Elementary School Films Of The 1980s


Did you go to elementary school during the 1980s? Were you subjected to films during your lunch break? During non-denominational holiday gatherings? For “educational purposes?” Click here to see what I was forced to watch, including the classic horrifying school bus safety film, And Then It Happened…


70 Responses to Elementary School Films Of The 1980s

  1. Mary says:

    Hey here’s the scoop on Puff. It was part live action and part animated. the story was originally about a boy who was dying named Jackie Draper. I think I remember someone reading to him about a dragon. The reader incorporates His name into the story under Jackie Paper. Jackie is magically swept off into the Land called Honna-lee. In the story it says “One grey night it happened, Jackie paper came no more. And puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.” This was because the real Jackie Draper had died and there was no one to keep reading the story of Puff. Weird huh?? Oh yeah and the Witch mountain movie rocked, but have you seen Tuff Turf? It has the girl who played Tia only she’s all grown up and smokin hot! She co stars with James Spader. It’s a great 80’s movie. I own it if you wanna borrow it sometime lol. Hey how about the after school specials? My favorite was “Dinny hocker shoots smack”, it was a classic!

  2. Your story of the Puff The Magic Dragon tale is familiar, but the problem is why can’t we find reference to this version anywhere? What we have come up with is that we may be confusing this Puff The Magic Dragon we mentioned, which is animated, with the film Pete’s Dragon,which was half animation and half live action. The plot thickens… I am hoping the one friend from this school I am still in touch with can shed some light on the mystery of what I actually saw…

    I remember the film Tuff Turf but I don’t think I ever saw it. Interesting. James Spader was always awesome, too. I didn’t mention any after school specials because we didn’t watch any at school. In the near future I will probably be doing an article on silly kids shows I watched in the 70s and 80s. If I come up with any after school specials I remember I’ll be sure to include them!

    Thanks for your comment!

    Project Absurd

  3. Nicole says:

    I couldn’t believe that I was not the only child traumatized by the film And Then It Happened! It has stuck with me all these years. I tried to watch it on your site just to see what effected me so much, but I couldn’t . It said that the video was no longer available. Let me know how I can view it.
    Thanks, Nicole

  4. Hi Nicole (I wonder if you’re my friend Nicole who was probably sitting next to me when I watched “And Then It Happened” back in the day? – LOL)…

    Thanks for the heads-up that the vids no longer work. I have fixed it.

    Thanks for visiting our site! I’m sorry you were upset by this as a kid, but I’m glad I wasn’t alone in this!

    Project Absurd – Kelly

  5. kate says:

    I don’t remember the names but I remember all of the crazy, scary anti-drug films….do you remember any of those?

  6. Angie says:

    Hello! I would really like to know which movie was this: it’s probably about 15 yrs old and it starts whith two little brothers running in the woods when suddenly one of them (the older one) falls into a hole and faints. When he wakes up in that hole again it seems it was there only a few minutes but in reallity it passes 10 or more years…he goes home, but his parents don’t live there anymore….then he finnaly finds them (or they found him), his younger brother is now older. So..actually that boy was abducted by aliens..he didn’t age, all the others on Earth did…

    Can anybody helps with the title or something?? PLSS

  7. Timm says:

    Thanks for posting the video of ‘And Then It Happened’. It’s been one of those videos in the back of my mind that I remember had a big impact on me. This movie was also shown at our school in an assembly…and toally scared me. One girl ran out of the auditorium because she was so freaked out (I recall her name was Ida). I also remember another video about bus safety that showed two kids horsing around on a snow bank and fell under a school bus. Boy these movies made me want to follow the rules!

    • I’m sorry you were traumatized, too, but I’m glad I wasn’t the only one! Thanks for your comment!

      • EightiesAlaskanKid says:

        Thanks Timm! Thanks Project Absurd!

        Found it! I had been trying to find the traumatizing bus safety film (called Death Zones) where the girl falls under the bus, and subsequently dies, for an eternity! However, thanks to Google, Project Absurd, and Timm, I finally found it! This film scared the “Jehosephats” out of me. Why would anyone show a film like this to third graders?

        Check it out!

