Store your resources in your very own folder.

Sign in or sign up today!

Find out more

Media magic

Add to My Folder

This content has not been rated yet. (Write a review)

By Anne KeelingInternational Primary Curriculum

Explore media magic with a new International Primary Curriculum unit


The movies – Media magic entry point

Transform your classroom into a cinema and invite your class to the movies. Choose a film that is relatively short (around five to ten minutes) and uses music or actions to tell the story. After viewing, discuss the film as a whole class. Encourage the children to talk about what they liked about the story and how it was communicated without the use of dialogue. Revisit key moments and focus on key elements such as the facial expressions.

End your Entry Point by playing a variation of charades. In small groups, give the children a prop (such as a hat or a box) and a story they have to act out – for example, the box is filled with magical dust that turns people into animals. The groups have to act out their stories without using dialogue. Instead, they must focus on facial expressions and actions to communicate their story. The rest of the class watch and have to guess what is happening. Ensure a big round of applause for each performance afterwards!

Creating mood – Music learning task

Play a movie clip that uses music to support an on-screen narrative. ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ segment from the 1940 Walt Disney film Fantasia is a perfect example. Invite the children to talk about how the mood of the music changes to reflect the action.

Now read a well-known story and stop at key moments in the plot. Discuss with the children what has happened, the mood of the scene and how the characters might be feeling at that point. Ask the children to suggest how they could represent that moment musically by picking from a series of prompt cards that represent such descriptions as loud, quiet, slow, fast and so on. Continue through the story. For each section that you pause at, invite the children to choose one of the cards and place it where it can be easily seen, building up a musical sequence as you move through the story. For example, slow, slow, fast, quiet, loud, loud, fast.

Now give the children a selection of percussion instruments. Reread the story. This time, when you stop at a key moment, the children should play their instruments in relation to the prompt card that’s been chosen. It may take several attempts to ensure that everyone is following.

The children can go on to write and illustrate their own version of the story. If possible, their artwork can then be scanned onto the computer and imported into PowerPoint. Using simple recording software, such as Microsoft Sound Recorder, the children can record their music and embed the sound files on each slide of their story to create an interactive musical storybook.

Costume design – Art learning task

Ask children to think about how the clothes we wear can communicate something about us. Can we sometimes tell what job someone does or what group they belong to because of what they are wearing?

Look at some clips from films that the children may already be familiar with. In each clip, ask the children to look at the costumes of the characters and discuss afterwards how the character’s dress and appearance communicated something about their personality (through choice of dress, the dominant colours, wear and tear, accessories, and so on). Good character examples to look at include Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians, Superman, and Aurora and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.

In small groups, offer a selection of characters for the children to choose from – for example, a fairy godmother, a traveller from the future, an explorer, a wizard and challenge them to design their chosen character’s costume. Provide paper for the children to draw an outline of their character and collage and art materials. Then let the children create their costumes using the materials provided. Encourage them to explore different colours and textures, and how they can shape materials to give them more character.

Allow time at the end of the session for the children to present their characters and talk about their design. Are there any elements of their design that they want to change or improve?

Delivering instructions – ICT learning task

Tell children they are going to be working on the special effects for a new film. The task will involve giving instructions to a model moon buggy.

Recap the process of giving basic instructions by asking a volunteer to direct a blindfolded child from one side of the classroom to the other. The set of instructions should involve left, right, forward, distance, backward and stop commands – for example, go forward three steps, turn right and so on. Now in small groups, task the children with devising a set of instructions to get from one location of the school to another. These should be recorded on paper so that another group can follow the same instructions and arrive at the same destination. Evaluate the instructions afterwards.

Introduce the children to a programmable roamer or floor turtle. Encourage them all to practise giving the roamer commands to send it from one designated point to another and explain that the roamer is going to help the children achieve their special effects.

By creating a simple film set, decorating the roamer to look like a moon buggy and giving it instructions, they will be creating the illusion that their moon buggy is a real vehicle, driven by an astronaut in the film. When complete, the children can work on giving their roamer a set of commands. Once they are happy with their sequence, have children record the instructions that they gave their roamer.

Recreating an environment – Geography learning task

Tell the children they will be developing a car chase for a major new film. Like most work that is done on films, the children will be creating a model set to capture the action of their exciting chase scene.

Begin by asking the children to think about what they will need to do to make their chase as realistic as possible. Like the set builders that work on real films, they will need to research their local area in order to create a set that looks authentic.

Take the children on a walk around the local area. Ask them to record all the examples of street furniture such as post boxes, sign posts, traffic lights, shop signs, and so on. Use photography to record the children’s observations. You could also view the same area on Google Earth through an interactive whiteboard, using the street level viewer to explore the area in more detail.

Talk about the children’s findings. Focus on the street signs and discuss their function. Are they meant for pedestrians, drivers, or both? How do these signs use colour and shape to communicate a message? Look at as many different examplesas you can. Work together to sort the signs into groups. For example, information signs (usually circular) and directional signs (usually rectangular).

In groups, ask the children to work together to create a map layout for their road chase. Provide large sheets of paper, pens and small world vehicles to give a sense of scale. Remind them, when designing their map, to think about the elements that will make their chase more exciting. For example, one way streets, bridges, level-crossings, junctions and so on. What signs and warnings will these areas need? What street furniture will need to be present to make it look realistic? Buildings and signs can be made into three-dimensional models or simply drawn onto the flat map.

