Watching movies with your children is a rare pleasure you can enjoy with them at any age. As our society becomes more computer-centric, the importance of visual literacy increases exponentially. Watching and discussing movies with your children can help to expand their visual vocabulary and make them think critically about the things they see not only in movies, but in the media too.
Movies don’t only teach children about visual components, they also teach them how to become effective story tellers. Children learn to communicate their own stories by watching and listening to the stories of others. There are many ways for you to have fun watching movies with your children while teaching them too.
· Pick movies that are age appropriate and interesting for your children to watch. This activity should be a fun family affair. Involve your children in the selection of the movie or take turns watching each other’s favourite picks. You can also choose the movie versions of books they have read so that they are familiar with the story line. There are many great classic movies to choose from. You can find the top 100 movies here or here.
· Watch the movie from beginning to end and then discuss the story. Ask your children to retell the story, or recount their favourite scenes. Ask them to justify their selections. You can keep a movie book and rate the movies on a scale from 1 to 5. Children can re-enact their favourite scenes for you.
· Discuss themes, symbolism and messages that the film conveys. Ask your children if they agree with the film’s message. Discuss the morality of the principal characters and what their strengths and flaws are. You can ask your children what mistakes the characters made and what they would have done differently.
· Discuss lighting and color schemes. Nothing in film is accidental and it’s important for children to be able to deconstruct a scene. Ask them how the choice of lighting affected the mood or how the color scheme was used to convey emotions.
· Talk about the soundtrack and how the music created an atmosphere or tension during the film.
· Worksheets for various movies are available here.
Dissecting films helps children to start thinking critically about things which they see on TV and in films. It also teaches them to think about the underlying messages. Introducing them to classic movies is a great way to teach them the wonderful history of cinema. Learning to tell their own stories will make them effective and colourful communicators.