Bringing the Past to Life: Teaching History with Video from BBC Active

Teaching our youngest generations about history is vitally important in our fast-changing world. We live in an ever-present, digitally-driven world and it’s all too easy to forget about the past and the crucial events that have created today’s society. History helps students to understand about social development and to learn from past mistakes. It gives young people much-needed context to understand the world around them. History is a compelling, inspirational and colourful journey of discovery – but too often it can be a passive learning experience that students struggle to engage with. Using educational videos from BBC Active when teaching history will ignite students’ passion and energy to delve deep into our past and understand how yesterday’s events affect us today.

Bringing the past to life with history videos

Using educational videos in the classroom is one of the most powerful ways to engage students with key moments in our history. Retelling these historical events through video helps students to emotionally connect with stories from the past; in doing so, students will retain information and are far more likely to want to discover more about the events that had such an impact on the world.

These compelling history videos are a selection of the excellent educational resources available from BBC Active Video for Learning:

History of the World

The History of the World educational video series includes eight fascinating episodes which cover the critical events in human history over 70,000 years. This series examines the development of our civilisation across the centuries, from the earliest settlers to the French and Industrial Revolutions. Episodes in the series include Age of Empire, which looks at the development of our civilisation complete with its failures and successes and the Age of Extremes which examines the key turning points that shape today’s society. This enthralling series will bring key events in human civilisation to life through visual graphics and unforgettable storytelling. If students are struggling to find history exciting, this series could be the turning point that makes history come alive in the classroom.


The Normans

The Normans is an exciting and colourful series of videos that contains four 50-minute episodes. The series sees Professor Robert Bartlett explore the history of The Normans and the impact that their rise to power had right across Europe. The videos follow the period between the 10th to 13th centuries, where land could be conquered by anyone willing to fight for it. Students will love watching stories of warriors, conquerors and kings coming to life in their classroom and video is the perfect tool to bring this dazzling period of history to life.

Ancient Rome – The Rise and Fall of an Empire

The ground-breaking educational series Ancient Rome – The Rise and Fall of an Empire includes six episodes that bring the fascinating history of the Roman Empire to life. These videos use dramatic battle scenes and extensive historical research to produce a breath-taking account of how the Roman Empire became so powerful and why it failed in the end. Each of the six episodes focuses on the key events and people that shaped the Roman Empire and uncovers the forgotten secrets of one of the most important periods in history. British students can link this educational series to the Age of Romans video, which investigates the ancient civilisations of Great Britain and visits ancient sites, enabling students to understand how the age of Romans impacts on British life today.

The Six Queens of Henry VIII

This is a new educational series from BBC Active examining the best-known monarch in history. While most people know the basics of the story behind Henry VIII and his six wives who were divorced, beheaded or died, The Six Queens of Henry VIII focuses on the women who featured in a period of history which was pivotal in shaping the future of England. Their passions, ambitions and power come to life in a refreshing new look at the story behind Henry VIII and his six wives.

This selection of compelling BBC Active educational videos showcases the wide variety of videos available to bring history to life in the classroom. These videos will help students of all ages to connect with the most important historical events of our past through exciting dramatizations, CGI and high quality storytelling. These videos are ideal to use alongside field trips and to inspire detailed discussions about events across history. Using history videos as educational resources will enable students to understand how our history has shaped our present and continues to shape our future.