Ready to engage students in a fun paired text activity by marrying short films and poetry? Read on for five poetry and short film pairing options your students will enjoy. Use them to inspire literary analysis and encourage thematic connections through a journal prompt or formal essay. Embed them in a poetry study or an analysis unit. You can find all of these poems and animated short films online with a simple Google search.
ANIMATED SHORT FILMS AND POETRY
“The Road Not Taken” and “Lambs”
Because they both deal with making unpopular choices, these texts pair well together. In the short film “Lambs,” the youngest lamb thinks he is a cow or a dog, and his parents disapprove. They try to get him to act like a sheep. This film will resonate with teens who feel forced to conform to society’s expectations when what they really want to do is be unique. Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is a good companion poem because it inspires readers to take the path less traveled. When analyzing the thematic similarities between the two, students could easily focus on the guiding question, How can someone make a difference in the world?
“Sonnet 18” and “Scrat Meets Girl”
Who doesn’t love a good Ice Age movie? Scrat, the hilarious squirrel rat, keeps viewers laughing in this short film as we observe how he is (almost) willing to sacrifice his coveted acorn for a lady. If students know anything about Scrat, they know that he will stop at nothing to get that nut and keep it. Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18” is a similar text in that the narrator believes the woman he is writing about will never die. Her memory and her beauty will be preserved in his poem. He is, in a way, infatuated with her. These texts force students to think critically and to be creative in their analysis of a common theme.
“Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face” and “Ormie the Pig”
“Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face” is a lighthearted poem by Jack Prelutsky. It has a similar theme as “Ormie the Pig” in that both of the texts teach the audience that it’s important to be thankful for what you have. You can ask students to analyze how the authors use humor to develop the theme of contentment. Students could also respond to the question of whether or not people are too difficult to please. Do we seem to always want more? Is that what the texts are implying?
“Success is Counted Sweetest” and “The Last Knit”
These two texts both touch on the idea of success. What does it mean to be successful? Can success be measured? Will we ever reach a point where we feel accomplished? After watching the captivating short film and reading the brief poem, students can write about how success is portrayed in both. It’s interesting to examine the lengths people will take to be successful.
“Dream Deferred” and “The Wishgranter”
The short film “The Wishgranter” is full of hope and answered dreams. The poem “Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes, however, is the opposite. It’s full of dread and pessimism. Students can easily compare how the idea of a dream or a wish is represented differently in both texts. Additionally, teachers can ask students how narrator’s point of view and attitude impacts the text’s overall atmosphere.
These suggested pairings of short films and poetry are ideal for literary analysis with paired texts. Students are required to master this skill in order to meet ELA learning standards as well as for standardized tests. If you’ve exhausted yourself with grading literary analysis essays, consider asking students to create a thematic one pager to represent their understanding.
Still, sometimes we need more than just a short film to get us through a poetry unit. If you are looking for further inspiration, try this post on using pictures to inspire poetry or this one on six simple ways to make poetry instruction engaging. If you’re in the middle of a nonfiction unit and ready to spice things up, try this nonfiction-inspired poetry creative writing assignment.
Use these poetry journal prompts whenever you need to see how students are processing poetry. Each prompt features a different unique perspective for analysis and provides a platform for critical thinking. An embedded rubric makes for simple grading.