Nowadays, the world of our children is visual; they learn so much through visual stimulation. Sometimes their visual world is just television, movies, electronic games, text messaging, electronic gaming and cell phones, with little understanding of how these items influence and direct thinking/behaviour.

Children learn best by doing; therefore, to have children construct their own media product would best teach them about the importance of balancing their time. They could demonstrate the enjoyment to be had in simple, enjoyable outdoor activities.

The intention is to produce a three-to-four-minute video infomercial. This could also be done as writing and producing a skit/brief play that could be performed for the participants’ peers.

Participants will work to develop these skills, knowledge, and attitudes:
•   Fine motor skills to produce a short movie
•   Cooperation skills to collaborate and share the limelight and work
•   Oral communication through the spoken word
•   Communication skill through the written word
•   Communication through body language
•   Communication through visual: art & drama
•   Artistic skill to edit a film
•   Technical skill to film and to render a digital film to DVD format with the iMovie computer program
•   Personal growth in confidence through acting/performing in front of your peers

•   The movies ¿Illusion? and The Man Who Planted Trees
•   Props to suit the production such, as materials to be recycled, clothes, hats, items to support roles in the film
•   Video camera that can export a digital film to a computer
•   Pencils, pens and paper
•   Computer (Mac or PC) with a movie-making program such as iMovie or QuickTime

   Worksheet 4a - Developing Voice to Convey Meaning Worksheet 4a - Developing Voice to Convey Meaning
   Worksheet 4b – Play/Video Planning Worksheet 4b – Play/Video Planning
   Worksheet 4c - Writing the Infomercial Worksheet 4c - Writing the Infomercial

Preliminary Activity 1

Have participants view ¿Illusion?. Watch the movie two times, the first as a work of art to get the message from the movie. During the second viewing, use these questions to guide the viewing to ascertain how effectively the actions and the soundtrack convey meaning:

1)   What actions occur during the first couple of minutes of the movie?
2)   Actions like a bird flying freely through the sky value nature as “good” and “positive”; what other actions generate these responses?
3)   What types of human actions would support the idea that nature is “good” and “positive”?
4)   What words and/or expressions support the idea that nature is “good” and “positive”?
5)   What actions occur during the movie when the magician works with the rabbit?
6)   What emotions and ideas do these actions convey to the viewer?
7)   What actions demonstrate how the children respond to their transformed world?
8)   What actions could you use to demonstrate emotions such as frustration, greed, anger, sadness, happiness, joy, fear, boredom and interest?

Preliminary Activity 2

Demonstrate and model basic human emotions from fear to joy, anger to love, boredom to interest. Do not use your voice. Use facial expression, eyes, arms, posture and vocal expression (for example, sigh, gasp). Have the participants develop a response to exhibit emotions that would be generated by these events:

• receiving a present / hitting your head / losing $5.00
• watching your best friend open a present / watching your best friend hit his/her head
• getting a new kitten / the last day of school / the first day of school
• walking in the park / swimming at the beach / hiking a trail
• seeing garbage on the ground / seeing a polluted river

Discuss with participants the fact that 80% of communication is non-verbal. We know when a parent/guardian is pleased, frustrated, tired or sad without talking to them. We convey a great deal by our actions. Model with one of the participants a situation to demonstrate this non-verbal communication, such as a teacher being displeased with a student; getting a traffic ticket; watching the hockey game. Have the participants guess to what the situation is.

To build confidence in acting and performing, play a game of charades with the participants. Divide the group into two teams and have one team perform the actions to see if the other team can guess what they are. The team doing the acting has one minute to figure out what actions will be used. They may not use words. The second team has two minutes to guess the action.

