It’s 4pm and you were supposed to pick up your kids from daycare half an hour ago, but you still have to figure out how to introduce that content-heavy lesson for tomorrow’s third period Year 9 English class.

Your stomach sinks because you need to be somewhere else. Now.

Do you hate planning for those content-heavy unit-introduction lessons? I know I did, at least until I found CrashCourse.

I would hate having to create a multitude of ways to get through content – take notes, read a textbook, draw a diagram, give an explanation. It was time-consuming to plan, and often my strategies weren’t engaging my students.

Now, I LOVE introducing a new topic of study with CrashCourse YouTube videos because they are short and funny, cover loads of content, and give a good overview of big topics.

What is CrashCourse?

CrashCourse is an educational publishing company that produces short videos. Hank and John Green (the YA novelist), also known as the Vlog brothers, started CrashCourse as a YouTube channel and began releasing videos in 2012.

CrashCourse began as part of a YouTube experiment to create original content. By 2013, Subbable (a company created by the brothers) crowd-funded the channel (which then continued under Patreon when it bought Subbable).

In 2014, CrashCourse joined forces with PBS Studios and added more hosts and content. From 2018, Complexly (John and Hank Green’s online audio and video production company) began to co-producing some of the content.

Why use CrashCourse videos?

The brothers state that they want to “make learning fun”, and their videos reflect this.

The videos are fast, funny, and full of animations. Each video is only 10-15 minutes long – too short to become boring.

The clips start broadly and then narrow in on the details, which is perfect to introduce a time period, literary text, concept, or idea.

The videos cover just about anything you might EVER have to teach. And they’re awesome if you get stuck subbing for a class you know NOTHING about or the regular teacher has left NOTHING.TO.DO!

Best of all, CrashCourse videos are also FREE. And we are teachers on a teacher’s salary. Enough said.

What topics do CrashCourse videos cover?

  • The sciences: biology, ecology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, astronomy, history of science, engineering, statistics, and physics
  • Humanities: psychology, media literacy, sociology, philosophy, and intellectual property
  • The arts: theatre and drama, film criticism, film production, and film history
  • Computing: artificial intelligence, navigating digital information, computer science, and games
  • Business education: business entrepreneurship, soft skills, intellectual property, and economics

Plus, I love that I don’t feel bad watching these videos in class because they are excellent AND educational.

And self-confessed nerds with wildly successful professional lives (#rolemodelsmuch) created them. What’s not to like?

How else can you use CrashCourse videos?

  • Leave it as a lesson for a substitute teacher
  • Use it to give quick context on a time period for a literature study
  • Throw it on when you have been given a supervision lesson and the regular teacher hasn’t left enough work
  • Set it for homework and use it as the content for a flipped classroom lesson
  • Put it on and complete some of your administrivia (mark attendance, check homework, respond to that email) while your students get up to speed
  • Use it as a reward for good whole-class behaviour

You can sigh with relief now

You can go get your kids. And next time you are planning for a content-heavy lesson, you now know about CrashCourse, an excellent, free, go-to for just about any topic.


If you use the CrashCourse Literature or CrashCourse Study Skills videos, we have engaging, no-prep visual note-taking worksheets (and teacher notes) to keep scaffold student notes and keep them on track.

picture of a classroom and text reading rashCourse the easy way to conquer content-heavy lessons