We live in challenging times, and nothing can be more challenging than trying to entertain your children during a social and school lockdown. However, it is at times like this that film can offer kids an escape from rolling news coverage and worries. While also allowing their imaginations to run riot in a world of possibility. Enabling further play and activities long after the film has finished. So join us as we explore some of the most imaginative and positive films out there for Children aged 5-13 during the quarantine. Film’s that help spark young minds and enable play and creativity.
The Star Wars Saga (1977 – 2020) U/PG/12A
The Phantom Menace (1999); Attack of the Clones (2002); Revenge of the Sith (2005); A New Hope (1977); The Empire Strikes Back (1980); Return of the Jedi (1983); The Force Awakens (2015); The Last Jedi (2017); The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Star Wars – A New Hope and its subsequent films are in essence a coming of age stories. Bringing together central themes of isolation, rebellion and belonging with a multi-generational ‘coming of age’ journey. Let us start by exploring the original trilogy. Where our youthful rebellion finds belonging and voice in each other, discovering the roots of their identities in unison. The coming of age dynamic sitting with an orphaned and isolated teenager (Luke). Meanwhile, his long lost sister Leia fights for equality and freedom against a tyrannical empire.
As the Journey of Luke and Leia continues, family secrets are laid bare as they fight for a better universe. While for Luke, the mentorship of Kenobi is replaced by a teacher in the guise of Yoda. A creature who not only knows the family history but also guides Luke from teenager to young adult. The whole trilogy playing out as an odyssey of family, identity and redemption.
However, the coming of age journey does not stop with Luke and Leia. As Han equally takes his own journey. Giving up his drifter lifestyle of low-level crime, in favour of security and friendship.
The prequels not only continue the family saga of the first three films. But ultimately echo the established coming of age journey. However, unlike the positive coming of age, themes represented in the first three films. Anakin’s journey is one of darkness and regret. Reversing the narrative of his son’s walk to freedom. (Cinerama Film)
Age Range: 5 +
Resources: Cardboard Tubes, Pens, Paper, Computer/tablet, Paint, Elastic Bands, Cardboard, Lego, Smart Phone/Camera
Designing your own lightsaber.
Draw a brand new Star Wars character and their home planet.
Make some Yoda ears with cardboard and an elastic band to hold them on.
Design a new Star Wars spaceship in Lego.
Film your own Star Wars scene on your smart phone.
Horrible Histories the Movie: Rotten Romans (2020) PG
Roman teenager Atti is forced to join the Roman Army when one of his clever schemes falls foul of Emperor Nero. He is sent to “miserable, cold, wet Britain” where “the natives are revolting, quite literally”. Things go from bad to worse when Atti is captured by Orla, a feisty teenage Celt desperate to prove herself as a warrior. After narrowly avoiding a very sticky end in a bog, Atti uses his Roman know-how to help Orla save her grandma who’s been kidnapped by a rival tribe.
Meanwhile, a furious Nero is determined to crush the rebellion, led by Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni. Atti rejoins his Roman troops and discovers they are preparing for a historic showdown with the Celts at the Battle of Watling Street. Atti’s brains could save the day, but they could also spell disaster for Orla as the two new friends find themselves lined up on opposite sides of the battlefield. (IMDB)
Age Range: 6+
Resources: Cardboard, Pens, Paint, Musical Instruments, Tin Foil, Computer/Tablet
Make your own Roman shield and sword.
Design a quiz on real and fake Roman facts from the film.
Write a new song or poem for the film.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) U
The world is astounded when Willy Wonka, for years a recluse in his factory, announces that five lucky people will be given a tour of the factory, shown all the secrets of his amazing candy, and one will win a lifetime supply of Wonka chocolate. Nobody wants the prize more than young Charlie, but as his family is so poor that buying even one bar of chocolate is a treat, buying enough bars to find one of the five golden tickets is unlikely in the extreme. But in movieland, magic can happen. Charlie, along with four somewhat odious other children, gets the chance of a lifetime and a tour of the factory. (IMDB)
Age Range 6+
Resources: Chocolate, Sweets, Fruit, Cake Ingredients
Create your own Willy Wonka smoothie using fruits or juice drinks.
Make your own Willy Wonka chocolate bar with melted chocolate, sweets and fruit.
Bake the ultimate Willy Wonka chocolate cake.
Wild America (1997) PG
Three brothers – Marshall, Marty and Mark dream of becoming naturalists and portraying animal life of America. One summer their dream comes true, they travel through America, filming alligators, bears and moose (IMDB)
Age Range 8+
Resources: Cardboard, Elastic, Toilet Roll Tubes, Smart Phone/Tablet, Pens, Paper, Paint, Pipe Cleaners
Design and make your own animal mask.
Make toilet roll tube animals. Using pens, paint and coloured pipe cleaners for arms and legs.
