Surprisingly enough, watching movies with your kids ought to be a primary part of any good language arts program. There is nothing like listening to language used in the right context by different people (especially actors) for vocabulary training as well as growing in familiarity with proper syntax.
Film teaches kids comic timing, irony, key cultural assumptions, and makes use of a host of well-known story archetypes. Additionally, plot and characterization are both easily identified and understood in movies. Quickly kids learn about what makes a good versus poorly drawn villain, they discover what a climax is without even knowing that that is what it’s called, and they can make predictions based on past story experiences.
Comparing multiple versions of the same story (different film versions and comparisons with the original novel) is an excellent way to point out characterization choices, to focus on setting and costuming, etc.
The key to good movie viewing at home is watching with your kids and talking about what you see. Ask questions. Stop the film at a crucial juncture and ask everyone to predict what will happen next. Replay a scene after the movie is over to see if you understand it differently now that you know the whole story. Watch the same movie once, twice, three times.
Watching films together is a far better way to develop language arts skills than all the typical workbooks that talk about plot and/or vocabulary. Movies put the plot on display in about two hours. Can’t beat that!
Here are some helpful resources:
16 Fancy Literary Techniques Explained by Disney by Adam Moerder
“Because why waste money on an English degree when you can just watch Disney movies?”
“For older kids, one of my favorite ways to teach language arts with Netflix is to have them watch movie versions of books they’ve read. When I taught full time in the classroom, I’d have my students do this too. It’s a great way to encourage critical watching and reading. Kids can compare the versions, and analyze which is richer and why.”
Read the Book, Watch the Movie by Andrea
“This great list of over 80 wonderful stories that have been made into movies is sure to keep you busy! This is a great way to encourage reluctant readers or bookworms alike! Read them aloud then watch them for a movie night or let confident readers read them alone.”
Encourage Persuasive Writing with Movie Reviews and More! by Danielle Mahoney
“Let a trip to the movies inspire your students to write fantastic reviews that will persuade others to either see the movie — or skip it!”
Top 25 Movies for Writers by Online Universities
“Translate your love of the craft into a night of entertainment with these great movies based on writers. You’ll find intriguing real life stories, movies that show the sometimes frustrating nature of writing, and a great collection of movies about the trials and tribulations of fictional writers themselves.”
Note: Not all film suggestions may be right for your child. Check content using review sites like Kids in Mind.
Need help commenting meaningfully on plot, characterization, make-up and costumes, acting, setting and even film editing? Check out our eleven page guide, Brave Writer Goes to the Movies. Also, tell us about a film you and your kids watched together (along with a pic if you have one) and if we share it on the blog you’ll receive a free copy!
Image by Кирилл Рыжов / Fotolia