Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Planet Earth: Visual Literacy

Over winter vacation my nephew had a play-date with his 9 year friend JP. We went the museum together, ate sushi, and watched Planet Earth at home. My nephew was thrilled. I was thrilled- it was a perfect day for me. I love Planet Earth for so many reasons: beautifully shot, wonderful message for the world, important and interesting content to learn, and all in all inspirational!

The three of us snuggled on the sofa, each with our own bowl of popcorn and settled in to watch The Ocean Deep . I wasn't sure as the movie was playing, if my nephew (2 1/2) would have the stamina to watch the whole section. I was right. He checked out mid- way through the movie. Pretty much after he finished his bowl of popcorn.

He continued to play on the sofa though, with his trains and bulldozers- acting like "Vampire Squids" and sharks.

Throughout the movie, both at the beginning and towards the end, JP and I talked about what we were noticing and thinking about in different parts. We even decided to 'rewind' parts to see something happen again or to try and answer a question. It helped us to stay alert and think while we watched. My nephew, throughout the movie, every now and again, checked back in and gave us an, "OOOOO!" or "What's that Titi?"

Finally, we got to the end of the section and JP and I wanted to watch the, "How Did They Film It", section. We watched the Sharks! It was fascinating to see and my nephew watched that whole part with us!

Well, after that day, Planet Earth became an 'high demand' item in the house. I decided that we should watch (and re-watch) sections in "The Ocean Deep" together and I would give a running commentary-to help process and engage him as we watched! The "Turtle" scene became a favorite, as well as the Whale Shark and the crabs on the ocean floor. We also watched over and over the, "How Did They Film It".

I noticed that each time we watched a scene together, my nephew would say something new. Either it was a question, "Why do the turtles stay there?" or an exclamation, "That's dangerous right?" Sometimes, I would even hear something that I said the last time, "Those fish are working together!" or "That is a really big shark, but it only eats tiny fish."

It was a wonderful time we had with his friend and the entire vacation together. Watching television or videos with children- whether it is in school or at home- can certainly be enriched by talking and thinking about what is happening together. I love that we both can learn new content about the world together and try to engage with the beautiful message in this particular movie! Movies, TV programs, videos and YouTube: Watch them together! They too, are an important literacy to learn how to negotiate. Be part of that process with the kids in your life!

"Our planet is still full of wonders. As we explore them, so we gain not only understanding, but power. It's not just the future of the whale that today lies in our hands: it's the survival of the natural world in all parts of the living planet. We can now destroy or we can cherish. The choice is ours."

David Attenborough, in closing

1 comment:

  1. Two other great films for kids: Winged Migration and Microcosmos! I teach at-risk youth and showed these videos to my students. I was able to have all of them focus (ages 5-12) for about 45 minutes. I've never seen them so enthralled and engaged!