How to Use Film to Raise Literacy Attainment

Film – engaging and accessible for all – is a valuable vehicle for the development of literacy, not least (but certainly not only) in students who find this challenging. Education organisation Into Film explains how film can be used effectively to boost literacy and recommends three tried and tested strategies to use in class or a school film club.

The 3Cs and 3Ss
The 3Cs (colour, character and camera) and 3Ss (setting, story and sound) are present in all texts. As film club members become proficient in identifying, analysing and decoding them in film texts, they will become more able to do the same when they read a written text. They will also be able to create richer pieces of writing, drawing on their knowledge and understanding of the 3Cs and 3Ss.

Into Film research projects with schools in Wales demonstrated that when their teachers used the 3Cs and 3Ss framework and associated activities with their pupils, pupils were more engaged and motivated to write from a film stimulus than they had been before, as well as producing better quality work than predicted.

A full list of useful 3Cs and 3Ss discussion questions can be found at

These activities for Key Stage One and Two pupils provide learners with opportunities to articulate their responses to text and demonstrate and develop their literacy skills.

Sound on/vision off

Pupils will be able to:

This activity will help learners to ‘hear’ sounds when they read and write, and support deeper analysis and construction of richer texts.

Listen to the sound from a film clip and analyse it using the 3Cs and 3Ss. Having noted down ideas and discussed what pupils have heard and would expect to see, ask them to sketch what the scene might look like and label it to explain their ideas.

Now watch the clip with the images; select a still and ask pupils to use it to write the opening/closing paragraph or chapter of the story as if it were a book.

Role on the Wall

Pupils will be able to:

This activity will help learners to visualise characters they read and write about, and develop an understanding of the construction of rich characters with a range of thoughts, feelings and motivations.

Select a clip or several clips featuring the characters you wish to focus on. Pupils should work with the outline of a character and having watched the clip write words that describe the character, how the audience feels about the character and what other characters think about them around the outside of the character outline, and words to describe how the character feels/thinks about themselves  inside the character outline. The outlines can then be annotated with speech bubbles and thought bubbles to demonstrate how these characters interact.

Work with the character outlines as an aide-memoir for a writing and drama activity, such as a chat show or press conference with the characters, a character wordle, acrostic, poem or set of trading cards or a flash forward storyboard to plan what the characters do after the film has ended. This can be developed into a simple film and/or a piece of writing.

Shoebox set design

Pupils will be able to:

This activity will help learners to visualise the texts they read and construct rich pieces of writing. Pupils should close their eyes while you read a piece of written text aloud; you may choose a piece of fiction, a poem or a description of an historical event.

Using the 3Cs and 3Ss discuss what pupils ‘saw’ and ‘heard’ as you were reading. Now read the text again and explain the task to create the film set for this scene, using a shoebox and craft materials. The set should include evidence of all Cs and Ss. Once the set is complete pupils can take a series of photographs to demonstrate which shot would be used at each point. The photographs can be printed out with the text inserted underneath or assembled in a digital storyboard. Pupils could then reverse this activity to work from a set of film stills, annotating them with a description and dialogue, and develop ideas into a piece of extended writing.

Free Into Film Resources for Primary Literacy

Your Club Your Way: Literacy (Six activities for increasing literacy attainment through film)

Book to Film (Explores popular book adaptations on film)

Creating Effective Film Reviews: 5-11

Literacy Through Film: Miss Todd (Explores how stories are told through film using the short film Miss Todd)

Storymaker: The Gruffalo Edition (cross curricular activities and technical advice to support Into Film Storymaker: The Gruffalo Edition app)

Into Film is a UK wide education organisation supported by the BFI through National Lottery Funding.  For information or to start a film club for free access to thousands of films and resources visit

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