• eating chips / biting into an extremely cold ice cream / doing homework
• text messaging / watching a horror movie / going to the dentist
• watching your favourite team lose the final / watching your favourite team win the final
• picking a flower / playing your favourite video game
• taking a walk on a bright sunny day / playing in the rain
• making a snowperson / having a snowball fight  / making a snow angel
• and so on

Preliminary Activity 3

View the film The Man Who Planted Trees or the Listen to the soundtrack in particular. Examine how the narrator uses his voice to convey meaning and enhance the power of the movie. Discuss how the narrator uses tone and inflection to suggest mental images for the listener to utilize in making meaning of the movie.

Explain to the participants what ‘inflection’ means. Discuss how emotion is very often conveyed in how we say things, as much as, if not more than, what we say. Model how we use inflection to send messages to the listener. For example, the common expression “I know” means the person knows what is being said, understands what is being said. Say to the participants “I know” to convey:
   -  contempt
   -  sarcasm
   -  acceptance
   -  thank you
   -  sorrow

Listen to how the narrator says, “The cluster of houses, although they were in ruin, reminding me of an old wasp nest, made me think that there must have been a fountain, or perhaps a well.” Ask the participants what qualities they hear in the voice. Is the inflection haunting yet hopeful?

Listen to how the narrator says, “Roofless houses, here life vanished, [...] on a sunny cloudless June day the wind blew fierce; it sounded like a wild beast disturbed while feeding on its prey.” Ask the participants what qualities they hear in the voice. Is the inflection fearful, conveying a sense of fear and foreboding?

Have the participants develop their use of voice by using Worksheet 4a - Developing Voice to Convey Meaning . Divide the group into groups of four and ask each group to practice the exercises on the student handout.
Worksheet 4a - Developing Voice to Convey Meaning Worksheet 4a - Developing Voice to Convey Meaning

Main Activity

You are to create a “commercial” or “skit” to inform youth about balance in their lifestyle. They should balance enjoying the outdoors/nature with playing an electronic game/watching television or a movie. Have fun, this is serious but enjoy! As you go about creating your infomercial you will need to follow these steps.

Step I
Use Worksheet 4b - Play/Video Planning to help participants plan their infomercial. Pass the sheet out to the participants and discuss the overall project. Go over each section to ensure the participants understand their roles.

Worksheet 4b – Play/Video Planning Worksheet 4b – Play/Video Planning
Worksheet 4c - Writing the Infomercial Worksheet 4c - Writing the Infomercial

Step II
Items to think about that may be included in planning and producing the infomercial.
•   A jingle or poem might help others remember your infomercial. Be creative and perform your original work during the production.
•   Setting can be outside, playground, woods, home, etc.
•   Dress for the part to be played.
•   Use props to support the infomercial.
•   Write the dialogue to reflect the age and interests of your audience.
•  Your infomercial should between two and four minutes in length.

Step III
•   Discuss the choices and pick a topic of interest to everyone and receive the teacher/group leader’s approval.
•   Co-write the script and acting parts so that acting reflects speaking.
•   See the teacher/group leader so that one member of the group can learn how to use the camera and iMovie computer program.
•   One person to run the camera and computer, three or more actors.
•   Get permission to use the space/area you will be using to film.
•  Be careful not to film other people that may be passing by, unless you have their consent.

Follow-up Activity 1

Play the infomercial for your peers. If the equipment is available, use a projector so that the whole group can easily see your work. After watching each production at least twice, have each group explain their production.

While keeping the discussion positive, have the groups critique their work. This empowers the participants, as they will feel good about their work. The critique will also serve to move the discussion along. The participants will be talking about the benefits of nature, like taking a walk in the park, participating in nature as an observer, and the importance of valuing nature.

Follow-up Activity 2

Have the class assign each infomercial an age rating. What age range would enjoy the production? How easy is it to get the main idea? Are there areas that might be misinterpreted? With age ratings in mind, present the infomercials for another group, such as a class at the local school. For instance if the producers were grade six students, then an approachable audience might be a grade three class in the same school. Have the producers lead a discussion about the value of interacting with nature. Talk about the different ways to interact with nature within their surroundings.


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