My daughter loves creating videos. Lego movies inspire stop-action Lego shorts. Super Bowl halftime shows prompt dance videos. She’s even documented her passions with interview-style videos featuring conversations with me, lists of what annoys her about her siblings, and spotlights on the dogs’ daily activities.
Video is an easy medium for children to explore and use to share perspectives. Aaron Starmer features this approach in his middle-grade book, A Million Views. It’s a story about 5th and 6th-graders who discover how to use their voices, navigate differences, and tell meaningful stories while creating a movie trailer.
Family stories. Starmer describes several different types of families. Godfrey and Izzy’s family go to Renaissance fairs and love tacos. Carly lives with her mom and new stepdad. Harriet’s little sister wants to be involved in everything, and her family’s favorite side dishes are kimchi, daal, and Labneh. Invite children to create a family documentary video. Suggest that they interview family members and feature favorite stories, activities, and special items.
Questioning norms. While Brewster loves his family, he wishes some things could be different. He feels that they are less connected than other families and longs for more visible displays of support. Invite children to brainstorm ways that Brewster could tell his parents how he is feeling. Then create short videos acting out the scenarios they imagine.
Documentary storytelling. Carly creates a documentary about being new. She interviews a variety of new kids from the school. Brewster notes that the documentary showed him a new perspective on the idea. Invite children to create a short documentary about a topic they choose, such as ‘A Day in the Life’, ‘Differences’, ‘Bullying’, or ‘Being Good Friends’. Hold a screening to share the videos with one another and your community.
Finding your flow. After spending the whole day procrastinating, Brewster turns off the wi-fi, sits down in front of his computer, and begins to write. Suddenly, he gets into a zone and words flow out of him. Time flies by without him even noticing. Ask: How do you feel when you are so focused on something that time flies by? What type of activities do you get lost in? How do you prepare when you are ready to focus on a specific task?
Working together. To make the trailer, everyone takes a part: Carly (actress), Rosa (producer), Brewster (director), Godfrey (costume manager). Each job is important and necessary to the movie’s creation. Suggest children make a list of the people they would invite to serve on a pretend movie crew. Ask: What role would you want? Why? What roles would you assign to the rest of your crew? Why? How could your team work together well?
Protecting your voice. Brewster’s next-door neighbor reminds him that it’s important to ‘protect your voice’ when trying to balance personal views and others’ needs. Roleplay with children ways that they can share their views while also being open to different perspectives. For example, they might name three things important to them and then invite others to do the same before negotiating a way forward that includes at least one thing from each person. Or they could clarify needs and wishes by sorting them into separate columns and then advocating for their needs while being willing to relinquish some of their wishes.