Using Movies to Keep Student Skills Sharp!

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mom and daughter popcornResearch shows that students lose up to 30 percent of the previous years’ learning during the summer months. But combating summer learning loss may be as easy as your local library…or movie rental center.

In this three-part series, we’ll share some easy, research-based ways to incorporate reading and writing into your summer schedule through 1) movies!, 2) easy family field trips, and 3) naturally engaging writing experiences.

Exercising the Noggin

Reading is like brain exercise. When people read, their brains process information on many levels, and their synapses fire like lightening. Research tells us that during reading, the brain is primarily engaged in seven activities, called strategies. These strategies are:

1. Visualizing (making pictures)

2. Connecting (relating what we read to what we already know)

3. Questioning (wondering)

4. Making inferences (drawing conclusions, making predictions)

5. Repairing comprehension (making sense of the story)

6. Determining what’s important (sorting through the details to retain the important parts)

7. And synthesizing (putting it all together to understand the story on many levels)

During the summer, just having your children read is great because their brains are doing all seven of these activities. But, what’s even better is picking one of the strategies above and using it as a springboard for a summer literacy adventure.

Let’s Start with Visualizing

Set the Stage: Tell your children that good readers visualize, or make pictures in their mind, while they read. Practice visualizing together. Pick a favorite book and read it together. Stop often to model your own visualizations: “Wow, when I read that, I can see the spider’s web all covered with dew, hanging in the barn doorway. Can you see it?” And ask your children to share their visualizations, too: “What color do you think the farmhouse is? What about Charlotte–how big do you think she is? Show me on your hand.”

Calling All Future Directors: Next, tell your children that they’re being hired by Hollywood to design the set for a new movie about the book. Have them draw or create what they visualized, being as detailed as possible so the set could be built by Hollywood. Any medium will work: colored pencils, paint, playdough, Legos–whatever motivates your child. If your child is reluctant to add details, prompt them with questions: “Do you think the sky was pure white? What color might it have been?” or “What about the other animals? Who else did you picture on the farm besides just Wilbur and Charlotte?”

Get ‘Em Talking: Have your child explain the details to you, telling you what they pictured.

Hello, Hollywood! If there is a movie that corresponds to the book you read, watch it together! Pop some popcorn and then, as you watch, compare your child’s visualizations with the movie.

A Book Guide to Get You Started

Picture books that are great for visualizing:

Jumaji, by Chris Van Allsburg*

The Wreck of the Zephyr, by Chris Van Allsburg

One Tiny Turtle, by Nicola Davies

Atlantic, by G. Brian G. Karas

The Relatives Came, by Cynthia Rylant

Three Stories You Can Read to Your Cat, by Sara Swan Miller

Novels that are great for visualizing:

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis*

Charlotte’s Web, by E. B. White*

Redwall series, by Brian Jacques*

Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke*

The Tale of Despereux, by Kate DiCamillo*

The Spiderwick Chronicles, by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black*

My Friend Flicka, by Mary O’Hara*

Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen*

*denotes books with corresponding movies.

Coming next in the series: Making connections through local family field trips!

Post author: Elizabeth Cossick, M.Ed.


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Filed under Parenting, Reading, Summer Learning, Uncategorized

One response to “Using Movies to Keep Student Skills Sharp!

  1. Pingback: Make Reading Fun with Local Family Field Trips! « A Learning Experience