Film your own nature documentary, exploring the animals and insects living in the garden or yard of your house.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010) U
To Greg Heffley, middle school is the dumbest idea ever invented. It’s a place rigged with hundreds of social landmines, not the least of which are morons, wedgies, swirlies, bullies, lunchtime banishment to the cafeteria floor – and a festering piece of cheese with nuclear cooties. To survive the never-ending ordeal and attain the recognition and status he feels he so richly deserves, Greg, devises an endless series of can’t-miss schemes, all of which, of course, go awry. And he’s getting it all down on paper, via a diary – “it’s NOT a diary, it’s a journal!” Greg insists, preferring the less-sissyfied designation – filled with his opinions, thoughts, tales of family trials and tribulations, and (would-be) schoolyard triumphs. “One day when I’m famous,” writes Greg, “I’ll have better things to do than answer people’s stupid questions all day.” So was born the Wimpy Kid’s diary. (IMDB)
Age Range 7+
Resources: Paper, Pens, Smart Phone/Tablet
A day in my life (Cartoon Strip): Turn a typical school day into a Wimpy Kid cartoon strip.
My week a video diary: Why not start a video diary and talk about everything that has happened in the past week.
Turn your brother/sisters/parents or carers into Wimpy Kid cartoon characters.
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) PG
Sir Robin of Locksley, defender of downtrodden Saxons, runs afoul of Norman authority and is forced to turn outlaw. With his band of Merry Men, he robs from the rich, gives to the poor and still has time to woo the lovely Maid Marian, and foil the cruel Sir Guy of Gisbourne, and keep the nefarious Prince John off the throne. (IMDB)
Age Range: 8+
Resources: Cake Ingredients and Icing, Cloth, Felt or Cardboard, Sticks from the Garden
Bake your own archery target cup cakes
Make your own Robin Hood hat from cloth or cardboard
Turn sticks and twigs from the garden into arrows but making cardboard arrow heads
Harry Potter (2001 – 2011) PG/12A
The Philosopher’s Stone (2001); The Chamber of Secrets (2002); Prisoner of Azkaban (2004); Goblet of Fire (2005); Order of the Phoenix (2007); Half-Blood Prince (2009); Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010); Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
The story of the Boy Who Lived is a generation-defining fantasy saga – and across eight films, directors Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell and David Yates did an admirable job of taking JK Rowling’s Wizarding World from page to screen. The series has adventure, friendship, and – of course – magic aplenty, and while the early films deal in charming technicolour whimsy, the tail end of the series is decidedly for older kids once Dark Lord Voldemort rises. (EMPIRE MAGAZINE)
Age Range: 10+
Resources: Soft Ball, Feathers, Newspaper, Flour, Water, Paint, Pipe Cleaners, Cardboard, Pens, Balloons
Design and make your own Harry Potter glasses using card and pipe cleaners.
Make your own dragon eggs by covering balloons with paper mâché before decorating them.
Create your own golden snitch with a decorated ball and feathers.
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (2010) PG
When his lightning bolt is stolen, Zeus accuses Poseidon’s son Percy Jackson and gives Poseidon’s son fourteen days to return it, otherwise, he will initiate a war amongst the gods. Meanwhile, the teenager, Percy, who is dyslexic and has ADHD is visiting The Museum of Metropolitan of Art and is attacked by a Fury disguised in his teacher.
His physically handicapped best friend Grover reveals that Percy is a demigod and that he is his protector and his teacher Mr Brunner gives him a pen telling him that it is a powerful weapon. They go to Percy’s house and together with his mother Sally they drive to the Camp Half-Blood. However, Sally is attacked by a Minotaur and vanishes before Percy can help her. In the camp, Percy befriends the gorgeous Annabeth; when they are attacked by Hades who wants the lighting bolt for himself, Percy discovers that his mother is in the Underworld with Hades. Percy decides to travel on a dangerous quest to retrieve the lightning bolt and save his mother. (IMDB)
Age Range 10+
Resources: Pens, Paper, Cardboard, Paint, Terracotta Pot, Gold Paper
Design your own Ancient Greek pot using symbols and patterns
Make you own Percy Jackson lightning bolt using card and gold paper
Design your own Greek God based on a natural element
E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) U
This tearjerking tale of a young boy’s friendship with a stranded space alien may technically be a sci-fi movie, but it also represents a very personal account of director Steven Spielberg’s down-to-earth feelings of childhood isolation and anxiety following his parents’ divorce. A wonderful script by Melissa Mathison and a surging score by John Williams help this to pack a mighty emotional punch. (Mark Kermode)
Age Range: 7+
Resources: Pens, Paper, Computer/Tablet/Phone
Design your own extra-terrestrial and think of a name for their home planet
Record a short film on how you would like to treated if you were stranded on another world
Write a short story about E.T and Elliots next big adventure together