I have talked about this many times before – films are some of the most powerful resources you can use to engage children. They are amazingly effective with those often harder to reach groups….boys, EAL, SEN. I like to make collections of the films I have used that have worked across age ranges and I will share some of the best here.
I find film really useful at the start of an English unit of work to activate schema, encouraging children to bring their own experience to the text or genre that I will eventually share. Sometimes I use clips of full length films, but often it is short animations that work best.
I use the snipping tool or my smartnotebook camera to capture still images and create tick sheets of key words and corresponding pictures for those with little English so they are beginning to understand and focus upon the essential vocabulary. These pictures are also great to use to support the creative writing of those who have literacy difficulties, giving them prompts and structure for their work.
A brilliant film for assembly or a PHSCE session is ‘For the birds’, where a strange looking new bird tries to make friends with a a rather unkind flock with hilarious outcomes…
‘Defective Detective’ is great for inference. The detective’s overactive imagination leads him to believe terrible crimes are being committed in the flat above him…
‘Dangle’ is a great film for discussing ‘What would you do?’ and for using prediction…’What is at the end of the red rope?’
‘La Luna’ is a beautiful animation from Pixar that introduces the idea of mythology and how early man believed the world worked. This works well with Oliver Jeffers’ books ‘How to catch a star’ and ‘The way back home’ – ideal for a topic on stars or night time in KS1.
My absolute favourite (which I have done an entire blog post on already!) is ‘Francis’. A dark and spooky tale only suitable for the oldest KS2 children, but is fabulous at looking for the signs an author gives you to build up tension, anticipation and dread….
Following the spooky theme is ‘Alma’, which is more suitable for the rest of KS2, where spooky dolls have eyes that seem to follow you…..
‘Home Sweet Home’ is the bittersweet story of a house that longs to be elsewhere and his journey with friends across beautiful, yet rugged and host landscapes. This lends itself to creative writing and stories of epic journeys…
I will finish this post on a non-fiction note…’Dragons – a fantasy made real’ is an amazing stimulus for information texts on dragons and links beautifully to the talk for writing work of Pie Corbett…
One of the best author / illustrators ever is Oliver Jeffers. He is probably best know for ‘Lost and Found’ a beautiful book and animation about the blossoming friendship between a boy and his penguin.
However, my favourite is ‘How to Catch a Star’ a story of childhood whimsy and imagination. A boy wants a star and then spends days trying to work out the best way to acquire one in a variety of madcap ways. I love using this book as part of a ‘Space’ topic in a Key Stage 1 as it has endless fabulous activities that it inspires and compliments.
I set the scene using this beautiful Kate Rusby song (the Barnsley nightingale!) and video. Turning the lights off adds to the drama…and I enjoy being dramatic (as anyone who knows me can testify!).
If you want to be less ethereal then Perry Como’s ‘Catch a Falling Star’ creates a more upbeat feel…
I have found that a Talk 4 Writing approach works really well with this story as it has a simple and repetitive structure that is easy to learn orally through use of a simple story map. It lends itself to fun actions too.
The simple illustrations can be used as a sequencing activity on a time line or a washing line as the children retell it independently.
I then like to change things a little by creating an instructional text ‘How to Catch a Star’. The children learn this text map and then innovate it, choosing their own way to catch one. This can be written up in a simple format following the key features of writing instructions.
I like to use ‘Marking Ladders’ to provide steps to success to support children’s learning – they can be easily found if you Google them.
Role-play and drama is a great way to get the children to innovate their own ideas for how to catch a star and the wackier the better!
I also love the story ‘Katie and the Starry Night’ which works beautifully with the Oliver Jeffers book and can lead to art activities based on the Van Gough painting.
The Literacy Shed website has a short film called ‘La Luna’ with ideas and inspiration for activities to follow. This is fantastic for children who have little or no English and still images from the animation can be used to scaffold or stimulate writing.
In areas of provision stars can be hidden in foam or gooey gloop, caught and threaded onto string or wool. They can be made in salt dough or play dough, star shapes can be used for printing, glittery stars can be made from card and beads threaded onto string to make tails…
Oliver Jeffers’ book ‘The Way Back Home’ can be used in tandem. There are so many ways you can travel to the Moon..