I remember classroom films and/or educational filmstrips from my school years with great fondness. The Red Balloon and Leo Beuerman were among my favorites. I was so thrilled when the classroom lights dimmed and the librarian, with her polyester pantsuits and air of intrigue, appeared with a 16mm projector atop a clanky cart. Click-click, loop-loop. Tiny specks of dust in the rays of light beaming from the lens. I could have stayed in that classroom forever…
These pictures from an elementary school outside of Boston, circa 1979, feature a teacher (in a polyester pantsuit) clicking through slides in an old slide projector.
Classroom Films from the 1970s, 80s
I shared this photo on the Facebook group where members discussed memorable classroom films from the 1970s and 1980s. Click here to join the conversation. The following is a list of films the members recalled with fear and/or delight:
- Free To Be You and Me
- Born Free
- One Too Many
- Donald in Mathmagicland
- Red Asphalt
- Miracle of Birth
- Charlie the Lonesome Cougar
- The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes
- Toot, Whistle, Pluck and Boom
- Cosmic Zoom
- Too Tough To Care
- The Last Prom
- The Three Cabelleros
- A Cosmic Christmas
- The Day After
I attended more than 10 schools in 13 years and must have seen The Red Balloon five times before the 6th grade. I loved it so, so much! Leo Beuerman was a short documentary about a disabled man from Lawrence, Kansas. It was made in 1969 and was nominated for an Academy Award.
Classroom films were the highlight of my educational experience. I never understood why teachers didn’t show them more frequently. I learned so much from them and they stuck with me forever. In particular, the dated classroom films featuring drug addiction stories, which I saw in junior high had a big impact on me. After seeing them, there was no way I was ever touching drugs.
Do you have any favorite classroom films from your schooldays?
Photo Credit: Bill Fasulo
I’ve been trying to find a short film for years. It was shown to me in elementary school, 1983-1984. A 1970s short film about a family, living underground in the then future due to pollution, celebrate her birthday with her and her father going above ground. They wear hazmat-like suits and explore the polluted Earth. At one point they enter a museum and hear a recording for a display about an apparently extinct animal. They return to underground and the daughter comments that it was beautiful up there, not knowing what it was like before the pollution. Ring any bells?
Jerry Mael says
What about the two guys in white lab coats from the series “The 21st CEntury”. Epic films which I can find nowhere.
I have two. One was a film the school would make us watch on the last day of school. All I remember is a boy who had a dog but there was an old man who was a terrible human, put the dog in a sack & threw it off a bridge into a river. The dog survived. Nice to show a bunch of kids ? The other was a girl named Billie who lived with her family in a tent in family member’s back yard or something. She was in high school & went on a date but had the boy drop her off at some random house that she pretended to live in. I was born in 74, so early ‘80’s elementary but these two films were black & white.
I remember the one about the old man throwing the dog in the river! We watched it in kindergarten and I was devastated. Stuck with me for 40 years but I cannot remember the name!
Bill Cain says
This is a cool site!
I have been searching for an old school film we saw in 76-77 or thereabouts about library book care. I could have this reversed, but from what I remember it was about a red book and a blue book. Good kid checks out the red one, bad kid has the blue one. The blue book gets left out in the rain, drawn in, ripped pages etc. The red is well taken care of. When they get checked back in the blue one is all sad and the red is happy. It might have had stop animation, but I believe it was just a 16mm educational film that basically warped me for life. Also there was one where donuts are getting made then a lady losed her ring in the batter and all the people have to eat hundreds of donuts til they find the ring. Anybody remember these or have I completely lost it?
Back in middle school during the early 70’s, we watched several grainy, black and white films chronicling historical/pioneer times in America. Each episode opened with a man singing the theme song. In the lyrics he described different ways people came to this new land. I distinctly remember the ending lyrics, sung and repeated by the man in a chilling, haunting tone– “Where a Man Might Own His Own Soul.”
My brother ten years older than myself also watched the films in middle school, so I’m guessing they were made in the late 50’s= early 60’s (?) Does this sound familiar at all to anyone? Thanks!
Looking for a film shown in schools in late 70’s early 80’s. Beautiful scenery, although not full color, recall it being in black and white. It’s about a Native American family (father, mother and young son) who look at the stars and tell their son the stars are their ancestors. They live in a tent. Mother tells her son he can not step out of tent at night. One day he does and immediately becomes a star in the sky. Mother is devastated. Last scene I recall is son looking down and see his family from heaven.