Ask the groups to present their learning, showing the route of the car chase and the elements that will make it exciting for the viewers.

Sending sound – Science learning task

Discuss with the children how they think sounds are made. Tap a tuning fork and hold it to the surface of a bowl of water. What do the children notice is happening? Explain that the tuning fork is vibrating. We can see these vibrations as they spread out across the water, like ripples on a pond. These are known as sound waves. When we talk or make a sound, the same thing is happening, but the sound waves are invisible because they are moving through the air.

Ask the children to hold an inflated balloon with their fingertips and speak against it. They will be able to feel the balloon vibrate. Explain that this is just like an eardrum. Our eardrum collects sounds waves and turns them into vibrations, which in turn are sent to our brain. This is how we hear sounds.

Next, invite the children to put an ear against the table top. How clearly can they hear their fingers tapping on its surface? Compare this with tapping on the table normally. Which is loudest? When our ear is against the desk, it is much louder. This is because the sound travels better through a solid (the desk) than it does a gas (air).

Explain to the children that they are going to experiment with making their own telephones. Talk through the basic method of making a phone using two yoghurt pots and connecting them with string. Let the children work in pairs to make their own and then test them out. Is their partner’s voice clearer when they speak into the yoghurt pot? Why might it sound louder? Encourage the children to think about the purpose of the string (for transporting the sound vibrations from one pot to the other).

Encourage the children to experiment with different types and lengths of string, cord or tubing and different containers to speak into and receive such as tins, plastic bottles and funnels. If necessary, have an adult pierce the holes into the containers to attach the cords. Ask the children to predict what will happen when they change one of the parameters (length of cord, size/ type of container and so on) before testing out their ideas.

Inventions – History learning task

Provide groups with a series of picture cards depicting various communication inventions. These could include:
  • Telephones (an early telephone, a phone with a dial, a modern wireless handset)
  • Televisions (a 1920s television, a black-and-white portable with aerial, a modern flat-screen television)
  • Examples of printing (inkpot and quill, Gutenberg Press, a modern-day newspaper press)
  • Radio (a Marconi radio, a 1950s radio, a modern digital radio)

Ask children to begin by looking at the images and sorting them into groups based on type. When the communication types are sorted, invite the children to place each group in chronological order. As a whole class, discuss the choices and produce a whole-class time line for each invention. Compare and contrast the type, size and materials used in some of the inventions.

Now the children are going to make a short film about one of the inventors. Using pictures as prompts, talk about two or more of the inventors, for example, Johannes Gutenberg and the printing press, Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone or John Logie Baird and the first working television. Encourage the children to think about the significance of these inventions, comparing them with what had been available previously.

Assign one of the historical inventors to each group. Explain that they are going to make a very short film about their inventor, capturing what it would have been like at the time to create something so important. Children can approach this task in a number of ways. They could act out the ‘eureka moment’, playing the part of the inventor and his friends, or present a news-style programme, interviewing the inventor and other people from the period, or create a modern-style advert for the invention, selling its merits over what has gone before.

Provide some simple costume props (coats, hats, etc.) to help the children define their characters and get into role. At the end of the session, ask the groups to perform their presentation, with a member of staff filming the action. These movies can then be viewed as a whole class.

There are many more learning tasks for these subjects and the other foundation subjects as well as ideas for links to numeracy and literacy and international learning tasks in the IPC Media Magic Teachers Framework.

Media Magic Academy Awards – The Exit Point

End your unit and celebrate your children’s learning with your version of the Academy Awards! Beforehand, provide children with special invitations which could also be extendedto family and friends.

Set up your school hall to be your theatre auditorium with an interactive whiteboard acting as your ‘big screen’. During your awards show, allow time for groups of children to talk about a specific piece of work they have done over the course of the unit. You may want to rehearse this beforehand and be on hand to prompt if necessary. Between presentations, your master of ceremonies can announce the winners of various awards. These will be based on the different tasks completed by the children.

Awards might include:
  • Best musical composition for a story
  • Best news report
  • Best historical drama
  • Best costume design
  • Best car-chase set design
  • Best special effects (for the moon buggies)
  • Best prop instructors

You could also award some fun achievements too (the child most likely to go on to become a film star and so on). With all the awards, the emphasis should be on fun. Try to show some examples of work before each winner is announced – especially any elements that you have filmed, which the audience can watch. Enjoy the show!

Media Magic is just one of over 80 different thematic units of learning from the International Primary Curriculum, all of which are designed to help children of all abilities develop their knowledge, skills and understanding of subjects in creative, challenging ways using multiple intelligences. The IPC provides teachers with a structured and rigorous yet flexible teaching framework, helping them lead children through an engaging learning process with clear outcomes for academic, personal and international learning. The International Primary Curriculum is the fastest growing independently owned primary curriculum in the world today and is considered by many educationalists in the UK and worldwide to be the most internationally-minded and learning-focused curriculum available for primary children. It is now the curriculum choice of over 800 primary schools in England, Wales and Scotland who join schools in 65 countries around the world learning through the IPC. To visit an IPC school in your area call the IPC at 0207-7531-9696 or visit

To find out more about the Media Magic unit or the International Primary Curriculum, or to talk to a school working with the IPC, visit or call 020 7531 9696.

Image © 2011 Images



Advertise here