More Pixar in the Classroom - Inside Out for Character Development!

I am a massive fan of using Disney in the classroom and I have previously blogged some ideas here and here.

Anyone who attended my recent conference with John Murray in Dudley would agree that our approach to using Disney in the classroom both inspires and improves children's learning in lots of ways but isn't strictly exclusive to these movies. Read more about the conference here. 

One idea we looked into on the day was using the latest Pixar film, Inside Out, to help write more effective characterisation in children's writing.

The film, which is due for release later this month, revolves around a group of characters that live inside a girl's head. Each character represents a different emotion. Here is the trailer -

Here is how I would use the characters from this film to help children when writing about different characters. Share the following image - 

Explain to the class that these are characters from the latest Disney/Pixar film. Discuss that each one represents a different emotion. Can the children guess which emotion they are? This gives the perfect opportunity to collect as much vocabulary linked with an emotion. For the first character, the children may say - worried, shy, anxious, scared, fearful... generating plenty of useful vocabulary to link to emotions. After collecting ideas reveal which emotion they represent - fear, sadness, joy, anger, disgust. 

Discuss how they represent that emotion. Look at body language, facial expressions, costume, height, body shape, colours. If they children have correctly guessed the name of the emotion, challenge them to explain why? Then build on this with more complex questions -
What is anger doing to show he is angry? Scowling his eyes, gritting his teeth, clenching his fist.
Why is disgust green? We link the colour green to envy and jealousy.
Why has sadness got that hair cut? Wearing large, round glasses and a thick wooly jumper?
Look at Joy's dress, what time of year would you wear it? Why would that be linked with Joy?

Of course, there are tonnes of other questions that can be asked and this is discussed in much more detail on the conference (including links with emotional literacy and helping vulnerable children identify feelings and the way these present themselves.) This can then be developed further in children's writing by linking it with pathetic fallacy and Alan Peat's Show not Tell approach. Rather than telling the reader how a character felt, show it through how the character acts and interacts in the story. If you use Alan and Mat's exciting sentences, it gives the perfect opportunity to develop the Tell: Show 3 examples; sentence. Take anger for example -
He was angry: scowling his eyes; gritting his teeth; clenching his fists. 

For more information about the conference - Improving Reading and Writing through Popular Children's Movies and Media, watch the following video. We will be in Newcastle in January and places are selling quickly!


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