        Search on Youtube:

        DEATH ZONES – ’70s Educational Bus Safety Video (Part 3)

  8. Stephen says:

    You might be thinking of Pete’s Dragon. It was live and animated.

  9. John says:

    Excellent post. I’ve been wondering about a film or “filmstrip” with audio they showed us for years – something about kids who tried different drugs and what happened to them. I dimly remember one actor saying “I tried lsd, then I got confused and fell off my bike.” Also one where a girl did a bunch of “reds” at aparty and got sick or died. Does anyone know if these are available anywhere?

    Angie, the movie you want is Flight of the Navigator.

  10. Bane says:

    I miss the 80’s. Escape to witch mtn. was/is one of my favorite movies. Never actually saw And Then It Happened so no trauma for me. well from that movie anyway.

  11. Sara says:

    I’ve searching all over the internet for the old elementary school films/movies that I watched in the late 80s early 90s (they may have been made in the 70s). There is one that had a man dressed up in a suit made off all our inside body parts and another about a bear named Off Alot that taught us about conserving energy by turning off the lights ect. Could you please give me the names of these shows? I can’t believe I remember these shows and I’ve been wanting to see if they are on you tube. Thanks!

    • You might be thinking of Slim Goodbody – the guy who wore a spandex suit that had our insides printed on the outside. As for the other one – I don’t remember seeing that one, but maybe another reader will help you out.

  12. Chuck says:

    I’ve been trying to figure out the name of a particular filmstrip I saw when I was a kid in the 80’s for years. It gave me nightmares…It was about a boy named Pete who got mixed up smoking weed, and basically becomes a dried out waste of space. His buddies take a trip through his body to learn what is happening to him, and I think everything turns out ok..for the love of God, has anyone ever seen this film? It freaked me out for some reason.

  13. wonderwoman says:

    oh my god. I just watched And Then It Happened and am beginning to realize why our generation is so emotionally nutty! zoinks!!!!

    Would also love to find the elementary school film where the boy has a calculator built into his arm and the one about not talking to strangers.

    • Alan Lombardo says:

      Did you ever find out what the name of the movie where the boy has a calculator built in to his arm?

  14. Ingrid says:

    I was wondering if anyone knows about this film. It’s haunted my sister and me for years and years. It’s a film that was shown to us in elementary school (in Southern California). It starts out a girl and a guy are playing frisbee on the beach when on the radio the announcer says there was a giant tsunami wave coming. The guy and the girl are too far away to hear the radio. Suddenly the girl shouts to the guy, “Look out!” and this gigantic wave takes out the guy. She starts running for her life and then the film pauses dramatically sort of telling you it wiped her out too. Antoher film I enjoyed at school as a kid was one of native american legends and mexican legends. It talked about how the “rabbit” got on the moon, and the Sleeping Woman on the Mexican mountain range in Puebla. If anyone has information about where I can find them, download them, or buy them I would really appreciate it.
    Thanks so much,

  15. Ingrid says:

    By the way,remember Sonny Bono’s anti drug film?

  16. Jodi says:

    I am trying to find a movie name about a young boy and the moon fell to earth and the moon turns into a basketball. It was shown in elementary school in the 1980’s

  17. Eric says:

    Trying to find an animated filmstrip from late 70’s/early 80’s about islanders that barter their skills for different work to be done. Eventually creating money to use instead of barter. I can remember watching this in elementary school back in the day.

  18. Jeremy P says:

    My fav was a film where a man gets on a small motorized rail car near a beach and accidentally starts it moving when he bumps the controls w/ his rear. He travels for a long time finding food and other items in an impossibly small compartment on the car. He gets off when the car runs out of gas near another beach. The impression is that he’s travelled cross-country. There’s no dialogue, maybe some music and he’s the only character.
    Jeremy P

  19. Daniel Lucas says:

    I have been trying to find a movie that we saw as kids during the 80’s it was about this little girl who was in a city where it always rained. Everything was in industrial grey the buildings the people everything then one day she wears red shoes to school then gets in to trouble for it. Any ideas as to the name of this one, I would love to show it to my own little girls to show them that different is not always bad.

    Daniel L.

