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Check out the activities for using videos to teach reading

No Breathing in Class: Indirect Characterisation

Michael Rosen

Get your class to write a 'strict poem' based on Michael Rosen's 'No Breathing in Class'. 

In the poem Michael Rosen starts of by saying 'our teacher is so strict..'. He then goes on to characterise his teacher by listing examples that highlight how strict they are. 

Explain to your class that indirect characterisation is where a writer shows you what a character is like through their actions. For example: 

'Dan stormed up the stairs growling and snarling under his breath before slamming his bedroom door.' 

This sentence tells us a lot about what Dan is like; in other words, it characterises him. A key rule with characterisation is: show, don’t tell.

Get your class to list things that a really strict teacher would do. Then, get the children to start 'Our teacher is so strict...' before listing the things that makes their teacher really strict. 

Forgetfulness: Noun Phrases, Similes and Hyperbole

Billy Collins

'Forgetfulness' is a wonderful prompt for poetry writing. 

Get your children to watch the video. Then get them to list things they themselves have forgotten. Guide the children to elaborating and adding detail. Get them to use noun phrases (the name of a my bright-orange, slippery goldfish), similes (the colour of a car my dad used to own, it was as fast as a cheetah and as cool as a summer breeze) and hyperbole (the name of the 3rd largest city in Indonesia - I try to remember every single minute, of every single day). 

When the children have compiled their list of things they have forgotten get them to start their poem 'I have forgotten...' 

Here is an example:

I have forgotten…


The song the ice cream van used play,

as it jingle jangled its way down my street.

The name of the dusty capital city of Namibia,

which was once etched onto my mind.

How to say ‘good morning’ in Welsh,

even though it once rolled of the tip of my tongue.

Spanish Lottery


Questions for Discussion

1) Who is the man? What is his job?

2) Where is the clip advert set?

3) How do you think he feels about his job?

4) What is this an advert for? How do you know?

5) Who arranges the mannequins in funny poses?

6) Why do you think they do this?

7) Why were people writing their names on the list?

8) Why are the people celebrating?

9) How does the man feel when he reads the newspaper article?

10) Why was the mannequin waiting at the top of the lift?

11) Who put the ticket in his hand and why?

12) What is the key message of the video?

The Switch: Narrative Writing


This one is for those children in your class motivated by footy. Here is an advert that was shown throughout the 2016 European Championships. It sees Cristiano Ronaldo swap bodies with a young man from England called 'Charlie Lee'. Either's perspective could be useful point of view for creative writing. The video could also be paused after they have both awoken to find that they have swapped bodies. 

Hope this is useful .

Marco Waltenspiel: Character Description

Red Bull

This is just a quick post about character descriptions. The video opposite shows Marco Waltenspiel playing on an 'Ultimate Mega Swing' which is hung from a hot air balloon. Marco Waltenspiel is an aerial acrobat who regularly performs stunts for Red Bull. He makes a very good person for your children to write a character description about as he is so easy to characterise. 

One way to get your children to write a character description about him would be to thought shower as many adjectives and expanded noun phrases to describe his personality and his physical appearance. Afterwords get the children to thought shower verbs and adverbs to describe the thing he does and how he does them. 

Hope this is useful!

Visit England

Tourism Video

The video opposite is the 2012 'Visit England' tourism video. It is a good resource for looking at persuasive techniques in a video setting and would be a useful extension of a persuasive writing unit. 

Questions for discussion: 

1) What kind of video is this? Give evidence for your answer.

2) What does ‘green and pleasant’ mean?

3) What is the woman describing as green and pleasant? Why do you think this?

4) At the beginning of the video why does the man say ‘you’re supposed to be on holiday’?

5) ‘Anglesey… if it’s good enough for will and Kate…’ - What does the man mean when he says this?

6) ‘You won’t find rocks like these on a beach in the med’ – What do you think the med is? What does the woman mean by this?

7) Where does the video say you should go on holiday? Give evidence for your answer.

8) Where does it think you should not go on holiday? Give evidence for your answer.

9) Who do you think made this video? Explain your answer.

What Happened Overnight?


This video was first shown the morning after Donald Trump's election victory in November 2016. It acts as a nice stand-alone guided reading lesson focusing on turns of phrase. 

Questions for discussion

1) What does the video mean when it says ‘America chooses its destiny’?

