• 05 Sep
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    All writers need a creative jump start every once in awhile.

    Writer’s block can be as prevalent in the classroom as it is in front of an author’s typewriter.

    Sometimes you need to shake things up and encourage students to write something out of their usual comfort zone.

    With that in mind we’ve made some handy and fun writing prompts called Story Cubes to help out. Getting creative with story cubes is easy but first of all you need to make them.

    How to make Story Cubes:

    BrainPOP Story Cubes

    Click the image to start download.

    • Use scissors to cut them out (watch those fingers!)
    • Fold along all the edges and flaps
    • Stick them together using tape or glue on the tabs until you make a cube shape.

    How to use Story Cubes:

    Now you get to roll your new cubes!

    Roll all three (or just one if you like) and use whatever three three images that land face up to build your story. If you don’t like the images you get you can always re-roll!

    All the images are from BrainPOP movies, but you can interpret them how you like.

    Once you’ve made your cubes you can keep them for whenever you want to help creativity strike – they make a pretty nice decoration too!

    The Legacy by Sophie Millward-Sadler is a fantastic example of a student’s story that used BrainPOP’s story cubes for inspiration.

    And finally, don’t forget to use BrainPOP’s Creative Writing Spotlight to help students write their inspired story the best they can.

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  • 16 Aug
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    Reading for pleasure is not just fun it’s also fantastic for literacy and has a plethora of benefits, but it can be difficult to cultivate in some children.


    An emphasis on reading for pleasure is something the 2014 curriculum for England and Wales and the Curriculum for Excellence Studies both focus on and for good reason. After all, studies have suggested that reading for pleasure has a greater impact on children’s educational achievement than their social class or their family’s wealth and literacy skills in general have a huge impact on social mobility and quality of life.

    It can be difficult to get kids reading beyond what they have to. There’s a few things that can help:

    • Access to libraries
    • Supporting parents and carers to help with their children’s reading
    • Encouraging all kinds of reading (including non-fiction)
    • Children’s book clubs
    • Shared reading initiatives


    One of the top obstacles to getting kids reading is helping them find things they’ll like – no one likes to read books they’re not enjoying but when you read something you liked but are having difficulty finding other books like it or just you’re not sure what to look for at all it can get really frustrating.

    With the Literary Genres BrainPOP topic students can learn the different kinds of genres and what defines them, why genres are helpful ,and different conventions they’ll find in different genres as well as different techniques writers use to appeal to their target audiences.


    But it doesn’t just help students talk about literature in their writing and analysis of what they’ve been reading in class it can also help students identify different kinds of genre so they can more easily identify types of books they might want to give a try. Or maybe help them work out that the book they read recently that they really loved was actually science fiction or a thriller – so they know where to look for the next one.

    Students can explore different genres and various well known examples that help define that genre in this topic’s FYI section(and even check out a few in more detail that have their own topics like J.R.R. Tolkien.)


    And the activities encourage students to think about what they like and why as well as breaking down story conventions from particular conventions into categories – which can help them analyse different books or even to more easily write in that genre themselves!

    I hope you’re ready for the beginning of a literary adventure of epic proportions!

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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.

    Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 09.46.27

    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!


    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.


    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.


    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.

    Drama Topic Screenshot

    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)

    Drama Topic Screenshot

    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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  • 27 Oct
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    It’s nearly November and aspiring novelists all over the world are getting ready for this year’s NaNoWriMo, but what is it?

    NaNoWriMo image


    In a nutshell it’s National Novel Writing Month (get it? Na-No-Wri-Mo), where writers commit to writing a 50,000 word novel… in a month. That seems pretty unachievable at first but that’s actually committing to writing 1667 words a day for 30 days; which sounds a lot less intimidating.

    You don’t have to write a 50,000 word novel. It could be 50,000 words worth of short stories or a novel that keeps on going, anything you like really. And it doesn’t really even have to be 50,000 words.

    The spirit of NaNoWriMo is to set a writing target and stick to it.


    So why participate?

    • It helps to create a good habit – sitting and writing for a certain amount of time a day – even if it’s just to free write or write in a journal is almost meditative and a good opportunity for self-reflection. Plus we live in such a busy world it’s important to regularly seek out a bit of calm.
    • “Winning” NaNoWriMo by managing to complete your goal gives you a nice rosy glow of success.


    • You learn to do instead of procrastinate. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of something and just never get past the planning stage. For many writers with a loud internal editor it can be hard not to obsess over every word. But when you have a strict goal you have to meet you have to force yourself to just write, and leave the editing for after.
    • You get to actually make something, even if that something is just for you.
    • You get in touch with your imagination. You don’t have to make a masterpiece to achieve something with NaNoWriMo; sometimes it’s just about kick starting your creative side.