  20. Douglas F says:

    Back in elementary school in the late 70s and early 80s this older gentleman would show films at an assembly once or twice a year that he and his wife made out in the southwest deserts. He was a professional (or a very talented amateur) and he and his wife would travel all over the country to schools to show these films and he would narrate them live.

    I’ve been trying to find out who he was and whether or not any of these films can be found nowadays on DVD or other media.

  21. Heather Aday says:

    I am looking for a film that may have been 70’s thru 80’s. it had a lonely child living in an apartment *i think* and a black lady talks to her through the t.v. almost like an “auntie mame” type character. all i remember is the black lady had a sweet high pitched voice.

    • Jennifer says:

      I’ve been wondering about this same filmstrip!

      • nhavlenNaomi says:

        I know exactly which you’re talking about — the black lady turns into a fairy godmother type who grants wishes, I think, and the girls asks to be rich. I distinctly remember a scene where new clothes are falling from the sky in her apartment … sounds crazy, but it’s what I remember. I have no idea how it ended.

        • missr says:

          I was just looking for this movie and brought me here. I remember the same vague details!

  22. Mike says:

    Hey there,

    I’m looking for a title to a movie about a boy who died because no one liked him. We had to watch it in school in the eighties. All I remember is him stepping off a bus and dying. Any help?

  23. Amy says:

    Surprised no one’s mentioned “Free to be You and Me.” Anyone? Anyone? Buehler?

  24. sam says:

    yes, iam looking for and old 1970’s era boy movie i saw in 2nd grade a boy in knickerbokers is beat up and a giant b/w sheep dog saves him may be a french movie

  25. I’m looking for this film we saw in the early 80’s or late 70’s. All of the plants are dead and this one guy has the last greenhouse. He has to wear a gas mask outside because the air is toxic. At the end, bad guys break into his greenhouse and destroy it.

  26. LisaLisa says:

    what about a movie I think named “clown”? A little boy and his dog? Then there was the red balloon and Hemo the magnificent.

  27. Colleen says:

    Music class, early 80’s, halloween time watching a filmstrip with sing along songs: Have you seen the ghost of John, and H-A double L-O W double-E N spells Halliween. Also a sing along song with a lyric: “and the dinosaur bonnnnnes.” Also a short film that made me sad which I found available online (not cheap) called Peege about an old lady with Alzheimer’s whose grandson takes her back in her mind to good memories of the two of them. Anyone remember the music class halloween strips. I’d like to find them on YouTube.

  28. Greg says:

    The movie I am trying to find I always thought was called Bad Daniel. But it was about a boy who had built a small room into a home that used to be owned by his parents or mom, and when the home was sold he continued to live in the small room, only leaving when he knew they were gone. He went on to basically haunt the new tennants that bought the house and knew someone else was there. This had to have been shown to me in the 70s.

  29. Caela says:

    There was a movie or series that we watched in my second grade class in the 90’s that was about a quest or something and getting the pieces to something.. thats really all i remember any idea what it could be/

  30. Looking for a cartoon I saw one time in school. It’s about a man trying to get on a horse. He does all kinds of things but can’t do it! I’m guessing 60s or 70s (I saw it in the 80s). It had some trippy music. It was just.music and I don’t think there’s any talking. Also there’s some neat ones I wouldn’t mind seeing again: one about Pythagoras inventing algebra and music, and the other about bike safety starring Jiminy Cricket. I think he sang this song called “I’m No Fool.”

  31. Bonnie Ursprung says:

    Ok. Been thinking about two movies that I saw in school during the 82-83 and 83-84 school years at Lara Kinsey Elementary School in Flagstaff, AZ. One is a cartoon about a boy who ends up in a strange world (one scene has some kind of creatures/critters “melting” over the frame of the windshield of a convertible that the boy is in. Interesting movie.
    The other had Donald Duck in it and all I remember is that Donald was trying to play pool and had all kinds of mathematical formulas in his head trying to figure out the angles at which to hit the cue ball. LOL Any help on these would be appreciated!!!!

  32. steve says:

    Hi all. I’ve been looking for one that I used to see at school in the 70’s. It was about some strange creature, who was maybe a couple of feet tall and monster-ish looking… but a child-creature, I think. And he’s from somewhere far away, or a different time, or something… and he’s being studied, I think? And bonds with this scientist woman?
    The only vivid memory I have of it is him getting into some sort of chamber to go back to where he came from. He and the woman shared a moment… it was all very sad… and then he left and it ended.
    Any ideas??
    I’m really curious to see what it was all about and why it made such a (vague) impression on me.


