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Friday, 9 May 2014

How Pixar can help develop writing!

I am a massive fan of Disney, especially Pixar! Each film is always a box office smash and they continue to be at the forefront of animation and storytelling in the movie world.

Over the past few weeks, I have been talking on twitter with @pinkhev about ideas you can use in the classroom from Pixar. What I believe makes Pixar stand out isn't just that they have been one step ahead as far as the technology they use in their films but the incredible stories behind each one. I truly believe the approach they take towards creating stories is one that should be shared and used in the classroom.

I recently watched the film, The Pixar Story, which tells the story of the company and that itself is a completely inspiring tale about how you should never give up and follow your dreams.

There are resources online that share some of Pixar's wisdom behind the art of their storytelling. This clip, which @Pinkhev pointed my way is a great video to share with a class and use to develop stories:


This would give your class a really good starting point for a story with examples from stories they will probably be very familiar with.

Then there is this- 22 rules of phenomenal storytelling by Pixar:


Pixar's 22 Rules to Phenomenal Storytelling from Gavin McMahon

Some of these are again great tips to share with children. I especially like rule 4 as a very basic story spine, which you can then build on and also links well to the video above. But most are great ideas to help improve story writing in the classroom.

As far as using Pixar films in the classroom, there are plenty of ways in which Pixar films can be used to develop writing. Look no further than the opening ten minutes from the film Up! Which could be the initial video to share with the children and compared to another similar story like Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs. Some ideas can also be found on the Film Trailer Shed on the Literacy Shed.

I have previously blogged about how you can use short clips from some of the Pixar films and rewrite them as works of Shakespeare! 



Disney Pixar films also have great soundtracks that can be used to inspire writing. I have previously blogged about this idea and you can view it here. But here are some examples of a children's stories inspired from listening to part of the soundtrack from Finding Nemo -







There are also some of the Pixar short films that can be used as a focus in class and inspire some fantastic writing, here are just a couple of ideas:

Day and Night


This Pixar short is perfect for developing descriptive writing in particular similes and metaphors! All of the sounds and visuals in the background can be used to create similes for the actions and emotions of both characters. Ask the children to list as many sounds they hear and objects they see and then ask them to create similes or metaphors based on this.

It could be used to inspire a similar story where Hot meets Cold? Big meets Small? New vs Old?
 A contrasting description of what is great about hot weather compared to cold or even a discussion text arguing which is better.

The Blue Umbrella


Although this clip isn't the full short film, there is definitely enough here to use to inspire some great writing. I love the idea of bringing inanimate objects to life and creating stories from a completely different perspective. Start by discussing the text -
How does the umbrella feel at the beginning? How do you know? Why does he feel this way?
What helps him to escape? What other inanimate objects come to life on his journey?
How does his mood change? What causes this? What is he trying to achieve?
Is it a happy ending? 

Children could write a version of the clip or continue the story in role as the umbrella. What would be interesting with an object like an umbrella is that it only really appears when it rains. Generally, rain is linked to a sad and miserable atmosphere, whereas umbrellas must thrive and love the rain as that is when they are most alive so to speak.

Children could choose another inanimate object to bring to life and write a story from that perspective.


One final thought from Pixar, lessons to be learnt from the films (picture found on twitter):

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