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A Whole School Writing Project…

I love getting pupils excited about writing. Possibly the best writing project I have done to date has been the latest – Pandora.

I borrowed the setting from the world’s most successful film (Avatar) and based 3 weeks writing around it. The results were brilliant and can be seen here:

Pandora Blog – It needed a blog of its own!!

I have a plan! The plan is to get all 7 classes engaged in writing projects all inspired fro the world of film. What I need is a film for each year group. I may get the chance to support each class at the beginning of each project which would be brilliant! I found that just showing the pupils this video all about Pandora was spine tingly brilliant:

I didn’t tell the pupils what they were doing, I just showed the video. I think there is something in that. I could have presented them with three options to vote on but I opted not to so I could get MAXIMUM impact from that video. the pupils were hooked from the very first moment. So, I plan to do something similar for each year group…


I need films! I need films that have something that can be magpied! For example:

The Lord of the Rings – This film has such a fantastic setting, a setting that could really inspire pupils. they can so easily base their characters there and instantly close their eyes and picture what their place might look like!

Back to the Future – this film has a sensational concept that could be transfered into another story/setting.

This is where I need your help! What films have you seen that have that special something that could possibly be ‘magpied’ by pupils in their own projects? If you can comment any thoughts, these will be displayed and others may use the ideas too!?


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  1. Simon Haughton
    February 22, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    Coraline – chn could change what they find through the door

    • Mr Mitchell
      February 22, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

      Not heard of that Simon! Will have to check it out. Thanks for posting!

  2. @MrHarcombe
    February 22, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    How about “Fifth Element” – visually stunning view of a future world.

    • Mr Mitchell
      February 22, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

      Ooooh!!! I like that!! Yes, I agree, much could be done with that setting!

  3. pimmssmith
    February 22, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    I’ve used the first Harry Potter movie before – ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’. The first time that Diagon Alley is seen – setting and atmosphere. Excerpts could also be used for characterisation.

    • Mr Mitchell
      February 22, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

      Great suggestion too! Thank you!!

  4. Peter Kelly
    February 22, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    The Princess Bride: Great characters, lovely fairytale, fantastic forests and monsters, etc.

    • Mr Mitchell
      February 22, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

      Great Peter, not heard of this film. I’m so glad I wrote this post now. I will go and look now, thanks!!

  5. Ant Heald
    February 22, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    I’d go for ‘Spirited Away’ – a remarkable Japanese animated fantasy. The idea of childhood power /wisdom relationship with parents being reversed is one that I think kids can always get into, and the world that Chihiro enters is so bizarre that I’m sure it would yield some fascinating imaginative responses.

    • Mr Mitchell
      February 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

      Thanks Ant! I’ve sen your link to the YouTube clip. I have not heard of this so will go and investigate! Thanks!!

  6. Simone Haughey
    February 22, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

    I have used Bridge to Terabithia in Year 4, I read the book to the children, we listened to the talking book, we slowly watched the film to create character sketches. Film education has some resources for PSHE too. We looked at scenes from Narnia and Harry Potter for the transition from reality to the ‘imaginary worlds’. We made show boxes versions of a film set of the children’s imaginary world so they literally had their own world to step into and write a setting that they had created themselves.

    At Christmas time or Halloween I have used Nightmare before Christmas in Year 6, to describe settings for Christmas Town, or stepping into an imaginary world.

    I am a visual learner and studied film at Uni, so films make perfect sense for me to use in Literacy. I am looking forward to hear about how your film project develops.

    • Mr Mitchell
      February 22, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

      We share the same style of learning! Doesn’t mean we exclude the other styles but I agree, I have found using films to be a VERY successful way of stimulating writing as would using game settings too! Thanks for your suggestions and ideas! I will keep you posted!

  7. Jackie Powell
    February 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory…..a whole room made of chocolate, or a strange factory where they can invent anything they want!

    • Mr Mitchell
      February 22, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

      Agree Jackie! That film has MANY things that could be used! Thanks!

  8. @A_Weatherall
    February 22, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    Return to Oz, or Prince Caspian… Imagine returning to another world that you know really well to find it has completely changed.

    • Mr Mitchell
      February 22, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

      I like that idea of changing something quite familiar! Thanks for commenting!!

  9. Andrew Quinn
    February 22, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    How about Disney’s Fantasia? The settings, colour, music and way inanimate objects are personified are excellent. Opening scenes from Blade Runner would be fantastic for descriptions. Also The Wizard of Oz for both settings and characters.

    • Mr Mitchell
      February 23, 2011 at 12:49 am #

      That’s one of the Disney films that I haven’t see Andrew. I can imagine that it would make a good setting. Blade runner would be a great one but the rating is too high I think. Thanks for commenting!

  10. Marie Folland
    February 23, 2011 at 12:25 am #

    I have used Planet 51 with early years children. Astronaut lands on planet and finds himself the “alien”. Great for imaginative and descriptive writing, reporting from different viewpoints and general discussions about similarity and difference.

