The Simpsons for Unschoolers

The reason I have the Core Knowledge Sequence was because I was infatuated with the idea of cultural literacy for the three minutes it took to type my credit card number on the webpage. When it came in the mail and I read through it, I realized you would truly pick this stuff up on accident.
[Unschooling Discussion list, unknown author]

All you have to do is watch The Simpsons every day.

I'm not kidding.


Sadie Bugni, AlwaysLearning, Monday, January 9, 2012
My kids also love Simpsons. Last year, Target had the season sets on black Friday for $10 each and I went early to get them. We watch them in our RV when we travel and everyone enjoys them.

Anyway, we have been home a lot the past two weeks and my husband and I were talking about doing something today. The Atlanta History Center had a home school day today, so we looked it up to see what the topic was going to be. It was about the founders of our country and The Constitution. We decided that this was something that our kids probably wouldn't get too into, so we were going to look for something else. About an hour later, we sat down to watch the new Simpsons episode on our DVR and it was about the same topics that the history center was doing! The kids asked all kinds of questions and actually knew more than I thought they did about the subject and were really interested.

Sooo, what I'm trying to say is, look around at all the learning that is happening. Don't dismiss their interest as "just watching Simpsons." You never know where that one1 episode may lead you.

Sadie Bugni

by Priscilla Sanstead, Tulsa; AlwaysLearning, Monday, January 9, 2012 Here's a link to a huge slide show called "The Complete History of Art References of the Simpsons" :

Art References in The Simpsons

That article doesn't have its images anymore. They are on this Wayback Machine / Internet Archive capture from 2012. It won't be "Complete" this many years later, but it's still a good collection. They take a while to load, but it's wonderful that they're still available.

Web archived copy of "The Complete History of Art References of the Simpsons"

Best set of images I found in 2022: Art References section at Simpsons Wiki

Priscilla's post continued:
A Facebook message about it came this morning from my local museum - Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. It was about an article (with that link) that just came out in a local print publication about Simpsons episodes which contain art or art references to Oklahoma, or to art in museums around here.

Here's the article from "This Land Press":
The Complete History of Art References in The Simpsons#1

And did some of you get the musical reference in the name of the publication "This Land....." ?

Oklahoma is Woody Guthrie's home, and "This Land Press" is published in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Woody Guthrie wrote the very popular ballad about America that starts with these lyrics

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From California, to the New York island,
From the Redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters.
This land was made for you and me.
So we have gone from "just watching the Simpsons" to art history, museums, geography, song writing, Facebook, marketing. And in Oklahoma news that was featured in The New York Times, a foundation is purchasing the Woody Guthrie archives from his children and plans to build an exhibition and study center here. Finally! It took a long time because some here found his political leanings to be a little leftist, err, communist. NY Times article 2011

So that just added local and national political history.

There are a couple of pretty picture books here (and probably at your local library) called "This Land is Your Land" :(Link to books on Amazon)

On that Amazon link we also see sheet music, a Native American book called "This Land is My Land", a book called "This Land is Your Land: The Geographic Evolution of the United States", and another book about property rights. That added a few more connections.

Oh, and we (husband and I) had young woman (early 20's) in our home last night that we had just met, and we watched the Simpsons like we usually do. She said she didn't watch it and wasn't allowed to watch it growing up because she had four younger siblings. We had a discussion about how we loved all the cultural references in the show and how it might not be for children. But I said that if the child wanted to watch it and the parent was present and watching and commenting and helping the child understand behaviors, words, and actions, then I didn't see a problem.

Priscilla Sanstead


Lissa sent a link to something by one of the Simpsons writers, about a snooty "I don't watch TV" encounter. It's pretty entertaining. True Tails of Conversational Vengeance
List of mentions of U.S. Presidents, with episode listings and notes

MATH: There's a book called
The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets by Simon Singh (including four chapters on Futurama)


Name characters, as many as you can of 181. It's a timed game, and needs typing; be ready to go as soon as it opens. Maybe the best typist could enter names as others call them out.

Here are some other Simpsons games at that site: Simpsons quiz games

We've recently enhanced our Simpsons "curriculum" with Futurama DVDs. A whole new universe of cultural references.

The Simpsons bit (spoofing) the Bill on Capital Hill (flag burners have too much freedom) led to the still ongoing discussions of flag burning as freedom of speech, which led to discussions on political protest which led to the ever popular discussions on civil disobedience, which led to the reading of "Civil Disobedience" by Thoreau, which led to "Walden."

Deb L

Sandra Dodd, April 29, 2004, when Holly was 12 years old:

This is hard to convey, because it was quick and sometimes two or three people were talking at once. Sometimes I couldn't quote, and there was laughing and gesturing, but here it is for the sake of its punchline:

My husband brought papers for me to sign. He's moving my IRA to the Navy credit union (his dad was a WWII pilot, and his brother was on a submarine years later)

We were talking about insurance policies his dad has for the kids, which are paid for by interest from an IRA that's in Holly's name, bought by her grandparents. Holly wanted us to tell her what we were talking about. I said it would be enough money if she died that we could bury her and have a party. She acted like that sounded good. I said maybe we could put her out between Purple and Luna (a cat and rat of hers, both in the flowerbed out back). I said maybe we could pay the house off with the insurance money so we wouldn't ever have to sell it and lose Holly's grave.

Illegal to bury her in the yard? Maybe.

I suggested that we could get a stone that says "Luna, beloved rat of Holly," and underline Holly, so God would know it was actually her.

Holly said God is a genius and would know anyway.

"Why's God a genius?" Keith asked. He just is. I suggested "butterflies." Holly concurred.

Keith said God's omnipotent, so he knows everything.

Will he turn us in to the city?

I said, "That's omniscient. Omnipotent means he can do anything, all-powerful." And (to Holly I said) the question that goes with that is whether God can make a rock so big that he himself can't pick it up. If not, he's not omnipotent.

Holly, without missing a beat: "I thought the question was whether Jesus could microwave a burrito so hot that he himself couldn't eat it."


Me: "Well yes, that's the same question, updated. Where did it come from?"

"The Simpsons."

"Who asked it?"


Definitions, theology, law, finance...
Matters for 12 year old girls and cartoon characters.

Sandra Dodd
originally written on the old-time (the new one's all different),
and then shared the next day at UnschoolingDiscussion (gone now)


Parodies of the theme song of Cheers, something from Mary Poppins, "Canyonero" (truck commercial sung by Hank Williams, Jr.) and if you click through to YouTube, there will be others linked.

Powers of Ten videos, including a parody from The Simpsons

Back to strewing or television.