  33. i am trying to find this bully movie from the 70’s or 90’s that my guidance counselor showed us. it follows this boy in his normal routine around school and including getting bully. at the end of the movie he is out in the play ground by the fence. he then decide to run across the road to get away from the bullies but as he his trying to cross the road he gets hit by a car. then he is taken away in an ambulance

  34. erin says:

    I am trying to find out about a movie from maybe late 60 or 70’s shown to me in grade school circa 76-83. It had a catchy song which I can’t recall and a boy going on the school bus it was live action, but I recall a little monster or something that was animated and followed him around?

  35. Paul\ says:

    Anyone remember Patch The Pony? Nay, Nay! From strangers stay away! He’d teach about stranger danger and I think there was an anti-drug one too.

    • Sarah says:

      These are the ones that I can’t forget from the mid 80s (1984-89)…

      – A movie about boy named Steven who was kidnapped and molested…terrifying. I still feel shifty around people with the last name Parnell!

      – A movie about a glass/China doll in an attic. A little girl finds it, and then she is haunted by a tormented ghost. Very scary back then…I remember some sort of haunting song being sung over and over.

      – This is your body, or something like that, in the 4th grade. This was a graphic film about “Menstruation’s gifts.” Oh the horror. We passed around pads at the end for the girls to explore. Sooo weird.

      – An awesome audio only film strip called the Harry Man. All about a scary man with an ac chasing a little boy so that he could eat him. The little boy won, but it was intense man.

  36. Laura says:

    Does anyone remember the film about “Susie” – she is a little Oriental girl in elementary school who I believe is getting off the bus with a Mother’s Day card and in her excitement is hit by a car and dies. Saw this movie in NJ in the early 80’s while still in elementary school myself, it was on bus safety. It scarred me!! I thought it was “Blood Flows Red on the Asphalt” but Google search doesn’t locate anything by that name. I just remember she gets hit, the music is terrible (film was always warped), and the camera zooms in on the card she made at school… the narrator says something to the effect of “Susie won’t be coming home today…” Horrible!!

  37. Kat kandler says:

    I too had to watch many of the films listed, the one that haunts me is about a little boy who died because NO ONE loved him. I barely remember the last part where he (a small blonde haired kid) was getting on the school bus and just fell over and died, right there. That was the end. It has haunted me for 30+ years and I’d like to see it again, if anyone knows the name of the film or where I could see it please let me know. Thank you in advance. K

  38. Ethan M says:

    Looking for a movie I saw about 30 years ago. A short film, about a family who lives underground due to pollution. On the daughters birthday they go above ground in hazmat suits and she is shown the lifeless polluted outdoors.They enter an abandoned museum and see a stuffed animal with a description/recording.

  39. Sheri says:

    Does anyone remember a filmstrip from the 1970-1980’s that was about a man who had the choice of living in a shack or castle tower? When he chose the castle tower, death (or some kind of ghost), had him build and build the tower into a huge castle as punishment. I remember something about a tunnel between the tower and shack. In the end, i think the man is forced to live in the shack and the ghost gets the castle. Maybe the man dies. Not sure. Weird. I’ve thought about this move for about 30 years.

  40. clint says:

    First off, Kudos to starting this blog. What a great page!

    I’ve been trying to figure out what movie this is for years. Saw it as a kid in elementary in the 80’s.

    My memory is pretty vague but what I remember was a guy with either a purple cape or pointy hat, maybe both, I think maybe he was a wizard possibly and if I recall correctly it was like he would take you on a journey and when he took you somewhere the film had these scenes where it seemed like you were flying. What I mean by that is the film was shot from a 1st person perspective or point of view to give the impression it was you (the viewer) flying over various landscapes.

    Hope that makes sense.

  41. Joe says:

    Drug education film I probably watched around 1987, they had all the different drugs, but then they showed the acid casualty, he was sitting in the corner of hot room reciting Star Trek scenes, any body remember this, would love to find it.

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