    • Mr Mitchell
      February 23, 2011 at 12:51 am #

      I’m so glad you have commented Marie! I have never heard of that film but will check it out! Thanks

  11. Colin Graham
    February 23, 2011 at 12:32 am #

    I thought maybe Super Mario Bros, where two sets of evolution go on… one from monkeys, the other from dinosaurs.
    Do a similar exercise of transposing real-life characters into a game scenario. (Pokemon… maybe?)

    Could also use The Secret Garden (Maggie Smith version from 1990s), one of my fave stories.

    Tom’s Midnight Garden is another good one, with time travel not using a machine. Could have a secret icon which appears on a computer screen instead of having a grandfather clock striking 13…

    Agree with Ant’s suggestion too. I have photos of the spa that was used as the model for the animation, which I can send you if you decide to use the movie.

    ‘Steam Boy’ is another good Japanese animation, especially since the main character is working in a textile mill in Manchester! It’s basically about using 19th C tech to do 20th C things (Wild, Wild West is a similar example of this).

    Finally, Howl’s Moving Castle, where each door opens onto a different landscape. Again, this is another Japanese animation!

    • Mr Mitchell
      February 23, 2011 at 12:54 am #

      Thanks Colin, something for everyone there!!! Some of my comic design making arty boys would certainly like the Japanese themed animations!!

  12. ICTEvangelist
    February 23, 2011 at 12:35 am #

    Why not use Finding Nemo? The landscapes, characters & themes are all ripe for the picking there. Hope to read how the project turns out!

    • Mr Mitchell
      February 23, 2011 at 12:55 am #

      Yet another great idea!! Colorful, different and exciting! Would be a great one for an infant class!

  13. Colin Graham
    February 23, 2011 at 12:37 am #

    Oh, and while I’m on a roll… “The Never Ending Story” would be ideal, since it’s a writing activity you’re doing!

    • Mr Mitchell
      February 23, 2011 at 12:57 am #

      Now that is a classic Colin! I saw that film at the cinema when I was about 6 years old! Wonder when it was released! Must be about 1980 ish I think!? The flying dog dragon and the creature made from stone were great!

  14. Marie Folland
    February 23, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    Am new to all this tweeting, blogging and Google Docs stuff. Have always using ICT in the classroom but am really loving sharing all these great ideas. Nobody else in school i going to have a chance of getting hold of any iPads or laptops for a while!! 🙂

  15. Mr.Horridge
    February 23, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    How about Tom Hanks in Castaway, great film for year 6 , especially if you are doing anything with Kensuke’s Kingdom.

  16. Anthony White
    February 23, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    We used ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ linked with the PC Game ‘Return to Mysterious Island’. They worked brilliantly togther with the children doing some brilliant writing. Have a look at the class blog if you have the time

  17. Miss Brownsword
    February 23, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    I have to agree with Coraline, I’ve used it at school with Y6, what about the new version of Alice in wonderland? Loads you can do with that.

  18. DianneSpencer
    February 23, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

    Nims Island is fab for faraway island setting.
    The Water Horse. 1940s Scotland
    As eries of Unfortunate Events – great weird scenes. Truly bizarre.
    Inkheart PG
    Spiderwick Chronicles PG

    Waterworld has some great surreal settings (12) futuristic sci fi
    Clash of the Titans (12) fantastic/myth has some good settings.
    War of the Worlds again (12) futuristic some great scenes.
    Independence Day (12) sci fi genre
    Jurassic Park!!!! Fab scenes, just avoid the scary bits!
    The Golden Compass PG
    The Time Machine (12) futuristic sci fi

    All of the above have some great scenery and settings but would need parental approval for specific scenes because there is adult content. But would provide some great writing material if only short sections were used.

  19. Danielle Steele
    February 23, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

    To agree with a few suggestions made here already, The Secret Garden and Spirited Away both have really worked in my year 5 class. We looked at suspense and imaginary worlds, the children made their own short films based on their own spirit character as well as exploring descriptive writing. It produced some fantastic results.

    Some others – at the moment I am using Inkheart (both the film and the book) with Y4 looking at imaginary worlds. Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief is a fantastic one to explore real and imaginary worlds side by side (I used it during the myths and legends in Y5). I also think films like Wizard of Oz (especially for the opening) inspire some good writing, the Neverending story as well because they were both books to begin with. You could also use the number of films based on Peter Pan.

    Perhaps one of my favourite themes is space/sci-fi though, you could use Flight of the Navigator, ET, oooh and maybe Wall-e.

    I love films – probably am a bit of a visual learner too 🙂 Sorry for the essay!

  20. Brian Huxley
    February 23, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

    How to Train Your Dragon –

  21. bex findlay
    February 23, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    Bedtime stories – not exactly Oscar material but when Adam sandler is telling a story it follows really simple structure – scene setting, intro characters, explains problem etc. Great for starting out with plot/story structure. Y3 perhaps?

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