-social-dilemma

Available on: Netflix
What? Docu-drama
Relevant: Computer Science

For our aspiring, tech minded, computer science teens, The Social Dilemma is an exciting watch- focussing the impact of Social Media and how technology connects us but also can have a certain amount of control over us (creepy right?). One of the core modules in GCSE Computer Science is fundamentals of algorithms and in A Level the fundamentals of communication and networking and impacts of digital technology on wider society, including issues of privacy so some parts of this documentary can really provide more understanding on the whole.

8. Hitler’s Circle of Evil

hitlers-circle-of-evil

Available on: Netflix
What? Docu-series
Relevant: History

For History Students, democracy and dictatorship in Germany, is something that is often studied in the classroom as well as other period studies across America and Russia. Nazi Germany in WW1 and 2 is a topic that is widely explored in History, luckily on Netlfix, many documentaries on the lead of the Nazi party himself, Adolf Hitler, are widely available to further your knowledge. Hitler’s Circle of Evil is a series that focuses on the inner circle of leaders from the Nazi party and their uprising. It looks further into their party message and what they set out to do, and is a great docu-series to give you more of an idea of what went on behind their minds.

9. Romeo and Juliet

romeo-and-juliet

Available on: Amazon Prime
What? Film
Relevant to: GCSE English Literature

Arguably one of the most entertaining Shakespeare film adaptations of all time, Baz Luhrmann’s rendition of Romeo and Juliet, is a thrilling modern twist of the classic love story. One of the amazing things about this movie is that every actor still speaks in Shakespearean, meaning that all the quotes are directly from the play (super impressive). A detailed study of a Shakespeare play is a standard part of AQA English Literature course, so why not watch this film to get an idea of the core themes and set yourself ready to explore the play when you’re back at school!

10.Explained

netflix-explained

Available on: Netflix
What? Series
Relevant to: Music, Computer Science, Psychology, Biology, Business Studies and more

This series from Netflix gives you a run-through of huge topics in entertaining and easy to understand 30-minute episodes. From how Music works to the World’s Water Crisis (Geography), The Stock Market (Economics), Coding (Computer Science), The Mind (Psychology) and Animal Intelligence (Biology), whatever your child’s interests, there’s an exciting episode in there for them.

11.Messiah

netflix-messiah

Available on: Netflix
What? Series
Relevant to: Religious Studies

If your teen is studying GCSE or A Level R.S., this dramatic fictional series explores what might happen if Jesus was alive – and gathering disciples in Washington D.C – today. The narrative provides an exciting and easily digestible way to think about some of the key themes of Christianity in GCSE syllabus, and foundations of the A Level course too.

12. Abstract: The Art of Design

netflix-design-series

Available on: Netflix
What? Series
Relevant to: Art, Graphic Design, Fashion Design, Architecture

For all the budding designers, artists and architects, each episode in this series gives an in-depth exploration of a different master designer. Artist Olafur Eliason gives a behind the scenes account of the making of his Tate Modern exhibition; New Yorker cartoonist Christoph Neimann talks about his career and his process and costume designer Ruth Carter talks about how she designed the Oscar-winning costumes for the film Black Panther. That’s as well as world-leading architects, a graphic designer, product designer, shoe designer and an interior designer all telling us about how they do what they do.

13. Selma

selma-movie-poster

Available on: Amazon Prime, Mubi, YouTube
What? Film
Relevant to: AQA GCSE History AQA, Politics

This classic film from 2015 tells the story of Civil Rights movement leader Martin Luther King Jr. From his famous march from Selma to Montgomery and his successful campaign to have the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965, this dramatisation is a powerful and educational telling of one of the most important figures and some of the key moments in US history.

14. Dracula

dracula-tv-series

Available on: BBC iPlayer
What? 3-part series
Relevant to: A Level English

This chilling three-parter is an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic Gothic thriller by the same name. It might sound too entertaining to be relevant to school work, but The Gothic is actually an option in the OCR A Level English syllabus, and Dracula is one of the core set texts. Even if your child isn’t studying this module, the story is a great way to learn about Victorian England.

15. The 13th

netflix-documentary

Available on: Netflix
What? Documentary
Relevant to: History, Politics

This documentary is more obviously educational, but the story it tells makes it a must-watch for teens and adults. It tells the history of black rights in the U.S from slavery to the modern day, with commentary by leading activists, politicians and academics.

16. Seven Worlds, One Planet

seven-worlds-one-planet

Available on: BBC iPlayer
What? Documentary
Relevant to: Geography

You’ve probably watched national treasure David Attenborough before, but if your child hasn’t already seen it, his around the world series about human and animal life on every continent is as visually stunning as it is educational. The exploration of different habitats and the human impact on the environment will feed into learning about Physical Geography on the GCSE and A Level courses.

17. Elizabeth: The Golden Age

elizabeth-the-golden-age

Available on: Netflix
What? Film
Relevant to: OCR GCSE History

This 2007 biopic starring Cate Blanchet tells the story of Queen Elizabeth I and the challenges she faced as a female monarch during her reign. The events – while historical dramas should always be taken with a pinch of salt – feature in OCR GCSE History, and give an exciting insight into life in Elizabethan England.

18. The Artist is in

ted-talks-series

Available on: Ted
What? Ted talks series
Relevant to: Art and creativity

This series of Ted talks features 14 exciting artists telling us about their ideas, their lives and why they make art. Whether your child is looking for ideas for their GCSE or A Level Art projects for next year, a creative project over the Summer holidays or advice on how to be creative, these talks are full to the brim of inspiring ways to create.

19. The Trials, Tribulations and Timeline of a Covid-19 Vaccine

ted-talks-covid-vaccine

Available on: Ted
What? Ted talk
Relevant to: Chemistry, Biology, current events

For any teens studying Chemistry – or just those who are keen to get a better scientific understanding of covid-19 and vaccines – this talk from Jerome King, Director General of the International Vaccine Institute, explains how vaccines work and what scientists are doing now to create one for covid-19. While it doesn’t directly support a particular A Level module, it feeds into the understanding of drugs and their properties – an A Level Biology topic, and the study of drugs in the A Level Organic Chemistry modules.

So there you have it! And with your teen chilling out over the Summer, hopefully you can find some time to unwind too. If they’d like to enjoy some more focused learning before school starts, our friendly online tutors can also work with them to fill in learning gaps and get prepared for new challenges next year. Either way, parents – it’s time to put your feet up! We know you’ve earned it.

Written by - Tamara at MyTutor

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