Watching these movies can help your children's education - why not give them a try?

Wednesday, 10th June 2020, 1:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th June 2020, 2:09 pm

The government has announced not all children will be back at primary school until September and there may be further disruption to their education even then. So there’s no end to home learning in sight.

Surely plonking your child in front of a TV screen to watch one of their favourite films is not educational? But, screen time is not always the enemy!

Education expert and former primary school teacher Becky Cranham, of PlanBee, explains how to incorporate learning activities your youngsters can do while they view.Recommended viewing

The Lion King: exploring the natural worldAsk children to keep a tally of the different animals. How many can they record?

Now challenge them to classify the animals into groups. How many different ways can you group them together? What criteria will they use?

Older children could convert their tally charts into a graph.

Extend their learning by asking them to create a report about one of the animals they’ve seen. Challenge them to describe the animal’s appearance, habitat, diet and features.

Toy Story: thoroughly craftyToys are a great jumping-off point for children to explore different materials and their properties:Ask children to note down what materials each toy in the film is made from. Which are made from plastic, metal, fabric, wool, wood, paper?

Challenge them then to explore their own toys. Which are made from fabric, like Woody? Which have metal in them, like Slinky? Extend their learning by asking them to pick three of their own toys, each made from a different material, and ask them to write a story about what the toys might get up to when humans leave the room.

Harry Potter: all aboard the Hogwarts learning express!If your child is a Potterhead, these films provide a wealth of learning opportunities, almost too many to list!

Ask children to write down all the spells they come across during the film, and what each spell does.

Then challenge them to make a spell book, complete with a contents page classifying the spells into groups, instructions and diagrams on wand movement, pronunciation tips - cataloguing the various spells used in the wizarding world. Children could also research the etymology of the spells, such as ‘accio’ meaning ‘I summon’ in Latin!

Children could do a similar activity on the mythical beasts in the films, such as the hippogriff Buckbeak. They should make notes about the name of each creature, their physical characteristics, behaviour and any other interesting facts. Once they’ve gathered the information, they can make their own information book or presentation about mythical creatures.

Mary Poppins: childcare of yesterdayAsk children ‘How do you know Mary Poppins took place in the past?’ This will lead them to look more closely at the clothes the characters wear, the activities they do, the transport used and the buildings they can see. Ask them to make a note of any clues they see during the film.

When the film is finished, explain that the film is set in 1910 in London during the Edwardian era. Challenge them to make a poster showing how London - or the UK - was different in Edwardian times.

Extend their learning by asking them to find out more about Edwardian times. Older children can focus on the suffragette movement, which plays a big part in the life of Mrs Banks.Willy Wonka and the

Chocolate Factory: a more-ish movieAsk children to note down every single piece of confectionery they see during the film. They should note its name and a description.

When the film finishes, challenge children to create a shopping catalogue for Willy Wonka’s factory.

The catalogue should include the details they have listed, a picture of each item, the price, and a description that encourages customers to want to buy each piece.

Extend the activity above by giving children a small sum of money and asking them to choose which chocolate bars or sweets they would buy.

How much would your selection cost altogether? How much change would you get? They could even set up their own Willy Wonka Chocolate Shop so the whole family can role play buying and eating all the delicious treats!

Frozen: what’s the season?With such dramatic differences between summer and winter, this film is a great way to get children thinking about the seasons and how they affect people and animals:

Ask them to create a list of words that describe both summer and winter as they watch the film.

Encourage them to list as many things as they can, including what people are wearing, colours seen, people and animals’ reactions, what activities they are doing, etc. They could create a mind map or simply list their ideas.

Then challenge them to write an acrostic poem - in which the first letter of each line spells out a word - to portray both summer and winter.

Extend their learning by challenging them to explore how ice behaves.

You could challenge them to, for example, investigate what materials they can wrap a cup of ice cubes in to keep it frozen for the longest. Would newspaper or fabric wrapped around the cup keep the ice coolest for longest? Or bubble wrap or tin foil? Ask them to record their results in charts and graphs.

Inside Out:  emotions and memoriesAs they watch, ask children to write down the names of each of the emotions they come across.

They could also note what colour the emotions are and how they behave.

When the film is finished, ask them to think of a time they felt each of the emotions and write them down in an emotions diary. Can they think of a time their ‘anger’ emotion was in charge? How did they feel? Why? How about their ‘sadness’ emotion?

The film also explores memories. Ask children to write down their favourite happy memories, their sad memories, their earliest memories etc. Can they draw a cartoon character that portrays each of these memories? What colour would they be? What would they look like? How would they behave?

Activities for any filmIf there’s a particular film being played on repeat in your house, or you just want some activities for any TV or film time, set one of these fun challenges to give a new dimension to their watching habits.Challenge children to write a review of the film. How many stars out of five would you give it?What was the best bit? Which characters were in the movie? Who was your favourite character? Alternatively, they could record a vlog review.