    Imagination BrainPOP UK Topic Screenshot

    • If you get a team together or join one online you can make it a collaborative experience.
    • During the edit, it’s a good opportunity to improve your grammar knowledge and writing skills. Especially if you’re using software like Scrivener which can tell you just how many times you wrote particular words and phrases you tend to overuse.

    How can you use NaNoWriMo in class?

    tim writing

    NaNoWriMo actually has a Young Writer’s Program(me) and although it’s American and aligned to the Common Core standards it has a lot of great resources and information that you can use in your classroom to get your students writing.

    You can even connect with other classes doing NaNoWriMo all over the world!

    Some Useful Resources to get started with:

    • NaNoWriMo’s Virtual Classroom can help you facilitate with your students such as tracking their progress and can help you connect to other classes all over the world
    • There’s an educator’s forum where you can share ideas and get help
    • There are workbooks and lesson plans that you can use to get ideas. (Although they’re American a lot of what’s in them is very transferable and some other educators in the forums may already have UK based lesson plans.)
    • This word count calculator is really useful. Sometimes you just can’t get your words done on a particular day and this tool helps you adjust your target as needed so you don’t need to panic!
    • NaNoWriMo pep talks written by successful authors (including authors who write for children and young adults such as Holly Black) are great for a bit of inspiration. This past one by Neil Gaiman is a particular favourite.
    • You can even get help publishing your student’s work when they’re done!
    • Downloadables such as this progress poster and these participation and winner certificates.

    And there’s loads of BrainPOP UK resources that can help your students if they’re struggling with their writing as well:

    Roald Dahl

    Happy writing!

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  • 20 Oct
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    Attention fledgling writers and movie producers!

    As part of our forthcoming SpotlightsWeaving Tales and Making Movies, we have a challenge for you. Weaving Tales is about storytelling, and the skills you need to create a good story and Making Movies is about the art of film making – whether it’s animation or a major Hollywood blockbuster.

    The competition challenge: Make a short movie starring Tim & Moby using one of 3 scenarios.

    To help you take you from script to screen we’ve written our own 3 step plan to help get you started: Tim & Moby’s guide to making movies .

    Competition submission criteria:

    • This competition is for children between 7-11 and 12-16.
    • The winner will be chosen by the BrainPOP UK team. Editors’ decision is final.
    • You must use one of the scenarios below as the starting point for your movie.
    • The deadline is midnight 16th December 2010. Entries received after this point will not be considered.
    • Finished movies must be under 3 mins and be all your own work.
    • They must be in a digital format.
    • The winners will be contacted by email in the new year.
    • The winning entries will be showcased on this blog and shown at BETT 2011 on our stand.

    You can read our full Terms and Conditions on our website.

    Please download these three scenarios and pick JUST ONE to form the basis of your Tim & Moby script. Where you take it is up to you!

    Script Option 1 – Adventure

    Tim and Moby stand in the Prime Minister’s secret underground office…

    Script Option 2 – Romance

    “Tim stands alone in a shop browsing through a rack of t-shirts. Moby comes stomping into the shop accompanied by a stranger…

    Script Option 3 – Horror

    “Tim and Moby are walking through a cold, dark forest…

    TOP TIP! Watch The Writing Process , Writing Dialogue & Filmmaking movies on BrainPOP UK to get advice from Tim & Moby.

    You are welcome to submit your finished movie in any way you like, as long as it can be accessed online.

    1. Live acting: You’re going to need a camcorder or phone with a camera function to record your movie, actors, a studio space and costumes. And find someone to shout “CUT!”
    2. Green screen: You might also want to use chroma screen technology (here is a very useful and comprehensive step by step guide to using green screen in the classroom by Sheffield South Learning center).
    3. Stop motion animation: You could use claymation like Wallace and Gromit, papercraft like “Star Wars in 2 minutes” or using physical objects like the amazing “Dot. The world’s smallest stop-motion animation“. Have a read of this wonderful guide to stop motion animation for beginners on Photojojo.
    4. Audio play: If you don’t have access to a camera, you could just record your script as a podcast play with sound effects – a fun challenge on its own! Try Podium.
    5. Digital animation: There are lots of amazing animation tools online. Try Anithings (animations), Zooburst (3D pop up ebooks), Xtranormal (you type and the characters talk) and Comic life (make a comic form your images) and many more. Or you may be a Flash guru.

    You can submit your finished movie if it’s under 10MB using the form below. If it’s over 10MB or you host it online get in touch with info@brainpop.co.uk.

