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Penelope in the Treehouse

Posted on September 5, 2016 by kierandonaghy

penelope-in-the-treehouse

This ELT lesson plan is designed around a short film by Jonathan Langager for Disney and the theme of families. In the lesson students watch but don’t hear the start of a short film, decide what is happening and what the characters are saying, predict the rest of the story and write a story.

 

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Language level: Intermediate (B1) – Upper Intermediate (B2)

Learner type: All ages

Time: 90 minutes

Activity: Watching a short film, predicting and writing a story, discussing a film

Topic: Families

Language: Vocabulary related to families, past simple tense

Materials: Short film

Downloadable materials: penelope in the treehouse lesson instructions

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Step 1

Ask your students to shout out typical problems between children and parents.

 

Step 2

Tell your students they are going to watch but not hear the start of a short film. As they watch their task is to try to understand the story and imagine what the characters are saying and thinking. Show the film with sound turned off until 02:53.

 

 

 

Step 3

Pair your students. Ask them to discuss the story and what the characters are saying and thinking.

 

Step 4

Get feedback from the whole class on the story and what the characters are saying and thinking. It’s likely that they will understand that the girl’s mother has remarried and she now has a step-father, step-brother and 2 step-sisters. As some languages don’t have words to distinguish a step-brother/sister, and a half-brother/sister, you might like to elicit or explain the difference.

 

Step 5

Tell your students they are going to see and hear the start of the film. As they watch and listen they should check their understanding of the story and what the characters say and think. Show the film again, this time with sound, and pause at 02:53.

 

Step 6            

Get feedback from the whole class on the story and what the characters say and think.

 

Step 7

Put your students into small groups and ask them to imagine they are the young girl, Penelope, and to predict how she will survive in the treehouse. Give them 10 minutes to write the next part of the story.

 

Step 8

Get feedback from the whole class on how Penelope will survive in the treehouse.

 

Step 9

Tell your students they are going to watch how Penelope gets on in the treehouse. They should compare what they see with their predictions. Show the film until 06:42.

 

Step 10

In their groups, ask your students to summarise the story so far.

 

Step 11

In their groups, ask your students to discuss the following questions:

  • How would you feel in Penelope’s situation?
  • What would you do if you were Penelope?
  • How do you think Penelope will try to get down from the treehouse?
  • What do you think will happen in the rest of the story?

 

Step 12

Get feedback from each group on their answers to the questions.

 

Step 13

Tell your students they are going to watch the rest of the film. As they watch they should compare their stories with the one shown in the film. Show the rest of the film.

 

Step 14

In their pairs, ask your students to discuss the following questions:

  • Do you like the ending?
  • Do you like the film?
  • What words would you use to describe the film?
  • How does the film make you feel?
  • Does the film have a message?
  • In what ways is the film a typical Disney film?

 

Step 15

Hold a plenary discussion based on the questions in the previous stage.

 

Homework

Give your students a link to the film, ask them to watch it again at home and write a story using the past simple tense based on the film.

I hope you enjoy this ESL lesson.

Support Film English

Film English remains ad-free and takes many hours a month to research and write, and hundreds of dollars to sustain. If you find any joy or value in it, please consider supporting Film English with a monthly subscription, or by contributing a one-off payment.

Monthly subscription

One-off payment

16 thoughts on “Penelope in the Treehouse

  1. Thanks for all the work you do, which is the source of incredible inspiration. I am a fil lover and I tend to use films whenever I can. I will most definitely buy your book.

  2. Thanks for choosing my short film to use with this! It would be gratifying to know if it is in fact used in a classroom.

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