So, this is not for me but for my mother. She had this huge rush of memories when watching the ad for the new movie, Lost Ollie.
She doesn’t remember much but she says that it was about a doll, similar to Raggedy Ann, she believes that the doll had pigtails. She says that the doll falls out of a car or a bus into the gutters on the road. The water ends up pushing the doll down the road and falls into the sewers. The film is about the doll having to find her way back to her owner.
I’m looking for the film title of a film I watched in grade school in California, maybe around 1980 or 1981 where it centers around a girl who keeps telling her classmates that the sun will come out one day. Apparently, they had never seen sun and it hadn’t been around for quite some time. There was one scene in the beginning where the kids all stood in bathing suits, had goggles covering their eyes and stood in front of a big screen of light (similar to a modern day tanning bed – which hadn’t been around yet! ) so that they could receive sunlight benefits.
Her classmates made fun of her, think of Noah if you will. At that point in time, the sun was a theory for these kids, a distant memory for their forbears. On one particular day, the girl was talking about it again and the bullies came in force and locked her up in a closet in the classroom.
Fast forward to recess time, the girl was still locked up, forgotten about and during recess the sun had suddenly peered through the overcast day.
The kids were ecstatic and relishing in the moment, meanwhile the girl who knew the sun would come one day, could see it pierce through a tiny crack in the door and she reached out with her hand to let the sunbeam lay on her skin. She too was ecstatic.
As quickly as the sun appeared, it quickly receded behind the clouds again leaving the kids in both dismay and glee for having seen it. Suddenly, they remembered the girl locked in the closet and you could see remorse fall over all of them. The main bully led the charge to run to her and release her. When she came out of the closet, the bully now suddenly apologetic, looking ashamed was received by her with complete forgiveness. The film ended with all the students celebrating together in one accord that she was right, the sun was going to appear again.
Mind you, this is a recollection to the best of my ability all these years later.
Thank you in advance…
Jennifer X says
Terrific retelling of the film. It is called All Summer In A Day. It is based on a story by Ray Bradbury of Fahrenheit 451 fame. Here is a link to the wiki entry on All Summer In A Day. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Summer_in_a_Day
Chris Ferguson says
Hi, just flashed back to early 1970s, a filmstrip with a ghost? Oodley- oodles? That was his saying. Any idea, or have my meds finally taken over? Haha. Thanks.
I’ve been trying to find a filmstrip that was shown in school in the early 80s. To the best of my memory it was about a woman scientist working at a lab where they have some type of time machine which somehow brings back a prehistoric boy. She is chosen to care for the boy while he’s being studied because she has no children or family so they feel she is least likely to get attached to the boy. But they are wrong. She gets very attached to the boy and when they go to send him back, she jumps into the time machine at the very last second and goes back with the boy. I thought of it again tonight because, while watching the movie “The Andromeda Strain” (the original), I thought I recognized the woman who may have been in the filmstrip (Kate Reid). I googled her list of movies but can’t find this one or any short filmstrips she may have been in. If it wasn’t her, it was someone who looked very much like her. Does anyone remember seeing this film or know the name? Thanks! And by the way, I also remember two other films that really stayed with me. Cipher in the snow about a boy who gets off the school bus and falls face first in the snow and dies and it seems no one knows him or remembers his name. And the other was String Bean about an old woman who lived alone and one day while making bean soup, she decides to plant some of the beans in a little pot in her window sill. Every day, she tends it and watches it grow, the she walks down to the park to sit on the park bench and feed the birds. When the plant is big enough, she decides to take her string bean plant down to the park and plant it among the flowers. She’s so happy and sits every day and watches her plant growing among the other plants and one day a maintenance man walks past and rips it out like a weed and throws it on the ground and horrified, she goes running and screaming (which seems like in slow motion), but it was very dramatic. I was almost crying for both of these and remember a few kids laughing, which I found quite disturbing. (Maybe a nervous laughter? But often wondered how those kids turned out).
Jason Demars says
I’m looking for a filmstrip called “all kinds of feelings” there was a sequence of a little girl having a nightmare which creeped me out when I saw it
OK, I promise I’m not making this up. I saw this film a couple of times in the 70’s. I can’t even remember what the film was about in general, but I remember a scene where several people were dancing at a party. A girl is really shaking her head around a lot and the action freezes, and they somehow use graphics to make it look like they lift off the top of her head (like it’s a lid) and pour in some milk and ice cream, then close the top of her head again, and start the action up again. So now her head shaking around is like a blender mixing up a milk shake. There were other scenes too where they stopped the action and did something silly like this and it was pretty funny. I don’t suppose anyone remembers this?? I swear I’m not crazy….