    We can’t wait to see what you come up with. Good luck everyone.

    Aaaand, ACTION!

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  • 10 Sep
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    Have a look at this list. They’re all brand new movies coming to BrainPOP UK very soon.

    We’re extremely proud to announce these movies (and their accompanying quizzes, don’t forget) will be added to BrainPOP UK for all free trials and subscribers.

    No extra cost. No hidden charges. No funny business.

    They span all the subjects in BrainPOP UK, both Primary and Secondary, and will automatically appear over the next 8 weeks, in batches, with new Maths and English movies already up. The list below is simply alphabetical, but in BrainPOP UK they will be categorised and tagged to curricula.


    Example of some of our new English movies

    If you dearly need one of these movies for a lesson and you can’t find it in BrainPOP UK (yet) then contact us and we’ll see if we can expedite it specially.

    • Active Transport
    • Adding and Subtracting Integers Advanced
    • Adding and Subtracting Fractions Advanced
    • Agatha Christie
    • Aids
    • Algae
    • Allergies
    • Anthrax
    • Antonyms, Synonyms, and Homonyms
    • Ants
    • Appendix
    • Arachnids
    • Asexual Reproduction
    • Associative Property (Order of Calculations)
    • Asthma
    • Atmosphere
    • Autism
    • Autumn Leaves
    • Aztec Civilisation
    • Balance
    • Blood Pressure
    • Body Chemistry
    • Bonfire Night
    • Bogies
    • Braces
    • Brain
    • Brass Instruments
    • Calculus
    • Capitalization
    • Carbon Cycle
    • Carnivorous Plants
    • Cats
    • Cells
    • Cellular respiration
    • Choosing US presidential candidates
    • Classification
    • Clauses
    • Cnidarians
    • Cold War
    • Compounds and Mixtures
    • Computer Mouse
    • Conditioning
    • Conjunctions
    • Conquistadors
    • Decimals
    • Diagramming Sentences
    • Dictionary And Thesaurus
    • Diffusion
    • Distance, Speed, and Time
    • Distributive Property
    • Division
    • Ecosystems
    • Electric Circuits
    • Electromagnetic Spectrum
    • Emergency 999
    • Equations with Variables
    • Etymology
    • Exoplanets
    • Factoring
    • Fall of the Roman Empire
    • Fax Machine
    • Foetal development
    • Food Safety
    • Fossils
    • Frankenstein
    • Frida Kahlo
    • Galaxies
    • Geologic Time
    • Geometry
    • Gills
    • Graphs
    • Ground Water
    • Growth
    • Homer
    • Hormones
    • Humans and The Environment
    • Idioms and Cliches
    • Imagination
    • Immune System
    • Improving Sentences
    • Inca Civilisation
    • Isotopes
    • Joints
    • Latitude and Longitude
    • leap Year
    • Lord of the Flies
    • Mahatma Gandhi
    • Maths Problems
    • Maya Civilisation
    • Measuring matter
    • Metals
    • Metamorphosis
    • Migration
    • Mineral Identification
    • Monotremes
    • Multiple Sclerosis
    • Multiplication
    • Multiplying and Dividing Fractions
    • Nanotechnology
    • Natural Disasters
    • Nervous System
    • Nutrition
    • Organic Food
    • Outer Solar System
    • Passive Transport
    • Petrol and oil
    • Pirates
    • Poetry
    • Polyhedrons
    • Power
    • Prime Numbers
    • Printers
    • Property Changes
    • Protists
    • Protozoa
    • Punctuation
    • Queen Elizabeth 1
    • Radioactivity
    • Reading Skills
    • Referencing Sources
    • Respiratory System
    • Rise of the Roman Empire
    • Roald Dahl
    • Roman Numerals
    • Roots, Prefixes, and Suffixes
    • Rounding
    • Scientific Method
    • Seeding Plants
    • Sentence Fragments
    • September 11th
    • Seven Wonders
    • Six Kingdoms
    • Skeleton
    • Slope and Intercept
    • Soil
    • Solar Energy
    • Stock and Shares
    • Sumerians
    • Sun Protection
    • Symbiosis
    • Terrorism
    • The Order of Calculations
    • The Troubles
    • The Writing Process
    • They’re, Their and There
    • Time Zones
    • Transformation
    • Tsunami
    • Types of Triangles
    • Urinary System
    • Using Proportions
    • Volume of Cylinders
    • Volume of Prisms
    • Waste Management
    • World War I
    • World War II
    • World War II Causes
    • Writing In Sequence

    PS: You can find a huge comprehensive list of all our movies that are live on our site on our “Movies list” page.

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