Yup, you read that title correctly. Who would have thought that a science fiction television show could be educational? But, did you know that Doctor Who was originally created back in the 60’s as a way to teach children both science and history?
Not much has changed since then as the show continues to attract and educate new fans of all ages. It was never my intention to incorporate Doctor Who into my homeschooling curriculum but then I saw how beneficial it could be. It all started when my son walked in on me watching the episode The Fires of Pompeii. He was enthralled and began to ask questions about the history of Pompeii as well as information about volcanoes. It triggered an entire lesson. Thus began his love of Doctor Who and also my search for more information about how to use the show in our homeschool lessons. Surprisingly, I found many others who had also made this discovery in regards to the show and shared their experiences.
Series 1-9 of the new Doctor Who series can be found for free on Amazon with your prime membership. Unfortunately the older episodes are harder to find. Let’s take a look at what we can learn from Doctor Who and a list of specific episodes that can help:
Science and Math:
Technology, physics, relativity, time travel, astronomy… these are only some of the scientific topics that are discussed throughout the series. This show is, after all, a science fiction. So while it deals with some fictional scenarios, it does so within the means of scientific possibility. (Or at least the science that we hope will be attainable in the near future.) Everything that is done is explained in terms that the audience can understand, but it also serves to broaden our minds. You also find yourself doing a bit of math when it comes to the times and dates. I can’t pinpoint just a few episodes because these topics take place in nearly every episode.
Seeing as how this is a show about time traveling, history plays an important roll. Even if an episode doesn’t dive into the specifics of a historical event or society, it certainly opens the door to discussion.
- Series 1 Episode 9/10 “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” – Learn about the London Blitz
- Series 2 Episode 3 “Tooth and Claw” – Learn a little bit about Queen Victoria
- Series 2 Episode 5 “The Girl in the Fireplace”- Meet Madame Du Pompadour and learn about 18th Century France
- Series 4 Episode 3 “The Fires of Pompeii”- Learn about Pompeii
- Series 5 Episode 3 “The Victory of the Daleks” – Meet Winston Churchhill and open discussion about WW2
- Series 6 Episode 8 “Let’s Kill Hitler”- Learn about Hitler and Nazi Germany
- Series 7 Episode 3 “A Town Called Mercy” – Learn about the wild west
- Series 7 Episode 5 “The Angels Take Manhattan” – 1930’s NYC and the Statue of Liberty
- Series 9 Episode 3 “The Girl Who Died”- Explore the world of vikings
- Series 10 Episode 3 “Thin Ice”- Learn about London’s 18th-19th century Frost Fair.
- Series 10 Episode 10 “The Eaters of Light”- Learn about the ancient mystery of the Ninth Roman Legion.
Doctor Who not only takes us to other planets, but also takes us all over THIS one. With Doctor Who we explore the UK, the US, Italy, France, Germany and more!
Doctor who is a show that leaves room for a great deal of discussion. This can give way to many writing prompt ideas such as, “If you got a ride from the Doctor, where in all of space and time would you go?” or “You’ve discovered a new planet. Tell me about it and it’s inhabitants.”
Also learn about famous writers in these episodes:
- Series 1 Episode 3 “The Unquiet Dead”- Meet Charles Dickens
- Series 3 Episode 3 “The Shakespeare Code” – Meet William Shakespeare
- Series 4 Episode 7 “The Unicorn and the Wasp”- Meet Agatha Christie
- Series 8 Episode 3 “Robot of Sherwood”- Dive into a world where the classic story of Robin Hood is real!
Meet Vincent Van Gogh and be inspired to do art in homeschool with the episode “Vincent and the Doctor.” (Series 5 Episode 10) Warning: It’s a tear jerker.
In one particular episode Dyslexia is addressed. This episode reached our family on a personal level as my son is dyslexic. In the episode Hungry Earth (series 5 episode 8) The Doctor is introduced to a boy called Elliott who thought he could not be of help to the Doctor because of his dyslexia. The Doctor used Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein as examples for Elliot to see that being dyslexic did not mean that you couldn’t do great things.
What else can we learn?
As outlined in this fantastic article some of the most important lessons learned from doctor who aren’t academic. Children learn that it’s okay to release the past and move forward towards the future. They learn that we all change throughout our life and that it’s okay to reinvent ourselves. They learn that it’s okay to be weird, eccentric and different. They learn to be curious and inquisitive. They learn the importance of life on a small and large scale. They learn about tolerance. And they also learn that the journey is far more important than the destination.
- Free Doctor Who Printables– This is aimed more towards younger kids.
- Mama’s Little Monkey’s– This Teachers-pay-teachers storefront has a variety of different whovian themed activities. Some of them are free, some cost money, some are for little kids and others are aimed towards older kids.
- Doctor Who Class Management System and Room Theme Decor