I never saw it but it certainly sounds entertaining!
I remember seeing that too, but I don’t know the name of the film either. All of us in class were laughing when we saw that. I can’t think of any other specific things (there were cartoons, I think a building going up), but I do remember that the film started out hilarious and ended up philosophical.
I think this is the film I’m looking for too. I remember a scene where people are walking across a busy street and the stoplight flashes Stop and they all freeze in the middle of the road. And another scene where a guy is moving large blocks around. It was really funny and we saw it many times in middle and high school in the 1970s. It’s driving me crazy that I can’t remember the name of it!
David A. says
I’m looking for a short children’s film I saw back in the summer of 1981. I saw it at my local library–they had a summer book club–but it was a classroom-type file. The film had three separate stories about kids being scared of ghosts. In the first one, a middle-aged lady does have magical powers, but she turns out to be nice and conjures up cookies for the kids. In the second one, the kids peek in the window of a spooky old house, and see a sheet rising. They run in terror because they think it’s a ghost, but it’s actually just painters putting up a tarp. In the third one, a boy named Timmy is kidnapped by an evil man. The man ties Timmy up and begins laughing insanely and shouting, “you’ll stay here with me forever, eh, Timmy, EH, TIMMY, EH, TIMMY!” Then the scene switches, and Timmy is at home in bed. His father is shaking his shoulder and saying, “Hey Timmy, hey, Timmy, wake up. You’re having a bad dream.” The message of the film was that you shouldn’t be scared of ghosts and bogeymen, but the part about Timmy seemed scary at the time. I have no idea what the name of the film was–thanks for any suggestions you might have!
I remember this and it scared the hell out of me. I’ve been searching for the title but – until now – I haven’t found any mention of this short anywhere. It’s been forever (probably ’80-81 as well) but I do remember that evil guy showing up at the end and making the other kids disappear before descending onto the third kid and shaking him until he woke up screaming. If you’ve had any luck tracking it down, please post.
Will keep looking for the title/name. Thank you!
Ok, I am dying to find this one. It would have been from the early to mid 70s and I feel like it was a Disney one but that could be wrong. A young girl goes to visit her grandmother and they pick vegetables in the garden, then they eat the vegetables. I think one of them was corn on the cob. They had this huge feast of garden vegetables and it made me love vegetables. Help, what was that one?! Thanks!!
I’m not sure, Barbara. It sounds like a great film and even familiar to me but I can’t call it to mind.
I remember a scene exactly like that, but it was on Sesame Street so it might be something entirely different. It definitely made me want vegetables!
I remembered it from Sesame Street as well.
Cliff Sheets says
I found this site when trying to find the name of a video I saw in Elementary School. (forgive me if I don’t have all the details correct)
It was about a classroom of students. Suddenly there is commotion in the hallway. Their teacher is lead away and a new teacher comes in. She asks them what they typically do at the start of class. One student says they say a prayer and the teacher says instead of praying to God, they should pray to “Our Leader”. And instead of saying the Pledge of Allegence to the Flag, she cuts up the American Flag so everyone can have a piece.
Anyone remember what that one was called?
Jon E says
Not sure exactly what grade, I’m thinking 3rd or 4th- circa 1979. We were shown a film for health class that was about a man who tried to kill himself from running. Fictional of course. I remember it was about cardio vascular health and exercise, and it talked about how the man was tired of living and tried to kill himself by running all night long. He didn’t succeed, so he did it again and again without success. It kept showing him running through the park and collapsing on the grass angry that he didn’t die. But eventually the man started feeling better and wanted to run even more- his health improved mentally and physically. You cant make this up…they showed this film, and what’s worse was someone thought it was a good idea to show 3rd and 4th graders.
I’ve heard it all now. And, that was 1979? That is just crazy. I’m glad to know about it though. Now, I want to see it!
Oh, man- I just stumbled upon this comment as I was just googling “1980’s school movie haystack scary”. What you are describing has to me what I have snapshot vision in my head right now!
That’s so awesome. Thanks for finding my site and stopping by! I loved classroom films so much!!
Does anyone remember the class film called “Paddle to the Sea”? About a Native American boy in…Alaska? Canada? Who made a wooden carved figure in a boat. He lined the bottom with lead so it would always stay upright. Then they released it into a stream to see if it could make the journey to the ocean. Obviously staged in that Disney way but really well done and you felt a kinship with the wooden character. Circa 1977.
