Using Film in Primary English

girl and foxI have long been an enthusiast for the use of film in Primary English teaching but what I have never really understood is why we don’t link film to books to provide children with models of writing that show how certain effects can be created. Film is often used on its own. What this does do is support children with structure and content but often doesn’t support creating effects.  I do think there is a place for using film like this but not every time. Sometimes it must be linked to ways in which authors have created similar effects and this is challenging: finding books that link to films is not easy.

littleevieOne good example of this is the match between the film The Girl and the Fox and Little Evie in the Wild Wood by Jackie Morris.  In the animation a young girl goes out hunting for the animal that keeps killing the ducks. A storm blows up and she gets lost in the woods, finally curling up to sleep out in the snow.  Whilst she is lying there the fox that has been killing her ducks curls around her, keeping her warm, until she wakes in the morning and her parents find her. What I really like about the film is the change in atmosphere from a place she knows to threatening and from daylight to night time when fear is always exacerbated.  The book is fantastic for showing how to write two different atmospheres – light and sunny in a glade and dark and threatening in the wood.

The writing for the light, sunny place uses colours to create a glowing sense of warmth and adverbials of position to show where things happened along with careful choice of verbs to show the movement.

In the woods, the atmosphere is created through the heavy basket and the long path. The sounds are important: birdsong, rustles, crackles, buzzing and mewing of a buzzard.  There are fewer adverbials and where they are used it is to say  how long she sits and then to position the buzzard. This link will take you to a teaching sequence that uses these two texts.

These two pages in the book are so important to the story and can also support children to create the contrasting atmospheres in the film.  So, why don’t we have more examples of film linked to books?  Well, its because it takes a long time to match a film and book. However, I am on a mission and my mission is to do just this.  I will of course share my findings.


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