Understanding history is important to being a responsible, informed citizen, plus, it is downright interesting! YouTube offers a wealth of resources both for classroom use at all levels and for the hobbyist in your home. Check out these cool history channels that are sure to match your students’ needs.
Especially for Elementary Students
Hands-On History -BBC
This great series of four video shorts features a time-traveling ten-year-old who shows what life was like in various periods of history. It’s got an engaging format and is very relatable for younger students. There’s a decidedly British flair, understandably, but the videos are very interesting nonetheless.
The videos cover ancient Britain, Roman Britain, the Norman Conquest, and from an evacuee’s point of view. They deal with topics near and dear to children’s hearts that include the nitty-gritty of life in each period, such as diet and bathroom arrangements. This series is certain to get kids intrigued with life long ago and will definitely prompt questions and further research.
Liberty’s Kids offers well over a hundred animated videos related to United States history. The show was televised for a time, so the episodes are a bit over 20 minutes each. The focus is primarily on the Revolutionary War and times around then, but there are some videos in the collection that deal with other parts of US history.
The series will help elementary-aged children get a good overview of early U.S. history in an entertaining way. The videos make a good introduction or a good review of each topic.
History and Hip Hop-what a combination! Here are over thirty videos tackling common concepts in elementary social studies, like the 7 continents, the Constitution, and voting. The lyrics are clear and the tunes are catchy, just right to grab and hold student attention.
Best of all, there are songs here that will help kids memorize some of those lists that are so common in early grades, such as the list of American presidents and states and capitals. Check it out!
Here’s a great selection of history explainer videos covering world history from a wide array of timeframes and areas. The videos are short and sweet, the narration and illustrations are clear, and they are very accurate.
The channel offers dozens of videos that would be wonderful to introduce new topics or provide a quick review or overview after you’ve taught children about them.
Just Right for Middle and High School
What do you get when you mix history with pop music? You can find out on this channel with such creations as “Katherine the Great” to the tune of “Poker Face” and “The Canterbury Tales” to the tune of “California Dreamin’”. It’s a great way to get older students engaged with whatever you are teaching, and maybe spark some creative poetic license as you challenge the kids to rewrite their own history hits to the tunes from current songs.
With over fifty rewritten songs to choose from, you won’t have trouble finding something related to the current topic of study in world history. The choices range from Greek philosophers to the Black Death to the French Revolution and beyond.
Here’s a treasure trove of over 400 great videos perfect for middle and high school students. They are the creation of Keith Hughes, teacher and speaker on the History Channel. The videos mostly cover US History topics, but there are a few that visit some World History events.
Hughes’ videos are up-to-the-minute current, as well. Chances are very good that you’ll be able to find one related to current issues and history being made right now. There are also new ones being posted several times each month. The videos are a great length, too: about 8-15 minutes each for the most part.
Get the help that middle and high school students may need to understand U.S. and World History in these entertaining and engaging videos that are designed to help students ace AP History courses.
There are literally dozens and dozens of topical videos offered on this channel that provide in-depth coverage of the things that AP History students need to know. Topics include the Whiskey Rebellion and the Virginia Colony all the way up through Brexit and current events.
The History Channel
If you want some great in-depth analysis videos, where else should you turn but to the experts? Here are videos from the History Channel. These short clips from favorite History Channel shows offer brief glimpses into a wide array of topics, such as Japanese internment during World War II and the slave trade of the 18th and 19th centuries.
It might take some diligent searching through their playlist and channels, but teachers and homeschoolers will be likely to find related information for just about any topic that is being addressed. And history buffs will have an absolute field day exploring the entire site.
Specialized History Channels
Crash Course is a channel created by a group of dedicated educators offering 10-15 minute video lessons on a wide array of topics, including U.S. and World History as well as several related topics. The channel features playlists of up to 40-50 videos per topic, so be sure to check the playlist section if you want to drill down to history or any other subject they offer.
The U.S. History playlist offers 48 videos covering indigenous peoples all the way up through President Obama’s term. The World History playlist offers 42 videos covering an ambitious 15,000 years of world history. Find videos on everything from the agricultural revolution and Mesopotamia through current issues of globalization.
U.S. residents likely know that the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. has a wealth of historical information to share, but did you know that they also have a YouTube channel? Buildings can only hold so much, and you have to travel to get there. This YouTube channel puts even more information at your fingertips. It’s actually a huge interconnected set of channels, many of which will appeal to history buffs.
Be sure to check out their channels and playlists such as the National Museum of American History channel and the Civil War Playlist. The Folkways playlist offers a selection of American folksongs, and much, much more.