I vaguely remember this!! Thanks for the reminder. That was a wonderful film.
This is literally the filmstrip that I was trying to find the name of when googling vintage elementary school film strips. Good times! We watched this in grade school (80-86) every year! The garbage boat scene stuck out the most lol.
What was the name of the film from the 70’s that was like “The Water Horse” from 2007
I would love to know what the film was that gave me nightmares in the early 80s… the part I remember was children being chased and hiding in a farm and later in a forest. The pursuers were thrusting some kind of weapons (I remember long sticks) into a haystack searching for people hiding. I remember hiding my face behind the child sitting in front of me so I didn’t have to see most of the movie!! 🙁
Josh Mooney says
I also was the one to run the film projectors at our elementary school and pulled out of class to help the non-tech savvy teachers. One I would love to find again was about a group of teenagers who discover a beach with great waves, and open it to surfers, charging money for admission and opening a snack bar or something? I think one of the kid’s grandmothers owned the land?
That sounds very familiar!
Bradley Justin Davidson says
Hello. I am searching for one of these films I saw in elementary school in the 1970s that was about the immune system, portraying the batter against infection using a WW2 analogy. It made a big impression on me and I am now teaching about immunity as a college prof and would really love to show it to my students! Any clues how to find it?
I went to an elementary school in the late 70’s located near Baltimore ,Md and i can remember two . One has always been there in my memories since the first time i can remember sitting in that dark library. Mrs Bryant was the librarians name. Very new age. Very hip . Very hippie. Cool lady. I mean , i remember her sessions fondly.
The film strip started with a boy riding his bike through this suburban neighborhood. All of the houses looked exactly alike. The lawns were all perfectly shaped and tidy. There on the perfect yard , in every yard, was a girl jump roping. As the boy continues riding through the neighborhood , he is conscious that everything looks the same . That he is just realizing the conformity. He then enters this city. As he pedals down the empty streets, he notices that the roads are like veins. So he follows the flow of the veins to the center of the city, where he finds the tallest building . I can just remember , in the center of this building there is this giant brain and the “veins” are really like neural pathways controlling everything.
It probably took me a few years after to realize what that film was saying. Reject Conformity. Think for yourself. That there is a corporate interest to control everything we consume or do, really.
Any idea , what that one was called?
The other one was the Legend of KneeKnock Rise. Or at least that it what i remember .
Wow! Fascinating! I will find out and post a comment soon. I would love to have seen this. You don’t happen to be the Sean who ordered a Gen X sticker are you? He ordered one but didn’t send me his address. =/
Manuel Ramos and the Firemaker’s Art…I used to show this to students in the 80’s and it was old then. Wish I could find it.
WOW that sounds like a great film!
I always enjoyed this too, but I have this memory of one film we were shone that I cannot shake. It must have been 3rd grade–1980-81. In the film, an American classroom full of kids our age is taken over by this new teacher who presents as very stereotypically Soviet. She tells the students they will not be allowed to go home, but must stay at the school until further notice. Then, one by one, she makes each student come to the front of the room and cut a piece out of the American flag. I have searched the internet in vain to find what must have been a propaganda film, but I have never been able to find any reference to it. I sometimes wonder if I made it up, but it’s such a visceral memory!
Wow – I would love to find that film. I’ll have to do some sleuthing. That is serious propaganda from the Cold War era. If I find any information, I will put in a post. Thanks for sharing. –jennifer
Hi Elissa – Through the FB page I was able to find out the name of the film. It was certainly not your imagination. The story was written in 1963 by James Clavell. It was produced as a 30-minute short film by Mobil as in Mobil Exxon. Here is a link https://youtu.be/NRrQQYB6Nd4. The story first appeared as a novelette in Reader’s Digest. Here is the Wikipedia entry on “The Children’s Story.” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Children%27s_Story Thank you for sharing about this rare and long-forgotten film.
Wow! That was quick. I’ll have to see how much of it is like I remembered.
I have that a s a small booklet I purchased in college for a class (early 80’s). Looks luje it hasn’t changed at all since then.
I was among the elite entrusted with feeding the film through the projector when we watched movies instead of the film strips. This served me well when I went on to work for the Eastland Twin in high school 😉
The Eastland Twin!! That’s such a great memory! Right by the pink Vandevers building. LOL. I can no longer remember the one or two movies this former Nazarene snuck in to see with my friends. haha!