Music Videos to Inspire Writing


Sat on the couch, clicking through the endless music channels to find the One Direction song that my daughter loves, I stumble across a video that had me hooked. No it wasn't 1D or the latest PSY hit, it was a video that had a story, no words spoken just the visuals and the song. It got me thinking that it would be a great focus to use for some writing. I am always looking for interesting and unusual hooks to get the children inspired to write, when I started thinking to some of my favourite music videos I found that many tell a story that has a lot of potential for writing activities in the classroom. 


After looking into this a little further I discovered that most music videos are one of three different types - performance, conceptual and narrative (read more here). It is the narrative which really lends itself well to the classroom as these are music videos that tell a story with most not having a single spoken word. Meaning children can interpret the story in many different ways. Children will respond to these videos as most watch them repeatedly at home (I have a 9 year old who is forever watching MTV.) You are encouraging them to look at the videos in a new way and one that will hopefully inspire them to some great writing. If you use iPads this post about downloading videos to your camera roll may also help with other activities. Here are a few examples with some suggested activities:


This video was the one that originally caught my attention to this idea. It is a lovely video and isn't a bad song either.

  • Watch the first 20 seconds - how is the girl feeling? What makes you think that? What might she be doing?
  • Pause just before a minute - how has the girl's feelings changed? Why do you think that is? What might she have lost? What could she do now that may help?
  • Pause again at 1.42 - Has the girl's feelings changed even more now? Why do you think that maybe?
  • Once the giraffe appears - are you shocked why? How does the girl feel now?
  • Write a description of the giraffe - what does it look like? smell? feel?
  • Research and write a non chronological report on giraffes.
  • Write a set of instructions for keeping a giraffe as a pet.
  • If you could choose any animal in the world to keep as a pet, what would it be and why? What would you do with them? How would you need to change your house to take care of it?


Another example is the classic from Blur - Coffee and TV (warning there is part of this video that may not be appropriate where the carton visits Big Suzi from 2.13-2.36)

Blur - Coffee and TV from Andrey Tukhtamanov on Vimeo.

I love this video, it is emotional, interesting and really funny. The video tells the story of a milk carton trying to find a missing son to reunite him with his family. The carton encounters numerous different challenges both good and bad but nothing stops him on trying to complete his mission.

  • Ask the children to write the journey of the milk carton in 1st person.
  • How does the carton's emotions change during his journey, what are his high points/low points?
  • What do you think the carton's view on people are? What evidence can you find to support that decision?
  • Show the children the screen from 3minutes to 3.30. Ask the children to write a atmospheric description of the setting. 
  • Look at the interactions he has with different people, what may have been said? 
  • Compare the feelings of the family at the beginning and the end, how do these differ and why?
  • Do you think the carton is happy at the end despite being in the trash? Why what makes you think this?
  • Ask the children to write similes and metaphors of objects that seem bigger/scarier to the carton.
  • Children could write another story of a journey of another inanimate object.

David Guetta Feat. Sia - Titanium from David Wilson on Vimeo.

This is another great video telling a story. What I love about this video is the viewer is left until the end to find out what has caused all this destruction.

  • Watch the first minute, discuss what has happened? What has caused this? Why?
  • Ask the children to write a description of the first scene, use the show not tell technique to create thoughtful writing.
  • Discuss the boys character, how is he presented in the first scene, how does this change?
  • Write in role of the boy, use his emotions through the story to gain an understanding of his feelings and whether he comprehends what is happening.
  • Look at the ending, who is to blame? Why? Is the boy acting in self defense? Can he control it?
  • If you could have a superpower what would it be?
  • You wake up one morning to find you have incredible strength, what do you do? How would your life change?
  • Design you own superhero, what powers, costume, name would he have?
  • Write a newspaper report of the events from the video, interview the teacher, parents and policemen.

I love the contrast of this video from the surroundings at the beginning to the end, also the message it portrays about material things not making you happy.

  • Watch the first 20 seconds, what do you think the picture shows?
  • Watch the first minute, who may this character be? What makes you think this? What clues make you think she is rich?
  • Is she happy with all the fame and wealth she has? What makes you think so?
  • Write about her surroundings at the start, the bright lights, futuristic feel to her house and gadgets she has.
  • What makes her unhappy? 
  • Who is the blue creature? 
  • By the end of the video how is she feeling?
  • Write about her surrounding at the end, the beautiful scenery, nature and simplicity to life.
  • Compare the surroundings at the start and end, which would you prefer and why?


I love the idea of this video, how he makes everyone else happy apart from himself due to the music.

  • Children can write in role as the character and write about his day.
  • They can empathise with the character and look at how he feels.
  • They could imagine that this happened to them and write a day in their shoes.
  • This could be linked to the story of the pied piper and look at using music as a way to hypnotise others.
More comprehension questions about this video courtesy of @kelsmif which can be downloaded here.


A beautiful video! One that will hopefully make your class empathise with certain difficulties other people face.
  • Watch the first 20 seconds, what is emphasised - sound - ask the children why this maybe?
  • After watching the video ask what the children what they noticed about the main character? Hopefully they will pick up on the fact he is blind, ask them for clues about how they knew this?
  • Look at all the different things he touches, make a list and try to describe the different textures he feels.
  • Write in first person as the main character, try to describe his day however restrict the description to everything except sight. Challenge the children to think about how they can describe aspects of his day without mentioning what things look like.
  • Interview the character - who does he speak to? Why is he happy when he is outside? What makes him run through the forest?
There are probably lots of other examples of narrative music videos that could generate some exciting and interesting writing opportunities in class, if you have any suggestions please let me know and I will add them to this list.

Comments

  1. This has inspired me to use music videos with my year 3s. Some ones I'm thinking of using are AhHa's Take on me and this one for a story inspiration
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePo9G-Rzr9k

    ReplyDelete
  2. A strange story about a slinky?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HM_eb0vVo0k

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hello,

    I wanted to say a big thank you for this idea - we have just completed our film narrative unit based on the Titanium. It was fantastic - the kids were so motivated and completed some excellent writing as a result.

    Take a look at them if you want!
    Miss Cradick and 5C, China.
    http://dcs5c.edublogs.org

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you.
    I have been sitting here uninspired all day and finally something...
    I am now looking forward to teaching next week.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi!
    I'm an NQT working in year 6 and I have a class with very low self esteem, they are particularly worried about SATs even though I have tried to reassure. I have decided to focus on a bit of growth mindset and this blog has inspired me to use a music video to do this. I was hoping to use https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk48xRzuNvA where there are two contrasting people and I could ask the children to possibly write a diary entry? Or a letter of advice? I know this video shows things like resilience and perseverence.
    However, whilst browsing I also found this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIm1GgfRz6M which I think also has great potential, but arguably more for emotive language and linking to vocations/working?
    Which one do you think will benefit my children more?

    Thanks for your help in advance!

    ReplyDelete

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