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Night at the Museum

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By Teachers’ notes by Helen AppletonLead Teacher for Suffolk and class teacher, Sudbury

A multimedia resource centring on the films Night at the Museum and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, with an audio extract from a book adaptation, movie trailer and information on key characters from the film.


Background information

This multimedia resource centres on the films Night at the Museum and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Night at the Museum (released by Fox Studios in 2006) was based on a picture book called The Night at the Museum by Milan Trenc, published in 1993. The on-screen resource contains a text and audio extract from a book adaptation of the film; a film trailer for the second movie and an information text covering six of the characters from the film and offering some background information about them.

Shared teaching and learning

Before reading

  • Find out if any of the children have seen the Night at the Museum films. Encourage discussion about the films.
  • Establish which museums the children have visited and what they expect of a museum. (Refer to On-screen resource 1.)
  • Do they know anything about American History? Can they predict what a museum in the US might contain?
  • Create a simple timeline together to illustrate the history of the United States.

Shared reading and responding

  • Look at how the children’ title page is organised. Allow the children to decide which screen they would like to browse first, giving reasons for their choice. Is there an obvious chronological order that would best support learning?
  • When accessing the ‘It’s alive!’ extract, debate whether to have the audio running or not. Discuss how it could support less able readers.
  • While watching the trailer, remind them to be aware of the use of music, sound effects, visuals and text. Do they recognise any characters? How are they portrayed (eg, costumes, actions, dialogue)?. Look for dramatic devices and use of humour.
  • After reading the Picture Gallery information, ask if there are other areas of the museum they would like to find out more about – eg, dinosaurs, the Egyptians? How would they research these topics and incorporate them?

Further reading

Timeline of American History

Extra teacher resource available to download here.

Rapa Nui – Easter Island (Literacy Time Years 3 and 4, No 5) Information text poster by Richard Rice – now available to download here.

Night at the Museum Book and audio CD. Scholastic Mary Glasgow Magazines ELT Readers series (Scholastic, 978 19057 75248,

The Night at the Museum by Milan Trenc (Barron’s Educational Series, Inc, 978 07641 36313).

Group activities

  • Invite groups to take on the role of different film technicians – eg, sound and lighting engineers, costume designers, scriptwriters. Look at the trailer again from their viewpoint. How has their contribution impacted on the film?
  • Divide the class into groups and ask each group to research one of the picture gallery characters, presenting the information to the rest of the class.

Using the activity sheet

If the film was set in a British museum, which British historical periods would they include? Which characters would they expect to find? Use the activity sheet below to stimulate research and discussion.


  • Invite a group to further explore some of the ideas about British historical characters by developing a trailer for a British version of the film, and writing a script to perform to the rest of the class.
  • Plan a storyboard. Which events might they include? Which characters will star in their movie?
  • Write character sketches and draw labelled costume designs for the British historical figures, including props and notes on characterisation.

Ideas for writing

  • Write your own ‘Portrait Gallery’ of British characters.
  • Draw a floor plan for a British Museum noting what would be in each section.
  • Create a poster to advertise your film.
  • Create an American History Quiz based on the portrait gallery information.

Literacy Framework

See the Using this issue chart to identify the Learning Objectives covered by these activities, to track progression from Year 2 through to Year 5, and to identify links with Year 3 and 4 Literacy Planning Units.


  • Discuss how successful the trailer was in persuading them to watch the Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.
  • Consider what they have learned about the film and American history. Which aspects of the resource were effective?
  • Has the children’s research helped to dispel myths about British historical characters?