Using WALL-E to teach about Healthy Eating, advertising, lifestyle choices…

Pixar’s reputation doesn’t need explaining. We have been delighted by each of their offerings up to the present ‘Toy Story 3.’ I’m delighted to have grown up with them and even more now that my 3 year old son is discovering the ‘Toy Story’ trilogy for the first time. Now I can revisit each of the films again with the new wonder of seeing them through his eyes.

This evening we watched WALL-E together and he was captivated from the very beginning – such is the magic of the imagination of the story writers. It is such a simple, yet powerful, story on so many levels.

After watching it myself a few months ago, I was struck by the potential of certain elements of the films for use with my Primary 7 class (10-11 year olds). Now, this doesn’t seem to be the age-group that Pixar have in mind but I found it an irresistible resource and thought I would share some of my ideas with you.

Before I begin, I must give the warning that you need to be sensitive for those children in your classroom who may have weight issues.

Getting the clip

The providers for ICT in Northern Ireland schools block access to YouTube (and that is another argument for another time!) which makes impulse accessing of video clips difficult. However, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon this site – savetube.com – where I was able to take the clip from YouTube and convert it to MP4 to use in the classroom. I was very fortunate that the original poster on YouTube had used the clip I was looking for! However, it means that, with a bit of preparation, I am able to use the clips I want in the classroom.

Using the Clip – Healthy Eating

I asked the children to watch the clip through once, without doing any work except watching! I then let them re-watch the clip, only this time asking them to write down words or phrases that came to mind (bearing in mind the sensitivity issues). As you can imagine there was a lot of focus on the weight of the characters portrayed in the film as well as their inability to do things for themselves.

Children then broke into groups to put their ideas together and doing away with duplicate ideas – offering a more streamlined thinking process.

Questioning centred around – Why do the characters look that way? What is their lifestyle choice? How could they change this? and so on. This is an excellent resource to use for PDMU unit in Primary 7 ‘Fit For The Future’ to support the activities suggested.

Also look at the diet being pushed in the clip. Compare it to what children should be eating – opportunities for work on Healthy Eating Plate activities (I use this)

Advertising

Look at how the characters are influenced to change the colour of their clothes. They all follow the same mentality. Good discussion point centres around the messages given to our young people in adverts and how difficult it is to be an ‘individual’ when they are given certain messages in all the media.

Look at magazines, online advertising, television advertising in their channels to see how certain messages are delivered. We followed this for our class business when we decided on types of advertising for our Christmas product. We had a ‘corporate logo’ and ‘corporate colours’ as well as ‘tag lines’ to help sell the products to parents and family. The clip provided the children with some excellent ideas as well as making them aware of their own identity and individuality. Again, you know your class and need to be aware of sensitivities.

On this point, if you have an interactive whiteboard in your classroom (I’m  lucky enough to have a Promethean Board) a good activity to kick-start persuasive writing is to use the ‘torch’ tool over some recognisable logos/trade marks. It is astonishing how little they need to see of the NIKE ‘swoosh’ for example, to be able to identify it! This is also a good activity for pictures of sweet wrappers.

I hope this helps in some way for your classroom practice and if you do use it, please do let me know how you get on. Any addendum will be gratefully received!

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4 thoughts on “Using WALL-E to teach about Healthy Eating, advertising, lifestyle choices…

    1. I agree, Lara. There is a minefield of issues to deal with everyday in our classrooms and it’s important that we don’t make life difficult for ourselves or for the young people in our class.
      However, we have an important job to do and one part of it is making sure all of our young people know that there are choices in lifestyles and that they can make good ones.

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