Great Animations – Film as Lit

These are writing and discussion activities based off short animated films:

Geri’s Game – Pixar Short, 1997

  • Great for teaching dialogue or POV.
  • Write a description of Geri. How can you change the description to make it seem like there are two different players?
  • Write a dialogue between the “two” players.
  • Experiment with 3rd and 1st person narrative.  One of the players could be described by 3rd person narrative whilst the 2nd player uses 1st person narrative.
  • What makes this an interesting short film to watch? Why do you think there are no words?


Book of Butterflies – Michael Leunig

  • Great for teaching description and imagery. 
  • Watch once as a class. Have students make a T-chart with one side labeled “before the book comes to life” and the other labeled “after the book comes to life.”
  • Watch a second time. Give students time to list descriptive words and phrases that could go in each side of the chart.
  • Have students write their own descriptions of books come to life… a book of lions/fish/other animals, a cookbook, a favorite childhood book (Dr. Suess, etc.). Focus on using strong adjectives and vivid descriptions. What does it look like? What happens? What is the “reader’s” reaction? Do the escaped “items” ever get back into the book?


The Happy Duckling

  • Great for teaching twist endings or fables.
  • Pause throughout the video to let students make predictions about the story. Why is the boy trying to get rid of the duck?
  • Have kids write stories about other ducks the boy may have saved and how he saved them…
  • Write a story from the duck’s point of view.


A Shadow of Blue – Carlos Lascano

  • Great for teaching drawing inferences, creating mood in stories, and using vivid imagery.
  • Note: This beautiful animation mixes together models and real life to create a stunning visual effect! This might work best as something taught over 2-3 lessons.
  • 2:48 – Who is the girl? Why is she all alone in the park? What do you think she is like? Why does she seem so thoughtful/sad? What do you think she is thinking?
  • 3:06 – What has just happened? What do you think will happen next?
  • 5:21-5:40 – What is the music like? How does it make you feel? Have students write descriptions of the scene here with rich imagery. Can students capture the tension of the music in their writing? (Discuss how using a pattern of several long, descriptive sentences followed by short, snappy ones could help build tension like the music.)
  • 7:42-8:46 – What are the range of emotions she is feeling?
  • 8:45 – Who is this lady watching? What can we tell from her dress? Her expression? What is she doing?
  • 9:30 – Why is she carrying the girl like that? Do we have any more ideas about who this lady is?
  • 9:34 – NOW what have we just learned? How does this change your perspective of everything that’s just happened? Why does her shadow have to have the adventure?
  • What does the butterfly do at the end? (Maybe spreading the girl’s passion for life around the hospital/orphanage?)
  • Activity: write a journal entry from the girl’s point of view about the day she had in this film.
  • Activity: write the story about what happened to the girl before what we see in the film (why she is in a wheelchair).


Don’t Go

  • Great for teaching antonyms and action verbs.
  • Compare the cat and the pink visitor using antonyms.
  • Write sentences using strong action verbs to describe several things that happen in the film.
  • Create a world for the pink visitor. Where is he from? What is it like?
  • Devise a set of instructions to avoid being caught by the cat.


The Rocketeer

  • Great for teaching newspaper journalism and character sketching/development.
  • Write a newspaper report for the events in this film.
  • Design an enemy for The Rocketeer to defeat, write a wanted poster for the bad guy.
  • Write your own adventure of the Rocketeer.
  • Write The Rocketeer’s back story, how did he become a hero?  Why does he risk his own life?  Why does he fight crime rather than get rich with his powers?  Use drama techniques to draw these ideas from the children.



Day and Night

  • Compare/contrast essay



The Meaning of Life

  • Exestentialism


  • Discrimination

The Maker

  • Life is short – it is what you make of it.


  • Spooky!

French Roast

  • Wealth/giving/appearances


  • Time

The Blue and the Beyond

  • Conformity

Wire Cutters

  • Greed, broken relationship