2) What does the man mean by ‘there is still all to play for’?

3) Why were the presenters surprised that Donald Trump was winning?

4) What does the woman mean when she says ‘it is a real nail-biter’?

5) “Mr Trump hasn’t just won Ohio; he’s won it big time”.  What does the man mean by this?

6) What was described as ‘funereal, dismayed, disappointed, disbelieving’?

7) Why did people start to drift off into the ‘New York night’? Who were they?

8) Why was the election night described as ‘the most remarkable political night in modern history’?

9) What does the man mean by ‘the eyes of the world are on America tonight’?

Lloyds TSB


This comprehension activity focuses on a Lloyds TSB anniversary advertisement. It is a useful for looking at messages and the focus of texts. It is also an interesting for looking at symbolism. 

Lloyds TSB advert comprehension questions

1) At the beginning of the advert, do you think the woman in the field is rich or poor? Give reasons for your answer.

2) Who are the men in green uniforms? How do you know?

3) Why do you think have they chosen to use a black horse in this advert?

4) Why have they chosen to use this song in the advert?

5) Is the horse the same horse throughout the advert? How do you know?

6) What is the message that TSB are trying to make to their customers in this advert?

7) Why have they used the horse to make this message?

What Money Can't Buy

Real Life Hero

Questions for Discussion

This is a quick video that could be used to prompt class discussion. 

Below are a few questions and discussion points. It could also tie into R.E as it discusses 'the things that money can't buy'. 

1) Why does the man at the food stall shake his head when the main character gives the dog some food?

2) What are the mother and daughter begging for?

3) What does anonymous mean?

4) Why is the girl no longer begging on the street? Where has she been and how was this possible?

5) How does the man feel when he sees the little girl? Explain your answer. (Don’t use the word ‘happy’)

6) ‘He witnesses happiness’ – what does this mean?

7) ‘He receives what money can’t buy’ – give an example of something that money can’t buy.

The Ridge

Setting Descriptions

This video was shot on the Isle of Skye and is a perfect prompt for setting descriptions. 

Ask the children:

To describe the colours - mossy green, dull greys...

How the setting feels - calm, tranquil, serene...

How the weather looks and feels - grainy sand, rough rocks...

The Great Dictator

Charlie Chaplin

1) 'We want to live by each other’s happiness - not by each other’s misery.' - What does the writer mean by this phrase? 

2) 'And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone.' - What does the writer mean by 'the good earth is rich'?

3) Find and copy a word in the second paragraph that means 'lots of something'. 

4) 'The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together' - is this true, if so how?

5) Can you think of another invention that has 'brought us closer together'?

6) In paragraph 5, the writer complains that soldiers are treated like cattle. Why does he compare these soldiers to cattle and not say wild animals, for example.

7) What is the message of this video?

Slovenia: Persuasive Writing

Tourism Video

​The video opposite is a nice stimulus for persuasive writing. It is a video with no narration that runs through the top places to visit in Slovenia (a little random I know!). Children can write a script for the narration of the video. For each of the places shown on the video get the children to write one persuasive line about it. The children's scripts can also be framed as 'an invitation to Slovenia' - for example: 'You are invited to Slovenia...come and enjoy the picturesque seaside resort of Piran. Here you will find only the finest summer weather and exquisite seafood'. You could also get the children to repeat the refrain 'You are invited to Slovenia' after every line as little extra touch. 

The places shown in the video are listed here:

1. Piran (a seaside town)

2. Ljubljana (the capital city)

3. Lake Bled

4. Mount Triglav (the tallest mountain in the country)

5. The Soca river

6. Lipica (a small mountain village)

7. The Planica valley (a mountain valley)

8. Goriksa Brda (a wine-making fields)

Here is an example:

You are invited to Slovenia.

Come and enjoy the picturesque seaside resort of Piran. Here you will find only the finest summer weather and exquisite seafood.

You are invited to Slovenia.

Come and pleasantly wander around Europe's best capital city - you will never want to leave. 

You are invited to Slovenia.

And so on....

Hope this is useful!

Baked Beans in Space: Predictions


The video opposite is great for getting the children laughing and making predictions about what might happen next. It features 'farting' so beware!

Children can discuss where they are; how they got there; what is trying to eat them and why (did they disturb it in some way?); how the characters feel; how the farting astronaut feels and so on...


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