I am always looking for interesting, different and engaging ways to capture the children's attention and inspire them to write. Recently I put together some ideas for using music videos to inspire writing - read more here.
I decided to use one of those videos for Year 4 to do some writing, in particular focus on a technique to develop characters in a story. I came across this technique from Alan Peat, whose resources have become invaluable in my teaching. This focus, one of his great free resources, looks at developing characters using a 'show not tell' technique which focuses on developing feelings through the description of a character's expressions, speech or movements - See the article here. This specific video really helps children grasp this concept as clues are given throughout about how the girl feels through her movement and expression. It also shows the children how effective building up a story for a surprising climax can be - when the girl is reunited with her pet there was a real WOW moment as the children do not suspect the pet to be a giraffe. Here is the video -
- Watch the first 20 seconds - how is the girl feeling? What makes you think that? Why might she be excited? What clues do you get from the girl's movements and expressions that she is happy?
- Pause just before a minute - how has the girl's feelings changed? Why do you think that is? What might she have lost? How has her face and body movement changed and what emotion does this portray? What could she do now that may help?
- Pause again at 1.42 - Has the girl's feelings changed even more now? Why do you think that maybe?
- Once the giraffe appears - are you shocked why? How does the girl feel now?
- At the end, ask whether the children liked the video and why? The class said that they liked the fact that at the end the giraffe was revealed which was a nice surprise. Tell the children that this is a great technique to also use in their writing.
Here are some examples of the children's work: