• 27 Oct
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    We’re big fans of Halloween at BrainPOP UK and indulging in Mary Shelley’s most famous novel “Frankenstein” is the perfect way to get in the spirit.

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    Although Frankenstein was originally published in 1818 it’s still a huge part of popular culture with huge array of derivative works, adaptations and merchandise.

    Frankenstein’s monster has become one of the world’s most recognisable images and his name has become part of modern vernacular as well – “franken” has become a prefix in its own right like “Frankenfood”.

    In our Frankenstein topic Tim and Moby explore why Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein and the things that influenced her writing as well as how Frankenstein has in turn influenced the science-fiction genre.

    As well as covering the key parts of the story the movie also explains why Frankenstein is considered a Romantic novel and why the Romantics were rebelling against the Enlightenment movement. Plus you’ll discover how the novel’s themes are still relevant in modern society.

    FrankensteinThe activities give students the opportunity to write their own spooktacular ghost story as well as activities covering the details of the novel.

    In the FYI students can learn about adaptations of Shelley’s novel, why Shelley chose “Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus” as the book’s full title, and other famous epistolary novels (and what an epistolary novel is!) and more.

    And if that’s not enough you can channel your inner Dr. Frankenstein and create your own monster and get to grips with different body systems and how they work together in the BrainPOP game Guts and Bolts.

    Screenshot of Guts and Bolts

    Frankenstein and his monster clearly capture students’ imaginations in our lastest badge competition entries Frankenstein’s monster was by far the most popular subject and one of them was chosen as one of our winners; they might be our coolest badges yet!

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    And if that’s still not enough Frankenstein for you then download, print, and cutout our Mobyified Frankenstein’s Monster mask ready for Halloween!

    FrankenMoby mask

    Download, print off and cut out!

    Trick or treat?

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  • 10 May
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    Theme is an important writing device that can infuse a story with depth and meaning.

    But it can be tricky at first to spot and understand themes let alone learn how to include them within your own creative writing.

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    In our topic Theme, Tim and Moby explore the…well…theme…of themes within the context of their favourite film: Star Wars.

    The themes of Star Wars are easy to understand and identify once you know what you’re looking for, and has the added bonus of being familiar to kids everywhere.

    A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

    As we all know, it’s much easier to learn if it’s enjoyable – especially when it involves an X-Wing constructed out of cardboard!

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    Our Theme movie depicts Yoda and Jar Jar reenacting the fable of the tortoise and the hare while “Moby-Wan” teaches Tim/Luke about the mysterious ways of the Force.

    • By exploring the rich world of Star Wars, students will discover what motifs are and how symbols are used to reinforce the message an author is trying to deliver!
    • After watching this movie students will learn to pick up details on the importance of plot, setting, dialogue, and characterisation, and how to understand the world of a story.
    • Ultimately it will add another dimension to their film-watching and book-reading experiences.

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    In the activities section, you’ll find a handy graphic organiser that students can use focus on what to look for when they’re looking for themes in a film or book.

    Plus, the activities include a useful exercise to practice their new found theme hunting skills on well known fairy tales like Snow White and Cinderella.

    Finally, use the Lord of the Flies game to examine the themes, motifs, and symbolism in the Lord of the Flies to reinforce how to apply the concepts covered in the topic to more than just Star Wars.

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    May the force be with you!

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  • 18 Apr
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    It’s the 400th anniversary of the death of the Bard this year and with the 23rd April swiftly approaching there are lots of amazing events, exhibitions, and performances celebrating the man, his life, and works to enjoy.

    William Shakespeare Topic Screenshot

    Though there are events happening all year to honour William Shakespeare for 400 years of inspiration, a lot of the coolest events to celebrate are happening over the weekend of 23rd/24th April as Shakespeare died on 23rd April 1616.

    At BrainPOP UK we’ll be celebrating by making our William Shakespeare topic our free featured movie on the 23rd April so be sure to kick start your Shakespeare-a-thon with Tim and Moby.

    William Shakespeare Topic Screenshot

    If you’re a subscriber don’t forget to check out our Drama and Poetry topics as well! But after you’ve BrainPOPped, enjoyed a very dramatic Moby, and are pumped up with Shakespeare facts what else can you do to mark the man?

    The Complete Walk

    23 April – 24 April 2016

    As you’d expect Shakespeare’s Globe have a lot going on this year alongside their usual helping of great theatre. We love the sound of a pop-up cinema project called “The Complete Walk”. On the 23rd-24th April 37 specially made 10-minute films that will be screened along the 2.5 mile stretch between Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge.

    Each film explores one of Shakespeare’s plays and include scenes from the plays shot in the locations that Shakespeare imagined them to take place combined with extracts from the BFI’s early silent films and filmed stage productions. The films will play continuously through the weekend and you can download a digital map ahead of the event.

    Sonnet Walks

    22 April – 24 April 2016

    “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”

    Don’t forget Shakespeare wasn’t just a playwright! In the Sonnet Walks by Shakespeare’s Globe you’ll enjoy a 2 hour walk through London in historic places familiar to Shakespeare while hearing some of Shakespeare’s most compelling speeches and most romantic sonnets performed by actors.

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    By me, William Shakespeare

    3 February – 29 May 2016

    By me, William Shakespeare is a unique exhibition of carefully selected documents relating to Shakespeare’s life that track his life in London, as “a businessman, a family man and servant to the King and even possibly a thief and a subversive.”

    They explore both his domestic and professional lives, what it meant to live in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras and the social impact of his plays.

    Shakespeare in Ten Acts

    Until 6 September 2016

    The British Library’s Shakespeare in Ten Acts exhibition explores 400 years of history from the plays’ very first performances, showing how his plays have been interpretted by generations.

    Ground-breaking moments in stage such as the first stage appearance by a female actor in 1660 and the first British performance of Othello by a black actor in 1825 are explored as well as their social impact.

    Amazing props and costumes from celebrated performances join rare and unique items such as the only surviving play-script in Shakespeare’s hand and Shakespeare’s First Folio.

    (As a side note the British Library’s new online Shakespeare resource is also pretty cool and worth a look! Discovering Literature: Shakespeare)

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    Celebrating Shakespeare

    19 – 22 April

    The National Theatre is marking the anniversary by hosting some great events, talks and discussions around various topics from The Web of Our Life: Shakespeare and MigrationThe Web of Our Life: Shakespeare and Old Age, and Shakespeare at the NT: Writer for Today. Plus they have a great digital exhibition exploring Shakespeare at the National Theatre to boot.

    Celebrating Shakespeare: Flytower Film projection of Olivier’s Henry V

    22 April, 8pm

    The National Theatre’s Flytower is being turned a massive outdoor cinema for the occasion and will be showing the film that earned the NT’s first Artistic Director, Laurence Olivier, a special Academy Award for outstanding achievement as actor, producer and director

    Malvolio’s Misorder

    13 – 27 April

    Malvolio’s Misorder is a fun theatrical tour at the Victoria and Albert Museum where you’ll join characters from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, famous items from the V&A collections and meet Malvolio “…who has been practising speeches all day for his tour of Lady Olivia’s private collections but things very quickly start to go wrong once his guests arrive…”

    To find more events and find things specific to your area be sure to check out Shakespeare400 which collects listings for events running to celebrate the 400th anniversary happening all across 2016.

    But, of course, “brevity is the soul of wit” so I’ll finish by simply saying “If BrainPOP be the food of love, play on…”.

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  • 01 Mar
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    Though we’re sad to mark the passing of Harper Lee, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on her most famous work, To Kill a Mockingbird, which has impacted children and adults all over the world in the 55 years since it was published.

    To Kill a Mockingbird topic Screenshot

    In Feb 2016 we said goodbye to a Pulitzer Prize winning author who wrote what may be the most widely loved and widely taught American novel of the last 50 years. To Kill a Mockingbird may have been published in 1960 but it remains a national favourite, and with good reason.

    Time and time again it features on best book lists like the BBC poll for World Book day in 2010 or a survey of British Librarians where it was rated as the book they’d most recommend.

    Beyond that, the frequency with which it comes up in conversation often by people recounting their emotional reaction to reading it speaks loudly of its ability to impact an individual.

    Harper Lee, or Nelle Harper Lee, to give her full name, leaves behind an important legacy that captures for future generations the American South during the time the Great Depression and explores a variety of themes as important now as they were when To Kill a Mockingbird was first published.

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    Themes like the loss of innocence, racial injustices, gender roles, courage, class, and compassion all nestled within a coming of age story that helps connect a young reader with a very different time and a very different place.

    A BBC article on To Kill a Mockingbird’s popularity from 2010 featured a quote from a teacher called Garry Burnett, an English teacher in Grimsby that really summed up why it’s such an important book to feature in the classroom:

    “It’s one of those life-changing reads…it’s not just exam fodder but something that draws an emotional response, particularly in children.”

    While there may be less explicit focus on To Kill a Mockingbird in the new curriculum for England and Wales the fact remains that it’s an important book and one that children will remember reading throughout their lives.

    In January we released our new To Kill a Mockingbird topic exploring its themes, characters, how it relates to real issues like racism and segregation, and why it’s such an important book.

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    We will always have her work to challenge future students and inspire them to acts of compassion and courage (and probably inspire a couple of future lawyers as well!).

    Finally, I’ll leave you with some wise words from Atticus Finch, which I’m sure you’ll agree we can all take to heart.

    “If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”

    “Sir?”

    “Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

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